“Look at the flick of da wrist,” I sang, as I entered Bestival 2016 with the friendship bracelet-like band coiled around my wrist. The line-up was easy, breezy, and beautiful, as we were able to enter the gates in under 10 minutes. Suddenly, Gwen and I were met with a swarm of hippies, ravers, basics, and wedding gowns, as the experience began.
First off, I have to give a shoutout to the location this year at Woodbine Park. THANK GOSH we did not have to endure the ferry nightmare of last year, because that was brutal. Thank you Bestival 2016! Also, it was a plus because I live a 30 min walk away from the park, but enough about the location, let’s get to the music!
Saturday June 11, 2016
Saturday was a day clouded with humidity. Stepping outside felt as if I had smoked a pack of cigarettes and attempted to climb Mont Everest after. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but the humidity was real. Goodbye hair, hello festival frizz. It’s okay though, because we’re all there for the music anyways—right?
Being a fan of the xx, I have grown to love Jamie xx as a solo act, and his breezy set echoed through the sweaty crowd. Abstract backdrops complemented his music and his sunny shades kept him free from the sun’s glare while he performed. Jamie’s solo album “In Colour” dropped in 2015, being named the best album of 2015 by various publications. Smith’s mix of UK garage, rave, and house sounds create music that is unique to our era, so we were truly blessed to see him live.
This electronic music duo from Seattle was one of my favourites of the day. HOLY! It’s one thing to see a DJ mixing tracks on-stage, but these two had the energy to influence the crowd. Including drumsticks, trumpets, and trombones into their set, they really amped up their musicality. Plus, they were nice to look at. Hey, good music and great features make a great show—what can I say?
Okay, so first we met these Irish guys, and we thought they were British (apparently that’s an offensive thing to say to an Irishman). But, these lovely gentlemen provided us with glow sticks that were a perfect addition to the Tame Impala set. This Aussie band took us back to the 70s with a psychedelic performance and an LSD-like trip of a slideshow playing in the background. This groovy band compliments beautiful vocals with a unique, hypnotic sound. Gwen and I became free spirits with our glow sticks and felt the music through our bones, dancing around the various festival-goers. It was a beautiful time.
Sunday June 12, 2016
Now, I was particularly excited to see Grimes, a fellow Canadian, because after questioning her music for some time, I began to fall in love with her quirks. Grimes came out in a leopard, baggy Adidas sweater that fell over camo-printed pants, and cat-eye shades. I heard several girls in the crowed announce: “I wish I was that fucking cool!” And, don’t we all wish we were as cool as Grimes?
I didn’t expect her to be popping and locking along with her three dancers, displaying animated facial expressions throughout. She even picked up her guitar at one point and jammed out on stage. With her high-pitched voice translating into shrieking screams and the eerie vibrations of the mic up against the speaker, Grimes really took us on a musical journey. I was disappointed in the calm, stationary crowd, but it seemed as if die-hard fans of The Cure were already getting their front row spot for the following act.
After being trampled by moms decked out in sugar skull face paint, gothic attire, and loud, excited shrieks, we made it to the front of the crowd. This hippie couple was taking turns giving each other shoulder massages as they talked about seeing The Cure for the first time in the 80s. Robert Smith appeared and the crowd went wild, while the iPhones dotted the crowd, capturing their favourite punk icon. With face paint on, and several guitars to keep this band playing—the set continued for two hours.
Playing crowd favourites like “Just Like Heaven,” “Pictures of You,” and “A Forest,” Smith’s voice remained as crisp and haunting as ever. There were technical issues throughout the beginning of the set, but the band kept going, and Smith remained positive in his commentary throughout, announcing that everything was good except that his right side was turning to dust. He did make a comment about the EDM music blasting beside him from the tent, though, saying: “It’s hard to hear over that.” Overall the crowd was older upfront, understandably, but the show was upbeat with a grunge, punk, and pop element wound up in one.
To be honest, The Cure was amazing, but the Bollywood stage was calling us over with fire and techno beats blaring in the distance. The crowd was much more free-spirited, and everyone was two-stepping away across the grassy techno field. I had seen Dubfire a few years back in a dark, crowded club, but this setting was worth leaving The Cure for. His minimal, techno, and house tracks were blaring from the temple, while Gwen and I had a much better time dancing along with the crowd. This set was definitely the perfect end to Bestival in my eyes, as the music, people, and dancing encapsulated everything a music festival should be about.
So there you have it folks, Bestival 2016! Ready for Round 3 next year?!