Review: Bestival

Being in the vinyl game, we tend to get our music fix while lazing about in an armchair. But you can’t beat live music. So, this summer we did our best to get out and hit some of the country’s amazing festivals…



Bestival (Lulworth Cove, Dover)

Words Shellie Bayfield

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This is my first visit to Bestival, but straight away I know it’s my kind of do. All around me are weird and wonderfully colourful stages and structures, while right ahead there’s a sea of people, dancing in front of an old ship. No matter where you turn, this place is a feast for the eyes.

Eager to see more, I get the tent pitched in record time and hit the first stage I come across: The Big Top. On it is a band I’d not heard before – Black Honey. Like me [ahem], it’s clear they got the memo. The drum-kit and bass player are decked out in leopard print. So, stood here in PJ shorts, donning the same look, I can’t help but feel at home in their company.

As I listen in, I become more and more drawn to the lead singer. Not only because of her purple hair and sequin dress – but that haunting voice. To give you a flavour, try to imagine Lana Del Ray mixed with Kate Bush. That’ll give you Black Honey. Genuinely worth a look in.

A little later, as the sun starts to go down, I make moves for Chaka Khan. It’s been apparent, all day, that this is the act most people are excited about. I’ve heard people and bands singing her songs all day. After a quick grumble about the weather – see, it’s not just us Brits – she works her way through a set, which, as expected, is jammed with tunes that have the crowd as happy as Larry. Naturally, she ends with her classic, ‘Ain’t Nobody’, which is the perfect end to my first day.

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Chaka Khan, Castle Stage, Bestival

To kick start day two I head for the food. I’m bloody starving, so I mean business. Apparently, Bestival does too. You could easily eat your way through the weekend here. The festival’s Farmer’s Market features food from all over the globe, but it’s the combination of my two passions – food and music – that lures me to DJ BBQ. If you want to keep a queue of people happy, get ‘em dancing. Smart move. At the end of your queue boogie, punters get to walk away with pulled pork and chips. Genius.

After what is a very lazy second day, I kick myself up the arse for one final dance. Thankfully, Rudimental is doing a DJ set, so it wasn’t hard to get moving. Songs from Drake and Inner Circle have the crowd bouncing, which makes it a really fun and upbeat way to wrap a festival like this up. I think the best thing about Bestival, though, is its ability to please a quite diverse audience. But the most satisfying bit has come right at the end, while driving out, as the place looks in great shape. It’s almost like us noisy lot hadn’t even been there.

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Bestival has My Cause UK to thank for that. Its’ waste and recycling initiative – basically where festival-goers hand in a bag of waste and a bag of recycling as they leave, in return for a tenner – has apparently worked a treat.. Not bad, eh? Bravo Bestival! See you next year.


This review was first featured in issue 24 of the Stylus Vinyl magazine, part one of the Songwriter Series.

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