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A costumed cadre of characters descended upon the city of Toronto last Sunday and Woodbine Beach was turned to life as the second instalment of Bestival’s summer of love took hold. A bevy of drag queens, kigurumi clad onesies and the nearly-naked mixed with the normals on a beautiful day down by the water all ready to see what this festival from across the pond had to offer this year. From a variety of DJ sets to Indie to post-punk new wave legends in the music department and a countless array of activities, events and other artistic endeavours for patrons to participate in, Bestival Toronto continued in its already award-winning fashion by giving its North American festivalgoer audience something it hasn’t seen here before….well, maybe once.


The brainchild of Robert John Gorham aka BBC Radio 1’s Rob da Bank and his wife Josie, Bestival UK started as an offshoot of his Sunday Best record label and club nights with the first event taking place at Robin Hill country park on the Isle of Wight in 2004. From there, it has done nothing but grow in stature, win awards, and continue to build its reputation as one of the most unique festivals on the globe today by attracting big-time headliners, established acts and a ton of up-and-coming talents: this year being no exception with the likes of Thugli, Odesza, Grimes, Art Department and, of course, Tame Impala and The Cure taking the stages.


With the threat of rain and thunderstorms permeating throughout the preceding days, it was a welcome relief to all when the summer sunshine came crawling in blanketing everyone with rays and warmth right from the start making the overwhelming good vibes easy to take hold and stay. Everywhere there were people dancing, dressing up and taking part in the love-in, as the true theme of fun, magic, and escapism clearly took hold. As you made your way around and through sections like the Cosmic Commune–billed by Bestival Toronto as the intergalactic hub of far-out happenings, trippy activities, pop-up parties and performances–the Lost & Found where “the world’s greatest facilitators of nonsense” brought British camp vibes to Canada, the knitting tent, the inflatable wedding chapel, the costume parties, the flash mob conga lines and so many other whimsical areas to engage you, you quickly realized that you didn’t even have to listen to any music for this event to be a party. But, nevertheless, there was music: and quite a bit of it actually.


DJ sets dominated The Big Top–a giant canvas topped tent–where the younger Bestival Toronto patrons clearly set up shop. Acts like Thugli, Giraffage, and Porter Robinson had the tent bumping all day and with a mini-hot box going and countless Drake samples in the air, it was easy to see why the young’uns stayed.


Just down the way, electronic and house beats pounded out of the trademark Bestival stage, Bollywood: an animal bedecked contraption with lights, lasers, and flames with a DJ booth built in–created in homage to an almost Sergeant Pepper version of an Indian past…or future…but in the present?!? (insert Keanu whoa)


You noticed a lot less beer being drunk here compared to the other areas and much larger lines at the water re-filling station. Also, a lot more of our costumed and colourful friends really getting their dance on.

The main stage was where the likes of Jaime XX and Odesza set the stage for the Day One headline act, Tame Impala. The Australian indie-psych-rock band put on an epic show, mostly sticking to their Currents material, but they shuffled in a few of their past InnerSpeaker and Lonerism hits as well: Elephant, in particular, getting a huge response. Combined with pyrotechnics and incredible visuals, they lived up to their billing as headliners by capping off the end to a very successful first day.


Day two was definitely a little cooler and the crowd was a little sparser. There was an older feel to the throng too, with noticeably more people wearing black in homage to the night’s headline act The Cure. Despite the change in colour, the vibe was still very similar to the previous day with young people still jamming out to their beats in the tent and at the Bollywood stage with some of the more veteran rave crowd. The more chill people had their fill too towards the main stage where Indie bands like The Wombats and Daughter entertained before Canadian star Grimes, draped in leopard and camo, crushed it with an electric and energetic performance despite being very sick and warning us not to judge her if she sounded like shit: I can safely say, she did not. From there, it was time for the band everyone was waiting for: The Cure.




To be perfectly honest, I like The Cure, but I’ve never loved them, like, say, some ex-girlfriends or my brother, who still rates them as one of, if not, his favourite band of all time. I just don’t get it. Never have. But pretty much everyone else here did. Or, rather, does. They love this band and their tortured clown tinged lead singer Robert Smith. There were people, couples, and families all decked out in The Cure or their frontman’s shirts. So, whatever The Cure holds over people, it still exists, and it seems they will breed this loyalty forever. But it’s not like they don’t acknowledge this. To reward all of that loyalty, the band played for two hours plus and despite some technical difficulties and at times with a seemingly vexed Smith, the band pushed on and put in a stellar performance playing countless hits and leaving even the most cynical fans elated.




As the night came to an end and the people began scattering, I think most will have their own little thing that they took away from the weekend, whether it be a certain DJ set, a particular band, a unique event that they had no idea that they’d partake in, or, even a half nude male or female that they fell in love with, all who engaged in Bestival Toronto were treated to a great time. ith past mistakes mended – like no ferries to have to deal with on the way out – the proprietors, promoters, and patrons will all walk away knowing that this event was improved upon from previous year. What will the next Bestival bring? We’ll have to wait and see. But, if things keep progressing, like they did in the UK, it looks like Toronto is going to have an outstanding creative and costumed festival adventure for years to come.

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About The Author

Lucas England

Lucas England is the resident factotum here at The Administrator, Editor, Writer, Reviewer, Photographer and top D-bag created this website with a group of artist friends who are much more talented than he. Fortunately, for him, he is rather astute at quite a few things that they are not, so we have decided to keep him around for the time being.

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