Photo: Matt Richardson
There’s a foghorn sounding enticingly in the distance, and a plume of glittery smoke drifting skyward from a harbour on the horizon. Why, it’s the HMS Bestival! Loaded up with novelty costumes and music-crazy sailors, Elton John, and Snoop Dogg* are at the helm. We’re just about ready to ship off to the tenth anniversary of Rob Da Bank’s annual bonanza.
There’s more to do and see than a cruise ship’s activities timetable, but it’s a given that you’ll be sipping gin and juice at Snoop Dogg, right? We’d also recommend watching out for a guest appearance from Blue during ‘Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word’ at Elton John (hey, we did #didowatch at Reading Festival, this could happen!) For the most part, though, we’ve taken one foot off the yellow brick road, and taken to the crow’s nest instead, scouting out our top must-see acts for this year’s Bestival. We’ve also compiled a handy playlist. Don’t we spoil you, eh?
*Just can’t call him Lion. Sorry, it feels so wrong.
Everyone is dubbing Adam Kaye and George Townsend ‘The Northern Disclosure’, but that’s a load of pants. What Bondax really do is something unique. They make a weird mutant hybrid of dance music, blending house with a generous glug of disco, a sprinkle of funk, and a potent lacing of velvety vocals. The result is pure bliss, chilled-out and oozing soul - and completely resisting the tiresome trend to cram multiple ‘Bassy Drops’ into breakneck BPMs. After playing a packed out tent at Reading, it would be no surprise if these two go on to become staples of the UK dance scene. They might not sound like Disclosure, but they sure have the same massive, exciting potential.
As well as the big established names, Bestival is well known for giving a stage to homegrown talent. This lot are a 5-piece from the Isle of Wight - as local as you can get, basically. Bringing beautifully folk-tinged harmonies together with a delicious pop sheen, the lone track on their soundcloud, ‘Drømtorp’, is something rather special. Worth a punt? On the strength of this track alone, definitely.
London-based electronic producer Julian Peck is signed to Rob Da Bank’s own Sunday Best, and makes stomping, intoxicating dance music of the highest caliber. Tythe’s debut LP ‘& Also With You’ marries Krautrock weirdness with ethereal layering, and a brilliant 80s gloss of pulsing synth. Expect Tythe to fill his tent with limbs that can’t help but move of their own accord.
This year has catapulted Peace into the premier league. At Reading they told DIY they’ve been working on their live show no end, and Bestival should be the glittering jewel, finishing off a jubilant summer in style. You’ll probably have to turn up early to nab a decent spot for this one, and you’d be well-advised to stock up on lozenges too, because these four boys from B-Town have been responsible for some of the biggest, rowdiest sing-alongs of the summer. Expect eyeliner, plenty of eye-catching jackets, and a whole lot of fun.
After the release of triumphant debut ‘Light Up Gold’, Parquet Courts are in blisteringly good form. Fast-paced, energy-filled post-punk with more than just a slight whiff of ‘Dirty’-era Sonic Youth, this set will be unmissable.
SKATERS don’t actually know how to skateboard, and according to them, they can’t dance either, although they’d really like to. Don’t hold that against them. Peddling gritty rock that sounds like it was recorded in one take in a suburban New York garage, SKATERS are ones to keep an eye on.
Birmingham might be one of the most land-locked places in the UK, but JAWS don’t care. Making sun-kissed, hazy, sprawled out tunes, with a hint of Ride, this is dreamy, dazzling stuff. ‘Milkshake’ was one of this year’s finest EPs, and this Bestival set could be the moment that JAWS step out of B-Town’s shadow.
This band’s name is the perfect example of onomatopoeia, because they do sound like a ‘drenge’. A drenge, to clarify, is probably a sort of droning, grungey ball, speeding at breakneck speed down a hill, taking various items of debris along the way. It’s chaos, in the best sense, and would easily be at home on the soundtrack to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (aka the best video game ever) Heading off on tour with Peace after the summer is done, it’ll be a treat to see Drenge play their finally hurrah of summer.
Since scooping a nomination in the BEEB’S sound of 2013 poll, things have been a bit quiet on the Angel Haze front - discounting that spat with Azealia ‘Twitter Beef’ Banks. Still, Angel Haze is back on track, having just released the first single from her forthcoming debut ‘Dirty Gold’, and it’s promising stuff indeed. If you go to see Angel Haze for the Dave Brubeck-esque jazz licks on ‘New York’ alone, it’ll be time well spent. Besides, she is probably going to hit the big time come 2014.