Preview: Bestival, September 2012

We’re halfway through the holidays. The initial ‘it’s summer’ buzz has subsided and we’re all slowly accepting that we won’t be even half as productive as we’d hoped. At this point we’re all wishing we’d booked that festival we saw in January but didn’t have the guts to committ to at so early a stage. It’s not too late. Bestival is around the corner and I wouldn’t call its lineup anything of a hard fate.

Magnetic to you or not, the big bait rocketing Bestival’s reputation above and beyond has been the accouncement of Stevie Wonder as a headliner. He bore the birth of classic Motown and in the hearts of those who remember its first steps, his set has been pretty much preordained the weekend’s highlight.  In truth, as much as you do want to hold out on the sentiment of Womack’s self-fulfilled propechy (“As a singer grows older, his conception grows a little deeper, because he lives life and he understands what he’s trying to say a little more”), reality fears that the soulfulness of a sixty-two year old (back briefly from retirement) will be a little lost on a load of bourgeois, bass-hunters. Still, it’s been a succesful follow-up to the media-shock of Bjork’s appearance last year and nobody can resist the subtle swagger of ‘Superstition’.

But ‘fore you fear, nobody has to dance like their dad for the whole weekend if they don’t want to. The XX, the indefatigable Doom, De La Soul, Justice and Miike Snow are set to play alongside wildfire-starter SBTRKT whose release of self-titled album last year has, in recent months, finally filtered a more mature understanding of wobbling basslines to the brostep-dominated club setting. Equally progressive in her own, self-reflecting take on repetitive sounding, rave-scene techno, Grimes will deliver the trippy, tumbling tunes of debut album Visions.

Then there’s the appeal that demands attention; the self-professed ‘bad bitch’ whose collaborations with Diplo have conversely proven her to be far from subtle in sound or identity statements. Though ‘212’ was followed by an inevitable lull in her presence, I expect her to be so frightening on stage that there’ll be little left to reignite. Here’s a track from her debut EP Fantasea that, even with a wonderful bit of sampling, has remained relatively uremarked.

For the seekers of a slightly more mellow mood, Sigur Ros will fully provide with the ambiance of their powerfully cinematic EP Valtari.

There’s then of course a selection of our Circulation favourites. As seen in her smooth, double-up appearance with Annie Mac at Hideout, our cover girl Jessie Ware is becoming a charming accompaniment to the UK dance scene. Snatching back Disclosure’s remix of her own single ‘Running’, she stunned the crowd with her endearing apativeness.

With the Bestival of  last year dominated by the reign of a turn-table ridden generation, the test will distinguish those who really know how to work a crowd. Disclosure will indubitably reel a following of which even the most ignorant will know precise timings of every moan-sample and synthy whine featured in ‘What’s In Your Head’.

Last but by no means least Dub Pistols, Gary Numan, ALT-J, Orbital and Gold Panda are among those that one with any sense will refuse to miss. It’d also seem a sin to go without mentioning the transformed fellow below. Co-creator of the line “Guns, bitches and bling were never part of the four elements and never will be”, he’s stepped out from the shadows of a wordsmith to create the indisputably cool ‘Space Between the Words’ EP.


Ideal for late-starting York students, Bestival takes place between the 6th and 9th of September.

Tickets are £170 and available at

Jonjo Lowe