Bestival 2011


Written by Emily Hobbs
Photos and illustrations by Elliot Bland
18 Sunday 18th September 2011

Tributes to Winehouse and Mercury, ready to party

And there were some fascinating interpretations of the word ‘style’ in evidence over the weekend. Apart from being Rob Da Bank’s baby, and boasting some of the most diverse and exciting line ups of any European festival, Bestival is most famous for being the biggest fancy dress party ever. Faithfully adhering to the Rockstars, Popstars and Divas theme, there were Lady Gagas and meat dresses a-plenty.

Freddy Mercury’s drag incarnation from ‘I Want To Break Free’ was also a popular costume choice, vacuum cleaner included; as were sartorial tributes to the peerless Amy Winehouse. Going slightly off brief (literally and figuratively) was a baffling abundance of Bubbles De Vere-esque naked suits, recalling nylon tights stuffed with the wood shavings from the bottom of hamster cages. Some things you just can’t un-see.

But on to the music! We were lucky to have Right Guard helping us to get up close and personal with the most exciting new acts at the festival. Not only by keeping us fragrant and pleasant to be around despite the mud and the grime, but also by hosting their exclusive Off Guard gigs out of the back of their camper van which has been the stage for some of the most intimate sets at this summer’s festivals up and down the country. Dry The River’s acoustic set, with their classically trained folk-rock punk grunginess, took us back to our student days and a time of roll ups and cups of tea. A time when your mates’ bedroom gigs were cheaper than going out. And often better.

Kelis on the Main Stage

Grime MC and rapper Wretch 32 showed his sensitive side with a heartfelt rendition of his hit 'Don’t Go'. The Best Line in a Song Ever has to go to his breakthrough tune, though: "My lifestyle’s terribly wild/ You’ll never catch me on the Jeremy Kyle show", had the 2am Bestival crowd singing along during his performance of ‘Traktor’, as they partied oblivious to the rain and wind battering the site.There was some heavyweight hip hop royalty present over the weekend too, with appearances from Grandmaster Flash and the incomparable Public Enemy. Member Chuck D had some old school lessons for those flash mavericks Kanye and Jay Z, reminding them to keep it real and suggesting they change the record once in a while. When you’re skint in a recession, maybe no one wants to hear about your Bentleys, boys (we’ve all got 99 problems and being rich ain’t one).

As Kelis was getting everybody hot under the collar over at the main stage –“I’m not here to entertain you, I’m here to pleasure myself” - the much more innocent Frankie and the Heartstrings were sweetly serenading those over at the Right Guard van with their acoustic version of their track ‘Hunger’.

Dubstep quartet Magnetic Man argued amongst themselves about whether Bestival is the best festival in Europe or just the UK,  talked about taking over the airwaves and the world via their Radio One Hijack and lamented how their album could have been even bigger if it weren’t for that pesky Robbie Williams and Cliff Richard.

And popping their Isle of Wight cherries in the back of Right Guard’s van were Los Campesinos! who told how their latest album was inspired by the heartbreak of being dumped. What with the oversharing, the intimate sets, the necessary proximity in the confined space of the van, and the end of summer, it’s been emotional. Thanks Bestival, see you next year. We’re off to stuff some nylon tights…

Mr Motivator (don't ask)


If you want to see more of Right Guard’s Off Guard at Bestival gigs, go to their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

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