Not your average trip across the Solent
Florence and the Machine -  Bestival 2012

Being the last big hurrah of the summer and with Mister Stevie Wonder on Sunday night headlining duties, there was never any doubt that Bestival 2012 was going to be just that bit more special than your average trip across the Solent. Accompanied by the finest weather this summer has seen (and the suitably red body parts that follow), a smothering of Kigus (the 21st century's answer to wildlife don't ya know), and an owl with lasers for eyes, Rob and Josie's ninth year was definitely their biggest and their best. With a lineup that saw Gallows follow Adam Ant and Friendly Fires precede Orbital, De La Soul and The Cuban Brothers sandwiched between Sister Sledge and Earth, Wind and Fire, and Two Door Cinema Club warm the stage for New Order, Sunday's two hour set from the legend was almost just another highlight.

Clash's weekend began with a hangover dissolving omelette, closely followed by a trip to the Replay stage and Willis Earl Beal. Hailed as a Clash Ones to Watch earlier this year, his mere presence shrieked of cool while his hip thrusting, chair climbing, cape bearing performance had the audience in complete awe. Hours later the same stage witnessed a moment, as Alt-J's set saw crowds stand thirty deep outside the tent echoing every word that fell from Joe's mouth, 'Breezeblocks' taking the title of loudest sing-along. Warpaint’s 4.35pm slot on the main stage was the perfect midafternoon setting for Emily and co's dreamy haze fuelled tunes. That evening Florence and the Machine's headline performance drew large crowds – as expected - with Miss Welch playing the part of Poison Ivy in a flowing green dress and ivy adorned headband. Taking to the Psychedelic Worm after midnight, Kindness treated the audience to a number of anecdotes and energetic dance moves, as well as an a cappella version of 'Bombastic'. Backing singers took centre stage as Adam snuck off for a side of stage fag, returning to introduce his band, starting with the “gate keeper of the drums” and finishing up with a mass chant of “Dug D” in honour of his bassist.

Ben Howard's Saturday slot saw the big top fill up and the surrounding areas adorned with cross legged groups basking in the sunshine soaking up tracks such as 'Only Love'. Over on the main stage fans were getting lost in music to Sister Sledge while later De La Soul brought out the sun which had briefly retired behind some clouds. Fresh(ish) from Alex Trimble's Olympic cameo, Two Door Cinema Club played a set full of indie dance floor delights leaving New Order to entertain with a performance punctuated by Joy Division tracks. Playing the big top at half eleven, Justice did as only Justice can do, making every shadow in sight move to the likes of 'Genesis' and ‘D.A.N.CE.'. Bangin'.

Sunday morning started with an is-it-isn't-it guest appearance from Fake Bush (attendees too far from the screen left wondering if Kate really had fled home comforts for the stage); next up Little Dragon became a star attraction, with lead singer Yukimi Nagano darting across the stage and songs such as 'Ritual Union' sounding bigger than ever before. On the same stage Roots Manuva asked us to witness the fitness, as he and his band donned the suavest of suits. About this time the sun decided to give in and murky clouds saw a rush of people manoeuvring to the campsite in search of extra layers; those (thousands) that stayed took shelter in their nearest tent. For Clash this meant the hotly tipped Palma Violets and their brand of Vaccines-esque, Bombay Bicycle Club lookie likie, sometime TOY like indie. Oh, and T-shirts being thrown into the crowd, band members crowd surfing, and the first and last pair of breasts brandished across the weekend.

Come nightfall the main stage was once again where it was at, with Stevie Wonder introducing his arrival with the statement, “the world cannot move forward unless we move forward” and three (metaphoric) cheers for Obama. A classics-laden set followed – ‘Isn't She Lovely' and 'Superstition' to name just two – while fireworks signalled the finale. Ending the weekend where we began, Clash's final port of call was the Reply stage for AlunaGeorge and Grimes; the former all sexy moves and sultry sounds, the latter delivering a ritual like performance, the sort you'd imagine of a Berlin nightclub in the middle of the night complete with day glo doused dancers.

And that was Bestival 2012. Well, most of it.

Words by Zoe Whitfield
Photo by Giles Smith

Click here for a photo gallery of the festival.


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