Monday, June 13, 2016

Bestival Recap

Via Bestival Toronto Facebook Page
My body is worse for wear, but my mind has never been so satisfied. This year's edition of Bestival exceeded even my grandest expectations. From Maddmon's opening set under the Big Top Saturday, to The Cure closing down the Main Stage Sunday, and all of the surprises in between, the ethos of Bestival Increase The Peace rang true throughout. I've never been to any festival that can rival Bestival's family-friendly inclusiveness, genius curation and undeniably loving atmosphere.

I was disappointed to leave the island venue, in spite of the frustrating ferry service, but Woodbine Park actually ended up being as good, if not better than last year. The stages were significantly closer than last year, with a little bit of sound bleeding from the Big Top to the Main Stage; enough to cause Robert Smith to have his headphones at maximum volume, so he could stay on beat. The Bollywood stage was a brilliant reprieve, removed from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the venue. Even further removed, in a quiet, wooded corner of Woodbine Park, the Sunday Best Balearic Beach Bar was the ultimate chill zone for people to relax, lie under the shade of the trees and refresh your soul with therapeutic, ecstasy inducing vibes. Rounding out the Bestival atmosphere were a Dr. Suess-esque bicycle with dozens of drums and noise makers for people to play, the infamous Inflatable Church and Cosmic Commune, which hosted plays and other intimate performances. Standing on the hill that held the I<3BESTIVAL sign, you could take in all three stages with Toronto's skyline in the distance.
Via Bestival Toronto Facebook Page
The sound system under the Big Top was quite simply bonkers, and although there were less 'bass acts' and less room under the tent (than the previous year), the lineup utilized it to the fullest with standout sets from locals Maddmon, Thugli, Shaun Frank, HRMXNY, and Pusher, legendary live performances from Porter Robinson and Madeon, banging bass from Smalltown DJs, 4B, Malaa, Unlike Pluto and Tchami, welcome changes of pace from Giraffage, Skylar Spence, Classixx and Thomas Jack.  But the standout performance from the Big Top came from Reeps One, who absolutely blew me away with his unfathomably awesome beat-boxing skills.
The Bollywood Stage's visual marvel was only surpassed by its monstrous musical magnitude. Throughout the weekend I found myself going back to Bollywood more often than I had planned; its open air allure was led by an anything goes, never-ending dance-off. On my first journey around, exploring the festival grounds, I caught the end of Jonathan Rosa's set and the beginning of Rob Da Bank's which, apart from Lee Foss dropping MK's "Reverse Skydiving" remix, was my Bollywood highlight. Welcoming the early crowd, the Bestival founder led off with Prince's "I Wanna Be Your Lover," in perhaps the most fitting set starter possible.

What sets Bestival apart from other festivals, is its unwavering commitment to fostering rising and local talents, and showcasing acts that otherwise would not play Toronto festivals, especially alongside electronic acts. The Main Stage saw alternative, rock, new-wave and cross over acts from Tame Impala, Odesza, Jamie XX, Grimes and The Cure. It would be nearly impossible to put together a lineup that so perfectly bridges the gap between the sounds of the Bollywood and Big Top stages, while maintaining a slightly more rock focus. I don't know that the real EDM heads would venture from their bubble, but I can say that those five acts mentioned above strike me as the perfect stepping stones, to a wider appreciation for music and art as a whole. For in the end that is what Bestival does best, showcasing the infinite possibilities of art in all its forms, and expanding your mind.

I went to Bestival to see The Cure, among a number of electronic acts, but came away having rekindled friendships, met dozens of like-minded music lovers, and sharing in the experiences of a lifetime. I cannot wait for next year's edition of Bestival; if there were such a thing, I'd buy a lifetime membership.