Monday, 21 September 2009

Bestival 2009 in some depth

I've threatened to write a more detailed blog on the bestivities on the Isle-of-Wight last weekend. It was no idle threat, I meant it so here goes and brace yourself because it's gonna be a large one!

Mark and I had some difficulty obtaining tickets and organising travel to get to Bestival. I stake no claim on these arrangements, Mark did all of it. Mark had always intended to go to Bestival, long before he met me. Indeed, he'd arranged to go with someone else but erm those plans fell through. Anyway, he managed to get our tickets via a forum for less than the ticket's face value and spent many hours trying to find the cheapest way to get to Bestival. He even created a Facebook group so that we could travel down by car with some other soon to be Bestival campers. We'd discussed attempting a full and freestyle hitch hike but I've never hitched before and Mark thought we should get to Bestival under more secure means. So, as I say, after much effort on Mark's part, tickets arrived and travel plans were made. In the end we took a National Express coach from Stoke and caught the ferry from Portsmouth. The journey was long but due to the great company I was keeping, it was fun and passed without much difficulty.

We arrived at the Isle-of-Wight sometime after 11 I think. We were tired and because we'd landed at a different Ferry port than intended, the coach to the festival we'd planned on was no longer an option. We instead got in a taxi with some other festival goers. Again organised by Mark who was confident enough to ask if we could join them. I would never be that forward. After arriving at the site, saying goodbye to our fellow taxi travellers, we began the long journey from the entrance to the camping field. We were laden with heavy rucksacks and Mark's was significantly heavier than mine. He had 6 litres of water, two chairs, two sleeping bags and a vast array of warm / cool clothing to carry. The heaviest items in my rucksack were my wellies (used once but not really needed) and some outdoor candles (not used at all, total waste of space).

We managed to find the camping field that Mark's friend was camping in. She had said that she would save us a space but our tiredness and need to get pitched meant that we pitched before locating the allocated space. However, we were only a stones throw away from her tent anyway so it turned out well. The lengthy journey and lateness of the hour meant that we didn't involve ourselves in Thursday evening pre-Bestival fun but we weren't worried, the festival started Friday morning so we were happy to save ourselves for that. The green camping field was right next to the arena and even though the festival hadn't officially started, the noise had definately begun. I didn't sleep much that night or come to think of it, throughout my time at Bestival!

Fairly bright and early on the Friday we got ready and headed into the arena for breakfast and festival entertainment. The first band we saw were Efterklang. Mark had caught them before at The Big Chill (I think) but it was a first time for me. We really enjoyed them. Fantastic musical talent and definately worth watching again. Indeed, just looking at their Myspace page, they are playing Manchester's Deaf Institute on 31st October so we may check them out. I particularly enjoyed the vocal harmonies. Now, I should say that although I was sober throughout the festival (yes really) and therefore have a clear head full of memories, my memory cells are not efficient enough to talk through each experience in ascending order so I may jump around a little as I think of things. Anyway, to continue.....there were a number of musical highlights at Bestival, most notably were Bat for Lashes. They played the Big Top and it was bloody packed, so packed in fact that we had to watch them on the big screen outside the Big Top. They were mesmerising, absolutely beautiful. Definitely the best of Bestival. Haunting melodies. I wrote a short note on my phone some time after watching them and used the word fairy-like. Watching Bat for Lashes was otherworldly for me. Quite surreal. I definitely want to see them again and will be investing some my hard earned cash in musical purchases. They'd been recommended to me by my friend Sam and Mark but I didn't expect to be as impressed as I was! I'd been looking forward to Soulwax. I saw 2 Many DJs some months ago and really enjoyed them. I've liked Soulwax and 2 Many DJs for a couple of years now and so was really excited about catching Soulwax at Bestival. They didn't disapoint. They were exciting to watch. I enjoyed E-talking, Part of the weekend never dies and NY excuse. I had hoped for a little more from Much against everyones advice era. That album is more indie / rock than electro. I enjoy all the vibes that Soulwax produce but definitely missed hearing Conversation intercom and Much against everyones advice but you can't have everything I suppose. For sleep deprivation reasons I actually missed 2 Many DJs, shocking but true. Am I ashamed to committ such a crime against against music, only slightly. If I hadn't caught 2 Many DJs at Manchester Academy already this year, I wouldn't have missed them at Bestival. Other musical enjoyment at Bestival included Coopers Rage. Our first experience of them and I'm sure I speak for Mark as much as myself when I say, it won't be our last. Great sound. Eat Static were really good. We'd heard quite a lot of dance orientated music by the time we saw Eat Static but somehow this vibe stood out. We started off sitting in Mark's lovely camping chairs but as the set moved on, we were up and bouncing. Great stuff. The sound quality for 65 Days of Static was a little disappointing, I doubt that was down to them and expect it was something to do with the sound system on the main stage. We'd noticed a few sound issues here and there. My belief is that 65 DOS suffered for it. Having said that, it probably much better if you were nearer the front. I'm definitely bouncing around time-wise here but Elbow were outstanding. I'd never seen them play before and rather wish I had. What an epic set. They really got the crowd involved. Doves were also most enjoyable. The Fleet Foxes are obviously very talented but I imagine that they grow on you rather than present themselves as an immediate like. I hadn't heard their stuff before (yes I know, where have I been) but want to hear them again. Their set was laid back and melodic. Beautiful but awkward somehow. We heard Lilly Allen in the distance. She looked good, as Bestival highlights on T4 clealy emphasised but I'm not a great fan of her music. I can take her or leave her so erm we headed elsewhere during her set. The elsewhere we headed to was the Band Stand. There was enjoyable music there but nothing that stood out for me as such. Whilst the mainstay of Bestival watched Kraftwerk, Mark and I headed into the Silent Disco to catch Coley, a mate of Mark's. The Silent Disco requires that you pay £10 deposit to don a pair of headphones and listen to music as if in private but in public. An odd idea but it works well, not least because the sound quality is very good. Coley played, as did another DJ. So you basically had a choice of set to hear. Mark picked the wrong one, no offense to the other DJ but obviously Mark was there to hear his mate. It took him a while to realise that he needed to change the channel. I, by happenstance, rather than by expertise, chose the right channel and therefore heard all of Coley's set. I really enjoyed it. It was a shame that he didnt play for longer. He played again later in the festival but we only caught the first one. Changing direction musically, we also caught most of Bjorn again. We'd both seen them before. Great fun to hear them again. I always enjoy Abba tracks and Bjorn again perform them brilliantly. It's like having Abba in the room (or in this case, the field) with you. We spent a little time watching Beardyman, who was really good, as anticipated. My colleague had mentioned him to me and Mark got some of his stuff up on You Tube for me to see before we knew he was playing Bestival. He is very charismatic and talented. Cool. Just looking at the Bestival website, there were many acts that we missed, some of which, we actually wanted to watch. I must have been in the toilet whilst these were on. ;-)

Speaking of festival toilets, I'm compelled to say more on this, as those that have been to festivals will know to their peril, festival toilets really are awful. Bestival's toilets were not the worst I've seen, not by a long way. They, perhaps were only moderately worse than the toilets at the Big Chill. (If you've been to Big Chill and lets say somewhere like Reading Leeds you'll know by comparison that Big Chill have great toilets). Of course, you can't blame the festivals coordinator's, it's the festival goers that make toilets what they become. I wonder why people choose the toilet rather than the bin to dispose of their rubbish, I wonder why so many people manage to miss the large hole which is designed for poo and wee, I wonder why some lovely ladies choose to throw their sanitary items onto the floor or basically anywhere in the cubicle except down the toilet, I wonder why people forget to flush the loo, wash their hands (or sanitise them using hand rub as is often the cleanage on offer at festivals. I do wonder. I try not wonder whilst I'm in the loo, I try to spend as little time as possible actually inside these smelly, unclean places. Yet by the time I've cleaned the seat, put loo roll down (or simply hung over the seat using power of legs), used the toilet, wiped the seat again, flushed the loo, wiped my hands, put clothes back to their original locations, much time has passed. Mark was always waiting for me when we headed off to the loo together, he must have spent much time, just waiting for me. Poor love.

Apart from the obvious musical entertainment, there was other fun at Bestival. Just being there with Mark was fun (yes, yes, I'm a soppy git). Watching the world go by was good. Sometimes it's fun to be cramped in a tent, I'll say no more on that though. ;-). We had fun commenting on the various fancy dress on display. Bestival had a space theme this year and many people really put major effort into their outfits. We saw robots, aliens, rockets, lots of silver people, glitter, astronauts.....the list goes on. Our last minute festival arrangements meant that we didn't participate. :-(. We saw a very large robot which appeared to be real but was most probably a person dressed up in some sort of impressive cybernetic suit. The robots voice was electronic, it moved like a robot but the standard of technology seemed too good to be true so I assume that it was. The festival site was also dressed up in a space age theme. Rockets galore could be found at every turn. There was a definitely a sense that Rob da bank and team had made a real effort with the look of the festival site. Festival food was good overall, expensive but enjoyable. There was one unfortunate half a wasp incident. In that I found half a wasp in my vege paella. It wouldn't have been so bad if I'd asked for paella of the meat variety but I did not. KIDDING. Obviously finding half a wasp and I repeat half wasp in your food is yucky by most people's standards. I do wonder what happened to the other half. I hope the other half didn't find its way into my stomach because eating wasps is not good, not good at all. I'll never know and actually I don't want to. Due to a general lack of money, I didn't drink much from Thursday to Monday (when we left). I've been cutting down anyway so it was easy not to drink much. All told I had 2 cans of Fosters, one pint of local beer, a lovely Rose spritzer and half a lager at the pub on the Monday afternoon. For a festival and indeed for any weekend that's some achievement. Mark doesn't drink and hasn't done so for over 5 years so obviously he didn't drink! Children notwithstanding, we were probably some of the most sober people on the site! I have a feeling that beer would have helped with the sleep deprivation thing, so much easier to crash into your tent in a state of beer induced stupor, then collapse, rather than clamber into your tent stone-cold sober and attempt natural sleep amongst shouting, screaming, music and general excitement. I met a few of Mark's mates - Katy (and her son Calon, apologies if I've spelt that incorrectly), Ben, Tom and Sonya. We spent quite a bit of time with Ben. A great guy and a talented musician. We also met up with Grant, who had offered us a lift to Bestival via Mark's Facebook group. We didn't accept the lift because he wasn't traveling until the Friday. We watched some of Doves and most of Elbow with him. Nice guy.

Leaving Bestival was significantly more difficult than arriving. There was much queuing and I do mean much. Mark (self-described Northern monkey) carried out an array of freestyle methods to enable us to leave to site as quickly as possible. Bless him. We took a short-cut to relinquish ourselves from the first queue which involved a Lara Croft style jump over a vast ravine, okay okay so I exaggerate somewhat. I had to jump over a sort of gap between hills of grass, not a large gap but big enough to make me think twice before attempting! We spent a little time in the coach queue before moving into the taxi queue. After much time in the taxi queue, Mark loudly stated that we had a taxi booked and therefore needed to move forward in the queue. We didn't have a taxi booked. After some queue jumping (but not much really). We then moved back into the coach queue and boarded a coach. I felt bad about it but as Mark explained, we needed to leave, it wasn't the time for politeness. Others were doing similar things I think. After coach, ferry, coach again and lift off my dad, we arrived back at my parent's house. We were somewhat tired, smelly perhaps and severely disheveled but happy after an enjoyable time at Bestival 2009.

There is probably more that I could say but my fingers ache and I really should do something other than blogging today. Thanks again to Mark who was bloody brilliant throughout the Bestival experience.

Love and peace,


1 comment:

  1. Hazel, that blog is ace, so glad you documented our time together there, was a really good festival with you. I also enjoyed the nutters opposite us in the tent, the insect circus, the Afterburner fire spurts, all the costumes, finding a 'shower' sign, the lovely veggie food, walking through the woods on Sunday, the 'Alan' shouting....


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