There aren’t many festivals with as gorgeous settings as Kendal Calling, which sits in the Lake District. John Alexander of Demon FM travelled to the festival for us joining the Jagerhaus team to have a great weekend. Read his thoughts on the weekend and listen to our podcast from Kendal Callling here:
Walking on to a festival site and being greeted by what feels like a million faces is always going to be an exciting thing. Picking the right festival, whether it’s for the acts, the location or because the weather is supposed to be nice at that time of year should be easy – shouldn’t it? If you can pick half a dozen acts on a festival bill that you know you want to see, then going to that festival is surely a no-brainer. For somebody who grew up listening to late 90s and early 2000s indie, Kendal Calling makes an excellent choice especially when the bill includes the likes of The Charlatans, Ash, Maximö Park and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.
If it’s possible for a festival to ever feel intimate, then it’s true to say that about Kendal Calling. With various rumours of attendance figures ranging from between 12,000 and 32,000, it’s never going to feel like Glastonbury. And this, for me as it is many, a good thing. It makes every stage feel that little more like you’re at a gig in a smaller venue. Without the Wembley-sized crowds, you can get that little bit closer to the stage, you can dance along without fear of jostling someone’s pint out of their hand and if you want to get to another stage, you don’t have to push your way through a sea of people.
Everybody with a passing interest in music knows about the likes of Maximö Park, (playing half a set following a delayed FlyBe flight from Germany), Band of Skulls and Saturday Night’s Headliners Madness, so what about the bands not gracing the front pages of the music press? For pure entertainment value, the festival highlight was Sheffield’s Everly Pregnant Brothers – five blokes with ukuleles and a self-proclaimed ‘man-mountain of mush’ – playing their own versions of some classic hits. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard of Henderson’s Relish (similar, but allegedly superior, to Worcester Sauce), you’ll soon get the hang of what they’re singing about when you hear the word “Hendo’s” sung to the tune of Coldplay’s Yellow. Watching the band play their set on the Woodlands stage, enjoying the sing along to the cautionary tale of “Chip Pan on Fire” (to the tune of “Sex on Fire”), for that 40 minutes the assembled crowd could have been treated to this set in the back garden of a Sheffield pub, such was the setting and the way a little bit of Sheffield had been brought to the Lake District.
Elsewhere on the festival site, a high-energy, high-kicking Paddy Considine captivated The Houseparty crowd as frontman of Riding The Low, warming up for the anticpated Noel Gallagher, following on the Main Stage. Riding The Low is not just some actor’s vanity project – it’s a labour of love, ten years in the making and sold not on the association with Paddy, built on the strength of its output and a band that should feature on more festival lineups, on bigger and bigger stages.
There’s far more to Kendal Calling than a couple of bands. A decent sized village with more food stalls than you can shake a candy floss stick at, stages for those who like to sing, dance or just sit, watch and relax (especially taking in the spoken word at Carvelli or bands such as Lancashire Indie-Folkers The Woodsmen, as a perfect Saturday afternoon chill-out in the Garden of Eden).
One question remains – would I go back? Let it be answered like this: See you in the fields……