Festival Review: Kendal Calling 2015

kendal calling 2015Kendal Calling

30th July – 3rd August 2015

kendal calling 15 posterThis is the third year in a row that I’ve been to Kendal Calling and it was thrilling to be there as part of their ten year birthday bash! We didn’t make it there for the Thursday early entrance which saw indie legends James take to the main stage to headline and I have it on good authority that they entertained just as they always have and made the crowds ready for a packed three days to follow. Our photographer Gaz even managed to find the Blossoms lads and grab a selfie… so he was certainly in a buoyant mood by the time we caught up with him.

Friday saw Liverpool lovelies The Soul Rays take to the Riot Jazz stage and it seems a little bit of rain and mud hadn’t put a damneder on anyone’s mood. The tent filled out and people could be seen gathering outside the tent, clambering to get a look at the soul and funk goodness coming from within. It was slightly less busy over in the Calling Out stage though for Laura Doggett. Despite this she was commanding the stage beautifully when we arrived, her vocal powerful resonated and her audience were thrilled by her set. I admit I seemed to spend much of this Kendal Calling hopping around from one place to another, often not able to get in (Tim Peaks was always rammed and there was no hope to get in for Gaz Coombs once his set started) so I missed quite a few of the acts I had wanted to see. This didn’t put me off though, it’s not exactly an unlikely thing to happen at a festival. It meant that I managed to spend more time than usual really exploring all the nooks and crannies of the festival and some friends of ours even called us to their tent for a catch up and a bbq!

Later in the evening on Friday night saw Slamboree take to the Woodland stage and that was some spectacle. A musical circus is the best way to describe them and the crowd and band were going off. The lighting was in stark contrast to the darkness of the woodland area and it just felt like there was nothing else around just this. It’s a stage I’d never managed to visit in the dark and I’m so glad I did, I definitely think this was a great band to have here because they felt kind of risqué, with their overtly sexual stage performance. From there I took a trip along the path which lead out to new stage The Jager House. Along the way there was another stage – where a DJ was kicking out tunes to random groups of people stopping by. There was a carved out caravan lit up against the darkness, twigs and branches had been cut out of the metal and it looked much more impressive lit up at night than during the day. A giant birdcage was also nearby and all lit up,  I get the feeling that I missed out on what this was being used for but even as a stand alone piece of art it was impressive.

I always love to leave festivals having found someone new and unexpected and Kendal Calling always provides. This time around I would say the most impressive find was The Watchmakers, who I stumbled upon while sneaking through the Woodland area as a short cut on Saturday. The Watchmakers had fantastic psychedelic riffs in their guitar heavy sound. It was this sound that instantly made me stop and stick around to watch them, and it seemed they had attracted quite a large crowd too, who all seemed completely mesmerised. This is a band I’ll be on the look out to see live again that’s for sure. We didn’t manage to catch the whole of their set as we were intent on watching Clay who were hitting up the stage in the Jager House. It was really our first proper visit here and with sayings such as “best friends don’t let you do stupid things alone” painted on their walls we instantly loved it. But back to Clay. I’d recently been asked what I thought about them and found unable to give a proper response. I have one now and it’s that they’re damn fine. Their songs are catchy and upbeat with just enough of an edge to stop them being too pop for me. In fact if I dare say it, they have quite a 90s Britpop era feel to them at times. Their set was definitely a highlight of the day. Well them and Super Furry Animals!

Photo: Gaz Jones

Photo: Gaz Jones

Unfortunately (for some anyway) Kodaline had to pull out and their replacement – only Welsh legends Super Furry Animals! I had an entire different evening planned but this news had me planted firmly at the main stage. If Clay had been a highlight of the day then SFA became a highlight of the festival. The band, who arrived with less than a day’s notice treated the crowd to a rip roaring set which included tracks from their wide and equally wonderfully weird career. During their set the quirk certainly showed, and I’d have been disappointed if it hadn’t. Dressed in what can only be described as power ranger-astronaut-scientist outfits the band held up signs such as “applause”, “louder” and “go ape shit” – just a smidgen of their crazy on show. I enjoyed a good ol dance to Rings Around The World but it has to say the highlight was leaping around shouting “you know they don’t give a fuck about anybody else” at the top of my lungs as the band ended on their usual set closer which could only go kicking and screaming to and end. I was a little worried about the groups of kids, and I mean kids, but they all seemed to be doing exactly the same as me. I couldn’t really see anyone who wasn’t.

Sunday was another day which featured a festival highlight and I am going to kind of skip past a whole heap of bands…. except  D R O H N E and Natalie McCool bringing deeply dark and slightly off the cuff electronica to Tim Peaks Diner and also the fact that I ran, across a heavily muddied field and skidded, singing, into the Calling Out stage to see Brighton’s Black Honey. They were playing out their track Madonna when I stuttered inside, almost falling on my behind as I went. That band sure do bring it whenever they play.  They’re rock n roll heavy, again making me wonder what this debate about rock n roll being dead is really all about. And fronted by one of the most charismatic female rock singers I’ve seen in an age. It’s not just any one who can demand an entire tent full of people get down on their knees in a tent that no longer has a solid grassy lawn but an overly squelchy mud bath. Now that’s what you call a band with stage presence.

snoop dogg kendal 15

Photo: Gaz Jones

But onto the big one. The one and only Snoop Dogg. To some he’s a legend of 90s rap and to other he’s some weirdo who advertises Moneysupermaket on UK TV. Either way people came like a swarm (are we allowed to use this term again yet?), trudging through mud as he finally took to the stage (late). It was debated if he would even arrive to the festival let alone the stage as he was arrested the day before in Sweden but thankfully he made it. My inner child had an absolute ball to the classics (especially Gin and Juice) and even though I questioned some of his choices (really Joan Jett – I Love Rock N Roll?!) I have to say I enjoyed every last minute of it even though in all honesty I couldn’t see the stage or the screen. It didn’t matter and that’s something to say. He was my healiner not the K.Cs – although clever to have a headline band with the same initials as the festival.

Roll on Kendal Calling 2016, rain or shine, mud or grass, as always we want in!

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