Bestival 2009 Clockwatch: Saturday, September 12th (Part 1)

Bestival 2009 Clockwatch: Saturday, September 12th (Part 1)

Bat For Lashes © Kate Goodacre, 2009

Bat For Lashes © Kate Goodacre, 2009

00.00: If Florence Welch is the new kid on the block as far as kooky, heartbroken pop is concerned, Natasha Khan is the undisputed First Lady of that very same genre.

Bat For Lashes play one of the sets of the festival. It's as simple as that. Khan's exquisite voice soars high into the rafters of a rammed Big Top for opener Glass, and there's yet more tearjerking moments to come.

The opening harpsichord and high harmonies of Horse And I are simply breathtaking. Trophy is its deeply sensual self with that killer bassline, and whilst it would have been nice to hear a little more non-single material from Fur And Gold, it would be churlish for one to complain when What's A Girl To Do sounds so utterly desparate and heartbreaking. KG

01.00: The brothers Dewaele, otherwise known as 2manyDJs, prove once again their mastery of the genre known affectionately as 'bastard pop'. Who else could mix two hours of Nirvana into Aphex Twin into The Clash into Dolly Parton into The Stone Roses without ever missing a beat? The backdrop of animated CD cover art adds a eye-catching visual element to their outstanding performance. BT

02.42: Out myself as a Fleetwood Mac aficionado to at least one Motel scribe, as Dreams pings out across Green Camping. KG

02.46: And now they're playing We Like To Party (The Vengabus) (I think - they all sound the same) by sometime late 90s noisemakers Vengaboys. Quite literally a case of moving from the sublime to the ridiculous. As Boom Boom Boom Boom swiftly follows, the Motel retires to bed. KG

07.00: A backlog of texts bring my sleep to a halt, including four from Benjamin sent between 7pm on Thursday and midnight today, and "What are your plans for tonight?" from Shaun, sent yesterday. Thanks, O2. KG

12.00: After two late starts, Motel correspondents, moonlighters and off-duty punters alike - are off to a stilted start this morning. Our collective transformation into our space and sci-fi-themed fancy dress is thus a rather sedate affair. KG

13.30: Newly crowned Mercury Prize laureate Speech Debelle is in such demand that she has been granted not one but two appearances this weekend - the first of which takes place almost unannounced in the Big Top - to a small and inquisitive audience.

Her socially conscious flows, backed by jazzy instrumentation, are highly impressive. And perhaps she'll have chance to meet with last year's recipients Elbow (headlining the Main Stage tomorrow) to compare strategies for avoiding the award's notorious career-wrecking curse. Show of hands: who amongst us remembers Talvin Singh? I rest my case. BT

14.40: Goldie Lookin' Chain are not so much rapping their second biggest hit Your Mother's Got A Penis as shouting it tunelessly. Oh dear. Run away. KG

14.45: It seemed like a really odd booking choice, but apparently there are people out there who actually remember who Goldie Lookin’ Chain are, and their main stage slot has drawn a surprisingly large crowd. There are about 20 excitable Welshmen who really should know better leaping around on stage. Maybe it’s the sunshine, maybe it’s the cider, but the collective bonhomie that greets Guns Don’t Kill People, Rappers Do is astounding. RW

14.50: Bored of bonhomie; over-priced Magnum o’clock. RW

14.51: Beardyman? Still the man. Who is bearded. KG

The Hot Rats © Kate Goodacre, 2009

The Hot Rats © Kate Goodacre, 2009

14.55: Supergrass side(-ish) project The Hot Rats have taken to the Big Top. The concept - probably only newsworthy due to the protagonists' fame, to be honest - is a covers-only set of the band members' favourite songs, kind of like a karaoke Desert Island Discs, only without the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth cropping up every other bloody week.

Digressing, there's hits - Mirror In The Bathroom and Roxy Music's Love Is The Drug, for example. However, there's also woeful misses, such as an ill-advised cover of Fight For Your Right To Party. It just doesn't work as a downbeat song. KG

15.00: My quest for ice-cream leads to the Magic Meadow where we watch women dressed as ants performing aerialist tricks at the Insect Circus, after which – appropriately heralded by the dying strains of my Magnum - Mr Whippy And The Conettes take to the stage with an oddly asexual and kiddie-friendly 1940s-style cabaret show devoted to the joys of ice-cream. It’s kitsch, calorific and a little baffling. RW

15.24: Typical Bestival fancy dress day madness is in full flow, and I'm loving it. Exhibit A: lone man wandering around near the XBox tent playing the trombone. KG

15.30: There's a fundamental flaw in Little Boots' quest for domination of the pop charts and the pages of Heat magazine, which becomes very clear whilst listening to her live performance. Quite simply, her voice is terribly off-key without the aid of studio wizardry, which tarnishes the shiny perfection of hits such as New In Town and Remedy. Most notable is Symmetry, her duet with Phil Oakley, which she valiantly tries and fails to perform alone in the absence of a cameo from the Human League frontman. BT

15.45: I think I might be alone in choosing Little Boots over Dirty Projectors. Why, oh why, did I go and do that? Now, don’t get me wrong; I have a lot of goodwill towards Ms Hesketh, and her vanilla disco-pop almost works on record if you have the patience to chip though the lacquered layers of production, but good lord, she’s a few cha-cha’s short of charisma!

The dodgy sound that plagues the Main Stage all weekend seems to be coming in waves, and thus does little to clear up the confusion. I want to like her, I really do, as much in loving memory of the late, great and very Dead, Disco, but… thankfully everyone else seems to be more successful in channelling their appreciation - there’s enthusiastic crowd participation on Remedy; but it’s all oddly robotic, and sadly probably not in knowing tribute to this evening’s headline act. RW

15.48: I spend the next two minutes intensively pondering the meaning of the phrase “love me in perfect symmetry,” before giving it up as a logical lost cause and heading off to see Dirty Projectors after all. RW

16.05: Oh dear. I appear to be stuck in the middle of the fancy dress parade. I feel a bit spaced out, which sadly isn’t a costume that’s visible to the outside world. I might as well be wearing a giant sandwich board saying “Killjoy”. RW

Dirty Projectors © Kate Goodacre, 2009

Dirty Projectors © Kate Goodacre, 2009

16.15: Dirty Projectors are playing in the Jim Beam & Cola Bar, which is about the same size as my own far-from-palatial living room, and there are more people standing outside the tent than have managed to squeeze inside. I get there just in time to hear Stillness Is The Move, which more than makes up for the parade debacle. Lovely stuff. RW

16.10: Having reluctantly skipped Little Boots (after seeing her at In The City last year I'm a not-so-secret fan), I'm down the front for Dirty Projectors, after excitable whispers about them from every writer onsite. With charming vocal interplay that sounds a great deal more delicate live than they do on record, fans of intelligent, interesting music will love them.KG

16.25: Benjamin will enquire over lunch on Sunday "So, did you manage to successfully miss Mika? Well, yes! Indeed - a three-strong Motel party (with special guest) do just this by taking in the many eccentric delights of the Bollywood Field. Proceedings start in typical Bestival fashion with an eight-piece brass band serenading a small child who is expertly doing the Hula. A second child genius soon materialises, wielding a giant monster puppet atop his shoulders.KG

16.32: Still a queue for the piano. This is a shame. KG

16.37: Stumble across Lost And Found without even being lost, or intending to find Lost And Found. There appears to be an aerobics class taking place. Squats are particularly painful, especially when Ms Lost And Found claims she is not so hot at her English digits and forgets what number comes between 5 and 7. KG

words: Kate Goodacre and Rowan Woods
additional reporting: Benjamin Thomas
pictures: Kate Goodacre