Kendal Calling Review
We are mostly southerners here at Average Joe’s. Yet when we were invited up to Kendal Calling, the award winning best small festival of 2010, we jumped in the car and sped up the country to look for a small fest YES from Lucozade. A festival with only a short history, which has seen its numbers increase tenfold, moved to a new site situated outside of Kendal this year to Lowther Deer Park. And although my crazy Irish satnav took me round the moon to get there, via an ice cream factory, we made it in good time to get it going.
Friday saw the real festival begin following an opening ceremony the night before. As we sauntered down the hill from the entrance, we were greeted by some heavy beats by the Lucozade team, who were handing out tents, sun glasses, bottles and ponchos willy-nilly. We pitched our tents quickly and efficiently, having already been well practised at doing this several weekends in a row, in a pleasant spot which was only 10 minutes away from the main stage. In fact, this was what amazed me the most! That, and the entire festival seemed to house so much in such a small space. After chatting with artists and fans alike, I heard the comment that it had ‘Glastonbury’s magic condensed into a beautifully small space. On this I agreed, being able to walk one end to the other in a handful of minutes was great, and meant that running between stages was not necessary at all.
The acts on that Friday were fantastic to say the least. We were welcomed into the main arena by resident brass band Riot Jazz, on the main stage, who had their own tent in a corner of the festival. It was plain to see that their infectious energy and high tempo tunes were pumping up the festival goers, with some crazy dancing on show. Other acts of the day included the memorable House of Pain, who brought back some classic Irish Hip Hop. The younger members of the crowd seemed a little lost for a while, invariably awaiting Jump Around, however the more cultured ears were treated to a number of back catalogue tunes as well as some covers of the great Jonny Cash. Of course, when Jump Around made its inevitable appearance on the set-list, it was plain to see some utterly crazy jumpin’ around from an exuberant crowd.
Following House of Pain, we split up to cover a few more acts. I opted to go and hear the rip-roaringly great Dinosaur Pile-Up, followed by the endearing local(ish) boys Frankie & the Heartstrings. The former belted out tracks from their album, as well as some new treats. The latter proclaimed themselves as not being a rock or a pop band, unlike others at the festival, but a good old fashioned English guitar band. Although playing in a small tent, both bands seemed to get something a little extra out of the crowd. Meanwhile, over on the main stage, Chase & Status played to one of the biggest crowds at the festival. The crowd enjoyed their electro, drum’n’bass and dubstep rhythms, which were accompanied by some heavy profanity use. In fact, I don’t think the duo were ever referred to as Chase & Status, and only as “Chase & Fucking Status”. Still, the crowd went wild and evidently they proved to be a huge headliner.
Later on, the evening was rounded up by a performance from Nero in the glowdance tent – an eerily illuminated tent with obscurely shaped inflatables dangling precariously from the roof. It’s the uptenth time we have seen him this year, but he doesn’t fail to disappoint.
Saturday saw us wake up with a bit of a hangover. Unlike some, I can cope well with a hangover, it was simply the heat that was beginning to get to me. I was sprawled out, in front of my tent, bandana unfurled and covering my head in the classic British way. Yet when the music began, it was all go! Kendal Calling did have an official fancy dress theme, and it was surprising to see how many people had got in touch with their creative sides for this: beasts and machines. We saw gorrilas, ladybirds, zebras, lions, squirrels, the honey monster, oompa loompas and a Willy Wonka, robots, a bunny rabbit / darth vader combo, the marshmallow man from Ghostbusters, tellytubbies, the list goes on!
Highlights from the day included a bit of stand-up comedy, Krafty Kutz in the early hours and a fantastic acoustic set by the Charlatans in the afternoon. Of particular note that evening was also Mr Scruff, who has yet to disappoint me, and managed to pack out the Kaylied tent that night. Beardyman, however, was my performance of the day. He creates every single sound himself, sampling and mixing these to produce entire beats, breaks and rhymes. Over the top of this shone his particular brand of humour, and his interaction with the crowd almost guaranteed a good response.
On Sunday we did feel like the weekend was catching up with us, the free Lucozade helped in finding that energy we needed for the day, and oh boy was that a necessity. The music on offer on the last day of the festival was fantastic to say the least: The Lancashire Hotpots, Frank Turner, The Levellers, Blondie, Yousef, and Fenech-Soler caught my eye before even getting there. Blondie, without doubt, took the crowd to a new high, and Debbie Harry did attract the biggest audience across the entire festival. However, for me personally, Frank Turner made the day. He came on stage to a roaring applause, the crowd having to wait patiently through some minor delays. He played his great and memorable songs as well as some off the new album which has had mixed reviews. In fact, waiting for Frank Turner gave me the real YES moment. The anticipation had been building, as a huge Frank Turner fan, and basking in the glorious weather, beer in hand, and a spontaneous game of cricket began in front of the main stage… how better than to define the British summer festival? Great music on the way, a minor delay but we wait patiently, and a spot of cricket in the sunshine to while away the time!
All in all, I would say that Kendal Calling has, thus far, been the best festival I have been to over the summer. The northern people were welcoming, fun and chatty. The music was fantastic. The atmosphere was great and highly concentrated thanks to the small arena and packed out camping space with families as well as ravers mixed with genuine ease. Would I go back? In spite of the petrol cost and journey time of 11 hours in total? Definitely. You’ll see me there next year for sure!
Did you have a Lucozade YES moment this summer? Let us know in the comments below.