Euro Review


Bestival Festival

Eccentric temporary cities full of wild beings indulging in their alter ego’s – this is the world of the 21st century festival – A world we dove into with Bestival 2016, ‘“The Future”

As we took the boat journey to the Isle of Wight we waved goodbye to reality slowly disappearing from our sight as the boat moved towards our new home for three days. This Island has been host to Bestival Festival since 2004 and as our boat approached the shore we understood the wonder that attracted the festival to this site. This south eastern British Island is an ideal place to cast aside your humdrum worries and immerse yourself in the moment.

As with all festivals, our initiation into festival life for the weekend occurred when we met friendly strangers and collectively decided to make our travels together. Comrades on an exciting adventure into the unknown.

Bestival is known for its innovative concepts, diverse line up and attentive décor. In tandem with its décor the festival encourages their audience to decorate themselves and go all out with fancy dress. This results in a wonder-cluster of colour, sparkle, movement and general aesthetic awe.

By the time we arrived at the festival gates it was nightfall and we were greeted on a viewpoint overlooking the dancing colour and lights of the festival. The journey downwards through the festival and to the campsite is an arduous one due to the rolling landscape of the island. Although, your discomfort subsides as your attention is constantly stolen by the eclectic mix of lively tents and animated punters and entertainers.

Bestival has always had the ability to draw great musicians to its line-up, and that’s why we were here. My ears was yearning the eminent ‘The Cure’, the hauntingly sweet ‘Aurora’, alt rocks best new act ‘Wolf Alice’ and the energetic ‘Glass Animals’ in this line-up.

The festival was kicked off the right way with electronic master mind’s Major Lazer bringing the main stage to a boil on Friday night. This ecstatic show set the tone for the weekend of high energy performances ahead.

The fear of all festival fears arrived on the Saturday in the form of pelting rain. Despite this punters were still seen to be dancing and playing with the mud as their newly embraced friend. Costumes were sacrificed, but the festivities continued on. We decided to fill this day with exploration of the endless corners of Bestival. We were first drawn to the world’s biggest bouncy castle, a funky and flamboyant construction that attracted all and exhausted many.

As we waded through the crowd music drifted towards us from all different angles and ornate tents drew us in. Entering each tent was like entering a different house in wonderland. Our favourite was a Circus style tent, decorated to the nines and full of impressive circus performances. 

The festival was well laid out and the plethora of bars really made the weekend as there wasn’t too much waiting in lines despite the crowds.

As Saturday night dawned the focus was brought back to the main stage. Bringing a band who’s hay day was way back in the 80’s to headline a festival can be dicey. It can result in a ‘pension fund’ performance that lacks the energy and power their music represents. This although, cannot be said for the Cure. The Cure are infamous for their intense and long live shows, real rock n’ roll veterans, and Bestival 2016 got the full Cure experience. Their performance consisted of an energetic light show, proficient guitar playing and the illustrious Robert Smith’s vocals performing some of the greatest 27 Cure hits. Contemporary musicians could really take note of these long, fulfilling live performances that don’t leave you waiting for the scheduled ‘encore’ 

The second stand out rock performance of the weekend was London based alternative rock band ‘Wolf Alice’. Wolf Alice took the main stage the Sunday of Bestival 2016. A short but sweet performance was highlighted with the simple yet powerful guitar riff and rough vocals of their Grammy nominated song ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ and the hauntingly beautiful and calm vocals of ‘Blush’.

As our time at Bestival came to a close our awareness of our imminent return to reality set in and we clung to every last minute. Dancing with strangers, gazing at the sights and soaking up all the music we could. Bestival provides the ultimate escape from reality and inspiration for when you have to return.

Irish Festival Awards Crew 2017


Isle of Wight Festival, U.K.

This Isle of Wight wasn’t expecting monsoon style weather causing water logged fields, sinking stages and thick mud camping sites, but everyone that attended encapsulated the festival spirit of us against the elements. The rain caused severe gridlock in to the island, but the problems were not as bad as reported in the media and the festival provided a welcoming if very muddy atmosphere.

Friday got off to great start with Seasoned rockers Tom Petty and the heartbreakers making their first ever UK festival appearance. The style of all out proggy rock made a great evening of easy listening in the summer sun and a mix of all ages embraced the night. Over at the big top Kellis had the tent shaking with dance classics and a rare drum solo display. Feeder also provided a brand of Foo Fighter style rock on the main stage as well as Lana Del Rey performing an eerie yet captivating display. 

Saturday provided Pearl Jam, who are one of these us bands who have always failed to command the same levels of fans in the UK that they did in the US. Frontman Eddie Vedder however was mesmerising, with showmanship similar to the likes of The Boss himself Bruce Springsteen. He executed song after song, gripping the audience with his unmistakeable grainy vocals. Although IOW organisers were trying to stay away from popular pop genres, Saturday provided a great radio one mix with the likes of Jessie J and Tiny Tempah storming the main stage.

The final day provided the highlight of the festival and those who endured the weather were given their reward of three hours with The Boss, Bruce Springsteen. From opening song to encore Springsteen offered complete value for money, blasting out hits of Born in the USA and The Rising. The Boss was a great coup for the organisers and his 3 hour set defined him as the headline act. Without doubt Springsteen nailed it and with a musical career spanning five decades, it was a magical ending to a wonderful festival.

Rob Collins. Irish Festival Awards 2012


Melt! Festival, Germany

Melt! is an indie-electronic, three-day music festival; set on the peninsula of Ferropolis, against the backdrop of giant rusty cranes, which when lit up transform the sky into rapid sequences of lasers. Not even two hours from Berlin’s centre; it is a simple train ride south from Hbf Main station. I set out from Dublin to find out more.

Security allows 1.5l soft drinks into the festival but the campsite had no such rules! Campers carry as much food and drink as they can manage to their tents; bbq’s and dj decks playing on amps kept the atmosphere lively in the campsites. The nearest supermarket being Lidl; in Grafenhainichen, provides all the essentials. I got myself a four man tent there, which turned out to be bigger than my apartment: two bedrooms and a front sitting room! It took seven of us an hour to put up and served us well; through the temperamental weather over the weekend. 

Friday was the highlight of my weekend. The Naked and Famous’ relentless hooks didn’t disappoint! Fake Blood really had the crowd jumping with his electro, endorphin-raising remixes. Swedish popstar, Robyn, bounced her way around the stage much to the enjoyment of the crowd and Housemeister’s high-strung techno-electro mixes; wowed the crowd at Desperado’s Beach. This man loves his synthesiser effects and had the crowd clueless as to what was coming next; instead we gave in and just danced!

Saturday was a scorcher. Campers were woken early to the unforgiving sun and were fortunate enough that; the surrounding lake was freezing cold and relaxing! A few warm beers throughout the afternoon had us back to normal. Beady Eye played a disappointingly average set; proving the Gallagher brothers make better music together. The Streets played their third and last ever Melt! gig. They brought their clever lyrics; attitude and crowd control techniques to thousands of adoring fans, Skinner proved himself to be a very witty and entertaining performer. Many people I spoke to; agreed this was one of the best gigs of the weekend.

Sunday was a miserable day of non-stop rain. The downpour didn’t stop the crowds making it to their favourite acts but it did put a dampener on things. Also the fact that the ATM’s had broken the previous night and hadn’t been fixed led me to be cranky, hungry and cold. I retreated to my tent earlier than I would have liked to warm up; missing Richie Hawtin for warm, dry clothes. I did manage to catch an inspirational set from Jose Gonzales and have a dance to the highly entertaining Carte Blanche. Cold War Kids pulled a decent crowd; even in the heavy downpour and their early evening set. Their bluesy, indie rock had everyone dancing and jumping in puddles. The plastic anoraks being handed out by Jaegermeister were much appreciated!

The recycling incentive implemented was very clever; upon arrival and receiving your wrist band; campers also received a recycling token. On the last day, if the token is returned with a full bag of the rubbish; then campers receive five euro back. That fiver was a godsend; having run out of money on Saturday, with no ATM’S working; I bought myself a lovely hot slice of pizza. When the time came to leave the festival grounds; there were regular buses there to drop campers to various train stations.

I found Melt! overall to be a really chilled, well organised affair. You could download your Melt App prior to the festival and have all your favourite artists and stage times stored on your Smartphone; no excuses for missing your favourite bands. The stages were set up close together but with no overspill; meaning you could walk to the furthest stage in a matter of minutes, not wasting precious music time. The lighting was out of this world and the use of an industrial museum; to house the effects made it all even more surreal. The colours and twists in the sky at night are worth a Youtube search alone if not a visit!  The crowd was very friendly; Germans mixed with the rest of the world. Everybody just wanted to dance and have a good time. Melt! has been held annually for the last fourteen years and it’s clear to see why it keeps getting more popular every year.

Gillian Giblin, Irish Festival Awards 2011