Bestival 2017 opened at its new home at Lulworth Estate with a promising packed lineup of musical treats and festivities, Nosa Malcolm explores. I arrived late Friday night, the clouds had consumed the sky and the forecast rain came down as I unloaded my car. Getting your tent set-up as it’s pouring-down can get you anxious for what is ahead, but the steady flow of enthusiastic festival goers through the campsite mixed with thumping bass and echoing sounds of MC’s from the main arena kept a glow under a damp exterior.
Waking up Saturday to sunshine and spirits were high for the onesie clad semi zombie coffee seeking survivors. Some refueling on cooked breakfast, chilling in the hammocks surrounding the info point, whilst others queued for showers or were already soaking in the hot-tubs.
Getting into the main festival arena and it was obvious that the weather was already taking its toll on the site. One word, mud. There was some grass left on the ground, the sun was still shining, but the clouds were gathering.
HMS Bestival, the finest gay cruise liner had the party in full swing with Musical Bingo from midday. Host James Loveridge guided the crowd to link arms as they swayed along to some dance floor classics, raising the festival mood.
Disappointed I’d missed the amazing Gospel House Choir, I arrived at the Castle stage just in time to catch Nadia Rose. Fortunate to of seen her perform at a couple of festivals earlier in the season Nadia shows great consistency matched with a vibrancy that sets her apart from similar artist.
The sun was still shining, as I toured the site checking out the various bars, market stalls and art installations. I stood next to the giant astronauts staring through the rainbow they were holding and torrential rain fell. By this time the main festival arena was pretty full of people desperately seeking shelter, albeit with caution as the mud became more and more challenging.
I made it to Jägerhaus, hoping for shelter, passing through the entrance corridor into an open roofed courtyard. Surrounded by others with similar disappointment, we tried to embrace the rain and boogie to tunes spun by Pairo.
The rain continued and I made a careful step downhill through the mud, which by this time seemed to of consumed the whole site. Finally making it to The Box, a large sized marque with about 50 percent of its grass floor still intact. Great timing as the Flamingods were just beginning and there psychedelic melting pot of world sounds nicely took the edge off of some of the more popular or DJ based sounds so far.
And with that brought a break of glorious sunshine. As I ventured across the site, I came upon Invaders Of The Future, a smaller circus style marque with punk-pop trio The Tuts, playing to a joyous crowd. The P in punk really packs a punch in their live show just as it does on their recorded material. Lead vocalist Nadia Javed really showed a great passion for their songs, with great stage presence and taking an opportunity to lean into the crowd whilst playing her guitar.
On higher ground (slightly less muddy) stood the elaborately decorated ‘church of dance’, Temple. Those that made it this far were spoilt to a sun-trap filled with house and techno beats supplied by production duo Solardo.
Back to the Castle stage and Detroit rapper Danny Brown has a steadily building crowd waving along to hits from Really Doe to Grown Up. As he bounced across the stage dropping song after song, I realised there was a good portion of die-hard fans reciting lyrics, some with conviction. A good sign for an artist who’s been constantly bubbling for some years.
The firmly established artist that is Rag ’n’ Bone Man took to the Castle stage in the late afternoon with a humble confidence. Drawing-in the biggest crowd so far with his expected strong vocals, he pleased the audience with a great performance. Dedicating the song Ego from his 2017 album Human to Donald Trump, though I think we could have handled something a little stronger than ‘orange prick’.
As I get to the back of the crowd close to Lulworth castle, which was great to see inside the arena area, I could hear the distinctive voice of Fatman Scoop at HMS Bestival. Sounding more than lively I’d began the now treacherous journey through the mud, I must have made it about half way till I realised from my own and others struggle, getting there and back for Dizzee Rascal was not going to happen.
Taking solace at the Old Mout Cider’s Kiwi Camp, a debut for this years festival, I found Gospeloke. A gospel choir led karaoke, with some outstanding renditions from festival goers and a great addition to almost stumble across.
As the night drew in Dizzee Rascal, another experienced and strong performer hit the Castle stage with to a very excited crowd. Bringing a seemingly endless string of hits one after the other, the London born rapper and pioneer of grime music’s highlight had to be the hugely massive Bonkers.
Stopping at Pig’s Big Record Club for some rocking blues were the hottest sounding rockabilly 4 piece outfit, the Black Kat Boppers. Enticing you to dance with there big punchy sound, howling front man Roy Phillips and a band tighter than your toes gripping your boots in the mud. They had a crowded intimate tent boogieing in a bluesy rock n roll bubble.
Billed as their final UK appearance, headliners A Tribe Called Quest have been making raw organic hip hop for more than 30 years and just over a year ago lost band member and one of the most influential rappers of all time, Phife Dawg. Band members Q Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Jarobi and Consequence came out on stage to great the fans and pay homage to Phife before taking us on ride through an array of material from across their catalog.
Playing a diverse range of songs that included hip hop favorites such as Award Tour or Find A Way, to 2016’s Dis Generation and classic joints like Scenario for the hardcore fans. It didn’t matter what year it was, it felt like it always should of, legendary, with all members holding their own. A hip hop showcase wrapped-up in one band living up to all expectations. As their latest album title reads, We Got It From Here, Thank You 4 Your Service.
I ended the night with a personal highlight managing to catch the enchanting Hypnotic Brass Ensemble aka The Bad Boys Of Jazz. This eight piece band of brothers based out in Chicago have been kicking-up a stink, touring the globe and playing with an eclectic mix of artists for some time. And they kicked the ass out of the end of Saturday night, with a fair sized crowd rocking and chanting along throughout their show. If you like live hip hop influenced rocking jazz, these guys are a must see.
Nosa malcolm travelled up hill and down dale and eventually made it through the rain clocking up some 12 miles of walking around the Bestival site on Saturday. If the mud had not got in the way he would have probably done a few more miles. Sunday’s weather put paid to a lot of the activities and there were power outages and storm to contend with.
Live Review & Photography by Nosa Malcolm at Bestival 2017, Lulworth Estate. September 9th 2017