The Best Bits of Bestival 2015
I had to work on Friday, so I couldn’t attend Bestival and therefore didn’t get to see Jamie XX or Florence. This put me in a grumpy mood and resulted in me doing absolutely nothing but stalk NU’s tweets and Instagrams all day. The only consolation was the fact that it was raining. By the time Saturday came around the rain had gone, the sun was burning and I was down at the waterfront, checked in and on the ferry over before 1. Que the next 10 or so hours being a blur of sun, sweat, people in minimal clothing, beer and music- lots and lots of good music.
Saturday had a crazy good line-up and featured a lot of DJs that could have headlined festivals over in Europe. So, I had decided from the beginning that I was going to attempt to see as many artists as possible: all while continuing to day drink and not allow myself to crash. A quick point on the beer options before we go any further: I’ll admit that $8 for a can is pretty much standard fare at a festival. But I wouldn’t have hated myself half as much for paying that if it was Steamwhistle, Mill St. or any of the other million craft breweries we have in this city. The food was amazing; it came from food trucks and restaurants that we would all recognize and wasn’t that badly priced. So why skimp on the beer when you have a bloody brewery across the lake? Anyway, back to the music and to some of the artists that I loved on Saturday.
I had only just come across Harrison a week or so before the festival and I was so excited to see him play live. Bestival has a great tradition historically of promoting up and coming artists and this translated well to the Toronto festival. The Big Top tent wasn’t as packed as the AGO had been for Harrison’s performance there last Thursday, but the vibe was still the same. Singer Maddee, who features on his two most recent songs, joined him on stage for the last part of the set. If you haven’t heard of Harrison, I recommend checking out his Soundcloud because this 17-year-old Torontonian is going places.
It was only a couple of hours after Harrison’s performance in the muggy Big Top tent and it started to get so much busier. Rudimental are the kind of band that headline in England, so to see them so far down the bill was a strange sight. However, they still put in the kind of performance that has led them to having so much success back home in England. We caught the end of Kill Them With Colour’s (who was also amazing) set and were so pumped after Rudimental that we didn’t leave the Big Top until Caribou was due to take to the Main Stage.
Later on in the evening when the sun was just beginning to set, Caribou took to the stage. After a day of drinking and flitting between various stages, I was seriously starting to crash. So I got myself a poutine from Bacon Nation and made my way to the Main Stage. Violinist Owen Pallet, who performed earlier in the day, joined them on stage for the beginning of the set, which was a nice surprise. He stuck around for the first part of the set and his addition to ”Can’t Do Without You” was something special to witness live. As someone who’s never seen Caribou live before, they were everything that I had expected them to be. Especially seeing their performance of the songs from Our Love, it was something I had been waiting for since October. It was the perfect environment to see them in; a much needed break from all of the muggy, sweaty dance tents and the perfect build up for Nas.
I have to admit before I go any further that I am not the biggest Nas fan in the world. I like a couple of his songs and I recognized the popular ones when he performed them, but I felt compelled to go and see him while I had the opportunity to at Bestival. Needless to say, he didn’t disappoint. In what was probably my favourite performance of the festival, Nas showed why he has been at the top of the game for so long. Playing classics from Illmatic and the occasional new track, he blew the crowd away and made me change my plans of leaving a little early so I could beat the queues off the island. My favourite (and one of the most popular Nas songs) ”NY State Of Mind” was great to see live and an understandable hit for everyone in the audience.
Bestival couldn’t really have had a better debut in Toronto. Aside from a bit of rain on Friday and queues leaving the island at the end of the event, the festival was a huge success and in my experience, a bloody good time. My only disappointment was the fact that Canadians didn’t seem to embrace the costume party aspect as readily as we British do. I was expecting something that resembled a Comicon event: a sea of people all dressed as different characters. Instead two people dressed as Waldo greeted me as I first walked in and that was as good as it got. While the situation with the ferries and the queues leaving the island proved to be a downer at the end of a very good day, every new event is always going to have problems in its infancy. Hopefully this is one that the organizers will have sorted for the next time Bestival comes to Toronto in 2016.