Coming for their second year now, the UK import Bestival is now changing its venue after a decidedly mixed first year. While the lineup was terrific, poor weather along with disastrous wait times for a Toronto Island ferry made the switch to Woodbine Park in The Beaches a no brainer. While Live in Limbo isn’t responsible for leaking the lineup this year (seriously we did, even if Bestival claimed our poster was wrong) we will happily still talk about it.
Last year Nas and Florence + the Machine lead a mostly electronic festival that excited those in attendance. This year organizer Rob da Bank upped the ante by pulling in the massive legacy act The Cure as the top billed name. The 80’s glam-goth rockers have only played Canada twice in the last three years with a stop at Toronto’s Riot Fest in 2014 their most recent date. They normally play for well over two hours a show, but you wonder if they still have it in them to do that this year, especially with four shows in five days preceding their Sunday night headlining set. At this point it would be impossible to guess what their set list will look like, will it be a night of deep cuts and long jams or a greatest hits package for a crowd that will most likely skew younger in age. It’s a shame they will have a strict curfew, as we will know exactly how long their set will end up being depending on when they start. This is a major coup for a Toronto festival to get and expect it to cause non-Torontonians to sit up and make the trek into our city just for them.
The other headliner of this two day festival is Tame Impala, bringing their psychedelic rock to those who enjoy illicit substances. While most festivals won’t have these Aussies headlining, for a festival that caters to a diverse set of tastes, this is a name plenty of people will be attracted to. The band is currently promoting their third and most accessible album, Currents and will be playing a late night show at Bonnaroo the night before and a stop in Montreal the night after. For a festival wanting to have a unique identity, having two jam bands that are heavy into electronics and effects pedals make this a great 1-2 punch.
The festival is quite heavy on the electronic/EDM side of things, but just like how last year’s acts like Owen Pallett, Born Ruffians and Shamir, there are a handful of non-rave acts to see. The biggest name in Canada right now has to be Grimes, and people were wondering all spring why she hadn’t popped up on any other festival bills yet, no Wayhome, no Field Trip, but Bestival actually makes the most sense for her style of alternative pop. Other names include the indie rockers Daughter, who having released a hugely critically acclaimed album earlier this year are expected to grow in stature and become one of the year’s most underrated acts. The Wombats will be coming over from England with their New Wave Pop/Rock. While there are only three main names offering counter EDM content, they are all acts you should be familiar with and make them can’t miss sets.
It seems like the bread and butter of the festival both here in Toronto, and the original and ongoing on in England is Electronic and EDM-centric acts and Bestival certainly has separated itself from the other EDM festivals in Toronto (Veld and Digital Dreams) for having more original acts and not the same tired repeats. The biggest name is Odesza, the Seattle duo who have raced up the lineup posters for every festival they have played. Their mix of mainstream dance music and rave live mixing has earned them plenty of crossover fans. Rave heavyweight Porter Robinson will play with his live band, which makes his booking even more special. Up and comers Tchami and Madeon will look to make a name for themselves and Classixx will be doing a traditional DJ set, instead of their usual live shows.
You may be wondering why I have yet to mention one of the top acts Jamie xx of The xx fame. Most festivals do their best to ensure acts aren’t booked in back-to-back years, unless an act has released new material and has exponentially grown since they last played. An act like X Ambassadors played a mini-side stage at Bonnaroo last year while this year after their proper full length debut has come out are much more popular and expect to have a key spot on one of their two main stages. While last year poor weather marred Jamie xx’s slot, it is a bit unusual to have him back again, even if I named In Colour the #1 album of last year and Gosh the #1 song. Still he’s a ‘can’t miss act’ with his 90’s throwback sound and deep booming bass. Other repeat acts include Pusher, Shaun Frank and Johnathan Rosa. Founder and curator Rob da Bank will be once again performing.