Preview: Camp Bestival 2009

01 July 2009

Camp Bestival returns to the grounds of Lulworth Castle forthe second year running, during the last weekend in July.Following the successful template of the larger Bestival festival on the Isle of Wight,Radio One DJ Rob Da Bank’seclectic Camp Bestival line-up features an intriguing array of live music, DJs, spoken word and comedy attractions.

With a capacity of 15,000, Camp Bestival is smaller in size thanthe longer established Isle of WightBestival festival. Both events have a tongue-in-cheek, kitsch feel. Fancy dress opportunities featurefor thoseinterested in packing appropriatecostumesin their rucksacks(‘Animal Magic’ is the Camp Bestivalfancy dresstheme this year).
When Rob Da Bank and the Sunday Best organisation announced they were organising a second Bestival festival in an already crowded and competitive festivalmarket in 2008, some wondered if they were overstretching themselves. In a relatively short space of time, however, Camp Bestival has established its ownfamily friendly identity in more intimate surroundings than the increasinglybusy and overcrowdedBestival site on theIsle of Wight.Although therecession may be affecting leisure spending patternsin other areas of theeconomy, the reputation established during the inaugural Camp Bestival last year in Dorsethas ensured that this year’s event has alreadysold allof its weekend camping tickets.

With her debut album riding high in the charts, Florence And The Machine shouldattract a lot of interest on Friday, having recently supported Blur in Hyde Park and appeared at Glastonbury in recent weeks. From the same Island Records stable and also with a debut album to promote comes fellow newcomer VVBrown, who’ll also be performing on Friday. She’s not made the same impact on the charts yet, but she does have a reputation forlively outgoingperformances.

Those who sawKid Creole And The Coconuts perform at Bestival a couple of years ago were treated to an impressivegreatest hits set. Their Friday Camp Bestivalperformance should be worth a visitto be reminded of some of theirunique songs and Kid Creole’s baggy trousers. Also on Friday, Hayseed Dixiereturn with their set of bluegrass cover versionsof AC/DC songs and original compositions. Althoughsome might argue that they area one-offnovelty act, Hayseed Dixiehave been releasing records regularly over the past 10 years and always put on an entertaining show.

Mercury Rev are also booked to play on Friday. Their Snowflake Midnight LP from 2008 saw them undertake a new experimentalelectronic direction, which divided a few critics. However, the live shows timedto coincide withthe release of thenew record last yearwereutterly compelling. As well as newer material, the band still play songs from theacclaimed Deserter’s Songs record. This performancecould well be Friday’s Camp Bestival highlight.

Bon Iver have been familiar performers at a number of festivals since the release of the For Emma, Forever Ago recordin 2008. But the musicaldevelopment in the band into something more muscular suggests their Saturday night spot is sure to be a highlight.

That ever-changing musical chameleonPJ Harvey is a festival exclusive for the Sunday Best Camp Bestival organisers. Whereas many of the Camp Bestivalperformers have played at other festivals during the summer, the Camp Bestival show is a one-off soloperformance for Harvey. Tickets for her tour with long term musical collaboratorJohn Parish sold out very quickly earlier this year, so for many this will be the first chance to see her perform in quite a while.

Damon Albarn’s Honest Jons record label helped to resurrect the career of Candi Staton when they released a compilation of some her early 1970s recordings a few years ago. Candi has also released a couple of new studio recordings for the Honest Jon’s label, which have provedthat her voice is still as strong as it was when she started her recording career in the late 1960s. Camp Bestival is certainlyin for a real treat when Candi appears on Sunday, intriguingly with former Merton Parka and Style Council keyboard player Mick Talbot.

The Essex hip-hop of dan le sac Vs ScroobiusPip has been championed enthusiasticallyby Rob Da Bank(they record for his Sunday Best label). The inventive combination of spoken word lyrics and electronic beats has wowed Bestival crowds in the past and will no doubt do so again when the duo appear at Camp Bestival on Sunday. Let’s hope they find time to perform the biting social satire of their Thou Shalt Always Kill.

Horace Andy‘s collaborations with Massive Attack are familiar to many, but Camp Bestivalpresents an opportunity tosample a full set of songs from the reggae legend with a unique voice. Classic Studio One reggae has gone down well with Bestival audiences in the past; let’s hope the sun shines when Horace Andy and Dub Asantetakes to the stage on Sunday.

Inbetweenputtingon fancy dress costumes and visiting the WI stall for tea and cakes, there are plenty of opportunities to check out an excellent selection of live music on offer. It’s largely a reflection of the wide ranging tastes presented by Rob Da Bankon his Radio 1 show. While it’s not always necessary to see lots of live performancesto have a good time at a festival, that’s certainly an option at this year’s Camp Bestival.

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