Festival: Bestival 2010

It was suggested that 1 in every 1000 of Bestival revellers at this year’s event were dressed as either Mario or Luigi. We wish we knew that before blowing £40 on the buggers at Escapades in Camden.

The first rule about Festival Club is – you don’t set up your tent in the darkness of night. The second rule of Festival Club is – you don’t park your tent right next to an all-night rager/chain of burger stands. However, Bestival is not about rules, but rather the breaking or bending thereof.  Despite its steady expansion from a rather modest 4,000 punters in 2004, to something more like 50,000, in 2010 Sunday Best do their utmost to retain all the qualities that made this 4-day boinkfest on the Isle of Wight so special in the first place. But, having to deal with that inevitable conundrum, that something so physically large could retain that element of intimacy that rendered it so dear so our hearts in years gone by – is it even possible? Killing Moon went down to find out.


Joe attempts to understand what’s going on.

After breaking out of London rush-hour traffic, defeating enemy vehicles on the M25/M3/A3, arriving 15 minutes late for the Wightlink, working out where the actual site was thanks to some asshole scratching out all the relevant signposts, triangulating the position of which car park exactly we’re supposed to go into (production, in case you care), establishing which box office we’re supposed to pick up our wristbands from, successfully evading a surprisingly large contingent of police-cops and sniffer dogs, and then practically bum sliding down into the camp sites, we were then ready to start.

Four Tet giving it the old Smize

The XX. Happy as larry.

As far as fond nostaligic memories of previous Bestival’s go, the line up was never particularly a stand-out selling point for the event itself – this is not to say that shite bands were booked, just that seeing bands on said line up is very much a proximity-based exercise. Inevitably, we ended up seeing the act that were performing in the arena or on the stage we just so happened to be closest to at any given time. That being said, some personal highlights were delivered via sets from Tinnie Tempah, Everything Everything, Hot Chip, Worship, Roxy Music (albeit following a very, very recent appreciation for Brian Ferry) and Mumford & Sons. Dizzee Rascal, as always, never failed to get bodies grooving, and played to a field of mostly smiles and a few cries. Yes, we were parked next to the Pizza Express van for a lot of the time, and as a result caught most of the acts at the Big Top and Main Stage respectively. A special mention goes out to one Matthew P, who delighted us with his folky-singer-songer-writery-ness on the Band Stand.

Bloke from Flaming Lips prepares to crush everything

Mumford’s Ben Lovett looking regal

Brian vibing out at how bloody amazing he is

Rolph Harris was, and is most likely to remain as, one for the topic of controversy. On one hand, he’s certainly a character, and one you would most likely want to go and see purely for the sake of being able to say to others that you have done so. In addition, he is quite possibly the closest-resembling person to Colonel Sanders alive today. On the other hand, when it comes down to it, he is a just a guy who frigs with a whoopy-whoopy board and blows into a big didgeridoo and really only knows about three songs. This would arguably put him on a par with most new acts in 2010, but does this make him good? In all honesty, we don’t know. But it was definitely funny for the first 10 minutes.

Rolph. Controversial.

A core part of the Bestival process is the costume-wearing. As mentioned above, great pains should be taken in selecting appropriate silly-wear; too little effort, or sheer numbers of others that have a very similar idea, could lead to criticism by so-called free-thinking hippy festers (“Oh. ANOTHER Mario and/or Luigi” was heard being muttered multiple times). This can lead to hurt feelings. Too much effort can lead you to being paraded about on the Sunday at Bestival, at the aptly-titled Sunday Costume Parade.

Effort Rating: 5.0. Concept is commendable, but you lose points for having direct access to your pants for peeing purposes

Effort Rating: 6.2. Extra points for the kid.

Effort Rating: 8.9. Theme was instantly identifiable and unique to the festival. The paint is a bitch to get out too. Felt slightly let down by the lack of full-body-paint action.

Effort Rating: 3.1. These are essentially just bags.

Effort Rating: 9.0. Frog masks are easy but hanging with the same dudes for the duration isn’t.

Effort Rating: 9.3. Not quite sure what this is, but it looks incredibly difficult to make.

Effort Rating: -5.3. Points deducted for being La Roux, wearing just an eye-mask and expecting to walk away with the award for being La Roux wearing just an eye-mask (although it looks like she did anyway).

Finally, a Bestival’s not a Bestival without some acknowledgement of various fringe events and random amenities. The trusty Silent Disco never fails to please, and this year was no exception. Although it would have been nice to have more than two channels to choose from; some bossa nova would have gone down a treat. Moving swiftly on, we joined the queue building steadily in front of the magestic and intriguing Wishing Tree, within which nobody seemed to know what was happening inside until they had actually been in. All the right ingredients were present to build the anticipation during the 15 minute wait – a semantic debate regarding tree-felling and other important environmental issues with a group of sixth-formers; some posing for a large camera lense-carrying 40-year-old called Jack who also liked to whinge about the sheer amount of ‘old people’ at the event; two serious-looking Polish dudes. All the excitement dissipated almost immediately upon entry to the freakish tree, by reason of that there was, in fact, fuck all inside. A special mention goes to the Castle In The Sky Bonfire – while not providing the inferno amazement we had hoped to see, it did provide us with several minutes of fulfilling debate as to A. how long it took to construct such a showcase castle, and B. could we build it faster.

The Wishing Tree. We wish it was good.

The Castle In The Sky. We reckon it took about 5 days to build it.

In overview – it is true Bestival has gotten larger than it ever intended to be; perhaps in accordance with its reputation of being one of the more light-hearted of the summer festivals, or as some choose to believe due to the sudden influx of first year university fuckheads. It’s probably both. It is also true that your wallet will feel substantially lighter once you leave the site. You are likely to feel a bit hungover too, as well as quite ridiculous with all that face paint that has somehow managed to find its way into every bodily orifice you hold dear. Rather than measuring it up on how it used to be way back in the day, we prefer to think about how we experienced it in the present day. Did we have fun? Yes we did. So we’ll be back next year for sure.

Words: Achal Dhillon

Photos: Vic Frankowski & Colin Friend

Special thanks to Bruce Hay at Get Involved Ltd

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