And just like that Toronto’s inaugural Bestival—a music festival imported from the land of tea and crumpets, funny accents and of course, the Queen—came and went this past weekend in the blink of an eye.
Setting up shop across the entirety of Hanlan’s Point (including a mini-stage on the sands next to Toronto’s only nude beach), Bestival’s two-day island party not only saw a handful of stages, but also a delectable display of something that could’ve been taken from the pages of a hippie-meets-hipster rendition of Alice in Wonderland. Disco balls in trees, golden arches made from gold-coloured string confetti, a Bollywood-themed stage equipped with flame-throwing elephants (real fire, fake elephants FYI), a gigantic blow-up church for those looking to put a ring on it (seriously, people could get married), and a beautifully built Perrier Greenhouse were just part of the festival’s delectable display.
The most impressive by far of the island’s festival transformations was the Perrier Greenhouse, situated just off of the main stage and featuring some of the festival’s best tasting drinks, which were actually created in Perrier’s famously trendy slim cans. Whether you stay loyal to vodka, gin or rum, there was a drink with your name on it.
Equipped with a Perrier green turf, vintage posters paying homage to the brand, floating benches, chandeliers wrapped with greenery and an impressive DJ booth made with LED bubbles to represent the bubbles of a drink, the Greenhouse was a sure beauty and definitely didn’t go unnoticed since it was constantly at capacity with music-lovers swaying to the tracks of the DJ while sipping on their favourite Perrier-infused cocktails. If you didn’t get a chance to see this bad boy of a creation, fear not because like a carnival, the Greenhouse will be moving across the nation and setting up shop at Osheaga and Squamish!
While no doubt a sight for sore eyes, Toronto’s UK-imported music festival didn’t draw the crowd because of its beautiful decor, but rather its artist lineup, which featured headliners like Florence + the Machine, Nas, Clean Bandit, Caribou, Jamie xx and a slew of DJs and musicians spanning over 4 stages throughout the weekend.
The first of four stages was the Bacardi Big Top stage. Closest to the main entrance and farthest from the main stage, the Big Top stage was built under a ginormous tent, which was perfect for Friday’s rainy outburst. Further into the island was the Bollywood stage and it was an utter spectacle. Shaped like a colossal temple with elephants that shot out fire, the Bollywood stage saw the likes of Bestival creator Rob da Bank and Jamie xx, who started his setlist with one of his newest tracks, “Good Times,” which attracted a crowd faster than my hair frizzing up in the rain—and that’s pretty damn fast!
What I have to ask is why Bestival would place Jamie xx (known for his solo career as well as being a member of British group The xx) on one of the smallest stages during the day rather than at night on one of the bigger ones? Surely a primetime slot would’ve been better suited to a man who’s made some of the most recognizable remixes. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop his fans from bringing out their ponchos and raincoats and enjoying his chill, funky vibes in the rain.
On the sands of Hanlan’s Point was the Balearic Beach Club, which paid homage to the festivals in Ibiza. It wasn’t the best of venues on Friday, but there was a consistent line to get onto the beach on Saturday—perhaps to check out the DJs performing, or maybe the Ds hanging and chilling on the nude beach…
The largest of the stages was the Main Stage, which served as home base to Bestival’s biggest acts: Clean Bandits, Caribou, Banks, Florence + the Machine and of course, Nas. As much as I love Florence Welsh, for me it was Nas who made Bestival. (Many) years after his prime, Nas was still able to give the audience a pure gold performance by resurrecting some of his greatest hits, which he produced in his early 20’s. There’s something absolutely awe-inspiring about how musicians can move a crowd with their creations, and boy, did Nas move the crowd.
All in all, for being the first one in Toronto, Bestival gets one thumbs up from me. The music was fantastic, the island looked incredible, and the people—like the festival’s theme—came on the island to spread some peace in some serious costumes (did anyone see the man with the makeshift shower?).
What could’ve gotten the festival a second thumbs up was better organization on the transportation aspect of the weekend. After Nas’ performance, in what felt like a reenactment of an entire season of Lost, hundreds and hundreds of people were stranded on the island as the VIP/Media section only had two ferries running between the island and the mainland. That wasn’t fun; everything else was a blast, though!
What was your favourite part of Bestival? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below, or tweet us @ViewtheVibe.