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The Best of Bestival

Bestival didn’t get the best of press this year by some reviews as it downsized to its scale of 5 years ago and use of plain plastic wristbands instead of the unique material caused a stir amongst goers. Josie Durney took some time between her stewarding shifts to check out the music on offer, here’s what she had to say.

Before you judge my top four acts of Bestival I’ll tell you now that I didn’t even see The Cure, Major Lazer, or Sean Paul. The large crowds that would gather at the main stage were a deterrent to say the least and I like being within distance of bands to see them with my own two eyes. There were memorable and great performances from the likes of Snakehips, Animal Collective, Black Honey, The Human League, JAWS, and Glass Animals. However, the artists that really stood out to me were:

VANT

You might recognize VANT from their EP title track KARMA SEEKER. And yes, their name and tracks are all capitalised which sets the character for the band’s politically buzzing songs. A genuine concern for the planet and politics sweats out from them, particularly frontman-guitar-vocalist Mattie Vant who would express the discontent written into each song before digging right into performing. The punk influences are easy to feel, and I find VANT to be our modern-day answer to the real angst which pushed forward the forerunners of punk in the past, but with tempo and rhythms you can follow to dance to. Two members of the band cheekily performed the last song topless because ‘why not?’ reflecting their balance between laid-back garage rock and defiance towards unwanted normality.

Strong Asian Mothers

I still have not, and will not, get over Strong Asian Mothers. A merge of hip-hop, electronic, pop, rock, beats and trumpet–this London trio are not slowing down. Their name is a nod to their mothers and their cultural background (their EP Lynx Africa art is a creation by one of their mothers mixing strong, bright colours and Islamic designs). Captivating tones were matched by the most entertaining and charismatic stage presence I have ever seen. The ipad had a few technical problems so they put their tunes together unintentionally freshly but ran with it amazingly. They introduced songs with quips like ‘this is about Where’s Wally’ or ‘this was inspired by twitter, let me just tweet about it now’. The fact that we weren’t in a club or that it wasn’t quite sunset over the stage was pushed aside by the remarkable energy and confidence making them the band I’ll be dropping into conversations and recommending to my friends.

Sunflower Bean

A friend of mine recommended Sunflower Bean to me a few months back and I instantly connected with their youthful playfulness and somewhat dreamy pop and jangly-rock guitars. An almost gothic stage presence was collectively created by the singer-guitarist in completely blacked out shades and the singer-bassist in a dark dress matching her dark eyes contrasting her pale skin, and the humble drummer just getting on with playing. This band from New York held one of the largest audiences I saw at the ‘Invaders of the Future’ Stage, and the singers bounced off each other’s skill, improvisation, and physical engagement with the music. Sunflower Bean’s music has an almost dated tone to it but they feel like a band that stands for our generation.

Jagwar Ma

So you’ve discovered Tame Impala, but with Parker’s recent surge in popularity, you’re not quite sure if you’re still cutting it as indie. You find Jagwar Ma. This trio is your next answer to Australian produced neo-psychadelic-cum-dance music. Their light display was enviable and I couldn’t stop uncontrollably dancing to everything they performed. Winterfield’s vocals are somewhat evocative of The Beach Boys but essentially trance inducing and a new found vibe for me.

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