After attending Bestival this September, it’s a wonder why all festivals don’t dedicate a day to fancy dress. The weekend’s theme, which changes annually, was desert island disco, and produced an innumerable array of creative costumes, from a man imprisoned in a bamboo cage by a giant gorilla, to what I can only assume was the festival’s only six-man walking desert island. Apparently there were also two guys somewhere dressed as palm trees offering lucky punters a chance to chill out in the hammock they’d attached in between themselves – an idea that probably seemed better in its conception than in practice. There was even the world’s largest disco ball tying the whole theme together, which was suspended aloft on the final night, illuminating the main arena.
As well as all these ocular treats, the festival delivered a wonderful and diverse bill of performers, from the main stage acts right through to the new talent on the smaller stages.
On Saturday night Danish artist Mø graced the Invaders of the Future stage, Bestival’s self-professed platform to showcase the finest up and coming artists. Mø produced one of the most electric performances of the weekend, drawing on the best tracks from her debut record, No Mythologies to Follow, which she released this year, to do so. Her unique and strong vocal style cut above the electronic beats with faultless pop melodies as she traversed the stage dynamically. Brave to the extreme, at one point she launched herself into the densely packed crowd and continued to sing ethereally above onlookers. Highlights of her set included the tracks ‘Waste of Time’, ‘Don’t Wanna Dance’ and ‘XXX 88 (Feat. Diplo)’. If you haven’t already indulged in this Scandinavian electro-pop force, then please, I implore you, do.
The Invaders of the Future stage also saw three-piece London band Happyness give a great performance, consisting of loose summery guitar riffs and light, lo-fi vocals from both guitarist and bassist. Very American in style, yet very British in substance, the band played a crowd pleasing, upbeat set with plenty of dry humour to boot. Featuring was their track ‘It’s On You’, which produced a pure, unadulterated summer sound. Also performed was ‘Montreal Rock Band Somewhere’, a song about scalping the members of Arcade Fire. I’ll let that sit with you.
Another personal favourite from the Saturday line-up were Darkside. The self-effacing New York duo offered up some deliciously entrancing electro-rock beats to the eagerly awaiting Big Top crowd. The landscape of their performance had an almost restorative quality; playing some up-tempo and some more mellow tracks, they injected energy and then pulled it back deftly song by song, making their gig a truly fascinating experience. Disguised throughout as silhouettes against a backlighting of amber and white, Darkside constructed an elusive on-stage presence for themselves, which complimented their set list perfectly. In fact, if you look up the pair on YouTube, you’ll notice that Nicholas Jaar and Dave Harrington seem most comfortable in a crepuscular setting, as most of their live sessions seem to be executed in a darkened room or at dusk. These guys pour over every note vigilantly, a feature that really paid off in the standout track of their set, ‘Paper Trails’.
It was hard for the acts this year to rival the truly amazing spectacle that was Bestival’s fancy dress theme, but these three bands, along with the incredible headliners, certainly put up a good fight.