Best in British Music Show with Tara O.
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Bestival 2009! (Pics, Vids, Reviews, Interviews)

OMG where to start.. What IS Bestival? this is what everyone asks me…

Short version: It’s a 3day music festival with about 300 artists, 17 stages, where people can also dress up and not be laughed at). It takes place on the Isle of Wight, a large island south of England.

Long version: It’s won the Medium size festival award for 2? years now. Had 43,000 people attending this year. It’s eco-friendly (eg recycling, they hand out ashtrays). There’s so much music(till 12p-3am)/acts/things to do (incl. comedy, various DJs, learn to dance, …) you’d never see everything even if you tripled yourself. It’s dress-up with different annual themes. This year was space (see pics below for costumes). There’s a contest for best dress-up with the winner picked by Lily Allen winning free festival tkts. It’s also special cause it’s the last fest of season.

If you never watched any music you could still spend all your time: going on rides (ferris wheel), parading around in your space alien outfit, sit back/eat some fish chips& mushy peas (why dont we have these in Canada?) or some great cornish pasties and watch the costumes stroll down the esplanade, play games, dress up and get ‘married’ at the blow up church, hang out at the Bestival radio station & listen to tunes, dress up and parade a runway, learn how to spacewalk, DJ a set, shop for vintage/2nd hand clothes, ride a bicycle to charge your cellphone, take dance lessons, hang out with your tent neighbors, drink/eat from the many offerings, play Beatles Rockband, look at displays, buy local foods (clotted cream &scones!), meet people from England & Australia like we did, and just generally wander the 8?Km square of land exploring the different zones/themes set up, and more. It’s also unique in being kid-friendly with kid activities and a ‘quiet’ and family tent zones.

Festival Map

Tara O. Pics of Bestival (the Grounds, people, costumes…) :

Bestival Festival (Sep 10-14, 2009)

BBC’s summary of Bestival

From the site … “Our Outer Space fancy dress theme was so popular that in the pre-festival frenzy there was no tinfoil left on the Isle of Wight and the local B&Q had completely sold out of Altern8 style boilers suits, art shops as far away as London struggled to meet the demand for silver paint and there were record breaking queues in fancy dress shops across the country.” I believe it.

Getting there:

From Heathrow bused 45min to Woking, caught a 1.5h train to Portsmouth, and even though you can sign up to swim to the island we took the 25min ferry to Isle of Wight, 20min walk down boardwalk to the Isle, 20min bus ride to the festival town on the Isle, 1.5km walk from festival gates to the tent. And this doesn’t include allll the longgg queues almost every step of the way (but hey, you get to meet some fun people – and some cranky people!). All in all, it was a 6hr flight + 12 more hours till we arrive at the tent (thank you Tangerine Fields for renting them), only to feel my back land lightly to the ground as the air mattress was insufficiently inflated (i withdraw my thank you Tangerine Fields as re-inflating became a daily issue). So up again, and off to find air. Once unpacked the sun was starting to set so it was important to go explore as the Festival Day 1 would be underway tomorrow. And hell, I could sleep all night …so what’s the big deal?

Post exploration finally meant sleep. Or so I thought. Apparantly a group decided to park on our Tangerine land and talked/fought/joked ALL night (i don’t say this as an expression). At times it was humourous but all n all sleep would’ve been preferred. People around had tried in vain to quiet them, security came by at unfortunately the worst time – when they were being rather quiet …so we all stuck it out. I could only conclude they were on E or something cause yak yak yak and boy they werent shy about what they said. But I figured they’d stop eventually, and when they did I’d get a good 6hrs in. Finally around 6am they, and the other 10 tents around them fell off to sleep. Surprise! We were all rewoken around 9am when the group decided it was time to wake up and start jabbering again. Tangerine Fields was advised in the morning and by nighttime of day 1, we came back to find their tent gone (security had binned it halleluyah) and had the 1st good sleep in over 2 days. But I was at a UK festival and cranked to be there.. somehow my body hardly noticed….

DAY 1 – Friday Sep 11

So fresh as a daisy off we went to start the day! Caught the Acorn (how ironic I fly all the way to England and the 1st band I see is Canadian – and in fact the lead (Rolf) used to work at the radio station when I first started. Also caught Passion Pit – had heard Brits liked them and the festival proved it. Then onto Maps in one of many DJ tents. The rest of the late afternoon/evening was devoted to Friendly Fires, Florence, and Soulwax. Wanted to see Massive Attack but my massive lack of sleep had turned me into an octogenarian and by 10pm my body was finally crashing hard.arghhh! Too bad, the next day tent neighbors said they put on a wicked show, with an oustanding Teardrop. ..almost made me cry 😉

Maps
Pics:

Bestival Performances – Tara O. Bjorn Again, Maps, Carl Cox, Jack Penate, Passion Pit, Joe Gideon Pi

James Chapman is Maps. ambiant electro is his thing. We Can Create in 2007 is a great piece of work and he just released Turning the Mind, which, probably due to my heightened expectations meant I don’t find it quite as good as the ’07. ahh human nature..
It was the 1st artist to see in the Big Top and the afternoon mood was relaxed and there were some gaps of space so I even managed to wander up to the front, almost center. There’s where you found the Maps’ …headbangers for lack of a better term. The frontliners were going nuts. Good for them!

Passion Pit, Jack Penate (vid), Joe Gideon & the Shark
Pics & Vids (note: Vids best viewed not sitting too close to screen):

Bestival Performances – Tara O. Bjorn Again, Maps, Carl Cox, Jack Penate, Passion Pit, Joe Gideon Pi

Friendly Fires
Pics:

Friendly Fires (Bestival 2009 Pics)

what can I say… Ed swings his hips and dances everywhere, (and nicely dressed in his pressed shirt & pants (not capris)..but what was with that pant hem? a few inches too high perhaps? sorry, this IS a music blog but woah – somebody give that boy some fashion help. all I can say is ummm he’s got nice ankles…. ??
The music was good… we’ve all seen them so nothing new to say here. We actually spent most of their show chatting with some people and listening to them in the background (how spoiled is that! ;-). Ed did look a little ..red eyed (hey, i have a zoom lens) — maybe he was hung over and didnt realize the pant thing? yes. i’m still stuck on that… 7/10

Florence –
Pics & Vid (note: Vid best viewed not sitting too close to screen):

Florence (Bestival 2009 Vid & Pics)

Florence, Florence – I wanted an interview but that… that bitch! (i say that in the most loving way 😉 She was too popular for me so no dice. (Redemption: she’s in Canada in Nov. and I will laud praise then) I’ve been listening /playing Florence for months now and she was probably *the act I was most looking forward to. A big fan? a-hmm. She & her band were all dressed up (Space was this year’s dress-up theme) just as she’d promised in a Reading video. How did her hard working drummer manage to not pass out covered in that aluminum space suit?? She sang….fairrly well but wait – Lungs ..that’s the name of the CD – and I’ve heard you (on live vids) belt it out live like crazy ..but florence I’m not feeling that same Glasto,Reading energy. It was good but Lily (day 2) kicked her ass in the entertainment & vocal department. But yes, I’m still a big fan. Canada needs to hear you though. She sang all the big ones off Lungs, ending with You got the Love – which everyone loved. Sorry such limited video. Sometimes I didnt think of it but here I was probably just too captivated. 7.5/10 (bonus .5 for the space outfit so 8/10)

Soulwax
Pics:

Soulwax (Tara O. Bestival 2009 Pics)

this was a treat. Two Belgian DJs i’ve admired for many yrs … i’m getting to see in person. (almost worth my no sleep lifestyle). They put on a great show on the main stage. They look kinda boring onstage and if you were to cross them in the street you wouldnt look twice but lots of creativity going on in the 12” between them. (i’m referring to each of their 6” of brain!). 7.5/10

WRAP-UP DAY 1

So it doesn’t seem like much of a day but time flies and during all this you’re busy standing in food or bathroom lines (I didnt discover the no-lines-at the port-a-potties for-media folks until day 2!) or walking around exploring what we’d seen as night was falling the evening before – but now in the light of day and with 1000s of people wandering around too, visiting the many new event tents that had popped up overnight.

The weather was wonderful. Sunny with some wind so no one passed out. likely. The port-a-potties were still clean (the best ones were near my tent site – these really big ones with tons of paper – never seen the likes of at a festival. why there werent line ups galore for this place was beyond me but i wasnt telling!) and the good thing (?) about H1N1 on the scene is all stops now had that sanitizer liquid – though it was rationing out on day 3… yeah sure, let us die JUST before we go home people!! I may joke but each year all UK festivals vie for awards and there IS one for best toilets … i just might vote!

I wasn’t thrilled about paying L8 for the music schedule – considering I’d paid a ton in time & money & ticket (L140) just to get there and was doing media/promotion for them, and the exchange rate is 1.85. Thankfully I found the schedule in the media tent on day 2 when it was time to go interview the Golden Silvers around lunch.

DAY 2 – Sat Sep 12

This was probably overall the most fun day – cause while some people wear their outfits all weekend, *this is the big day wehre everyone officially pulls out their costume and parades around. And it was ah-nother beautiful day weather-wise so the sun shone,reflected off the costumes and no one had to hide their works of art under sweaters etc.

We were hoping the festival organizers would`ve somehow improved conditions for taking pics in the pit (eg, moved the bands’ standing position closer to the front (you`ll notice it`s hard to get drummers in any pics as they were always wayyy back of the stage) but it wasn’t to change throughout. Some pics are better cause they’re taken standing on a small stool.

Golden Silvers – Golden Silvers Interview & Pics

The show started late and so so did my interview. Thankfully I had booked interview time before leaving cause boy, once there, UK media really wanted to meet with them and I wouldnt have stood a chance. But I was first in line 😉 Sorry about the sound quality of the interview- the media tent (why do they always do this? i mean i understand logistically but …) the tent was RighT next to the main stage so you hear the bass from a band playing. Thankfully the Doves interview was in their dressing room off site so no problems there. GS opened with True Romance, no doubt their best one of the new album and continued with more indie/new wave/funk/disco-ish tunes for about 45min. Too bad lead Gwilyn was always tied to his keyboard – needs one of those Tenori-on’s Little Boots uses (and apparantly Lily too as I discovered later that day). Then they rolled into the media tent for the interview with moi! great sound but low action. 7.5/10

Little Boots
Pics:

Little Boots (Bestival 2009 pics)

She comes out driving one of those pink barbie kids cars. which, again, cause the stage is SO high, those up front couldn’t see and the 1 big screen to the left of the stage isn’t helpful when you’re standing on the right of the stage. She’s dressed like a grandmother + a boa (see pics) and not a granny going to space. wtf? Or maybe this was some Brit space outfit from a show i’m not aware of? Eventually the boa & white granny glasses come off. whew. was too weird watching granny dance around singing about love. This electro girl AKA Victoria Hesketh known for bringing the Tenori-on (scroll to bottom for details: http://taraoweb.com/blog/2009/01/jan-14-2009-podcast-and-show-playlist/) into awareness – wouldnt go so far as popular yet, even though it’s a Bjork fav toy, produces some fun light electro. By far the best response was during Stuck on Repeat – a song that aptly stuck in my head for days when I first heard it. See I wasnt the only one. 7.5/10 (lose .5 point with the stupid outfit Vic!)

Jack Penate
Vid (note: Vid best viewed not sitting too close to screen):

From Bestival Performances – Tara O. Bjorn Again, Maps, Carl Cox, Jack Penate, Passion Pit, Joe Gideon Pi

Jack was also on in the Big Top belting out his tunes (see vid). Unfortunately the sound wasn’t that great so we didnt stay long and used the opportunity to explore the grounds. 5.5/10

Lily Allen
Pics & Vids (note: Vids best viewed not sitting too close to screen):

Lily Allen (Tara O. Bestival 2009 vids & pics)

Entertainment-wise Lily was the hilte. Hate to give it to her cause she’s so well known and commercial but spade is a spade. She was space-outfitted with her usual sexy slant, she covered the whole stage area left to right, engaged & chatted with the crowd, had a *great voice, and we all had a good laugh when the audio cut out on her track (see vid). She had everyone’s finger in the air singing to Fuck You and was pretty ‘demonstrative’ with her mic (if you know what i mean) singing It’s not Fair. Few days later I read she would quit music & start acting. Not bad for a girl discovered on MySpace 3ish years ago. She also participated in the festival picking the best space outfits and the final winner. 9/10

Klaxons
Vid (note: Vid best viewed not sitting too close to screen):

From Bestival Festival (Sep 10-14, 2009)

It’s evening and I was hungry so ate my chips & mushy peas staring at Klaxons on a large screen set up several 100 metres bck from the main stage – the organizers did have the foresight to put on there, realizing EVeryone cant fit into the main stage viewing area. They had a great night time show

Kraftwerk
Pics:

Kraftwerk (Bestival 2009)

I hadnt seen live before. I was surprised at the massive turnout even though they were the Sat night show closers. Havent they performed for years – hasnt everyone in Europe seen them by now? As they don’t ‘sing’ or say much, it’s essentially a set heavy on technology, light and word reminding us all of the perils of living (nuclear, spies, enemies..)

La Roux
Vid & Pics (note: Vids best viewed not sitting too close to screen):

La Roux (Tara O. Bestival 2009 Pics & Vids)

After midnight it’s off to see La Roux. You could see crowds had been gathering for awhile and it was going to be tough getting into the tent but having seen her a month earlier at Osheaga -play an outdoor afternoon show to about 400? Canadians I was dying to see the vast expected difference to a UK reception. It was as good as I’d imagined and read about her shows at past festivals. There was a growing mass of people, and the frenzy built as she played and by the time her last one In for the Kill happened I think it was a strange relief it was over — so many people dancing in such little space. It makes sense but nonetheless how much more confident she appeared here than in Montreal. She’s got a great live voice. Light & screen show was great too. 9/10

WRAP-UP DAY 2

Everyone was in great mood being dressed up all day and while there was drinking I never saw or really heard 1 fight. This is v. unusual for an english crowd. Was the spirit of the festival taking over? As had been a few times a day, you’d encounter more English who would say this is the best festival going (but dont tell anyone) oops. that it’s the friendliest & the safest (eg tent robbing) one. To give you an idea… my biggest ‘problem’ all 3 days was probably making sure I always had enuf toilet paper on hand. And if you flashed that stuff around…every girl in line was asking you for some! 😉

Somehow in all that days activities we completely missed Micachu & the Shapes and so many, but missing acts would be a common theme as you realized it was just impossible to be everywhere. But I suppose not having the option like many in the UK to catch these acts throughout the year I was struggling to fit in as much as possible. Often, in meeting people they would tell you about even more great acts to check out (thanks Dave for The Mummers & Squarepusher) which would only add to the dilemma. Hanging around the media tent waiting for an interview or checking on updates would usually produce a band or two milling around (eg Hockey) but sometimes I would have to guess who they were! But they must have been popular enough in the UK cause interview lineups would start & flashes go off (eg Kitty Daisy & Lewis).

Then v. late at some point “the pyrotechnic delights of the Fire Field that included the stunning After Burner stage and the dazzling Blastival, proving especially popular with the late night congregation.” The AfterBurner was basicallly the late night clubbing area, dancing/hanging out around a large stage with a …i dont even know how to describe it… jet engine placed vertically on a stage with lights, lasers and flames around. Around it’s circumference walked an MC further entertaining the crowd.

So off to bed for what would turn out to be the only full nights sleep in about 5days. Tomorrow was Doves interview day!

DAY 3 – Sun Sep 13

Hmm today had its sunny moments but for the 1st time in days with the wind & clouds you could imagine rain. In early afternoon after re-confirming my Doves interview we used the time to explore the festival before the late afternoon interview. or so i thought…
By late afternoon the weather was cooling, and so was I but i refused to budge from the media area, as Doves were to arrive at any time. Well there had been a miscommunication so by the time they arrived, it was time to for them to play and it was unlikely they’d interview afterwards (as you may know Doves like to …chill out …after a show – esp. when their friends Elbow are nearby) I love Doves and hell or high water, I was interviewing them. They were one if not *the main reason I chose this festival over others – knowing they’d be there. So when the show was over and after a total 3?hour cold wait, it was up to the artist camp to interview before they interacted with Elbow – or else all I would’ve gotten was slurring! 😉

Doves Doves Interview & Vids & Show/Interview Pics
note: Vids best viewed not sitting too close to screen

Doves (Bestival 2009 Show & Tara O. Interview Pics, Video)

In the world of UK music, longevity is more than 1 album. Doves put out #4 this year – some say deserving of the Mercury Prize for the years best album (like the Polaris in Canada). These 3 northern almost 40 y.olds hate having to label their music, so listen to the interview to hear how Jez describes themselves. Though known by all they are one of England’s (and the worlds) most under appreciated bands producing wonderful harmonies & melodies, lyrics and more. I wish I hadn’t known they had just arrived in time to get on stage but the lack of congruantness (is that a word?) with the audience and the festival became apparent anyways (“what’s this year’s theme?” lead Jimi asks the crowd). While Jimi may not have Elbow’s suave & heartily-friendly, affable Guy Garvey style on stage, he is nonetheless 1/3 of one my fav bands, creating music I’ve listened to many times over. (KoR & Some Cities: CD Reviews)

Doves put on a good show- running the gamut of songs from 4CDs playing a set list you’ve probably heard before if you’ve ever had the smarts or fortune to see a show. For a smoker (I presume as he had a lighter at the interview) Jimi’s voice is strong and he’s experienced & confident enuf to know that 30sec in, they needed to start over cause Jez’s guit wasnt hooked up properly. It was wonderful to see them live, outdoors, and at the best time – when the sun is setting – so you see them in daylight, sun set, and darkness and lights. With so many talented pieces, I would’ve like to have heard some different tracks from the mainstays. 8/10

Bjorn Again
Vid (note: Vid best viewed not sitting too close to screen):

From Bestival Performances – Tara O. Bjorn Again, Maps, Carl Cox, Jack Penate, Passion Pit, Joe Gideon Pi

One of many festival discoveries was this ABBA cover band that is apparantly HUGE in the UK & OZ. They look just like them and have been doing this for years. Everyone under 25 was jumping & dancing and sometimes I would think – I wonder if they’ve ever even seen the original band – or do they even care? I’d never seen people so completely enamoured /such buy-in with a cover band. Good for them. What more can I say except how long before they reach N.A.? 8/10

Elbow –
Vid & Pics (note: Vids best viewed not sitting too close to screen):

Elbow (Tara O. Bestival 2009 Pics & Vids)

Having seen them play live the first time only a month ago at Osheaga.com, I knew their set list, style, how it’d all roll out. I was pleasantly surprised to see the added video, great light work, and lead Guy’s even more heartwarming chats with the crowd. Best was when he has a frank chat near the end, telling us all..let’s skip the game of “we go off the stage, you clap and we all know we come back for an encore”. “instead, if you want us back you’ll need to sing the star trek theme”. well laugh then sing we did. He put a great twist on a tedious matter. Has Guy always been this affable or is it cause he’s now in love and the world is wonderful…?
The show was great. While not costumed, the 4 back up singers came out as Princess Leia’s. 9/10.

Carl Cox
Vid (note: Vid best viewed not sitting too close to screen):

From Bestival Performances – Tara O. Bjorn Again, Maps, Carl Cox, Jack Penate, Passion Pit, Joe Gideon Pi

Before Carl was up we wanted to check out Derrick Carter playing at another DJ tent but it was packed (and though you can always sqeeze in) more importantly it was *full of sweaty people. The temperature of the open air tent was likely 4degrees warmer than outside. Not wanting catch a cold (as I was starting to feel it from standing in the cold for hours waiting for Doves) I had to pass.
Headed to see Carl at the Big Top which was getting near capacity. It’s amazing, wonderful, impressive, that at 50 he still pulls out everyone. So at midnight there we are, tent com-plete-ly full by now, and people crowded outside, sitting on the grass all around, listening to him spin some old, some new and it’d just been about oooo 20degrees warmer you would’ve thought you were in Ibiza. He had a light show going on the tent walls, and 2 big screens displaying graphics that (surely) would’ve been better on shrooms or the like. Show lasted two hours but I needed to leave early as was getting sick(er).

POST BESTIVAL TRIP

Scotland:

Scotland (post Bestival Sep09)

Scotland Whisky Distillery:

Scotland Whisky Distillery (Post Bestival Sep09)

Flying over Greenland:

Greenland (post Bestival Sep 2009)
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