All photos courtesy of Brianna Roye. | briannaroye.tumblr.com
*Epilepsy Warning: Be advised that ‘Porter Robinson: Fresh Static Snow’ (video) has bright, flashing images.*
Given last year’s smashing success, English DJ Rob Da Bank blesses Toronto with the return of Bestival, Rob and wife Josie’s tribute to love, fun and happiness. Setting the central theme as the ‘Summer of Love’, Bestival 2016 definitely provided a welcoming and loving atmosphere, all thanks to the wide range of music, nonstop activities, and shared peace among festival attendees and staff alike.
With the dreaded ferry situation being one of the most talked about aspects of last year, everyone’s mind is on how Woodbine Park would hold out for the festival. As much as one would miss the island scenery and the seclusion from the hectic city life, Woodbine Park easily proves to be a far better venue. Although The Big Top and Main Stage are right next to one another, there isn’t an issue with sound bleeding from either stage, and it makes jumping between conflicting sets/performances much easier. Bollywood and Sunday Best are tucked away in opposite corners of the park, and each of the four stages has its own bar (or cocktail school bus) stationed nearby, thus cutting down on wait times.
Like last year, the downtown skyline is clearly visible, thanks to a steep hill, with the ‘I <3 BESTIVAL’ sign perched at the very top. It’s also the perfect spot to hear the Main Stage performances, whilst taking in a good amount of the festival grounds.
Despite there being fewer stages this year, it feels like far more is delivered in regards to musical variety. The Main Stage is full of live acts, starting off with Elliott Vincent Jones – each performer has their own vibe (and wide array of instruments) to bring to the stage, whether it’s rock, electro-pop, or even ‘otherworldly’, as Odesza provides during their performance. Tame Impala’s entrancing tunes go perfectly with the intense visuals flashing off behind them, and The Cure has the longest performance of the weekend, at 2 1/2 hours – and to the most packed crowd of the festival.
Right next to it is The Big Top – which is white this year, instead of deep blue. Throughout most of the weekend, there’s bass reverberating through your body thanks to the heavy trap, dubstep and future bass being dished out by the likes of Thugli, 4B and Maddmon – but things are switched up more often than not, with Malaa providing some solid G-House, and Giraffage throwing in some Vaporwave.
Like the Main Stage, there is a lot more emphasis on performing live, such as Madeon with his Launchpads, and Skylar Spence singing to his track, Fiona Coyne. Porter Robinson invokes some intense feelings with his Worlds-inspired set, particularly when he unleashes Fresh Static Snow upon the crowd. Tchami is a proper closer for the weekend, with his set summarizing the variety of bass, funk and future vibes heard throughout both days.
In the northern pocket of the festival lies the famed Bollywood stage, with its stunning visuals and tunes to bring about shufflers, G-steppers and other forms of dancers alike. Unlike the Big Top, the songs and tracks from this stage aren’t heavily focused on the biggest hype, but provide a lighter/smoother dancing mood, thanks to the likes of Rob Da Bank, Lee Foss, Art Department and Day 1 closer Maya Jane Coles.
Tucked away in the trees is the Sunday Best Balearic Bar, which feels like ‘mini-Bollywood’, with the musical focus being on French House, Techno, and Deep House – much like what was being played at Bollywood itself. Even so, Sunday Best provides the perfect picnic setting for those chilling at the semi-hidden paradise, with some nice tunes to help you relax underneath the shade.
‘Beyond the Music’
Food trucks are scattered throughout the park, grouped in small clusters by each of the stages. Amidst the wide selection, from Belgian Waffles and Churro Cones, to Wood-baked pizza and Mac n’ Cheese, the MVP of food trucks is Delight Bite, Inc. Given the sizes of their burrito, burrito bowl and poutine portions, it’s the most that one could get for approx. $10 throughout the weekend.
Between the stages, there is something happening around every turn. A good portion of the masses come dressed up in their most creative attire, whether donning wings, morphsuits, or spreading the love with hippie attire.
The Bestival crew puts on a spectacle for everyone to revel in. From a unicorn truck– which belches out some filthy electro/dubstep on the first day, and psychedelic live instrumentation the next– to the inflatable church, where a couple actually ends up getting married, this is an event which doesn’t put its main focus on facing the stage and dancing all day, but rather on the overall experience. (But hey, if dancing all day’s your thing, then by all means!)
As successful as Woodbine Park is for holding down such a wondrous event, there’s a good chance it’s going to remain as the spot-to-be for Bestival. Nevertheless, it can be safely said that it’ll be back for round 3 next year!