Bestival, Robin Hill Park, Isle of Wight

Robin Hill Park, Isle of Wight

The White Stripes weren't at Bestival, but they may as well have been: the bassline of their track Seven Nation Army drilled out from every tent at some point in the weekend. Even Fatboy Slim and Basement Jaxx jumped on the bandwagon, the latter mashing up the track with 50 Cent's In Da Club during their own live performance.

That was typical of this eclectic festival, which had all the surprises and joy of Glastonbury without the mess. Its goofy name arises from its genesis in the Sunday Best club nights and record label run by Rob da Bank. Several bands signed to Sunday Best Recordings were showcased here - Grand National, Bent, Boomclick - but, as the smaller names on the bill, they were kept on a short leash. One group bounded back on stage for their encore, only to trip over the roadies who were unplugging their amps.

Grand National played an excellent but disjointed set, kicking off with the crunchy indie-synth of Talk Amongst Yourselves and following up with the cod-Police sound of Daylight Goes and some brisk brass ska. Vocalist Lawrence Rudd threw in a few unexpected chunks of UB40 and, oddly, Kelis's Milkshake, but otherwise stuck closely to the script. Zero 7 were similarly polished to perfection, but lacking much of a spark.

Mylo was in the same boat: the retro-dance tracks on his album, Destroy Rock'n'Roll, sound almost exactly the same live as recorded. At least he had the help of a plump Cuban Brother, who came on stage for a little Bez-style wacky dancing, complete with shellsuit.

Fatboy Slim, as ever, did his own dancing, leaping about like a toddler on a sugar rush. Given the luxury of more time, he let himself go, winning over a huge and damp crowd with everything from Walk Like an Egyptian to Franz Ferdinand's Take Me Out. The only fly in the ointment was the appearance of the "slash dot dash" vocal sample from his new single, which popped up far too often, like an irritating advert.

But the highlight was unquestionably a blistering performance from Basement Jaxx. It's good to see Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe, a couple of skinny white boys from Brixton, grind their guitar-laden hips against a towering afro'ed woman in a mini-dress and stilettos as she belts out: "Where's your head at?" The only other act to get as enthusiastic a response was Chas and Dave, who brought together an entire field-full of wet people for the UK's biggest knees-up.


Carrie O'Grady

The GuardianTramp

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