The weekend featured performances from The XX, A Tribe Called Quest and Pet Shop Boys
Sean Kerwick
20:17 11th September 2017

Bestival 2017 turned over a new leaf this year with a brand new location, a hugely varied lineup and new and improved attractions. The move from the Isle of Wight to the grand settings of Lulworth House Country Estate in Dorset was announced earlier this year.

As well as brand new stages and attractions, much of the site still remained in the spirit of the original site which homed the festival for 13 years with familiar spots such as The Bollywood Stage and The Ambient Forest still remaining staples to the site. Here are 5 things we learned at Bestival 2017.

The XX have mastered the headline slot

Even though their dark and sparse pop could be considered a strange place for the main stage, The XX have certainly grown into their new ‘top-of-the-bill’ status as proven in their debut Bestival headline slot. The 3-piece swooned the crowd with their bare, skeletal arrangements which perfectly soundtracked the chilly air and full moon looming over the Castle Stage. Kicking things off with staple opener ‘Intro’ and the groove-laden ‘Crystalised’, the band swept the crowd into familiar territory before pulling from more recent material from ‘I See You’. The likes of ‘Say Something Loving’ and ‘Dangerous’ fitted smoothly alongside songs from their first two records, whereas ‘On Hold’ added a little more bite to proceedings. The band even readjusted the spotlight to allow percussionist turned international superstar Jamie XX to have his moment with the crowd - after performing their part on collaborative track ‘Loud Places’ from solo album In Colour, Oli and Romy left Jamie to close the track by himself. "We travel all over the world” Oli explained, “but nothing makes us more nervous or excited than playing at home". The group closed with a touching rendition of ‘Angels'.

Rap and Grime reigned…

With a huge resurgence in UK grime and the dominating presence of rap and hip-hop in this year’s best received albums, Bestival 2017 offered a number of major slots to artists of the genre. Dizzee Rascal hosted one of the most triumphant sets of the weekend, he merged snappy cuts from his classic Boy In Da Corner debut with the slick tracks from 2017 LP Raskit before firing off a reel of classics in the shape of ‘Holiday’, ‘Dance Wiv Me’ and ‘Bonkers’. Elsewhere, new Brixton Hill rap group 67 took up a late-night Box Stage slot on Sunday and Danny Brown brought his dark punky rap tunes from his 2016 ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ LP to the Castle Stage.

Hip-Hop legends A Tribe Called Quest played a career-spanning headlining set on Saturday evening bringing the curtain down on their time as a group. Tribe are calling it a day after the death of founding member Phife Dawg in 2016. Tributes were offered up to Phife Dawg throughout, Q-Tip stopped to thank the crowd several times, “27 years, thanks for all the support over the years.” The set ended on ‘We The People…’ from their final album.

Unfortunately bad weather on Sunday afternoon forced Mercury Prize nominated Loyle Carner to cancel his set, however, he was given time to perform a freestyle which saw him promising he’ll be back next time. Wiley was also forced to push-back and eventually cancel his appearance at the festival due to a ‘family emergency’.

…but pop still held its place!

Rag ’n’ Bone Man showcased tracks from his mass-selling debut album with his gravitational baritone and playful showmanship - he dedicated ‘Ego’ to Donald Trump and gave sound observations and advice such as “everybody needs an inflatable cock at a festival”. He closed his set with a huge version of ‘Human’ which saw the crowd unite to sing back its infectious chorus. On Saturday, Laura Mvula brought a much-needed burst of energy to the Castle Stage after an hour-long wash out. The sun emerged for the set which largely pulled from her sophomore album The Dreaming Room, the glittery and foot-stomping singalong of ‘Let Me Fall’ and a graceful performance of ballad ‘Sing To The Moon’ were among the highlights of the set.

Jamie T and Blossoms made for a strong start to the weekend on Thursday night. Blossoms came equipped with the driving tunes from their debut album along with a peppering of covers which included Oasis, Wham and Cher. Jamie T sent the crowd into nostalgia, singalongs and thrills throughout his set which featured classics such as ‘If You’ve Got The Money’ and ‘The Man’s Machine’ alongside the punkier cuts from latest album Trick.

Pet Shop Boys offered a pop masterclass on Sunday evening armed with huge tunes, a dramatic stage set-up and incredible costumes which made for a fitting and thoroughly enjoyable finale. ‘West End Girls’, ‘It’s A Sin’ and ‘The Pop Kids’ all featured in the setlist as well as a cover of Village People’s ‘Go West’. “You look fabulous”, Neil Tennant stopped and observed before yelling “Bestival, we love you!”. The set ended with an epic rendition of ‘Always On My Mind’ shortly followed by fireworks.

The new site is a serious contender for most beautiful UK festival site

The new location at Lulworth Castle in Dorset set a stunning backdrop to the event. The Castle Stage in particular held many visual delights including a wave of rolling hills and Lulworth Castle itself which loomed beautifully over the main stage arena. The castle was also subject to a incredible light show in the evenings which truly shone whilst the finale fireworks erupted from its turrets on Sunday night. Despite all of these beautiful features, the new location was victim to a brunt of varied and often extreme weather. High force gales on Sunday left organisers with no option other than to immediately evacuate the site - festival-goers were asked to return to their tents until the bad weather passed. Even though this only lasted around 90 minutes, the weather did cause a number of acts to either cancel or postpone their sets.

The Magic Gang are destined for bigger stages

The Magic Gang pulled out a show-stopping performance on Friday night at the Invaders of the Future tent which solidified the four-piece as a band to pay serious attention to. Being native to neighbouring Bournemouth, this set was somewhat of a hometown show for the group as proven by the hoards of people who crammed under the canopy to hear tunes from their recent burst of EPs. A Magic Gang flag flickered wildly as the group lit the tent up with their throwback indie-rock anthems, each one carrying melodies and instrumentals with an instant punch which make you feel like you’ve known their tunes for years. ‘How Can I Compete’, ‘Alright’ and ‘All That I Want Is You’ were all met with hometown singalongs which made for an incredibly welcoming and excitable atmosphere for wanderers looking to see what all the fuss was about.