Sunday, August 11, 2013

Festival Review: Standon Calling

People will go to great lengths to put on a music festival, and the very best festivals usually have the very best stories behind them, but most won’t go as far as stealing over £350,000 from Tesco in order to fund it. Despite this landing founder Alex Trenchard with a hefty dose of jail time, his festival baby Standon Calling is still trucking on just fine: with thousands turning up to his parents’ estate each year for three days of non-threatening, slightly hippy and overwhelmingly middle-class partying.
This year saw the Hertfordshire festival sell out its 5,000 tickets for the first time ever yet still hold on to the small festival vibe which has made it so attractive in the past. A sizable portion of the attendees stuck rigidly to the “Run Away to the Circus” theme, resulting in an overabundance of (not-so-)strong men, lion tamers and, for some reason, an entire group dressed as a herd of sheep. Most importantly, it kept the festival feeling friendly: with everyone smiling and treating everyone else as a comrade in arms in the crusade to getting fucked up. That is, except the man in front of me in the crowd for Danny and the Champions of the World who’d convinced himself I was trying to steal his bag, but I suppose there’s always going to be at least one twat.

To imagine the average person at Standon Calling, think of someone fairly well-off, just finished being a student and with hipster tendencies and you’d be close. Think of an extra in an Urban Apparel summer range ad and you’d be closer. After the horde at T in the Park, it’s hard to complain and at least these lot know how to have a good time without ruining someone else's. The only real downside was how well I fit in, which created a fair bit of cognitive dissonance as far as my self image goes.

There’s plenty to set Standon Calling at a rank above the usual field piss up, with all night bars (good), a swimming pool (great) and music till five in the morning (brilliant until I conked out at four). The early hours were dictated by the likes of Count Sizzle, who pumped out tried-and-tested dub and dance classics in a renovated cow shed: the layout of which allowed for cushioned areas all round the outside of the dance floor perfect for feeling sorry for yourself in.

Sunday headliners and legendary hip-hop act De La Soul stole the weekend with energy previously unseen in 40 year olds. With plenty of material from 3 Feet High and Rising alongside great use of crowd interaction and Pos taking the time to run into the middle of his audience, the group embarrassed any daytime rappers who thought bopping and walking through tracks constituted as a show. Where I’m going with this is: fuck you Snoop Dogg.

Apparently De La Soul are still rocking the pout
The weekend also played host to a variety of experimental and entertaining performances from the likes of Public Service Broadcasting, who drenched a tent with so much post-rock noise is started leaking at the seams. A nice touch of East London reggae and ska came by way of The Skints, who lucked out with a perfectly complementary sunny evening to play to. The Correspondents played a fun set as well, at least to the extent that a man going ballistic in a spandex and cape combo would struggle to be anything else.

In the ever cynical world of music festivals, it’s nice to see one try so hard to make sure everyone has a great time. Judging by the atmosphere they managed it, and judging by all the leftover baggies littering the field it would be hard not to. Standon Calling is on the up and very deserving of it with The Guardian agreeing it’s one of the UK’s best. Super-early bird tickets are already available so if you have the time and money, definitely consider going.

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