Orbital, Clean Bandit and Grace Jones headlined this years Standon Calling Festival. Keith Goldhanger reports on the festival that began as a birthday barbecue and transformed slowly over the years into a full blown party for over ten thousand people across three and a half days.
Gary Numan introduced his eleven year old daughter Persia to the large crowd congregated at the main stage late Sunday afternoon.
It typified the whole weekend.
A father and daughter performing the best duo we would hear all weekend before giving each other a huge hug and sharing the joy of happiness and pride that was ever present at Standon Calling again in 2017.
It was a wonderful moment and a terrific example of how great his songs we don’t really know much about are on first listen (22nd album on the way). Also noticeable were the teenagers hugging one another Friday night during Orbitals incredible show. These don’t appear to be drug induced signs of affection either, just groups of young adults, many with their parents, some without, experiencing one of their first potential life changing weekends of their lives.
Standon Calling Festival is simply bloody lovely.
This year it feels even more family orientated than previously and it could possibly be a festival accommodating the youngest average age that any other festival that attracts such a diverse range of entertainment can host. Fathers and mothers are dancing with their children, teenagers are dancing with their mates and adults without children are bumping into friends they may not have seen since the previous years festival but are carrying on where they left off twelve months ago. For many this means partying in every small corner available where there’s music and dancing to be seen, heard and be part of.
Standon Calling seems to have a core of people that now visit annually.
Some families seem to be here thanks to the persuasion of other families who have visited previously.
Word of mouth, a safe, non intimidating weekend that never gets dull, great weather (yeah OK – this was the first damp one some of us had experienced) and a great festival for people to attend if they’ve never experienced a festival before.
It’s great for the children also as well as the family dog. We couldn’t see the dog show once it happened as there seemed to be enough interest to have held it on the main stage instead of on the most convenient patch of dry grass available but the (non compulsory) fancy dress couldn’t be missed as punters old and young staggered around the site in their hundreds.
GRACE JONES headlining was the perfect end for what was an excellent eclectic and vast line up that spread itself around the small site so evenly it was possible to catch a bit of everything on offer if one is that way inclined.
And that way inclined is why we’re here again.
Saturday evening provided us with three bands ready made for those that read these pages on Louder Than War.
IDLES (pic right), many peoples band of the year can perform in front of anyone in 2017 and get a rapturous reception now that punk rock is a genre of music that is acceptable and can be classed as family entertainment.
PLASTIC MERMAIDS proved to those watching that this band are certainly capable of playing on bigger stages once the world catches up. Their multi instrumental and at times orchestral performance was simply breathtaking and a possible highlight for anyone watching or listening for the first time.
CABBAGE (pic right), made up the trio, bring us back to the raucous guitar and vocal heavy sounds we have come expect from the Manchester five piece.
STRONG ASIAN MOTHERS had the audience on their side Friday afternoon as they managed to inadvertently involve the audience in some synchronised dancing whilst VOLKOVA SISTERS tribal drumming and electronic pop also primed early arrivals for the weekend ahead.
As usual this festival continued to introduce some gems we’d been unaware of. KERO KERO BONITO (pic below) performed catchy pop hit after catchy pop hit with their selection of happy go lucky summertime songs that they performed in light drizzle. Inflatable animals, costume changes and the appearance of the not expected to be required suntan lotion were all up on stage as this trio ploughed through tunes similar to those we’ve not been smiling along to since Aqua appeared, swore a bit and sang tunes about children’s dolls. This trio are better than this and cooler. Anyone who saw Australian pop band Confidence Man this year should also have a look at these to help throw away your troubles, tempt you put on some dancing shoes and dance away under any bright lights available whilst dressed in costumes covered in glitter.
Serious stuff over on the main stage followed with KATE TEMPEST going through most of her Let Them Eat Chaos album, keeping the audience captivated and providing us with one of the many weekends highlights which proceeded SLAVES, DUTCH UNCLES, ORBITAL and STEVE MASON to round off a gloriously entertaining first day.
Founder of the festival Alex Trenchard asked his eight year old son who he wanted on the bill this year. He got what he asked for and was given the honour of introducing the show which kick started the Saturday morning for scores of families.
HORRIBLE HISTORIES (pic right), a TV series educating children (and adults) on historical events whilst occasionally adding the humour required to keep their audience’s attention had a full field to entertain over at the main stage to begin the day. Standon Calling can sometimes appear to mirror the type of scene normally witnessed on a hot beach during a rare British summers day and this performance, along with many others over the weekend managed to capture the attention of everyone watching, please the children and kick start the day in a satisfying manner.
We even had an early ice cream as we chuckled along to jokes about bogies and the black death.
Before the trio of bands already mentioned and following the opening act that had everything a children’s performance could ask for without hoards of people shouting Crackerjack! every ten seconds or throwing custard pies TANGERINES provided more Dylan sounding rock, YONAKA, VENN, THE EARLY YEARS added to the list of bands we really need to catch up on and listen to at home and !!! (Chk Chk Chk) dragged out any energy left in our bodies later in the evening before settling down to the pure nice and shiny clean pop that CLEAN BANDIT (Pic right) have been dishing out for a number of years now albeit in two parts thanks to a power cut smack in the middle of the show.
Another big crowd are up early Sunday morning (11.30 is early for some of us) to jump up and down to TV fitness guru MR MOTIVATOR, BIG JEFF (who needs no introduction nowadays) appeared on the main stage singing 20th Century Boy as part of a Rockaoke slot, numerous bands on the ascendancy took over the Laundry Meadows stage, GARY NUMAN made the sun shine during the talking bit in ‘Are Friends Electric’ and EDITORS proved that they can do what Future Islands can also do but without any silly growling or crawling around on the floor whacking yourself in the head or chest with a microphone.
GRACE JONES turned up half an hour late, disappeared after every song for a change of headgear whilst simultaneously chatting away to the delight of the crowd via her radio mike and even managed a ten minute hula hoop demonstration during the finale of Slave to the Rhythm which we could have done without considering we’d had the big confetti cannon by then and BRITISH SEA POWER were rounding the entertainment off around the corner to the absolute delirious delight of those who had probably been there the whole evening.
And these are just the bits we remembered before being reminded once we get our prints back from Boots about the BBC Introducing stage (TINY GIANT will be worth another look),the brief glimpses inside The Cinderellas Motel stage that seemed to be hosting some of the most flamboyant acts around the whole site, The Grove Garden and The Cow Shed hosting DJ’s of high quality as well as the odd burst of entertainment from London’s Dig It Sound System that could break out any moment anywhere around the fields.
We have to mention the cashless system because it makes life easier for those of us with too many pockets and hoarders of loose change that rattle around in our jeans during more conventional days out. One wristband with a chip inside it that you top up at one of the top-up booths and a quick swipe every time anything is purchased certainly makes life easier for a few days. This works here but the jury is still out whether it would work exclusively at larger festivals.
There’s little rubbish around the site due to decent plastic drinking vessels that cost a couple of quid, are durable, get replaced (cleaned) every time you go for a refill and every Ale drinking adult walks around like a young child carrying their cup of milk up the stairs as they hold onto the handle in a way that may have changed the way they carry a pint (or pints because the handles were interlocking) of Ale for a few weeks.
Of course people actually picking up their own rubbish helped quite a lot too !
Tickets for 2018 went on sale as the revellers were leaving and queues were already forming. Despite the rain this year the ground was not a complete mud bath. Wellies were required on Sunday but there were still places to sit down. The vegetarian options around the food stalls were sufficient (some even providing Gluten Free Vegan options) and the Ale bar an absolute winner for those tempted by the array of our favourite artists appearing adjacent.
Standon Calling yet again delivered in terms of organisation and for some of us the selection of bands that appeared here again who all performed at their finest thanks a decent enough gap between acts for the bands in question to get their sound checked before punters began arriving from other stages to witness what the program had committed to. There were one or two bands we saw that were not of our taste. It would be wrong to assume this was never going to be the case seeing as though the entertainment varied dramatically from one show to the next. The Cuban Brothers got another show under their belt this year, Standon Calling wouldn’t be the same without this act.
Our own appearance is rewarded when we see some of our wishes come true when it comes to seeing our favourites at events such as this. Dragging along those who you can’t always drag along during the year and introducing these bands that some of us have been raving about is also very satisfying.
Standon Calling 2017 was as typical as any other some of us have attended. It’s still not ruined by the size, it certainly wasn’t ruined by the weather and its satisfying to know that somewhere out there in places some of us never visit there are people collating the bands to give a lot of us exactly the sound track we enjoy when attending this festival.
To these people we raise a glass in the conventional manner and say thank you along with the people who staggered around just like we did, dancing chatting, sleeping on the lawn and drinking our body weight in all that ale.
Thank you for being so lovely.
See you again next year hopefully.
More photo’s available here : https://www.flickr.com/photos/14386564@N00/albums/72157684559721933
All words by Keith Goldhanger. More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Keith on Facebook and Twitter (@HIDEOUSWHEELINV).You may subscribe to the Goldhanger Shorts Facebook page too if you so wish.