Kendal Calling, with its trusty Cumbrian weather, beautiful mountainous backdrop and stellar line-up, took place this weekend (30 July - 2 August).
Among its many highlights were Kaiser Chiefs, old favourites The Sunshine Underground and up-and-coming Scottish rockers Honeyblood. That's just the tip of the iceberg though. Here are the 12 best things we saw.
Kendal Calling has long attracted a heavy contingent from Leeds, in terms of both the bill and the crowd - and even some of the masterminds behind the festival; so the Kaiser Chiefs closing this year’s main stage on the Sunday night is a fitting pinnacle. After a heavy weekend navigating the hilly site in pouring rain, with mud and booze up to their eyeballs, the only way this crowd want to squeeze the last drops from Kendal Calling is with a big, shouty singalong that doesn’t involve too much thinking. Something the Kaisers are very happy to help with. Highlight of the set - over and above their pop catalogue - is finding out that Peanut only narrowly avoided being called Bubbles.
Between the giant birdcage, the huge pictures of hairy-faced men, and other arty growths is the Carvetti stage, luring wanderers over with the sound of a monologue on the baffling nature of perfume adverts (“R2D2 tries unsuccessfully to climb out of a children’s ball pit. All the balls are black. The advert runs for four and a half minutes”). In a surprise highlight, Bad Language present three poets who amuse and disturb a small but chilled crowd with some entertaining spoken word from their selection of talented performers. One hilarious Blind Date piece is spooky later, considering news of Cilla’s demise the next day.
Public Service Broadcasting
J. Willgoose Esq and Wrigglesworth are joined for their live shows by colleagues including a disembodied cut glass voiceover which delivers all their onstage banter. Their heavily stylised 1940s British shtick, plus their stunning vintage visuals, have given them a foothold in the worthy worlds of archive and live cinema. But this doesn’t mean they can’t pull off a rave-up in a field for a load of sweaty punters, whilst also maintaining their sense of humour. In Spinal Tap style, a floating sputnik also serves as a sort of disco ball for the throbbing crowd crammed into the Calling Out stage.
The Sunshine Underground
Forgetting the words to one of your oldest tunes might be a sin under normal circumstances, but The Sunshine Underground can be forgiven for a momentary stumble during Borders because of the shocking transformation the band have undergone in just a couple of albums. Out goes the messy ladrock to make way for the slick, dark, electro of latest album The Sunshine Underground, and the woodland crowd at Kendal are loving it. Leeds scenesters might have had trouble choosing between the clashing TSU and Kaiser Chiefs sets but the dancing and shouting is as full-on over here as it is by the main stage.
As much fun as being dropped into an 80s musical wormhole is - and it really is - DJ Yoda’s set is as notable for the brilliant location of this hidden stage. Right by the lakeside, and accessed by trekking a little bit uphill out of the way of all other stages, the limited space in front of the stage (which is more of a shed really) is taken up with the most earnest dancers gathered together in a single mudpit, including little kids who have almost definitely never heard Toto before. Anyone not dancing is sitting in deckchairs enjoying the stunning lake panorama and sunset, watching the ducks not give a shit about any of it.
Scottish duo Honeyblood close the Jagerhouse on Sunday night, the stag-embellished luxe shack/stage which has travelled around various festivals this summer. Despite a tiny stage and a simple guitar and drums set-up, Honeyblood deliver a massive sound. New material makes an outing, including hectic and catchy 'Babes Never Die', alongside debut album favourites 'Fall Forever' and 'Killer Bangs'. Infectious songwriting plus no-bullshit 90s revival grunge promises a top album later this year.
The Cumbrian weather
One headliner that comes back to Kendal Calling every year is the rain. It's a headliner that's fully embraced by the 20,000-strong attendance, even though it turns fake tanned legs of festival-goers to strips of streaky bacon.
Against a backdrop of glorious mountains, we can see the rainclouds approach the Kendal Calling site long before they hit. But something about rain at a festival creates an atmosphere of camaraderie and probably adds to the whole experience.
A band that have been around for a few years now are Augustines, a cross between Gaslight Anthem and Bruce Springsteen, who deliver big anthems suited to festival stages. Frontman Billy McCarthy is a surefire crowd-pleaser - a tall New Yorker with a beard like a furry fist, he bounces around the stage with a huge smile on his face. Augustines are almost certainly one to keep an eye on.
Laura Doggett mesmerises her crowd with beautiful tones, and makes the stage her own. Pulling in one of the one of the most varied crowds of the weekend goes to show how big she could and should become once her debut album drops.
Walking On Cars
Another surprise on the Calling Out stage is a taste of Ireland in the form of Walking On Cars. Very much for fans of The Script, they deliver big "woo-ohhh" moments, and the Kendal gathering were enjoying every track, which will stand them in good stead as they showcase their debut album across the UK.
Not one for the faint-hearted, the energetic Slamboree transfix the woodland masses with what can only be described as circus rave.
The Kendal Calling nightlife
As soon as the sun sets, the Kendal Calling estate turns into a weirdly wonderful carnival which leaves you wondering if you have been transported into the world of the Mighty Boosh. Giant birdcages, ladies with lightshades on their heads and even UV unicorns are some of the many spectacles on show. On top of all the music, all fantastic additions to every evening.