Friday, 20 September 2013

(Not The) BestOfAll

Bestival ended the festival season last week, in spectacular style.
The People’s Front Room was magnificent, as ever.  Much fun was had and much beautiful music was produced and enjoyed, much of it improvised.  A new band was born: Gorilla Turbo, with members Simian ‘Shaolin’ Howler (Guitar/vocals), Silverback (MC), Primate (Guitar), as well as a rotating rhythm section including Tommy Gibbon (drums), Stevie ‘SubUrban’ Guerilla (bass) and Orange U-Tan (percussion).
I also saw some heroes of my youth:  The Roots (who were on the main stage – Big Shout Out to Fitz, FryDog, GrayDog and Heybus who were there, getting crazy) and Johnny Marr, who played three Smiths songs, finishing with There Is A Light That Never Goes Out. 
There was also time to see a bit of Wu-Tang and Belle & Sebastian (I wonder if I was the only person in the place that saw all four of the above…)
So, good times, great line-up, the usual beautiful PFR craziness, some brilliant gigs (GrayDog and I on Saturday night, for example - one of the best yet, an absolute classic), great company (Big Up all the PFR crew, the BoD crew), a perfect setting (Robin Hill Park on the Isle of Wight) and all the fun of the festival.
That’s the good stuff, now for the complaining: Bestival should be re-named The Do What You’re Told Festival.  Or maybe Fence Festival.  Or Fleeced Festival
It’s not so bad for the likes of me (I’m an artist, I had the wristband to prove it), but at every turn there seemed to be a fence and a security guard (or steward) telling us all where and when to walk.  I would have found this even more galling if I’d paid hundreds of quid to be there.
No alcohol was allowed to be taken into ‘the arena’ – actually a point in the middle of the festival – presumably in an attempt to sell more of the sponsors’ (shite) drinks at the official bars. 
I saw two security guards interrogating one lad about what was in his plastic bottle: 
Security Guard:  “What’s in this?”
Punter:  “Apple juice”
Security Guard:  (Sniffing bottle) “That’s not apple juice.” 
(Handing bottle to colleague) “What d’you reckon that is?”
Second Security Guard:  (Sniffing bottle) ‘Dunno, but it ain’t apple juice’
I had a laugh with some of the security guards, it’s not like they were all thugs or anything – they’ve obviously been instructed to do these things.
When there are huge crowds of people stamping through a bottle neck, I suppose it makes sense to have two lanes and tell everyone to keep left, like in a tube station.  However, to do it all the time, even when there’s only seven people there, and they’re all going the same way, seems petty – especially considering that said bottleneck was created, it seemed, purely for the purposes of searching bags for alcohol; also surely unnecessary.
Also, most festivals, when running a shuttle bus from the nearest transport links to the festival, offer it for free to ticket-holders.  Bestival charge a tenner for a return.  Cheeky, I thought, especially when I found out that taxis were charging a fiver a head for a full Hackney cab.
It’s a shame, because apart from the corporate authoritarianism and massive amount of fences, it’s a good festival.
Anyway, this weekend sees what really is the last festival of the year: BRISFEST.
Bringin it all back home, yo.
I’ll be playing at the Greenfields Acoustic Garden at 10pm on Sunday, so come and say Hello, if you like.  I'm ruddy chuffed to be playing.
You might have time to check out Primal Scream before you run over to see the real headline act (me).
Clayton Blizzard

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