Kendal Calling: Back to the fields

Written by david newton

Back to the fields and back to the 90’s; the resurgence of Brit-pop and the rise of a home grown festival.

I first attended Kendal Calling in 2009 which at the time was touted as a small family festival. The poultry ticket price, lesser heard line-up and activities such as community music and sledging (yes they shipped snow in!) really appealed to my friends and I as a getaway more than anything.

We have always enjoyed music of all ilks and the commercial festivals had started to lose their appeal as music aficionados began to lose out to yobs out to get as wrecked as possible.

This place was different, the serene setting of Lowther Deer Park, the tranquil pace and yet still a buzz of anticipation to cut our teeth with Easy Star All Stars, Badly Drawn Boy, OkGo and on to the headliners; Blondie played an immense set in 2011 and Basement Jaxx also stick in my head, before ramping things up in the Glow tent and into the early hours with Stanton Warriors et al.

There wasn’t even large scale media coverage. Kendal Calling appeared to be broadcast by a man walking round with food strapped to his dish who we affectionately referred to as ‘Veg-head’ (feel free to type ‘food faced killer’ into Youtube as words cannot describe his presenting prowess).

After winning a string of awards, not least for their toilets (not a long-drop in sight), the festival has steadily grown, with some stellar line-ups over the years, however smaller acts such as DJ Yoda and Craig Charles’ funk and soul set still draw huge crowds.

The atmosphere is one of a big party, everyone gets along, egos are left in the cities in place of revelry and mirth. The ticket prices have steadily grown, but so have the line-ups. Looking back at the programme for the festivals 5th birthday, I have to rack my brain and rummage about in boxes to remember who these bands were (Aaron Wright, Kid British, Calvin Harris?). I think there has however always been an affinity with Brit-pop at this festival and I have enjoyed the Levellers and I Am Kloot in the past, not to mention seeing John Brookes with the Charlatans before his tragic death on tour in 2013.
This year however it should be known as Brit-prop as the bill is held up by crowd favourites James, Ocean Colour Scene, Fun Loving Criminals…it is as though someone took the sleeve of ‘The Best Anthems Ever’ compilation and used that to form a festival.

Don’t worry if you aren’t a fan of the 90’s though…or too young to remember. I will be checking out some of the home grown acts that are supported at the festival, whilst making sure to catch The Wailers, The Libertines, Catfish and the Bottlemen and of course I will be frequenting the dance tent once again.
All in, this festival has something to offer everyone, whilst trying to ensure you don’t break the bank. Time to get my Run DMC T-shirt on, some samba classics and a bucket-hat.

See you in the fields!