The weekend of June 11th Toronto welcomed back Bestival – UK’s award winning music festival. Returning for a second year at a brand new location, Bestival brought together yet another two days filled with a ‘wonderland’ of cocktail emporiums, bubble blowing battles, Dress up Tents, and of course amazing music from artists across the globe. Bestival prides itself in all things fun and peace, from the team, to the artists, to the crowd, the atmosphere throughout the entire weekend radiated positivity and joy.
With a major venue change from Toronto Island to the East End of the city in Woodbine Park, many festivalgoers didn’t know what to expect (other than a ferry-free commute). The festival grounds had three major stages: Main Stage, which delivered big acts like Odesza, Tame Impala, Grimes, and The Cure; Bollywood Stage was a tribute to the arts and culture of India and hosted Tom Trago, Lee Foss, and Art Department; and lastly, for all hard-core electronic fans there was The Big Top stage, which was located in a tent and hosted the likes of Thugli, Shaun Frank, and Thomas Jack. The festival also set up an intimate party tucked away on a hill called Sunday Best Balearic Bar, which embodied the spirit of an ‘Ibizan’ summer providing specialty drinks and DJs, like Martin Davies and Mojo Filter, spinning tropical-themed tracks.
One of the daytime highlights for Saturday was Caligornia’s Giraffage (Charlie Yin) whos pop-infused electronic beats immediately shook up the Big Top. Yin not too long ago came through Toronto with Small Magic which clearly created a positive residue of a fan base in the city. Yin’s set was fun, energizing and entertaining with dashes of surprising throwbacks like “Who Let the Dogs Out” between the usual remixes of Miley Cyrus.
The evening line up at the Main Stage was perfectly executed, starting with Jamie XX, the producer, and at times vocal, half of The XX. Since breaking out into the music scene on his own in 2009, Jamie XX has been nothing but a beacon of success among the niche electronic music groups. His 2015 album, In Colour, brought him up to the mainstream and consequently to the main stages of mass festivals. His set was diverse, upbeat, and as always featured a combination of his original tracks and some unique remixes.
Next on the program were Odesza, one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend. The duo, made up of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight, created an extremely devoted fan base since their inception in 2012 by releasing a bulk of their music for free and well, just being insanely talented all around. Mills and Knight took the stage just as the sun was setting and put on a performance showcasing their usual live drum set duo. It was undoubtedly a highlight of the weekend.
Wrapping up the first day Tampe Impala lit up the Toronto’s East Side with a performance people will not want to forget. Without a doubt this was the most attended set this weekend from the beginning to end. Between last year’s Currents and 2012’s Lonerism Tame Impala have an incredibly strong following. Whether or not Impala are on your repeat playlist or you’ve just heard (seen) “The Less I Know the Better” you too will feel the band’s all-encompassing live set, it’s the kind of sound you will randomly wake up with on a Tuesday morning and skip to work to.
One of the most awaited acts on day two was tropical house DJ Thomas Jack known for his island-like vibe mixing in live instruments like the sax and the flute. Performing in the Big Top, which created a more intimate, a bit sweaty vibe, Jack appropriately played some of his most popular remixes like “You Were Right,” and “Is This Love,” as well sharing some of his new work with the excited crowd. Always a pleasure to watch, he was a perfection addition to Bestival and epitomized the true relaxed and positive spirit of the weekend.
Canadian songwriter and producer Grimes preformed Sunday evening as one of the closing acts of the festival. Those familiar with Grimes knew what they were in for, those who were not were surprised, shocked, and entertained. Joined by dancers and additional singers on stage Grimes played a variety of her old and new tracks while fighting through a gnarly cold. Needless to say being a bit under the weather effected the set but her limitless energy compensated where the voice was lacking.
Sunday being an overall lighter day was mostly spent relaxing on the grass and dancing to electronic beats of Catz and Dogz, Unlike Pluto, Lee Foss, Classixx and Tchami. While the more mature crowd were singing along to The Cure, Dubfire closed out the weekend at the Bollywood stage with the fire flares shooting out of elephant tracks bidding the crowd goodnight.
More image from Bestival Toronto can be found on Facebook.
photos by Erik Shaw