REVIEW: Bestival

Florence + the Machine, Nas, Banks and others

FLORENCE + THE MACHINE, NAS, BANKS and more at Bestival, Friday and Saturday, June 12 and 13. Rating: NNNN

A formidable legion of weekend hippies descended upon Hanlan’s Point to “increase the peace” at Toronto’s inaugural edition of Bestival, a celebration of dancey music, sparkly makeup and excessive set pieces that originated across the pond.

Although the sights on the grounds were almost able to compete with the acts onstage, a collection of stellar international acts satisfied by bringing the (mostly) thumpy noise that attendees were itching for.

Jamie xx, fresh off his critically acclaimed new record In Colour, slayed a mud-covered crowd on rainy Friday afternoon at the Bollywood Stage. Wavves lead singer Nathan Williams confessed to being high on shrooms in the middle of their sunny scuzz-pop set. But the highlight  was the brilliant Florence + The Machine, a band that’s built to lay ruin to festival stages. They didn’t disappoint. Their late set was easily the high watermark of the weekend.

Saturday brought much needed sunshine to the island scene, with the beach “stage” finally getting some proper utilization just a fence away from nude beachcombers. Banks was razor-sharp with her sultry R&B on the main stage, followed by Caribou’s well-oiled electro-grooves.

But the cherry on top was Nas’s high-energy set of inimitable East Coast hip-hop bangers. The crowd may have been a little thinner than Friday’s, but that didn’t stop them from hitting the same feverish apex.

Despite some very harshed mellows (ferry transportation to and from the island was a total nightmare), the first Toronto Bestival was mostly a blast. | @MattGeeWilliams

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