Yes it's that time again for us to head off to the amazing setting of Lowther Deer Park to join in the festivities for the 6th year of Kendal Calling. Think of a mini Glastonbury and you have the general gist of the atmosphere created by this award winning festival. Arriving with the early birds on Thursday, we got to see the festival still being set up but also treated to some impromptu entertainment during the 1st evening there, with bands popping up giving acoustic sets in random places, performances involving a lot of fire, double space hopper races, (you have to try one of these, so much fun), a whole heap of food from around the world and not forgetting the festival within a festival "Kendale" for all those real ale lovers, Thursday night provided a laid back intimate affair before the real partying started.
With so many acts on offer it was pretty hard to choose who to see but we opted for The Whip to start of our musical frenzy this weekend, who provided the main stage with a heady mix of 80's electro rock and 90's dance. A pretty large crowd soon gathered once they heard The Whip's music blasting around the arena including "Trash" and "Frustration" alongside a very zealous performance from guitarist, Bruce Carter thrown in for good measure this was a fab set to begin with.
Later on came the legendary "Gangsta Rappers", House Of Pain, who provided us with one hell of a mix of music from a funkadelic instrumental intro, their very own version of the Irish Folk classic "Danny Boy" and a tribute to the "Daddy of Gangsta rap, Mr Johnny Cash", which saw Everlast turn up the country and proceeded to cover two of Johnny Cash's songs, pretty soon it was the inevitable time for their most infamous number, "Jump Around", which saw the entire main crowd jumping for all their worth, halfway through the track though, Everlast stopped and made it clear he wanted not only the main crowd, but also everyone on the hills and sides of the stage to be jumping as well, which everyone readily obliged and I have to admit it was a pretty impressive sight seeing what felt like the entire capacity of Kendal Calling jumping as one to this iconic track.
After a quick half hour break to recover from so much jumping around, it was time for Friday nights headliners, Chase and Status, or as their MC kept calling them Chase n fuckin Status!! With a heavy drum and bass opening and the MC continually repeating not only their names and our location, it started for me anyway to get a bit monotonous, and with a backdrop of various artists contributing via video's on the big screen behind them it really wasn't for me and but lets face it, they still need that as they're no Orbital or Chemical Brothers. Admittedly the crowd that had gathered loved it and spent the entire 90 minutes, yes 90 minutes, enjoying it, where I'm afraid I sloped off to find sanctuary in the Riot Jazz tent, where I recovered with a whole lotta funky jazz, character, decent lyrics without an expletive thrown in every other sentence and actual musical instruments.
With the weekend theme being Beasts and Machines, it seemed Saturday was the day to wear your costume as we were inundated with various versions of robots, werewolves, an array of men dressed as women in either dresses or bikini's, (which appeared to be reserved for the most hairiest) and not forgetting a 20 strong gang of Umpa Lumpa's.
On the main stage today, we have The Charlatans frontman, Tim Burgess, who provided us with a laid back acoustic set on a sunny Saturday afternoon. I've got to admit that the songs where basically unrecognisable like this and brought a completely fresh element to the music that was so loved in the 90's indie heyday and have to say totally enjoyed it.
Later on came Beardyman, who I've heard bits about but not really looked up and have to say I was totally taken by surprise, with sampling the noises that come out of his mouth including odd gurgles and beatboxing he uses these to make up fresh original music made there and then and with witty lyrics made up about his surroundings that day I'm not sure whether there is a slight element of insanity or he is just a musical genius with a side order of comedian. At one point we even had the Umpa Lumpa tune after he spotted them in the crowd and promptly started free styling about them. I can say more about this man but you really do have to see him to believe him as I'm sure every performance is as unique as he is.
Echo and the Bunnymen followed and Ian McCulloch was barely visible on stage thanks to the over active smoke machine, or maybe it was to hide the fact it was still daylight, a time of day we know he isn't to keen on performing at, as they have been known to cancellation, thankfully his husky tones aren't affected by daylight and the set carried on with a Doorseque vibe with "Do it Clean", "Seven Seas", "Bring on the Dancing Horses" and "Lips like Sugar". It would have been nice to have seen a bit of personality come across from them but still a pretty good performance anyway.
Next performance though was personality laden, energy driven and full of charisma courtesy of The Cribs, who headlined Saturday night at the main stage. From the opening track, "I'm a Realist" they had the crowd eating out their musical hands and not one person was standing still with the rock fuelled beats they've become known for. With fab interaction with the crowd, going so far as to invite everyone to have a drink with them back at their tents and fantastic rock numbers, "We Share the Same Skies", which was dedicated to Amy Winehouse as it was her favourite Cribs song, to the extremely popular "Men's Needs", they provided a full on rock performance and ended it by flinging the mic stand at the drum kit as they left the stage.
After this we ended up at the House Party tent, which comes complete with beds, living room, wardrobe and Frank Sidebottom, well a life sized model anyway. In there we found 808 State on the DJ decks, providing a blast from the past of early 90's happy house music, that took me back to my misspent youth and have to admit I could have stayed in there all night thanks to the atmosphere and music but had to think of the following days frivolities instead. Oh the joys of being slightly maturer!!
Slightly fuzzy headed after partying last night, I'm pretty sure the cider may have had something to do with it as well, we set off for our final day at my favourite festival and to the one thing I had been looking forward to since they were announced, The Levellers, I just had to hope I wasn't going to be disappointed like I was with Dreadzone at Glastonbury.
First act we heared and I can only hope I never do again was Lucid Dream, with a voice from the lead singer that droned on it soon became more of an uncontrollable nightmare, so we quickly headed of to the sanctuary of the Calling Out tent to see my favourite Liverpool band, the fantastic Fly With Vampires. These guys can literally do no wrong when it comes to performing. They always give a sleek set and pretty soon had the tent filled up once they heard them performing. These guys can rock the house down in one song then create beautiful soulful harmonies in the next, they once again provided a slick set worthy of any chart topping band and once again, i suggest anyone reading this should go and check them out asap.
Next up was a break from the music and the chance to see the world record breaking Kendal Mint cake, this massive minty piece of sugar was 4 metres in length and 3/4 metre wide and was created right here at the festival ensuring it is will be seen in the next Guinness Book of Records, and very tasty it was too. It was a good job we took pics as it was broken up by many a sledge hammer and auctioned off for an array of charities that Kendal Calling supports. Hope you guys made the £30k mark.
High on my sheer sugar rush and fuzzy head now gone, it was time for The Suzuki's who still manage to surprise me. The phrase don't judge a book by it's cover has never been more apt. To look at them they look like a group of lads who will play regular indi pop, but oh no, as soon as lead singer, Chris Veasey opens his mouth the vocals coming out is raw, primal rock. He puts on one hell of a show as front man and tops it all off with a cheeky smirk when he winds up the crowd.
Then came the big one for me, The Levellers, and what a set they did, an 75 minute set of sheer unadulterated jig along to folk laden music with some of there most famous songs. This eclectic ensemble still manage to draw a massive crowd and I'm pretty sure a lot of people just turned up for the day to see them. With a fantastic atmosphere, they treated us too, "One Way", "The Game" and my favourite, "What a Beautiful Day" and even as the rain started to come down, it certainly was thanks to them. The atmosphere they created soon saw groups of people band together to form little pockets to dance around each other, arm in arm together and become one. This was for me anyway,definitely the best set of the whole weekend and one I won't forget in a long time.
Then came the final festival headliner, Blondie, who decided that they didn't want to photographed while on stage. I personally believe that if you don't want to be photographed while performing then you really start thinking about calling it a day. The fact is people are there to see you perform not comment on how you may look nowadays, maybe this is something that hasn't entered into Deborah Harry's head and sheer vanity has won over but maybe she should concentrate more on her vocals than being a photo detesting diva.
So we headed off to the Calling Out tent instead and thank god we did as we found Fenech Soler in there, a band that created not only a fantastic light show but an extremely professional performance. With a mix of electro pop, heavy bass and a hint of The Prodigy, you have their opening few tracks, but this band have the hidden talents of being able to provide a laid back mellow side as well. With front man, Ben Duffy's wide vocal range they definitely gave a great ending to Kendal Calling 2011.
So that's another year over with, with music to suit every taste, comedy, a massive mint cake contortionists, fire breathers, wishing trees, strange Wicker Man style art and not forgetting the space hoppers, Kendal Calling have provided once again another fantastic weekend of revelry and I can't wait to see what they'll bring us next year.
Review By Alison Goggin
Full Kendal Calling gallery can be seen here
Review By Alison Goggin
Full Kendal Calling gallery can be seen here