Having had a night to sleep on it, musicOMH has decided that not only do ILiKETRAiNS, but, to agree with a member of the audience who hasn’t quite got the hang of this heckling lark, I(f*cking)LoveTRAiNS. They are my new favourite band. This also goes along way to showing why Bestival is the best festival this year – in a weekend that’s meant to be about dressing up, sunshine, campness and dance, there is a still a place for black-clad, excessively bassy guitar boys in dark tents.
So the mission for today is to find a band that can beat iLikeTrains to the ‘band of the festival’ crown. First up is the SOS Mobile Internet Services tent which, although not a band, deserves an honourable mention for not only allowing you to read this before the festival is over but also for plying the press with tea and flapjacks in the process. Cheers gals!
Next contenders are Kitty, Daisy and Lewis, who bring their country, folky, hoedown cheeriness to the sunshine soaked main stage with a set including a music hall rendition of Got My Mojo Working. Unfortunately, we can’t report on what they look like as we’re listening to them from the backstage Peacock Press Lounge, waiting for Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly! to arrive for an interview. He doesn’t, so instead we jump on the Guillemots, who are not only charming but award us a feather for most hi-tech dictaphone of the day (they’ve clearly led a sheltered life). Check back here soon for full transcript.
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, we are able to simultaneously chat to Guillemots while taking a wander to The Bestival Village and take photographs of the bandstand, where the Southampton Brass Band are playing, the real Women’s Institute are serving tea and cakes, there’s a farmers’ market and the inflatable church and wedding chapel, where you can get hitched for a mere 25. Where is iLikeTrains’ bass player when you need him?
Back at the Main Stage, King Creosote are continuing the happy, poppy, folky music hall cheeriness to the happy, fancy dress clad audience, soon be followed by our new pals the Guillemots, who are equally fab. We also agree with their endorsement of the Sporeboy Mushroom Stall’s risotto. Yum! Their jazzy, funky undertoned jolly tunefulness is another slice of summer happiness, and we love the combat skrim net over the drums and orchestral, harmonious pop fun. And unless the New Romantic revival has gone further than we thought, the entire front row is full of pirates. Avast me hearties! Guillemots remind us of The Cure at their best, and perhaps a bit of Talking Heads. In the spirit of the festival, they provide a funny animal finale to rival The Flaming Lips which the DJ follows immediately with Simian vs Justice‘s We Are Your Friends, which is fast challenging Sorted for Es and Wizz as history’s best festival anthem.
Next up is Lily Allen, in ballgown, pink wig and bunny ears to charm the audience with LDN, Nan You’re A Window Shopper, Shame For You, Knock ‘Em Out, Littlest Things, Friday Night, Smile and Alfie. Note to all bands at festivals – telling the audience/expectant journos the names of all your songs is appreciated and will guarantee you more copy even when your tunes aren’t to their taste. Fact.
Lily leads in to the main event of the day – the mass fancy dress parade. Approximately two thirds of the 10,000 plus audience have got into the spirit and are decked out as brownies, Yoda in drag, Scooby Doo, pirates (or is that just the New Romantics again), ’80s skiiers, Wham!, and anything else you can imagine. Off they troop around the festival site behind a brass band and Sunday Best carnival float. This, we’re reminded is the difference between a festival and a big concert in a field. Please take note, Wireless, Get Loaded and countless others.
Then, while we’re in the mood, we duck into the Jack Daniels tent for Grizzly Bear, who are delivering trancey rock ideal for introverts who want to stay inside a dark tent rather than join the fairies, monks and tigers outside. Their three-part harmonies with guitar, bass and keyboards charm us into submission. The JD tent is proving to be the not-to-miss festival space.
Time to wander to the posh camping field to check out the tipis, yurts, beach huts and best of all The Retreat, with Bhuddist space, stone circle, Arts Council funded folktronica ministage and a lovely cafe full of natural cakes, which we enjoy as the sun goes down over the plebs down the hill.
On the way back, we pass Jack Penate on the LostandSound stage, a trio with spiky guitars who please our ears en route to Kid Creole. Following some jazzy choons from the DJ, up comes the Kid and Coconuts to funk up the afternoon and ensure that the crowd continues to dance the night away. It’s now dark but still warm and the party itself is hotting up for the main event.
It all seems a bit too relentlessly jolly for journos raised on Joy Division and The Smiths, so we run away to the Jack Daniels tent again for Good Shoes, who deliver the goods with their riffs with spiky, punky lyrics. In fact, considering they sound as if they’ve been raised on Dirk Wears White Sox, it’s a shame the pirates have disappeared. Spotted in the crowd: Henry Harrison, enjoying himself.
Jim Noir is next to take the JD stage and, surprisingly, he’s not dressed up, telling the audience he’s leaving that to them. He’s festooned the stage with gnomes, however, (the biggest one is called Bruno) and a Hulk toy. The crowd more than makes up for his dressing down, containing as it does, a cow (I’m cold, but you must be Fresian, quips a nearby cowboy), a Sultan, a giant canary and Axl Rose. Bestival, have you ever heard of The Flaming Lips? Book them next year.
Jim starts with Songs In The Key Of C, and continues through a beautiful set of songs from his recent album, including Eanie Meenie (for which he encourages the crowd to boo Adidas, the wag), Computer Song and the rollicking finish of My Patch, during which he tries a rock-out guitar solo of the type only he could achieve. Ace.
Time for Pet Shop Boys and, as you’d expect, they put on one hell of a show – mostly of songs that are more than 20 years old but sound as fresh today as they ever did. Chris Lowe is dressed in flourescent baggy tracksuit top, cap and whistle as if there’s some kind of Rave revival going on (what do you mean? Klaxons weren’t taking part in the fancy dress theme?) while Neil Tennant is dressed as an undertaker.
They are, of course, sublime, giving us Left To My Own Devices, I’m With Stupid, Suburbia, Minimal, Shopping, Rent, Always On My Mind, Where The Streets Have No Name, Dreaming Of The Queen, West End Girls and Sacramento Motor Show before finishing on It’s a Sin. With gold lame-clad cowboy dancers, showgirls, dancer doubles (they’re getting on, you know), SS Troopers and more, it’s the perfect end to the Main Arena dress-up fest. As if that’s not enough, they even come back for more, ending the night with Go West, with the crowd playing the part of the male (and female) voice choir.
Tired, happy and still wanting to dance, there’s just time for Sugardaddy in the Fat Tuesday tent before bed. Dancinng, singing along to their girls vs boys anthemic fun (Boys don’t rule, Girls do!) amid the remains of the fancy dressers, it’s a fabulous end to a fabulous day. I say again: roll on tomorrow.
For the moment, though, ILiKETRAiNS still have the festival crown.