Wednesday, 14 September 2011

10 and 1 - Bestival 2011

It's been quite some time since we've seen some '10 and 1' action around here, so what better time to dust this good 'ole feature off than after the best festival of 2011 (NB. this is the only festival I've been to this year), Bestival! The weather was amazing, the people were amazing, the costumes were amazing... let's just say I had an AMAZING weekend on the Isle of Wight. Right now, we're going to look at the 10 best acts of the long weekend and the one surprising disappointment that makes our 1. Of course, this is a major festival so I couldn't see everyone. Sadly, this means that Robyn, Katy B, Patrick Wolf, Esben and the Witch, Oh Land, Clare Maguire, Health, Kyla La Grange, Hercules and Love Affair, Chromeo, Mogwai, Paloma Faith, Grandmaster Flash, Fatboy Slim and Crystal Fighters. Crystal Fighters I'm not so sad about... because I'm seeing them tonight. Boom! Who are the acts I saw that don't make the top 10? We've got Diplo, Kelis, The Cuban Brothers, Brian Wilson, Public Enemy, The Village People, Johnny Flynn, Beardyman, Magnetic Man and sadly, Santigold, who was amazing for the three songs I saw. She would have been a shoo-in if I'd seen her set. Now, let's meet the 10 best acts at Bestival 2011... and the 1 worst.

The 10:

10. Yuck

Yuck started off a bit slow, but once they got comfortable they really had the crowd going, which isn't the easiest thing to do early in the day. Definitely a band to consider seeing when next they tour.

9. Crystal Castles

What should have been a 45 minute assault on the senses ended up feeling more like a 30 minute preview of what should have been an epic set. Alice had so much energy during her performance that it's easy to forgive them and hearing 'Not In Love' live (our song of the year from 2010!) was a great moment. I was not so secretly waiting for Robert Smith to come out and join them, but it wasn't to be. 

8. DJ Shadow

Incredible visuals, banging tunes and... some random weirdo of a guest singer that lost the crowd. Shadow recovered, but watching some people leave took away a lot from his show. 

7. James Blake

Consider me converted to the JB fan club. A perfect Sunday afternoon chilled show to get you ready for the evening's festivities. 

6. Pendulum

Again, I'd never been the biggest Pendulum fan before seeing them, but after? Yeah... I'm already listening to them non-stop. The visuals during their show were arguably the best of the entire weekend and they genuinely came across like a big-time act, deserving of a headlining slot. This is how you want to dance the night away.

5. Sneaky Sound System

Not. Even. Kidding. Sure, there's some Australian bias here, but Miss Connie knocked the Sneaky Sound System show out of the park. From the moment she took to the Roller Disco stage, she had the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand. She was playful, her voice was unbelievable good live and it was the perfect mix of new and old material. Throw in a cover of 'Sweet Dreams' and you've got one of the most memorable shows of the entire festival.

4. PJ Harvey

Oh, Polly Jean. Two-time Mercury Music Prize winning beauty. Her performance was mesmerizing, focused and crowd-pleasing. She never faltered once with her vocals, which truly are even better live than recorded. I would have loved to hear some older tracks, but hearing the majority of Let England Shake was more than good enough for me. 'Down By The Water' was awesome though. Thank you. 

3. The Cure

Wow. What more do you want me to say? The Cure have a history of terrible reviews this decade, so I will admit I was a little afraid to set my expectations too high. High I set them and I'm glad I did. From the moment Robert Smith walked out to a rabid crowd, to the moment they played their last song from a two-and-a-half hour set (featuring two encores!), The Cure delivered an epic performance. 'Lovesong,' 'Friday, I'm In Love,' 'Just Like Heaven,' 'Boys Don't Cry,' 'The Lovecats.' All the classics were there. All were amazing. A definite 'once in a lifetime' moment that I'll remember for the rest of my life. 

2. Bjork

Hopefully seeing Bjork won't be a 'once in a lifetime' moment, because I want to see her again and again... and again and again and again. Her Biophilia shows are going to be amazing. Her Biophilia album is going to be amazing. Words just fail me when I try to describe how beautiful Bjork's Bestival performance was. Accompanied by a girl's choir (who looked to be having the time of their lives dancing with Bjork), new instruments and striking on-screen visuals, Bjork played through Biophilia I believe in its entirety. She even addressed that they weren't the most festival-like song, "but we don't give a damn." So true, so very true. Being the genius that she is, she threw performances of 'Joga,' 'Hyperballad' and 'Declare Independence' in, just for good measure. Listening to 'Hyperballad' live was one of the greatest moments in my life. Yep.

1. Primal Scream

I've never seen Primal Scream before and it's likely that I'll never see them again... but I'll be damned if dancing on the guard rail, in the mosh pit, directly in front of Bobby Gillespie wasn't the funnest concert experience I've ever had. 

The 1:

The Drums

Seriously. What was going on with you guys? In the past, I've been nothing but impressed with your live performances. This time? It was just so underwhelming. I really don't understand. And what's with all your new songs all sounding the same? I was singing the chorus to 'Money' during every song. 
Well, there's your '10 and 1' for Bestival 2011. Were you in attendance this year? Who did you love? Who didn't you love? Who did you dress up as for fancy dress day?

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