September 18, 2008
Just when you thought this year's sog-fest was over, it's time for one last dance in the wellies. Robin Hill Country Park, Isle Of Wight (September 5 - 7)
For each one of you here, putting up with the shittiest summer ever, big up yourselves!” Zane Lowe shouts from his perch by the Main Stage while DJing on Day One. And if there’s ever been a time we felt we deserved some self-bigging upping, this is it. At the tail-end of a summer that’s seen everything from T to V, Field Day and Green Man drenched in biblical volumes of water, we find ourselves in yet another storm-ridden field for the worst wash-out yet. Stages are shutting, sets are getting cancelled and reports are flooding in of ferries full of deserters. The outlook for the rest of the weekend is “more rain”. Not good.
However, this is Bestival. It’s like our Bestfriendival. Everywhere you look there’s the quasi-hippy mantra “Increase The Peace”, and true to British form everyone here is trying their best not to care. Joe Lean certainly doesn’t care, neither do Foals, or indeed Ladyhawke; all three jack up their performances significantly as a two-fingered salute to the heavens. Later, on the Main Stage and My Bloody Valentine open, of course, with ‘I Only Said’. While it’s not as cochlea-crimping as their Roundhouse shows, it’s nevertheless as fuzztastically unrelenting as ever. Chromeo’s funky dance is on the precipice of credibility at the best of times, and tonight – thanks to the constant vocoder shout-outs and the fact we can see them – they plunge into the abyss. It all sounds so dated, ‘Needy Girl’ and ‘Fancy Footwork’ just about scraping guilty pleasure status.
Day Two and rumours have been circulating that Grace Jones is being drafted in as back-up for Amy Winehouse, but Amy’s house band have been rehearsing and a rider of “12 bottles of JD and two pounds of coke” have been requested – or so our cabbie speculates. So it’s no surprise that both divas show, Jones providing a depressingly great counterpoint to Wino’s gurned joke. Despite her long-suffering band putting on their best sailor suits, Amy’s attempts at playing a guitar and the likes of ‘Tears Dry On Their Own’, the mass exodus begins earlier than ever.
The Human League start like a Human League covers band during ‘Mirror Man’ but ramp it up by the end for ‘Don’t You Want Me’ and Giorgio Moroder’s ‘Together In Electric Dreams’, before beatboxer Shlomo challenges DJ Yoda to a vocals-Vs-decks scratch-off. One ‘Fresh Prince Of Bel Air’ singalong later and Hot Chip are up. In front of a fancy-dressed crowd that ranges from the good (Mario, Luigi, luminescent skeletons) to the bad (man with sponges stuck on back) to the downright obvious (how many Bootsy Collinses can one field take?) they step up to the challenge. Dressed as things like a “knight of the realm of soul” (Alexis) and a “techno viking” (Felix) they offer nothing but hits, most of them (‘Over And Over’, ‘Boy From School’, ‘Hold On’) remixed and rejigged.
After a night spent in the enchanted forest and Horse Meat Disco, which ought to be renamed Horse Tranquiliser Disco, Sunday offers the likes of George Clinton, The Coral and headliners Underworld for survivors, but the real reason to hang around is Filthy Dukes’ full live band rave-rock crossover, which zaps our very last reserves of energy after what seems indeed like the shittiest ‘summer’ ever. Same time next year? Of course…
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