Date: 7th September
Venue: Bestival, Isle of Wight
Bestival is typically seen as the last big festival on the ‘circuit’ so to speak, but is also one of the first to get the ball rolling on artists, trying to lure away those thinking of some of the June/July offerings with their diverse lineup of indie rock, classic performers and cutting-edge DJs. But, with early bookings comes slightly bizarre stage choices, and Alt-J, one of this summer’s breakthrough acts, found out about this first hand.
Booked to play the rather small ‘Replay’ stage despite their recent Mercury Prize nomination, Alt-J were hidden half way through a packed Friday, yet 20 minutes before the start the tent was full. Five minutes before the start people were crammed all the way back to the Pieminister tent.
When Alt-J finally creeped out from behind the stage, it was fair to say that even the band themselves; were not expecting the horde that turned up to see them.
Rather than ruining the experience, the small stage made for an excellent and intimate performance, at least for those that could see all the way to the front. A rattle through of favourites ‘Tesselate’, ‘Fitzpleasure’ and ‘Breezeblocks’ allowed the audience to prove their dedication, echoing all the words back without fail.
I haven’t seen such crazed adoration of a band since Mumford & Sons made a rare appearance in Belgium two years ago. Lots of triangle symbols in the air, lots of iPhones recording every second, and plenty of lighters during ‘Matilda’. All in all, Alt-J are very unlikely to be regretting their slightly undersized stage, as the people there are unlikely to forget it.