HSL supplied lighting for all main live music and DJ venues at Bestival 2007, and co-ordinated the sound supply via their audio partners ML Executives. The operation was led by site project manager Ian Stevens, involving 9 artics of equipment and 38 crew.

The hugely popular ‘boutique’ style music festival produced by Loudsound Events is now in its fourth year on the Isle of Wight and has expanded to a capacity of 30,000.

The site

The site surface area at its Robin Hill Country Park location has also increased. Main stage headline acts for 2007 were the Chemical Brothers (Friday), The Beastie Boys (Saturday) and Primal Scream (Sunday).

HSL has been involved with Bestival since its inception in 2004, and once again worked closely with event production manager Lee Charteris and Loudsound’s Jim King and Jo MacKay in co-ordinating all the site’s technical production and infrastructure.

The lighting and audio get-in commenced on Wednesday morning for a Friday lunchtime kick off. It was a galvanising task to make it happen in this short timescale and distributing and rigging equipment around the extremely hilly site with almost no level elements was the first challenge!

To aid the process this year, HSL hired its own site vehicle fleet consisting of two Landrover Defenders, a 4 wheel drive MPV and a Toyota HiLux pick up. They also supplied their own 18-way radio system. Both these elements made all the difference to the site distribution logistics and in getting equipment to the correct locations, which included over 14 satellite venues around the rambling site.

“We had an absolutely top crew onboard which really shows when you’re working in such a tough environment” says Ian Stevens, adding that it was as much an exercise in personnel management as technical production. ”We experienced some fantastic teamwork and it to was down to this and everyone’s total dedication to the job that made it happen”.


He acknowledged that the greatest physical challenge was working with the site topology, it’s hills and undulations which are undisputedly also at the essence of its charm, idiosyncrasy and Bestival appeal.

Main stage – bigger and brighter

The main stage this year increased in size to a 3-bay 20 metre Star Events orbit structure with 8.6 metres of headroom. HSL brought Steven Abbis onboard to design a rig incorporating all the elements required by the headliners that also dealt with the many other performers appearing. He came up with an excellent design based on four trusses plus a drapes truss at the back.

Rigged on 26 points (by HSL’s Rory MacKay) the trusses – hinged to maximise the roof space – were easily moved into a series of angled asymmetric cross stage positions for the Chemical Brothers – and then back out to their straight positions for the Beasties and Primal Scream.

One of Abbiss’s most interesting tasks was ensuring enough additional lighting kit could be fitted around the Chemical Brothers rig without exceeding the roof weight loadings.

“It was a standard festival approach” says Abbiss “Make sure everyone gets what they need and are as happy as possible, and also accommodate any specials that they bring in (e.g. the Chemical Brothers’ MiTrix screen)

The main stage moving lights were 24 Robe ColorWash 1200E ATs and 24 Robe ColorSpot 1200E ATs. Other fixtures included 12 PixelLine LED battens, 4 lite and 8-lite Moles, PixelPARs, Source Four Zoom profiles, a selection of PARs plus three Robert Juliat Cyrano 2500 HMI follow spots for the Beastie Boys.

Control was via a WholeHog Ii console and a Wing, and Chemical Brother’s Visual Director Ricardo Lorenzini brought in his own GrandMA console.

Saving Energy Around the site – Clean Clear illumination

HSL applied a general lighting philosophy around site of minimising the use of generics/incandescents and maximising arc light and LED sources. This was to conserve energy and embrace Bestival’s eco-friendly vibes, and also to give cleaner, clearer aesthetics in each of the venues.

HSL applied a general lighting philosophy around site of minimising the use of generics/incandescents and maximising arc light and LED sources. This was to conserve energy and embrace Bestival’s eco-friendly vibes, and also to give cleaner, clearer aesthetics in each of the venues.

The House of Bamboo tent featured a selection of live acts and DJs and was looked after by Alan Thorp, operating an Avolites Pearl 2004 console. Lighting fixtures were 8 Robe ColorSpot 250E ATs and 7 ColorWash 250E ATs along with 10 PixelLines.

In the Rock and Roll/’BBC Introduces’ new band tent, four vertical trussing sections were stood on bases at the rear of the very tight stage. Onto these were rigged 5 Robe ColorWash 575E ATs and 4 ColorWash 575s, 2 bars of 6 and 2 strings of ACLs. Lighting was operated by Andy Hilton using an Avo Pearl 2004.

In the Big Top, lighting was overseen by Neil Scrivener using an Avo Diamond 4 console. HSL erected a large ground support system over the stage on which this kit was hung, featuring 7 Robe ColorWash 700E ATs and 12 ColorSpot 700s, 6 bars of 6, 2 strings of ACLs. 4-lite Moles and four 24 inch mirror balls for a bit of bling!

In addition to these main venues around site, HSL also supplied a number of stand-alone lighting systems, the most significant of which resided in the massively popular Bollywood Bar. Sumptuous interiors abounded with hand made Indian decorations and chandeliers. The venue, renowned for its cocktails, hot DJs and buzzing social interaction featured an equally gorgeous lighting rig consisting of 8 Robe LEDWash 136 moving head fixtures, 8 PixelLines and 8 i-Pix Satellites. All of this was rigged on tank traps and other floor standing apparatus – controlled by an Avo Pearl 2004.

Other areas with stand-alone systems included the Speigal tent, Loose Tea with its eclectic mix of burlesque and tea, the Jestival comedy arena, the Bandstand stage and the Hidden Disco. The HSL crew also rigged 8 PixelPARs to illuminate a selection of scenic skeletons flown in the roof at Club Dada!

Lighting site production rigger was Mark Wade, assisted by Jonny Harper, and the pair looked after all the various site-wide rigging requirements other than the main stage. Most of the lighting crew took on more than one role at Bestival, and Ian Stevens pays tribute to their multi-tasking abilities. Oz Bagnall was the audio crew chief.

Bestival 2007 was co-ordinated in the HSL office by Mike Oates. He comments, “Once again it was great to be working with Jim, Lee and the Loudsound Events team. Our crew really did us proud again – their passion and dedication to the job shining through along with the sun – a great way to conclude our summer 2007 festival season”.

Date of issue : 17th September 2007.

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