In Review: Bestival 2016

Copyright Victor Frankowski 2016
Copyright Victor Frankowski 2016

They say you should leave the best until last, and festivals are no exception. Right from the beginning of May, UK festival season kicks off. Up and down every county in the country there are DJ sets, bands, bars, portaloo’s and poetry tents filling every conceivable square inch of farmland available. This continues throughout the summer until we reach September where festival season draws to a close.

A captivating, fun filled, endlessly joyous close on the Isle of Wight. Bestival closes the festival season, and it does so with style.

Copyright Victor Frankowski © 2016
Copyright Victor Frankowski © 2016

Ever since 2004, Rob Da Bank and wife Josie have cemented a truly mesmerising festival which has captured the hearts of individuals worldwide and has crafted some of the most diverse line ups to date. We’ve seen the likes of  Fatboy Slim, Beastie Boys,  Amy Winehouse, The Prodigy, Stevie Wonder and Elton John grace the main stage and bring with them hundreds of thousands of avid fans.

This year saw The Cure, Sean Paul, Wiz Khalifa, Carl Cox, Fatboy Slim and Major Lazer headline across the weekend. It also shifted the infamous ‘Port’ stage into orbit and brought it back down to earth as ‘The Spaceport’.

Copyright Mike Massaro 2016
Copyright Mike Massaro 2016

The theme for this years Bestival was ‘The Future’, bringing with it a whole array of out of this world decorations and intergalactic props. From robots to aliens, the site was scattered with hand crafted gems that intensified an exuberant experience from start to finish.

However extravagant the decorations of a festival are, the centrepiece is still the line up. Bestival has always had an air of exclusivity around it when it comes to headliners. Whether this be Missy Elliot, Stevie Wonder or Outkast, they’ve managed to cement acts that other UK festivals could only dream of booking. This year, their main stage headliners were a little more run of the mill in comparison to previous instalments. The likes of Sean Paul and Wiz Khalifa appeared to have previous Bestival veterans turning away from the 2016 instalment. Thankfully, The Cure managed to hold up the reputation of the main stage headline slot and appease the veteran fans on Saturday night.

Copyright Bestival 2016
The Cure – Copyright Bestival 2016

A couple of days after Bestival 2016 finished, Rob Da Bank took to social media to express his thoughts and feelings for this years festival.

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-12-08-20

After reading the reactions to this, fans stated that they felt the line up was a little more electronica heavy, where as in previous years, Bestival had been a balanced blend of bands, DJ’s, artists and live sets.

This point is valid. When initially looking at the line up, it mimicked a Warehouse Project veterans wet dream. But this may be due to the movements of musical culture as a whole. Festivals such as Reading & Leeds which were once fuelled with dozens of pop punk bands and metal acts are now also fighting against a Radio 1Xtra stage and dance tent. Festivals are adapting as they always have to the musical landscape, but it’s impossible to please everybody all of the time.

Skream playing The Spaceport. Copyright Bestival 2016.
Skream playing The Spaceport. Copyright Bestival 2016.

Regarding the social media feedback, there was still something for everybody at Bestival. From a full brass band accompanying Kano on the main stage, to Fred V & Grafix delivering a secret set on top of the Nando’s van, grime, drum and bass, house and techno were all represented enormously throughout the entire weekend.

Here’s Rewind That Tracks’ top five acts from across the weekend:

1.Skepta

Copyright Victor Frankowski 2016
Copyright Victor Frankowski 2016

Before he knew that he was about to win The Mercury 2016 Prize, Skepta delivered an absolutely electric performance on Friday night at Bestival. Dominating the main stage and fresh from a surprise appearance at ‘Eskimo Dance’, Joseph Adenuga rattled through his top 140BPM anthems like they were nursery rhymes. Tracks like ‘It Ain’t Safe’ and ‘Nasty’ tore through the crowd and worked everyone into a frenzy as members of BBK jumped in and out of his set.

2.The Cure

Copyright Carolina Faruolo 2016
Copyright
Carolina Faruolo 2016

The most ‘Bestival’ act to grace the mainstage, Robert Smith capitvated the thousands upon thousands of fans that packed into the arena to watch the New Wave 80’s band. The Cure’s two and a half hour set saw them deliver an emotionally swarming performance with thousands of people singing their hearts out to ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and ‘Just Like Heaven’.

3.Heidi

Copyright Mixmag 2016
Copyright Mixmag 2016

This one surprised us at RTT. Having never really listened to the Radio 1 Veteran, we were blown away by the atmosphere in The Bollywood Tent. Probably one of the best track selections across the whole weekend, Heidi certainly showed us how to control a crowd to breaking point. The basslines never felt so good!

4.My Nu Leng b2b Oneman

Copyright Giles Smith 2016
Copyright Giles Smith 2016

Obviously you knew that this was going to be something special. The b2b2b delivered non stop rollers across The Spaceport on Saturday night curating the best bassline, grime, jungle and house from across the last 20 years. The set was one of the more ‘guns fingers in the air’ instalments to grace the Spaceport and you could certainly tell so with the crowds reactions. Rewind’s a plenty.

5.Fatboy Slim

Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns via Getty Images
Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns via Getty Images

You knew it was going to be a special set when Norman opened up with his beloved ‘Praise You’. Effortlessly diving in and out of funky house, EDM, trance and tropical jams, Fatboy Slim closed down the Spaceport with the penultimate set in style. We salute you Mr Cook!


Bestival 2016 may have been a slightly more boutique instalment in comparison to previous years, but this didn’t hinder the atmosphere during the entirety of the weekend. Having seen dozens of new acts for the first time and spending the weekend mesmerised from the attention to detail and whole hearted comradery of everyone in attendance, whether you’re a fan of MC Grindah and the rest of the Kurupt FM crew, or Barry and Paul Chuckle, Bestival has something to offer everyone. 


Check out our article on ‘The Future of UK Festivals’ here.

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