Who are Friday night headliner’s Silk City?
Standing in Silk City branded matching jackets, Diplo and Mark Ronson bop along in unison. This is, as Ronson points out, “only the second night of Silk City.” And what a slot they’ve bagged for it, headlining Bestival’s Friday night. Throughout the duo’s hour and a quarter long set, the two DJs and producers give us more clues as to what their new project is all about. And, boy, is it funky. The pair unveiled Silk City – named after a Philadelphia diner where Diplo was reportedly banned from playing – back in January. So far, they’ve released three tracks, played their first set at New York’s Governors Ball in June, and teased a forthcoming collaboration with Dua Lipa.
Tonight, then, is a chance to gain an insight into the minds of the Grammy Award-winning men behind Silk City, with Diplo asking the crowd: “Are you ready to party tonight?” It’s a thrilling rollercoaster, crammed with house, funk, disco, classic hip-hop, and pop. The pair showcase their own material, smacking on tropical banger ‘Only Can Get Better’ – a collaboration with Daniel Merriweather, worthy of Ibiza’s sticky nightclubs – and playing their live debut of new hip-hop song ‘Loud,’ featuring GoldLink and Desiigner. They also put on ‘Feel About You,’ released last month, a euphoric summer anthem with vocals from Mapei, which are lifted with a hefty serving of melodic strings.
The audience laps it up – a dance circle soon materialises, with one man doing backflips, and a buoyant Mura Masa appears fresh from the set he played supporting the duo. Ronson and Diplo also whip out the remixes, slamming on bass-heavy versions of Kelis’ ‘Milkshake,’ Route 94’s ‘My Love,’ Chance The Rapper’s ‘All Night,’ and Ronson and Amy Winehouse’s ‘Valerie.’ The pair tease their collaboration with Dua Lipa, which Ronson recently tweeted is “coming real soon,” by playing their take on the singer’s ‘New Rules.’ At the end of the set, Diplo climbs on to the DJ decks, dancing wildly beneath a large, spinning disco ball.
Silk City is far from fully formed. On Facebook, the act has a meagre 2,000 followers, and there’s still no Twitter or Instagram accounts. But, with Ronson and Diplo engineering the project, and a track with Dua Lipa set to drop at any moment, it’s a safe bet that they’ll soon be plaguing mainstream radio channels for the foreseeable future.
Mura Masa plays just about every instrument under the sun
Mura Masa cowers over his instruments on Bestival’s Castle Stage, quickly moving from keyboard to guitar to drums. The 22-year old multi-instrumentalist is supremely talented, playing his equipment with an enviable cleanness. And, apart from a technical glitch during ‘Lotus Eater,’ when the musician is forced to restart, his performance is pretty much seamless. Opening with ‘Messy Love,’ Mura Masa’s silky voice soars over electronic noises, with the track culminating in an emphatic guitar solo. On ‘NOTHING ELSE,’ he boogies with a slight smile on his face as he plays slap bass. For the most part, the artist lets his vocalists take centre stage, with one of them climbing into the crowd, as he dances around his apparatus in the background.
But the musician is quietly confident, perhaps boosted by his two Grammy nominations earlier this year, jumping dynamically when he plays guitar and motioning a gun-shooting on ‘Helpline.’ He also unveils his two newest songs, ‘Move Me’ with Octavian and the catchier ‘Complicated,’ featuring Nao, which are well-received by the crowd. By the time he’s finished, ending with ‘Firefly,’ Mura Masa has a large, V-shaped sweat patch on the back of his t-shirt – a testament to his wholehearted efforts.
The Big Moon shine bright, despite the heat
“I can’t think of anything to say other than I’m so hot,” jokes The Big Moon’s bassist Celia Archer. It’s nearly 5PM but it’s still about 25 °C and the band are sweltering in the sunshine on Bestival’s main stage. Over the next 45-minutes, the four-piece’s set is defined by the hot weather, with guitarist Soph Nathan commenting on her sweaty palms (“I’ve got a slide-y hand thing going on”) and frontwoman Juliette Jackson threatening to play ‘Bonfire’ in the shade by the side of the stage (she doesn’t, but briefly squats before a large fan to cool herself down). At one point, Archer deftly points out that fans have formed a “shade triangle,” finding respite in the shadow of a tree, which Jackson compares to the similar behaviour of a herd of cows that the band saw on their journey down to the Dorset site.
Still, The Big Moon manage to inject vigour into their show, with Jackson comfortably strutting around the stage, her face brimming with a smile, on opener ‘Silent Movie Susie.’ Given the heat, The Big Moon could be forgiven for a languid, sloth-like performance. But, instead, their guitar playing is tight and their distinctive backing vocals offer a morsel of comfort in the stifling conditions.
The Big Moon are a band that effortlessly gel together. They just work, bouncing off one another and joking between themselves. Towards the end of ‘Pull the Other One,’ the band members gravitate towards one another – seemingly subconsciously – and form a huddle around drummer Fern Ford. Synchronised head-banding ensues. By the time the band whip out ‘Cupid’ midway through the set, a clique of sweaty Big Moon fans have formed at the front, shaking around in the sunlight. Jackson is at ease with the crowd, too, sticking out her tongue as she grins at the audience. When the band plays ‘Bonfire,’ she steps onto a monitor before crouching down to observe the audience before her.
Later in their set, the indie group plays a guitar-shredding cover of Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart,’ which is theatrical and fun. On ‘The End,’ a track that shows off Jackson’s crisp voice, the singer alters the ending lyrics from ‘I’m melting’ to ‘I’m really melting,’ just to emphasis the band’s clammy state. Closing with ‘Sucker – introduced by Archer shouting ‘suckerrrrr!’ into her microphone – The Big Moon mash away the last few moments of their set in glee.
Idles speak out about male mental health
Idles’ lead singer Joe Talbot frenetically sprints on the spot, rousing the main stage audience. The Bristol-founded five-piece’s set is characterised by mad dancing and a moshing crowd, combined with some hard-hitting messages from Talbot about men’s mental health. It’s sweaty, heavy, and powerful stuff. Introducing ‘Samaritans,’ Talbot says the song is about “men sharing their feelings.” At the end of the track, following copious amounts of head-shaking, Talbot adds: “Not bad for a bunch of fucking snowflakes.” Elsewhere, Talbot, sporting a ‘Choose Love’ t-shirt for aid organisation Help Refugees, dedicates the band’s track ‘1049 Gotho’ to asylum seekers in the country. The lead singer is funny, too, making a joke about Bestival’s middle-class customers, when he quips: “What time does Waitrose close? We must dash.” The band finishes with a raucous version ‘Exeter,’ which Talbot informs the audience is about “growing up in a shithole.”
Django Django at The Big Top
The art rock band play a dazzling 1am slot at The Big Top, captivating the drunken crowd with synthesisers, guitar solos, and heavy drumming. Frontman Vincent Neff reveals that it’s the first time Django Django have played at Bestival in five years, and the band go all out. There’s a guest appearance from Rebecca Taylor of Self Esteem on ‘Surface To Air’ and Neff repeatedly tells the crowd to hold their hands up in the air. Ending on ‘Silver Rays,’ the band unleashes four-minutes of psychedelic drums and synth, with audience members flying all over the place.