Bestival has become such a staple of the UK festival scene that it’s heart-wrenching to see it falter, and most of us will agree that last year’s event lacked some of the old magic. So, what about this year? Did Bestival 2017 reignite our interest and earn back acclaim?
Having been transferred to the smaller site at Lulworth Castle, Bestival 2017 was always going to feel a little odd, and organisers seem to have been conscious of that fact. Why else would the fantastic centrepieces of previous years be displayed so prominently? Honestly, it felt a little odd. What is this museum of past glory? What happened to innovation?
Looking past the past did bring a measure of new charm. The newest exhibit was the Happy Kanye, which saw the infamous sourpuss’s face brightened into a smile and haloed by an illuminated rainbow to represent the festival’s costume theme of colour.
So much for the atmosphere of Bestival. What about the music?
Well, acts certainly got the colour memo. Post-gender collective HMLTD featured everything from blue-haired dandy to lime green Let’s Dance suit, and it actually worked quite well with their act. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe of the Pet Shop Boys appeared luminous in sci-fi Malteser helmets, and their set of synth-pop sensations struck all the right notes.
The firing of the world’s largest confetti cannon on Saturday set the tone for Dizzee Rascal’s grime anthems. Unfortunately, the great deluge cancelled a number of acts, including Wiley and Justice, while wind managed to shut down the entire site on Sunday afternoon.
The highlight of the entire festival was unanimously held to be Charlotte Church’s incredible set. The Welsh powerhouse was accompanied by a 10-piece band to belt out covers of everything from ‘Killing In The Name’ to ‘Pure Imagination’. For a slightly less colourful display, visitors enjoyed DJ Luck And MC Neat, Kurupt FM, and Oxide & Neutrino, especially their riotous late-night sing-a-long. Thursday was highlighted by South Londoner Jamie T, who closed The Box stage with ‘Power Over Men’, ‘Sheila’, ‘Emily’s Heart’ and ‘Zombie’.
Overall, it was a strange Bestival indeed, with highlights appearing where nobody expected them. A sense of the past hung over what should have been a refreshed and revitalised event, but the spirit was certainly present. Let’s hope it matures to its best possible self in time for Bestival 2018.