Seeing in the summer with Bestival 2018: 15 Hours in Bristol

15 Hours in BristolThe skies are blue and the sun is shining sweetly. Finally, Britain is being treated to a bank holiday we can believe in, thanks to 15 Hours in Bristol. Having weathered the storms of Bestival 2017, while immersing myself in the best party to end the summer; I was thrilled to hear Bestival had picked the city to celebrate its 15th birthday. What lies ahead is a full-on day of music and good times. Food, three bands at Rough Trade and a DJ set from High Contrast, before a grand finale of Bitch, Please! at The Love Inn.

What better way to start the day than a drag brunch at Jamaica Street Stores? The event does exactly what it promises to do on its sexually diverse tin. Three beautiful flamboyant ladies strutting their stuff to all things 80s and fabulous. These girls are great fun and in between the dancing and chaos, they pluck people from tables to play games where prizes range from a bottle of Babycham to two free tickets to the festival. Having covered the festival last summer, Bestival are treating me to this brunch and it’s a wonderful start to the day.

Next up for our 15 Hours in Bristol, we head to Rough Trade where legendary promoter Rob Da Bank is live on Bestival FM to keep the crowd warm and introduce the bands. Graceland is first on the bill. We've already covered this outfit a few times, and it’s a real joy to finally see them live in the flesh. A thunderous instrumental leads to killer bass infused “Fleetwood”. Big on grooves and guitar licks layered in emotive effects, the band offer trashy elements of punk to propel the weight of their indie soaked collective. They're currently holed up in a rural studio in Norfolk writing their debut album, set for release early next year.

Laucan are playing a solo show this afternoon, so instead of the usual band line-up, we’re treated to acoustic finger pickings over ambient soundscapes courtesy of a laptop and midi keyboard. Vocally you hear a duet between Devendra Banhart and Fleet Foxes, but things take a delightful turn when the sound of birds singing over a simple beat introduces the last track. It's a very refreshing approach to the one man and his guitar saga.


Plastic Mermaids are the headliners of 15 Hours in Bristol and man, have they got some gear. A 5-piece from the Isle of Wight and well introduced to Bristol roads, they lean heavily on bright sparkly, indie synth sounds made famous by The Flaming Lips. There’s a real warmth to their music as vocals are shared and instruments swapped. It’s uplifting and great mix of modern and old sounds.

There's a courtyard out the back of the Christmas Steps pub, who knew? Here High Contrast is delighting the many revellers to a Northern Soul set. As the evening draws to a close, the music makes way for a bit of grime and hip-hop and everyone is lapping it up. All that's left is one final stop on this Bestival all day carousel: Bitch, Please! at The Love Inn. This is where the night starts to slip into the hazy, delirious glory of the festival itself.

Bestival have something of a reputation for partying in style and 15 Hours in Bristol is further testament to their legacy. 15 years in 15 hours; a great mix of bands and DJs; and good people and good vibes. Massive thanks to the Bestival team and especially Head of Press Chloe Munts for looking after me and getting me ahead of the queues. Sunday was a struggle.


One Response to “Seeing in the summer with Bestival 2018: 15 Hours in Bristol”


  1. Seeing in the summer with Bestival 2018: 15 Hours in Bristol – Live List - 21/05/2018

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