Mella Dee kicks off proceedings on the Temple stage early Thursday evening with the sun beating down as he pumps in disco flavoured beats. The blissed out vibes of ‘Dopamine Machine’ by Camelphat starts to get the crowd grooving. Then ‘Dope’ by Butch kicks up the bass a bit, thumping, it swells out onto the sun drenched hill.
Mella Dee is followed by good friends Denis Sulta and HAAi going b2b, they waste no time in dropping hard hitting ‘Poison Dart’ by 2AM/FM. Sulta then pops up wearing a wig, pink flashes of hair as he weaves behind the decks with ‘Pjanoo’ by Eric Prydz going off.
To begin Friday Mt. Wolf bring their blend of folk and electronic to the big top and gently ease the crowd into the day. Later Idles on the Castle stage bring their raw uncompromising punk sound as they smash through ‘Mother’, ‘Heel/Heal’. Later on in the set new single ‘Samaritans’ gets a play out, rather than shying away from the subject the song tackles toxic masculinity head on. One of the sets of the festival and new album Joy as an Act of Resistance is definitely one to look out for.
Over at Temple, Artwork is in the house and bringing the party vibes with ‘Point Zero’ by Voyage. With the sun slowly beginning to sink he is bringing the love. Later on the Temple stage Honey Dijon drops ‘The Story Continues’ by Marco Lys into the mix with huge flames shooting up into the night sky.
Bicep bring an emotive edge to proceedings slowly easing up to full pace. Sparks fly from the top of the stage as ‘Hielo’ by Lorent Sian kicks into the mix. It’s on their own tracks that Bicep get the biggest response from the crowd with the ever impressive ‘Aura’ the penultimate song of the evening. The nostalgic rave stabs of ‘Glue’ fade in before those familiar breaks steal the show in a moment of pure magic.
Over at Bollywood, Metalheadz boss Goldie takes over on selection. Opening with ‘Timeless’, he goes on to play the best drum and bass set of the festival pulling in his banger ‘I Adore You’ from album The Journeyman.
Saturday saw David Rodigan team up with The Outlook Orchestra as they bop and skank their way through Jamaican music from reggae to ska, rocksteady, dancehall and more. After being helicoptered in the irrepressible Grace Jones dazzles with an array of extravagant outfits, and hula hoops for the entirety of her performance of ‘Slave to the Rhythm’. Many artists could learn something from the 70 year old who is just as fierce and enigmatic on stage now as she was years ago.
Songhoy Blues bring pure positive energy throughout their early Sunday afternoon slot on the Castle stage. The band, hailing from Mali, engage the crowd in a number of creative dance moves including the funky chicken amongst others. Later on in the day Gentleman’s Dub Club draw a sizeable audience for their dubby excursions, everywhere we turn bodies are grooving and skanking out. Chaka Khan make the most of the sunshine with their funky guitar licks and singable choruses. Set highlights include ‘I’m Every Woman’ and ‘Ain’t Nobody’ which finishes with her guitarist plucking his guitar with his teeth.
To round off the weekend MIA brings the heat and nods to her heritage by inviting Tamil dancers onstage for a brief display. ‘Bad Girls’ smashes the stage, before MIA says “we always need equality” before launching into ‘Boyz’. The frenzied and chaotic ‘Born Free’ sees the rapper scale the front crowd barrier, thrusting the mic into the faces of the audience for the chorus.
A sun soaked Bestival has survived the changes in recent years and is beginning to thrive, roll on next year.