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Things Learned At: Bestival
Christopher Sanders , October 1st, 2015 11:57

Karl Marx once described the Isle Of Wight as a 'little paradise', and it certainly was for this year's 'Summer of Love' themed Bestival. Christopher Sanders was on hand to revel in all the peace, love and harmony on offer.

The Isle of Wight is home to a lot of pensioners, a few intimidating youths, and some surprising talent

The little diamond shaped 'paradise' that is the Isle of Wight has a mixed reputation. It is, for two weekends each year, home to two of Britain's most prominent music festivals, with revellers making the journey across the Solent to see the likes of Paul McCartney, Elton John and Stevie Wonder perform. For the other fifty weeks of the year, however, the Isle of Wight feels more like the Wicker Man's island of Summerisle with less child sacrifice.

It is refreshing then, when from out of the drowsy haze of rapeseed fields, orchards and cow dung appears some exceptional talent. The talent in question is Isle of Wight based producer Compton White. As the sun begins to set on Saturday evening, the diverse beat maker debuts his forthcoming EP in the magical space of the Wishing Tree. White deftly skips through hip hop, dance, and electronic music to create something powerful, personal and at times nostalgic.

White's online presence has been brewing for a while now, with tracks being uploaded to his Soundcloud, and then promptly taken down again for a few years. As his set begins, what is clear is how well his beats translate to a live performance. Sonically, White’s genre bending production sits somewhere between Jai Paul and Hudson Mohawke, creating richly constructed drum patterns and synths that are both danced to and marvelled at for their technical ability by spectators. The space of the Wishing Tree is intimate, and, towards the end of a personal performance, I glance over to see an intense look of concentration on White's face, suggesting that this forthcoming EP is a labour of love for him. What is also clear from his set is that, though an inhabitant of an island which often seems so remote, White feels remarkably in touch.

The Chuckle Brothers can draw a larger crowd than FKA twigs

Gracing the Big Top on Saturday were Paul and Barry Chuckle, the two northern bastions of nostalgia for any child born in the early 90s. The pair seem not to have aged since the first episode of ChuckleVision back in 1987, perpetually halted in the ageing process at 62. As well as drawing a larger crowd than FKA twigs, the brothers also elicited from the audience what can only be described as a intense case of 'ChuckleMania', with every audience member in raptures over Barry's talent with a pink whistle and Paul's piano playing. Without sounding melodramatic, it is the most acute and short lived epidemic of postmodern irony of the weekend.

Despite being overshadowed in crowd numbers by the brothers from Rotherham, FKA twigs also elicits a reaction quite unlike anything I'd seen before in her own special way. As 'Two Weeks' begins, she writhes and clicks, emerging out of the mist and strobe lighting of the Big Top stage with grace. At first, she makes little effort to engage with the audience, coming across as icy and cold. This is the case for the majority of her set; as she glides and clicks her body, she meets the audience with a hollow glare, staring out with eyes that betray nothing.

However, with the powerful and simple opening of 'Figure 8' taken from her latest EP M3LL155X, she suddenly opens up to the crowd. Her change in temperament is immediate and profound, swiftly altering from steely to infantile and engaging. She even begins to talk to the audience, telling us just how lovely it is to be on the Isle of Wight, a place she hasn't visited since a school trip at the age of 12. At this point I realise how still everybody is, completely mesmerised by twig's balletic movements.

Simon le Bon is half dad half trouser

Headlining the main stage on Saturday are 80s super group Duran Duran. As a lover of 80s corn and flamboyancy, I had no problem accepting Le Bon's painfully white trousers and cringe inducing exclamations of 'this is the biggest gig of our career!'. Incredibly, this was followed by a compare who, in an attempt to gee the audience into a frenzy asks, quite innocently, "now, who is ready to hear Duran Duran's new single?!". Only me, apparently.

Aside then from the fact that Simon Le Bon seems more like an overwhelmed dad, hats must be doffed for the performance. Apart from the questionable new material, they roll out the hits with aplomb, and look and sound great whilst doing it.

No one can pull off crass like Missy Elliott

Accompanied by the repeated aural violence of guns loading and horns being sounded with an incessant "BOW BOW BOW", Missy Elliott takes to the main stage on the Sunday night to provide Bestival with a fitting finale. Her performance is something to marvel at, if only for it's crass extravagance; as she pauses to hurl her signed shoes into the crowd, I'm not sure whether I'm watching 'Missy Elliott the brand' or 'Missy Elliott the artist'. Donning an array of colourful track suits and gesturing to huge screens showing clips from her music videos, Missy is almost overwhelming with the amount of energy and confidence she displays. Her performance seems to strike a particular chord with certain younger audience members who were no doubt transported right back to the early noughties; as she rolls out hits such as 'Get Ur Freak On', 'Work It', and 'Lose Control', even those around me who seemed unsure of her as a closing headliner can't help but get swept up on the Missy Elliot bandwagon. This love for Missy reaches its apotheosis as she makes a well intentioned but unfortunately meagre attempt to enter the crowd, for, as she tries to launch herself over the barrier, she is mobbed by adoring fans.