Massive Attack, Squarepusher, 2ManyDjs, Rizla Arena...

Clash casts it's eye over a further selection of bands who played at last weekend's Bestival.

Massive Attack

The Bristol godfathers of trip-hop have spawned a thousand imitators, none of whom quite compare to the group themselves – but was this status as legendary innovators secured on their Saturday headline slot at Bestival? Well, kind of… Massive Attack did indeed show why they’ve gathered such a revered reputation, but it didn’t quite get me or most of the crowd as excited as was hoped.

They rolled out many of the classics – ‘Teardrop’ (which still sounded lovely to be honest and incited a nostalgic singalong. Highlight of the set), ‘Unfinished Sympathy’, ‘Future Proof’ and the rest were there, and were definitely enjoyable to listen to, but we were all gagging for something a little more…

A fine performance, for sure, but trip hop by its very nature isn’t necessarily the best thing for a Friday night festival headline slot, even if it is played by the best in the business. Not a bad set by any means, but the band ended up as victims of their own downtempo brilliance.


After playing a storming set of electronic-rock with Soulwax on the main stage several hours previous, the Dewaele brothers moved over to the Big top tent and adopted their 2ManyDJs moniker to aid the tent’s nightly transmission into a dance haven. Hard workers, these chaps.

Playing a marathon set, 2MDJs worked the crowd through a variety of uplifting electro, straight-up dance tracks and remixes, splicing everything and anything (in the style of their acclaimed ‘As Heard On Radio Soulwax’ series) to a rapturous reception from the rammed-to-the-rafters tent, accompanied by some nice twisted backdrop visuals.

Finishing the night with beatified mashups of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and the Prodigy’s ‘Outer Space’ – a nice nod to Bestival’s space theme – everyone left the Bigtop danced-out but thoroughly satisfied, especially this writer, whose rum and cider-filled legs were screaming for rest. Watching 2MDJs seemed a suitably high point on which to end the fun. For now…


Sporting a new look of cap and ghetto-orange jacket, Tom 'Squarepusher' Jenkinson arrived on stage looking as up for it as ever, and put in a predictably superb performance. Though his was a late slot on the last day of the festival, he even managed to incite an almost partied-out crowd into having it for one last time – no mean feat considering the energy-draining debauchery that had occurred since Thursday.

Also on stage was (fantastic) drummer Alex Thomas, who has now become a staple part of Jenkinson’s live show, expanding his role into providing live beats for older Squarepusher tracks (giving them a new lease of life) as well as cuts from his underrated ‘Just a Souvenir’ album. Of these newer songs, ‘Delta V’ and ‘A Real Woman’ sounded particularly good live, showcasing the tripped-out jazz-rock that Jenkinson has mastered.

There were, of course, also the Squarepusher classics, including ‘Hello Meow’ and ‘Come On My Selector’, which sent the crowd wild enough to chuck around a giant inflatable phallus. By this point in the festival, these sorts of occurrences (worryingly) didn’t really seem that unusual. Jenkinson also performed a particularly energetic and suitably jaw-dropping bass solo and some new material, both of which went down a storm. Quite simply, the man never lets up and never disappoints. Legend.

Rizla Arena

Providing a fantastic intimate vibe throughout the weekend, the Rizla Arena was quite often the place to be for a party, proven by the queues of people waiting to get in on the action. Luckily, the open-air setup meant that all and sundry could – and did – enjoy the irresistible beats and bass flooding out from the mini arena. An eclectic selection of beat-heads from Micachu to Jazzie B steered the musical content over the festival, but here are a few of my personal highlights. Opening the stage was Shuttle (Passion Pit’s drummer Nate Donmoyer) – a very talented new signing to Ninja Tunes who managed to stir up a bloody great party at midday on Friday through an excellent set full of dirty breaks infused with bassline, dub and grime. Perfect start to the weekend.

After more treats on Friday night, including Jon Carter and Optimo, Saturday saw the arena host hip hop karaoke, some of which was surprisingly good. Some, unsurprisingly, not quite as good but highly entertaining nonetheless. I then managed to catch a slither of the excellent Ragga Twins, who ripped things up with their heavy, digital take on beat-led ragga. Marvellous. Space-disco don Lindstrom headlined the Saturday night, and would have been a sure thing for me had the mighty Kraftwerk not been playing their incredible main stage set, though I’m sure Lindstrom struggled on without me.

Sunday’s Rizla highlight was the legendary Greg Wilson taking the main slot. As professional and entertaining as ever, his distinctive mix of ‘proper’ funk, soul and classy party beats was the perfect uplifting end to the festival. Part of Wilson’s charm has always been in unearthing tracks you’ve never heard before that simultaneously sound like solid gold timeless tunes, and his set tonight was no exception, mixing in these hidden gems with a selection of classics. This ensured that everyone staggered out of the arena with a smile plastered to their face.

Words by Tristan Parker

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