Kendal Calling had Getintothis’ Amy Chidlow braving a British summer in the Lakes and discovering a clutch of new bands.
It’s that time of year again when the loyal music lovers pack their bags, pitch their tents and brave the unpredictable laughing stock that is the British weather.
This weekend, and for the tenth year running, Kendal Calling’s home resides in the countryside of Lowther Deer Park.
With two glorious days of almost unbearable sunshine, the festival is off to a good start however like most good things it came to an end with the torrential rain greeting those who arrived on the Saturday.
Thursday’s headliner Hacienda Classical blast out an hour and a half set, dishing out club classic after club classic, with New Order’s Blue Monday and Donner Summer’s I Feel Love, to name a few.
It’s a truly impressive set and clutching two maracas, Happy Monday’s own Bez makes a cameo appearance. The main stage rests at the bottom of a hill meaning the crowd get an all-inclusive view to this amazingly diverse performance.
There’s no festival without a theme, and this year Kendal Calling was going into the future. As you can imagine some campers took this very seriously, going all out with their costumes for the carnival parade.
There’s something mesmerising about watching a six-foot bloke in a green morph suit, trudge down a muddy hill in the rain, with a pint in one hand and a ray gun in the other. True commitment to say the least.
Back to music, RATS were one of Fridays must see bands, playing on the Woodland Stage, the Liverpool born lads brought with them their scouse charm. Along with their tribute to Amy Winehouse, the band’s new single Weekend went down a treat bringing their unique Merseyside sound into the fields.
The Carvetti stage hides in a cosy corner of the forest giving Xam Volo’s evening set a cool intimate feel. On top of a few tracks from his latest release, “A Damm Fine Spectacle” the real highlight was his cover of Crazy by Gnarls Barkley, reworking the song with his own unique soulful style.
Just around the corner sits the Illumanphonium. Despite its complex name the concept was very simple. Grab a baton, hit the metal and watch the light react with the sound.
The art installation created by Michael Davis, has travelled around the country at festivals such a Bluedot and Glastonbury, bringing a combination of light and music into the woods.
Shout out to those who tend to get carried away. You will be shouted at for hitting the structure to hard……
On with the weekend, the main stage hosts the queen of tropical music Hollie Cook, with support from the General Roots Band. Cook has a great personality and with her strong vocals, wins the crowd over instantly. The set is happy, groovy and has the reggae fans swaying in the sunshine.
Headliners Catfish and the Bottlemen and James continue the main stage line up with the latter’s frontman Tim Booth literally sacrificing himself into the audience in the form of a crowd surf. Undoubtedly, they play their hits Laid and Sometimes, but Sit Down is performed acoustically with a much slower tempo. An interesting take on the song for a festival atmosphere but well received by all.
One act that’s sure to turns heads is Doncaster’s own, The Blinders. Some bands need to be seen live before you can truly connect with their music, hearing it is only the first half.
There’s a lawless attitude about the band that presents itself in the form of a wallowing guitar, charged drum rhythms and, to tie it all together, a deep brutal bass. Definitely a favourite from the weekend.
Over at the Glow tent, despite its huge capacity, the queue for Grandmaster Flash seeps out the door, and quite rightly so. The atmosphere inside the tent is electric with constant roars from the crowd as the DJ legend endlessly drops hip hop classics.
The night continues with a take over from Hospital Records, dishing out a solid five hour set of drum and bass, dubstep and jungle.
Back at the Woodland Stage, the London Astrobeat Orchestra paid tribute to the new wave group Talking Heads. Bringing with them their funky afrobeat style, the groups renovation of the David Bryne sound is truly unique.
A last minute drop out from Run DMC resulted in a shiny new headliner which took the shape of the British MC, Plan B.
Over all the weekend was a musical success and with a huge scale of talent stretched over four days and nine tents, you are literally spoilt for choice. It’s refreshing to go to a festival that doesn’t just revolve around its headliners.
Of course, bands like The Libertines, Catfish and (before their drop out) Run DMC are a huge deal, but there’s more satisfaction in coming away from a festival having a pocket full of new bands you can’t wait to listen to again.
Getintothis’ top picks from the weekend
Calling Out Stage – Saturday
This weekend the Liverpool based trio was joined by a fourth on keys giving their performance some extra depth. After their latest release Silver Dollar Moment, the band are starting to attract some serious attention. Despite ticking all the right boxes, it seems wrong to label their sound as just “Indie” as there’s more to it than that. Lead singer and bassist Esme Halford has a really distinguishable sound to her voice which makes the band stand out from the other indie bands around today. They’re cool and they don’t even care…. Which just makes them cooler.
Woodlands Stage – Saturday
This group where so satisfying to watch and with the amazing light displays located in the heart of the woods, their afrobeat rhythms where definitely a highlight to the weekend. Everyone was up and dancing to the Talking Heads classics which generated a warm sense of community across the audience. It’s great to see bands being creative and experimental with music, they’re taking sounds out of the 70’s/80’s new wave pop era and dragging them right over to a completely different part of the musical spectrum, and of course executing it phenomenally.
Chia Wallah – Friday
Soul Grenades is such a fitting name for this group. Their performance was as explosive as their sound. With groups like these, there’s such a rich palate of musical talent and the freedom of the jazz funk style gives people the room to really show off on stage. The keys player (who remained anonymous behind his mask) busted out an amazing solo, which seemed to calm the crowd down at one point because people where so amazed at his lighting speed. What’s great about this group is that they don’t take themselves too seriously, wearing silver suits, flashing mohawks and pretty much whatever they want it’s all about the energy and making sure the crowd feel it too.
Calling Out Stage – Friday
This three-piece band where a great find over the weekend. Dressed in blue and red boiler suits they echoed a tranquil sound out from the Calling Out tent. Lead singer Aoife Powers voice almost reminds you of German popstar Nena with its neat soprano sound. Having previously toured with bands such as The Vaccines and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds this stylish band have a positive future ahead of them. Their catchy guitar riffs are easy listening but are by no means ineffective.
Calling Out Stage – Friday
Pulling in a good crowd the band enter the stage to the faint sound of sex noises playing through the speakers – an interesting start to the set. They’re a group with great confidence resulting in a stage presence that’s hard to forget. Lead vocalist Camilla Roholm passively jokes about having a camel toe as the band dress in a mixture of leather, spandex and tartan to complement their rock and roll style. Their new release Siamese Twin has this sort of Nirvana feel to it with its deep bass riffs and grungy guitar sound. This band are raw, sexy and loud.
Mainstage – Saturday
One quality that really sticks out from this band the way they swap instruments mid set. It proves a band have a lot to offer musically and are also not afraid to mix it up a little. With a mixture of male and female vocals and that distorted 90’s grunge sound, their style has a slight Dandy Warhol’s feel to it. Some bands tend to waste the use of their bass player, having him or her fade into the background under the rest of the instruments but False Advertising boldly utilise its power which really grounds the sound they produce.
Images by Getintothis’ Amy Chidlow