camp bestival 2009


Annual family outing: kids, tents, music, merriment. Followed by more camping elsewhere, but more of that later.

I’ve long since got over my trainspottery “tick list” tendencies at these things. Even when I only went to festivals with my peers there were always clashes, lethargy and hangovers to deal with. Going with a bunch of mates and our various kids intensifies that further – no point feeling aggrieved that you have missed a big name because some craft activity or impromptu cartwheel lesson has intervened.

So festivals end up being a bit more about relaxing, wandering about, bumping into random people and music. Which is better anyway. In fact I’ve already forgotten great swathes of the weekend (1o days ago now), so don’t expect any great objective blow by blow account here!

Whilst I agree with History is made at night’s comments on the commercial festival boom I would never really have been up for imposing something like Stonehenge Free Festival on children. I’ll take corporate sponsorship over hells angels, drug hoovers, and police brutality any day. They can discover all of that for themselves when they get older, ha ha.


Mercury Rev were predictably tedious “stadium” whinery. So me and the daughter ambled over to the dance tent to check out a bit of Tinchy Stryder. I kind of expected the place to be half full of people not getting it. How wrong can you be? The tent was a rammed sweaty mess of teenagers shouting out at ever single one of Tinch’s call and response rhymes. I felt really great on his behalf.

So we had a look, but this was not the place for a forty year old bloke or his seven year old daughter “is that the real Tinchy Stryder? I just saw him take his top off…”. Tinch and N-Dubz  are on “Now That’s What I Call Music 73” which had been our in-car listening on the way down. Chipmunk is on there as well. Big look for the scene, yadda yadda yadda.

Florence and the Machine were alright if you like Kate Bush (which I do). Kid Creole and the Coconuts gave it some but should have done the big hits earlier in his set – we headed back to the tents and missed half of it. Full marks for wearing a big white sheet and a purple Zoot Suit respectively.



The day commenced with a bunch of us watching bonkers kids telly prog “Yo Gabba Gabba” on a huge screen in the open air. The Ting Tings were on it covering Altered Images’ “Happy Birthday”.  Later on I feel asleep with a beer listening to Goldie Looking Chain while more responsible and co-ordinated people helped the kids to make some furry animal paw gloves.

Some of our posse have a penchant for victoriana so we headed for the cockney knees up for a singalong. They took the piss our of PJ Harvey (who was doing a much vaunted solo set which I couldn’t be arsed with) and did a music hall version of “Anarchy in the UK”.


Horace Andy 2009 photo by John Eden

Horace Andy was late. Which was a pisser because he was the main thing I was looking forward to. Recognising this, the assembled posse had taken pity on me and settled in front of the main stage on Sunday afternoon. It looked like rain. Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip were pushed up the timetable and were pretty good – they did that “Crass… are just a band” tune and took the piss a bit: “This is supposed to be Horace Andy’s slot, so if we swear does that mean he’ll get in trouble?”.

And then after a short break, Mr Andy showed. He was cross. The first thing he did when got onstage was have a go at the organisers for not having an MC to introduce him. He reckoned that was disrespectful. Maybe it is – he is a complete legend after all. Maybe showing up an hour late is disrespectful as well.

It was still good to seem him though – The Dub Asante Band backing him were pretty great (insert usual caveat about not having a horn section here). He did “Skywalking” and “Quiet Place/Man Next Door” and sounded great, but you did get the impression he was phoning it all in a little bit.

rasta bandwagonism at camp bestival, July 2009

I was warming to it all, despite being stuck behind a twat in one of those novelty tams with the fake dreadlocks stuck on to the back of them. But then Mr Andy fucked off after four songs, without ever really engaging with the audience. I ticked him off my list. It started raining properly, so a large beer tent in the kids’ field beckoned.

Candi Staton was the best act of the weekend for me by a country mile – great performance, great banter, everybody smiling and dancing. Properly life-affirming business.

Nile Rodgers and Chic were a bit “end of the pier” for me but still a great laugh.