Bestival 2009

Kraftwerk, The Horrors, Fleet Foxes, Doves
Elbow at Bestival 2009
‘2009: A Space Oddity’ was the fancy dress theme for this years Bestival. And it’s pretty much the most stunning place to transform yourself into an other-worldly creature such is the passion that Bestival goers apply to their outfits.

Of course with headliners Kraftwerk, whose futuristic and robotic visions kicked off so much, the thrill of seeing 40,000 people dressed as robots was mouth watering.
And so as the varying space travellers landed in the sunny fields, glimpses of the hilarity and puns to do with space started to show. Characters abound. From Mars bars to space bars to disabled parking spaces and onto Fidel Castro-nauts, Johnny Cash-tronauts, Mir Cat Space Stations and almost every character from Star Wars, Star Trek, The Clangers and Button Moon. The invention was as endless as the universe itself.

Possibly the prize for the best costume was a nine foot high Aliens cargo bay lifter robot. The type of thing you fling aliens from airlocks with. Clearly, a very, very impressive amount of work was put into it.

The DJs were having a field day with the theme too. With tunes from from David Bowie (who applied much subtext to the event thanks to his Ziggy Stardust phase and his request for Kraftwerk to play with him) to the Prodigy’s ‘Outta Space’ and onto Ash’s ‘Girl from Mars’, every space themed song got massive cheers from the cacophony of spaced-out revellers.
Clash even had the luck to land a ‘Squrt’ which is like a mini Yurt (In other words a fancy place to camp). This was fantastic and has set a trend for our future as we were camped right by the main arena in a quiet Tipi field. Warm in the cold, yet cool in the sun they were a godsend after the haunting memories of last year’s battlefield-like trench war with the elements.

Further reviews from Bestival will follow but right now we must focus on Kraftwerk.

Kraftwerk

At a time where the Beatles are back with their Rock Band games and iTunes releases there is no better time to reflect on the German’s achievements in kickstarting electronic music and their continued influence over the last 40 years.

With all six of their key albums being released on October 5th it’s hard to see when they have sounded better or more relevant than in 2009. Their themes are enduring and were clairvoyant to the point that they haven’t dated. ‘Vitamins’ anticipated the deluge of supplements including dance drugs and their retro visuals are keen to enforce this. ‘Radioactivity’ ‘Robots’ and ‘Techno Pop’ were so far ahead of their time in vision and sound that the rest of the world have only just caught up.

When the Kraftwerk robots were ‘unleashed’ from behind a human operated curtain (the charm of human need remains deep with Kraftwerk’s retro futuristic world) there was never a better time for the gathered droids in the crowd to scream back ‘We are the Robots!’ This was one of my favourite moments of the summer.

It was in short an honour to have been influenced by this group so much over my life and yet see them still so simple, pristine and funky in minimalism, was a fine hour. Add to that the fact they have rebuilt their studio, Kling Klang, and are making fresh music makes the prospect of their continued dominance even more inviting. Look out for Clash issue 43 on October 8th where we delve deep into their history.

The Horrors

'I'm standing well back as I don't want to get caught in the moshpit' said one impressionable girl as Clash stood waiting for the UK's skinniest band around to take to the stage. The poor dear obviously hasn't heard second album ‘Primary Colours’, for the set was more shoegaze than shoe throwing.

Playing a set which saw no material from their debut, The Horrors' performance was beset by sound problems, which saw singer Faris shouting instructions - off mic - at the soundman. An echoey big top tent made for washy sounds and lost vocals, meaning the carefully constructed atmosphere of the band's latest material was lost to the ether.
Clearly frustrated, they gave up rather than battle on, playing a lacklustre clutch of tunes including crowd favourite ‘Sea Beyond the Sea’. A disappointing end to the season for a band that had been one of Clash's favourite performers on the festival circuit this year.

Fleet Foxes

As a low moon rose over the main stage of Bestival, raising the curtain for the penultimate performance of the weekend, the magical fleet foxes took to the stage.
It was only a year and a half ago that Rob da Bank was tipping this relatively unknown quintet from Seattle to Clash - how quickly their star has risen is of no surprise given the performance they pull off tonight.

Sporting puffa jackets and beards and lit by fairy lights dangling above, Robin Pecknold and co lull the crowd into a state of drowsy hypnosis with their lush harmonies and accomplished playing, resulting in a set which feels like a performance at an intimate garden party.
Playing songs from their debut, including White Winter Hymnal and Mykonos, the band also showcased new material which appears to promise more of the same woozy, hypnotic playing that the UK hasn't been able to get enough of.

The perfect way to salute the end of the summer.

Doves

It is with trepidation that fans of Doves wait for the band to take to the stage. A weekend which saw the main stage experiencing constant sound problems does not make for an ideal scenario with this group who are notorious for hating sound fuck-ups. Things don't bode well as Jimi Goodwin grinds to a halt during opener 'Jetstream', due to a lack of noise coming from the keyboards. Striking up again, this is thankfully the last issue in a set which harvests across all four albums. The trio plus unofficial fourth member Martin Rebelski on keys are on good form, bantering with the crowd. "What's the theme this year? Space? Then what did you come as?" joshes Jimi, before launching into 'Pounding'. Particular highlight was set closer 'There Goes The Fear', with it's signature percussive samba rhythm finale getting everyone dancing in preparation for the last evening of festivities. Professional and perfectly pitched.

Words by Laura Foster

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Read more of ClashMusic's Bestival coverage HERE.
View ClashMusic's photo galleries from Bestival HERE.

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