Now in its ninth year, Standon Calling is probably one of the best situated festivals outside of London there is. Coupled with its steep growth in popularity as a result of its ‘anti corporate’ stance and primary focus on intimacy, it has managed to retain its identity next to other festivals who have since sold their souls to the mainstream. People who have come to escape the madness of the London Olympic corporate brand fest will most definitely get their money's worth - but if you really want to see how team GB is getting on they have built an on site pub (yes pub) complete with animal heads, widescreen TV and an array of beers. This year it feels like they have really gone to town.
Friday feels a little slow to get off the mark with people still arriving and setting up camp creating a little sparseness of crowds for the unfortunate acts who are playing the early slots. In the cowshed Citizens fire up a pretty absorbent if small crowd; it seems that Standon has become a sort of ‘first taste’ festival to bands who are just about to break into the mainstream. Likewise Toy, also the new darlings of the uber cool music press, get people in the mood with their haunted psychedelic surf rock. This is definitely place to discover new music in a festival environment, albeit a taster of how a new band will fit into their place in the festival world in the future.
After the sun has officially gone down, the glow of fairy lights wrapped round the trees and distant thump of deep house has set the tone as the majority crowd head over to Beardyman on the main stage; this one man affair is a truly awe inspiring sound spectacle, if not a bit trippy at times with random interludes of ‘Happy Birthday’ songs half through the set as people dressed in muppet outfits scatter the stage is enough to make you feel a little bit detached from reality, which is probably the point.
Saturday boasts yet another dry day. More people in fancy dress and people with dogs begin to become more prevalent in the surrounding campsites for the fancy dress and dog show, this has got to be one of the first festivals I have ever been to where dogs have been allowed on site, which sometimes make you wonder if other festivals will follow suit? These are all nice little touches which give Standon a noticeable identity amongst the fierce competitiveness of today's festival market. Post-trip hop outfit Death In Vegas create an atmospheric tone to Saturday's main stage crowd with plenty of sinister soundscapes and the odd recognisable song, its good to see them play such a low key festival to such an appreciative crowd.
Sunday: its back to the Explorers arms tent and drinks by the pool. Yes, amongst other little gems, the one thing that Standon Calling has that will keep it afloat... It has a swimming pool.