Bestival 2013: 5 Things Everyone Was Talking About

It’s the end of summer festival season. As HMS Bestival steers a course hard for homeward, feeling like we’ve hit our own personal icebergs after the maddest and most impressive Bestival yet (the 10th time the summer-ending Isle Of Wight festival has run), here’s the five biggest talking points of the weekend:

Lionel Richie’s head
2013’s Bestival had a nautical theme, with a gigantic white rave ocean liner dominating the site in an area re-launched as The Port and a Saturday parade of giant swans, jellyfish, ship captains and vengeful Neptunes. But probably the biggest talking point of the weekend, weird-stuff-wise, was the massive inflatable Lionel Richie head. Yes, an inflatable Lionel Richie head. But there it was, sat on a hill with a tunnel in its rear where, like Being Lionel Richie, you can crawl directly into his sickly soul bonce and recline in the boudoir within, scattered with throw cushions bearing Richie’s face. In a corner sat a telephone – answer it and Richie himself will be singing ‘Hello’ to you, just like the video. Probably best experienced on the same drugs they were on when they came up with this madness.

The Flaming Lips Show
It might not be as much of a party as the days when Wayne Coyne would walk over the crowd in a huge hamster ball and fill the stage with dancing aliens and Santas, but the more downbeat new Flaming Lips show is just as dazzling – a freak-out bad-trip Barbarella full of smoke sticks, cradled dolls and visuals including arrays of animal teeth and naked psychedelic women spraying the synth parts from ‘Race For The Prize’ out of their vaginas. Plus, one guy pin-pointed in the crowd on the big screens was in floods during ‘Do You Realize??’ Brain-blitzing stuff.


From the outside it resembled a typical Irish pub, all shamrocks, root vegetables and drinks with the consistency of quicksand. But step inside and it’s arguably the most surreal thing you’ve ever done in a field since you overdosed on psychedelic rum in the Glastonbury comedy shed. One minute you’re sharing an airplane cabin with Bono, the next you’re a professional rugby player being hyped up to charge for glory, the next you’re backstage getting speech trained to perform in a very under-rehearsed play that’s “a cross between Saving Private Ryan and Jumanji”. It’s all in aid of promoting tourism to Ireland, but on this brilliant showing, going to Ireland must be like getting a ketamine enema.

‘Let’s Dance’, ‘Everybody Dance’, ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’… let’s just say that Chic weren’t exactly The Knife. Nile Rodgers and his white-clad disco platoon have been been hammering out the same dizzying set of dad-dancing classics for ages now, covering Rodgers-written hits by Bowie, Duran Duran, Sister Sledge and others, but it never stops being the kitsch rave-up of any given weekend, prompting a stage invasion during ‘Good Times’ and hoisting Rodgers onto a song-writing pedestal so revered that he cockily leaves the DJ to play Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ for him as he leaves the stage. The perfect Bestival band. They should probably replace the annoying annual set by The Cuban Brothers.

Prince (sort of)
Bestival 2013 brought us some legendary sets – Disclosure rammed the Big Top on Friday night with the help of Friendly Fires’ Ed McFarlane. Peace, Parquet Courts and Jagwar Ma stole the Replay Stage, Franz rocked bells, Johnny Marr put on a glorious collage of Smiths classics and edgy new tunes from ‘The Messenger’ and The Knife were basically a load of evil kung fu monks introduced by an exercise instructor shouting “look at my big juicy ass! Bounce like my ass!” But the gig on everybody’s lips was the secret set by Prince on the porch of the Swamp Shack, a run-down, smoke-swathed Mississippi grotto where you can sell your soul to Satan for a Magners. It didn’t happen, of course, but the more hedonistic half of Bestival will swear blind they saw it.

Read our reports from day one, two and three from Bestival.

MIA, Snoop Doog, Elton John – Bestival 2013 In Pictures