As our #SummerofFestivals continues, we had the opportunity to attend and bring you coverage from Standon Calling 2016. Burst’s Sophia Ikirmawi was on hand to head down to the festival for us, and you can hear and read her coverage from the weekend here:
Standon Calling 2016 is the eleventh year of founder Alex Trenchard’s yearly revival of the barbecue in his parents’ garden that went awry. He’s managed to put on some pretty impressive spectacles in his time – 2009 saw a space theme, with festival-goers dressed as astronauts and aliens, and 2010 was the intriguingly named ‘Murder on the Standon Express’ – but 2016 boasted ‘Legends of the Lost Seas’, which arguably encourages the most creativity of all the themes in Standon’s history, and was a fitting title for the eclectic, surprisingly tranquil, and altogether unforgettable weekend. And with headliners such as Suede and Kelis, musical legends were in abundance, too.
If you’re imagining vibes similar to Secret Garden Party or Bestival, you’re somewhere rather off the mark. Yes, at all of these festivals you will find most people stumbling from their tents in costume, but at Standon you’ll also find dogs in costume, being paraded on leads by their owners or being rocked gently, like a baby, to the sound of Saturday’s headliner Jess Glynne. And real human babies there were too, by the bucket load, but don’t let that put you off. Somehow, the presence of dogs and small children gave the entire weekend the most friendly, welcoming and relaxed atmosphere of any I’ve ever been to. It says a lot that almost all of the people I asked about Standon Calling said that they’d been going there for years.
We only arrived to Standon on Saturday and so can’t say too much for what I’m certain was an amazing day on Friday – with acts including Swim Deep, The Hives, Theo Parrish and of course, Suede headlining, it was a guaranteed good time. Nevertheless, we arrived early on Saturday to find an almost alarming number of people awake, chilling in one of the many shipwrecked boats that served for seating areas, or lying on the grass watching the trapeze artists, or having a swim (!!!) in Standon’s very own swimming pool. At Standon, it seems lounging about by your tent all day until you’ve slept off the night before is not the done thing – getting out there and seeing new acts, or meeting new people, is the vibe we got. Even just lying on the cushioned floor of the Beefy Melons Cocktail bar listening to the DJ churn out old Arctic Monkeys, Tame Impala and Maccabees tunes was a high point.
Our first taste of day’s the music came from Clean Cut Kid, whose Vampire Weekend-esque tunes drew the largest crowd of the day so far at the main stage and won the praise of soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man when we interviewed him later. Rag’n’Bone Man himself clearly came as a surprise to many in the crowd who’d clearly been expecting rap or screamo; his effortless performance of ‘Human’ showcased his incredible soulful voice to his new admirers. Later, Stockport’s Blossoms’ wildly escalating popularity was confirmed when they garnered a huge and word-perfect crowd, and following them was I think the performance of the weekend from Everything Everything, who had everyone in the vicinity up on their feet and singing along to words they’d not known five minutes ago.
Meanwhile over on the Laundry Meadows stage, we were treated to two brilliant performances by two of the hottest bands to watch, The Hunna and PINS. Both celebrate guitar-led music in its truest and most exciting form, and despite the incredibly popular acts over on the main stage, they both pulled in sizeable crowds with infectious energy and unblemished passion. PINS’ cover of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ was one of my highlights of the weekend, and I won’t ever forget interviewing The Hunna next to a pile of rubble, if only because they were genuinely some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
Onto Sunday, which boasted the likes of Seramic, Goldie, and the contagiously joyous Kiko Bun. South London rapper Loyle Carner drew a big (and surprisingly young) crowd over on the Big Top Stage, and the request that we all be in his new music video for upcoming song ‘No CD’ was a big moment for many. Tiggs Da Author (of FIFA 2016’s ‘Run’) was the absolute champion of the day, though; after bounding onto stage to find approximately ten people on their feet, he danced and chatted and enticed away until he left with the biggest crowd of the day gathered up by the stage and chanting for more. Sunday closed with Kelis of ‘Milkshake’ fame, a friend of Standon’s founder Alex who, in his closing address to the crowd before Kelis took to the stage, explained they had bizarrely opened up a pop up burger shop together many moons ago.
It was a random ending to what was, in its entirety, a wholly random weekend. Standon is not a festival you can explain to someone in a matter of words, and the fact that the headliners were Suede, Jess Glynne, and Kelis is testament to that. Not many festivals can pull off such a heterogeneous line up, but then again, I don’t reckon many festivals are much like Standon Calling at all. And maybe that’s why so many two-legged and four-pawed friends of Standon Calling have found that, once experiencing it in all its bizarre glory once, it’s irresistible to stay away.