Only The Young, George the Poet, The Shires & Kaiser Chiefs Camp Bestival Review

Kaiser Chiefs Camp Bestival
Kaiser Chiefs Camp Bestival

George the Poet brought his relatable political social justice rap stylings out of the London estate where they grew, down to family festival goers in the fields of Dorset. He put intelligent and playful poetry to urban music, in one song sampling an instantly recognisable mobile ringtone, and told a story of applying to Cambridge University as a member of a disenfranchised youth. He sings in parts, but proudly proclaims later in the song that he knows he can’t sing, and is out on the stage for social change and to challenge politics. (Also to tell people to stop using YOLO to justify doing stupid things.) He wasn’t joking when he said doing what he does is a quicker way to get into politics than becoming a politician. The audience, the majority of whom seemed previously unaware of George, were very quickly rallying behind the hip-hop poet. They joined in as he sang to them “And as long as you wanna be courageous… I promise you we’re gonna see some changes.“ and judging by their cheers, would’ve voted for him if he’d have handed out ballot papers. (Next time, maybe?)

Ex X-Factor boy/girl group, Only The Young skipped out with swagger to an empty stage and burst into a rock ’n’ roll mash-up number with the Theatre School style vigour of the cast of Glee. They did a Doo-Wop Pop version of I Wanna Be Like You from The Jungle Book, complete with synchronised dancing. The addition of an acoustic guitar went at least some of the way to make it less karaoke and make up for the lack of any kind of accompanying band or instruments. A cover of Rita Ora’s How We Do was simple but felt the most genuine. Though they haven’t quite transitioned from an X Factor performance to a festival gig, their pre-teen audience squashed up against the barrier loved it and everyone else realised that the band name should have been an indicator that they were never expected to love it anyway. Their debut single, the folk-tinged pop, ‘I Do’, pointed to promising things for the bands future releases.

Country pop duo The Shires had fans spilling into the Big Top tent and singing along with every word. They sounded a lot like Taylor Swift before she went mainstream, but with a beautiful harmony of two voices. The UK band were proud Americophiles; every other word seemed to be Nashville, Arizona, or the Mississippi, and we have no doubt that the pair rolled up to the festival in a Chevy pickup truck. Their piano ballads sounded straight out of the happy ending of a movie that claims to make you laugh, cry, fall in love all over again, and change your life forever. It is no surprise then when Ben Earle, one half of the duo, told the audience that their songs get used by a lot of people as their first dance at weddings. They up the tempo and the Tennessee twang for the second half of a polished performance, and seem to singlehandedly have created a place in the hearts of the British for country music.

Headliners Kaiser Chiefs took to the main stage raring to go and obviously knew their crowd, dishing out Rock ’n’ Roll rated U. “Hands up if it’s your first rock show!” would have been some patronising stage patter anywhere else, but tiny hands shot up. Front man Ricky Wilson took it upon himself to teach the crowd the basics of rock show etiquette; step one: sing it back, step two: scream as load as you can. They picked it up after a little coaching and soon parents and children cheered new album tracks 5% had heard. With the stage as his playground, the indie-rocker climbed atop amps and leapt off them. He sprinted about the stage with a seemingly boundless energy that transferred to the now electric crowd. ‘Everyday I Love You Less and Less’ was huge, as was ‘Ruby’, and they even threw in a cool cover of The Who’s Pinball Wizard. The word of the night was Edutainment. Kaiser Chiefs taught the kids the some things their teachers weren’t going to, like what a bass guitar at full volume feels like and Ricky informed us, “Something you might be asked to do at a rock show, is put your hands in the air like you just don’t care.” Before him shone a sea of swaying hands like waves, all the way back to the castle, and in that moment it was clear Kaiser Chiefs had the best front man of the festival. They didn’t predict a riot, but the encore came as close to one as Camp Bestival ever could.

Article by Holly Warren.

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