Review: Bestival 2012

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Bestival 2012 was a momentous occasion to end the festival season. With so many great names on the bill, Rob da Bank and co. definitely delivered a amazing weekend. Everything kicked off on Thursday evening at The Big Top with The 2 Bears and Alabama Shakes getting the crowd in the mood for the headliners. I found The 2 Bears boring and repetitive and felt the crowd were waiting in anticipation for their only hit ‘Bear Hug’. Gary Numan performed and I was very pleasantly surprised by the 80s pop sensation. His live show is heavier than I had first anticipated . Next up were electropop sensation Hot Chip. They played a set consisting of hits spanning over their 12 year career including the likes of ‘One Life Stand’ and ‘Over and Over’.

Alt-J ∆

First Aid Kit played at midday on the elaborately decorated Main Stage; the Swedish sisters were simply incredible. The tight knit vocal harmonies and general togetherness they brought to the performance was very impressive. I then head over the Replay with Rob da Bank Stage, a brand new stage for this year, to watch the overly hyped teen wonder that is Jake Bugg. With the amount of media interest surrounding him I thought it would be worth checking him out but it was just a kid with a guitar singing country music. Nothing special or unique. I head back over to the Main Stage for Warpaint, a four piece american art rock band. It was very refreshing to see a non-conventional girl band performing on the Main Stage. After their set the next act I watched were Alt-J back on the Replay with Rob da Bank stage. The small stage had the biggest crowd of the whole weekend, people were literally climbing up the rafters to catch a glimpse of the Mercury Prize favourites. They seemed very overwhelmed by the crowd support as they performed their album ‘An Awesome Wave’ pretty much in it’s running order, including the haunting intro and interludes.

Florence and The Machine

Next on the Main Stage were The xx, a performance that was highly anticipated by many as it was their only UK festival appearance for two years. The London based trio performed spectacularly. As did The Horrors on The Big Top stage. The dark and moody lighting added to the brilliant atmosphere set by the band. They played tracks such as ‘I Can See Through You’ with Faris’ spine-tingling vocals echoing through the tent. Florence And The Machine headlined the Main Stage dressed as Poison Ivy from Batman, definitely in fitting with Bestival’s Wildlife fancy dress theme. However I can’t say her performance was quite as impressive as her outfit.

Two Door Cinema Club

Saturday’s line up had an allusive special guest on The Big Top stage which turned out to be The Godfather of Grime, Wiley. The small crowd soon increased as the word spread and pretty soon the tent was quite full. Today was good day for The Big Top stage with Ben Howard on that afternoon. Just before him I managed to catch some poetry hosted by Scroobius Pip in the Amphitheatre, deep in the heart of The Ambient Forest. It really demonstrated the diverse range of activities on offer which makes Bestival much more than a music festival. Getting back to The Big Top was such a mission due to the swarming hoards waiting for the Devonian heart throb but it was all definitely worth watching, his set was energy fuelled and impressive. Also on The Big Top was renowned beatbox wonder Beardyman (who also appeared at SUSU’s Fresher’s Ball last year). His live performances are so impressive as every sound created comes from the man himself.

To Kill A King (& Dan Smith, Bastille)

Jessie Ware was next on The Big Top – dressed as a cat. Her vocals were flawless; definitely one to watch in the coming year. American hip-hop trio De La Soul were on the Main Stage and were thoroughly entertaining. Next up were one of the best exports of Northern Island, Two Door Cinema Club. Similar to their Reading set it was a delightful mix of Tourist History and Beacon with particular highlights being Wake Up’ and as always ending their set with the iconic ‘I Can Talk’. Instead of watching the apparently legendary New Order I went to see To Kill A King on the Bandstand. Easily the smallest stage at Bestival. The show was intimate and highly entertaining, especially with the cameo appearance from Dan and Kyle from Bastille as they performed ‘Choices’.  A perfect end to my Saturday night.

Rizzle Kicks

My Sunday started at The Big Top for Stooshe. I left after one song. They were dreadfully awful. It also upset me to see all the young fans in the audience clinging onto every lyric despite the rude connotations behind most of them. On the main stage around midday were the bundles of fun, Rizzle Kicks. they bounded onto stage wearing animal onsies, Jordan the Red Panda and Harley the Tiger. They were hilarious as they played songs from their successful debut album Stereo Typical and also sampled some Justin Timberlake and the James Bond Theme Tune into their set. Very entertaining to say the least. Over on the Replay with Rob da Bank stage was the 20 year old singer/songwriter from Hertfordshire Charli XCX. After lots of attention from Radio1 over the past few months she gained quite a crowd as she humbly performed. Back on The Big Top was Orlando Higginbottom’s brainchild Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. His stage set was just as impressive as his sound, paired with two onstage dancers (also donning the usual dinosaur attire) meant for a very enjoyable show, one that was very hard not to dance along to.

Friendly Fires

I went back to the Replay stage for King Charles to see what all the fuss about him is about. You have to wonder what sort of sound a man that looks like Prince with dreadlocks can come up with, but I can safely say that I was pleasantly surprised. He seemed to have some adoring fans in the audience singing back every word. After a long weekend we finally got to the headliner to end all headliners, the legendary (although I feel that word isn’t worthy) Stevie Wonder. His charisma and charm on stage paired with his flawless musical ability blew me away. He played hit after hit and after hearing ‘Signed Sealed Delivered’ I thought ‘why on earth is he playing his best song mid set’ but I had forgotten how many hits the father of Motown really has. I endevoured to watch his whole set but as it got later and later I had to shoot of to The Big Top to catch Friendly Fires whose energy whilst performing cannot be rivalled. You only have to notice the sweat pouring from Ed Macfarlane’s body to notice how much dedication is put into each and every performance. To end the weekend I danced along to the dark wave beats of Grimes right into the early hours.

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About Author

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I’m Megan Downing, an English Literature graduate from University of Southampton. I am the Music, Arts and Culture Editor for The National Student. I am the Membership and Communications Officer for the Student Publication Association, I write about music for 7BitArcade, and contribute regularly to The Culture Trip. I have a passion for live music and this is where I began in student journalism. Reviewing a gig or festival is still where my heart lies four years on. I will be starting at MTV as a News Intern in June 2015. One thing you should know about me is that I have an unhealthy obsession with Kevin Spacey.

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