Kendal Calling 2011 Review

Kendal Calling 2011

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Kendal Calling has come a long way in 6 years, starting out with just 900 punters, this year saw an accomplished and fluid festival. A family friendly weekend, blessed with good weather, and an all round eclectic wacky atmosphere.

Airship from Manchester, get the Friday afternoon to a lively start on the Calling out Stage, followed by  The Virgin Marys, who deliver tight raw rock n roll with an outstanding Bonhamesque drummer, having toured with Slash and Skunk Anansie,  they’re one to watch.

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Over on the Main stage Molotov Jukebox’s rousing ‘gypstep’ are getting the toes tapping, is it gypsy and dubstep? Not really.  But it is fun, and front woman Natalia Tena is adept at both the accordion and cheeky banter with the crowd.  A good time band.

House of Pain come onstage with the same laid back funky jam I saw them perform at Sonisphere just a month ago, but something’s different. Most probably due to their onstage time, being in the evening  instead of first thing in the day. They’re definitely awake this time, yup. Well done lads. They wind their way through their somewhat minimal back catalogue, padding things out with instrumental solos before its Jump Around O’Clock. Whereupon the entire, and I mean ENTIRE field duly jumps around, flares are lit, the crowd goes wild. Job Done.

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 Chase and Status bring a powerhouse of a closer to the first night, they’ve obviously learned a thing or 2 from the Prodigy about making electronic music work live in a festival context. Live Drummer, blinding lights and a super aggro get up and go MC are all present. But the sound is entirely their own.  A perfect end to a perfect first day.

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Saturday brings fancy dress day, and the quality and variety of costumes is a sight to behold, as Lowther Deer Park comes alive with all sorts of weirdness.

Alice Gold is a pretty girl with a nice voice and some good tunes, and does her best with her early slot, only slightly distracted by the Hula Hooping Parrot in the audience in front of her. (That’s not a euphemism).

Easy Star All Stars bring their sunny vibes, laid back tunes and reggaefied versions of Radiohead and Beatles songs. It’s perfect afternoon chilling out music, in what has turned out to be a glorious day.

Charlatans’ acoustic set: a bit meh. Sorry. Better suited to an intimate dark theatre, than getting washed away on the summer breeze.

The Young Knives, (who in fairness don’t look that young) have a tight 3 pronged vocal attack; they deliver a raucous set, reminiscent at times of the Stranglers.

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Beardyman is up next, who also does not have much of a Beard; I see a trend here.  Most well known as a breakthrough Beat boxer, he shows his skills as a one man rave/hip hop/remix machine (albeit with the help of a plethora of Korg gear laid out in front of him like a sonic smorgasbord). Improvising on the spot about various costumed characters in the crowd, he achieves the double whammy of getting people laughing and dancing at the same time.

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Taking a break from the main stage, we go for a bit of a wander and discover a fancy dress all Priest relay race, it’s like a scene straight out of Father Ted. The rural layout of the festival lends itself to uncovering weird wonderment at every corner. Poetry readings, Circus acts, contortionists, or just a large group of Oompa Loopahs, chilling out under an oak tree.  It all adds to the spirit of the weekend. Round it off with a delicious veggie Curry and a pint of Cumbrian Ale, and the world is indeed wonderful.

Next up is The Cribs with a bit of jaggy indie rock; bit of the strokes, bit of franz Ferdinand, not really any stand out sing along hits but a solid performance.

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We round out the evening dancing out the front of Sailor Jerry’s, (Sailor Jerry’s being a silver 50s trailer serving rum cocktails).
Great tunes.  Big crowd. Knackered.

Rounding out the weekend are The Levellers, who do what many bands who’ve been round the block a fair bit and don’t really have anything new to promote do – they perform they’re ground breaking early album in its entirety. In this case its 1991’s ‘Levelling the Land’. Folk Punk built for summer festival music.

Which brings us to Blondie, what’s to say? Deborah Harry is an icon, even if these days she looks more like your Gran, the hits are bulletproof. ‘Hanging on the Telephone’, ‘Atomic’, ‘One way or another’. Their status as the weekend’s true Iconic act is indisputable.

So there you have it, an idyllic setting, a truly eclectic line up, and good vibes all round. See you next year!

A special thank you to Lucozade, for helping with the weekend.

Photos by Mark Williams

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