Bestival 2011 - Sailor Jerry's Ink City

Frank Turner, The Growlers & live tattooing
Heather Shuker (Sailor Jerry Bestival)-261-1.jpg
A giant 1940's style hoola girl looms over a make shift wooded bar selling rum, lot's and lot's of rum and little much else. Everyone is sporting tattoos, which, curiously all look rather similar. And before long my own breast is adorned with a sailor ship. It's the Sailor Jerry's stage and the tattoos are transfers of original Sailor Jerry designs. They are being given out by the fist-full and eagerly stuck on exposed flesh everywhere.

Real inking is also taking place in a little parlour where you can go and watch actual Sailor Jerry protégé’s tattoo original designs, not for the faint hearted who don’t like the sight of blood.

Taking to the stage alone Friday night Frank Turner makes his presence known. He isn’t letting the lack of band lessen the sound and instead insights the crowd into a massive sing-a-long, they are won over and by the closing song 'Photosynthesis' the chorus is resounding and the applause and whooping continues long after Frank has left the stage.

Raising the tempo up a notch on Saturday is Yaaks with their poppy Indie-electro, they are easily comparable to a student version of ‘Friendly Fires’ or ‘Bombay Bicycle Club’. They are bringing the fun and getting peoples feet tapping and heads nodding.

Tall Ships have been around for a while and are a good solid band that run to a classic Indie formula. Though it’s nothing ground breaking, it’s good music played well and they excel at writing songs that build, so if you can have patience with the openings you will thank yourself when you make it to the pounding finales.

Finishing our Saturday night is The Growlers, their sixties rock and skiffle often tumbling into a more rolling shanty sound which is fitting the slightly wobbly vibe of the crowd perfectly and encouraging some very unique dancing, or maybe that’s just the rum?

The true legend of the Sailor Jerry stage is the DJ, a maniac in a dressing gown. He is dropping some immense tunes from Chas and Dave to Elvis. He’s not only keeping the awaiting crowds entertained he is drawing them in, passes by suddenly stopping and running in and busting moves to Michael Jackson's 'Beat It’.

Sunday brings a change of tack in the form of some fine Ska with 'Ska’d For Life', just the ticket for weekend warn spirits, getting knees bouncing and the party back on track.
 
Closing Sunday and indeed the festival is Tweak Bird, a medley of frantic drums and thunderous guitars, classic stoner rock. Squeezing out the last bit festival verve from this bedraggled crowd, they play a high energy set and the hard-core mosh along enthusiastically.
 
And with the fade of the reverb comes an end to a weekend of colorful craziness, great music and rum soddenness. All that is left are brilliant memories, excellent new friends and figuring out how to remove all these tattoos.

Words by Vanessa Higgins
Photo by Heather Shuker

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