Having never been to Rockness, I didn’t have any idea of what to expect, putting aside the fact I’m positive I drove through The Shire on the way here and the 2 hour wait just to pick up my parking ticket from the box office (handsome boy but only capable of serving one customer every 20 minutes) you walk through the entrance to a beautiful landscape. It’s magical, breathtaking, no other words can describe it. You have the main stage lit up with lights and lasers from every direction, an explosion of light and in the background sits the Loch Ness, still, untouched by the noise and a complete contrast to the foreground (I’m now talking about the couple that walked in front of me groping one another and slowly destroying any innocence I once had).
Ellie Goulding, she has such control over her voice it doesn’t differ that much from her recordings. Although something you don’t get to see listening to her songs on the radio/television etc is this awkward bopping thing she does, with a foot stomp here and there. It gives us mere mortal girls a hope that maybe, if we too embrace our inner awkward we can roll about a bed with Calvin Harris like she does in her latest video for “I Need Your Love”.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the Vaccines, I’ve never really given much time to listen to their music but their live performance did sway me, or maybe it was the drunken Loch Ness monster jumping up and down with his cider next to me that changed my mind, I really don’t know BUT I did enjoy their performance thoroughly.
My main highlight of Friday has to be Basement Jaxx, although slightly envious that I will never be able to pull off such colourful hair as the two women who joined them on stage to sing or the fact I’ll never be able to dance like them (I did attempt. Unfortunate to all standing behind me.) I could easily say after seeing Basement Jaxx live I would much rather pay to see one of their concerts than ANY big DJ at the moment. Nobody has the groove that these guys have. I said groove, my Mum doesn’t even say groove. I apologise. I can’t even find an appropriate word I’m still in such a trance. Please go see these guys live and you’ll understand.
The atmosphere at Rockness goes from chilled out (or passed out if you’re next to the Jagermeister van), to people climbing on sweaty, soggy shoulders and screaming as loud as they possibly can. There are people of all different ages, older couples lounging on the grass hill with their Ice Cream taking in the breathtaking view of the Loch Ness then groups of young friends bouncing around and singing with sheer joy. The site isn’t too large, so you can’t loose anyone for more than five minutes but it’s big enough you can go to one stage without the other stage’s music interfering. This festival has the perfect balance. If the thought of coming to Rockness, tomorrow (Saturday 8th) or Sunday has crossed your mind then you need to stop thinking and GET HERE NOW! The weather forecast for the next two days is meant to be phenomenal. See the link.
Although only having a fraction of the Slam Dunk South line up, Slam Dunk Scotland was a huge success. I don't think I've been that excited (or sweaty) at a gig in a long time. Not one band disappointed, every member of every band had explosive energy, jumping around the stage which only had a rub off effect on the audience who were simply brutal. I lost count of how many people were dragged over the barriers by security, even once over the barriers security were struggling to control them, resulting in a few of the security landing flat out on the ground (much to my amusement).
The stand out bands for me were definitely Woe Is Me, Memphis May Fire, Pierce The Veil and Four Year Strong. Having not listened to Woe Is Me or Pierce The Veil their live performances definitely converted me in to a fan. If you get a chance you should definitely YouTube Woe Is Me, my words will do nothing for their music. Their songs contain everything you could possibly ever want, from gorgeous clean vocals from Hance Alligood to some heavy bass from Brain Medley.
As for Pierce The Veil, if their stage set up wasn't impressive enough (have a look through the Slam Dunk Scotland photos) their interaction with the crowd was something that needs to be seen, they have such a strong fan base over here in Scotland which you could hear when they played "Hell Above", the crowd was singing along so loudly that you heard them far better than you could hear the band.
Finally, Four Year Strong – with beards almost as impressive as their music – completely blew away all expectations I had for them as a live act. With raging energy, the guys got the crowd so excited that I was told by security I had to stop taking photographs and move out of the photo pit because so many people were crowd surfing and having to be pulled over the barriers.
This having been my first Slam Dunk experience, I can without a doubt in my mind, say that I will definitely be attending next year. If you haven't got a ticket for any up and coming Slam Dunk dates, then I suggest you do. You can find what venue is closest to you here http://www.slamdunkmusic.com/slam-dunk-festival . Even if it sounds a bit too rough for you, I suggest you buy a ticket (ranging from £15 – £38, depending on the venue) and stand peacefully at the bar, watching the madness from a safe distance because Slam Dunk won't be like any other festival you're attending this year.
Liverpool Sound City is a determinedly different festival. The line-up reads like a roll call of this summer’s biggest acts, and though it runs awkwardly from Thursday to Saturday (it’s an industry conference, much like South by Southwest), there’s enough programmed outside of the working week to make decisions hard.
I’m sidled up by a buzzing espresso machine in Bold Street Coffee, as one half of the Collectors Club give their third performance of the day. On a Friday night in Liverpool, I’m aware this is a pocket of relative calm. “You say you don’t but you want to go out tonight.” Billed as indie-pop, it’s an acoustic set: two guitars, two mics, two men. Or boys, the median age of the room 21 at best.
Lead singer Joe Smithson says he’s pretending to be Justin Timberlake, by way of acknowledging a vague similarity between single ‘Wanna Be You’ and the pop royalty’s ‘What Goes Around… Comes Around’. A sense of humour seems to characterise the Middlesbrough band. “Don’t you want me, want me like I want you?” Understated songs about tears and longing suite the space, and music spills through an open door into the busy street. Outside, it’s as alluring as the smell of just-made coffee (or of garlic mayonnaise from various takeaway spots lining the road).
The café sings along to a pleasing cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Everywhere’, and afterwards people clap, something I’ve noticed increasingly absent in live settings. We’ll cheer, yes, but people tend not to want to put down their drinks to applaud. The room erupts with good-time classic ‘Under Pressure’ at the end of the set. It’s a smooth transition with the kind of high production values that typify this festival.
Next up on Bold Street is Dan Croll, whose latest release ‘Compliment Your Soul’ aims to do just that. I hear Phoenix, but unlike Paul Simon, Burt Bacharach, and the Dirty Projectors, the French outfit are not among his known influences. The band play a few bars of ‘Wonderwall’ (Oasis, no other), as Croll quips “We’ve all had a bit to drink.”
Buttoned-up and bespectacled, the sometime Liverpudlian sings folkily from the heart – “Oh mother, it’s all thanks to you… I’m gonna miss you.” ‘Home’ gets me too. It’s plucking at heart strings, but Croll offsets any melancholy by instructing guests to take their shoes off at the door, “‘cause it’s impolite not to, you’ll be damaging my floor, ‘cause it’s my home.” This track smacks of Australian singer-songwriter Josh Pyke, but that’s mostly my homesickness talking.
Croll’s is a talent that makes you want to pick up an instrument and learn, goddammit! Fans shout for ‘Marion’ and he obliges. He’s interested to hear what other acts the audience has seen so far, and even gives the café’s breakfast menu his endorsement. It’s a mighty wholesome musician that references porridge mid-set. There’s a smile as he thanks the band – “Nobody introduces me, but that’s okay.”
A few streets over and pushing midnight, French natives Concrete Knives are working the Kazimier Gardens stage. Six-strong, they sound their full number with thick bass, edgy synth and ample reggae throwbacks. A cover of Ini Kamoze’s ‘Here Comes the Hotstepper’ rounds out their cool credentials, as do school yard echoes in tracks like ‘Brand New Start’ and ‘Greyhound Racing’.
Around the block, headliners Everything Everything can be heard long before they are seen. I spot the queue first of course, the warehouse that is Liverpool Academy of Arts already at capacity. Theirs is a complex sound borrowing from many genres, which goes someway to explaining a wide appeal. Dressed in trademark boiler suits, there’s something unignorably Coldplay about the group. It’s likely a comparison they hate, but it’s only praise.
Rapid-fire delivery from fontman Jonathan Higgs is also something of a signature, his voice not classically appealing but captivating all the same. “Yeah, so, um, wait a second!” The urgent pace of breakthrough single ‘Cough Cough’ is in sharp contrast with lilting piano on ‘The Peaks’, but each is entertaining.
My night ends with Temples fronting a packed-out second storey Leaf. It’s enjoyable enough, and a fan in the crowd tells me emphatically that their neo-psychedelic rock is melodramatic. “Melodramatic,” he yells over the reverb, “can you spell it?” Yes, I can, though I suspect he means theatrical. It’s hard to see the bands’ faces for hair.
As with any festival, the interest is as much in journeying between stages, friendships forged waiting for a toilet cubicle or at the bar, and the random exchange of hats, sunglasses and other sundry attire. The beauty of an in-city event might be that you can go somewhere else entirely during those inevitable programme gaps.
Saturday brings bright skies and an excuse for a courtyard barbeque at Heebie Jeebies pub. Aussie act Deep Sea Arcade look and sound rock and roll, right down to bassist Nick Weaver’s finger gloves. ‘Girls’ is an easy favourite, and the all-male act display a knack for taking things to double-time, then back again with ease. The set ends quickly, a teaser for debut album ‘Outlands’ (although ‘If The Devil Won’t Take You’ sounds distinctly better live).
Finnish elctro-folk lady Sansa follows, and I’m amazed by what she can do with her voice (and feet). Lyrics trade primarily in matters of the heart, most overtly in the track ‘Boys’ – it goes “boys, boys, boys, boys, boys.” Her real talent is in recording live guitar and vocal samples, singing with two mics at times, and mixing these on-stage. Her jazzy scatting is equally impressive.
Night brings the frantic garage of local boys Broken English, who look as slick as they sound. The audience knows every word, too. I so often worry for drummers – do they get the recognition they deserve? This drummer looks disarmingly young, but he’s skilled and owns the role. The Kazimier plays host to London-based Mind Enterprises, appearing here as a duo. These guys could play a much later set, their chest-thumping, bassy electronic chords reminiscent of an abstract, more melodic Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs.
Popular indie act French Films are on form in requisite leather and denim jackets, so it’s a shock when singer Johannes Leppänen confesses he feels sick. “I actually threw-up on the way here.” How very rock and roll. Along with the festival’s second Justin Timberlake reference, Thomas J. Speight offers one of Sound City’s most memorable moments when he takes his set off-stage and into the audience for lovesong ‘Joni’. He offers to play a “quiet or a fast one” to close his spot, and two lads at the front shout “Both!” in perfect unison.
Toward the end of Liverpool Sound City Delphic’s set is fittingly showy, three minute singles drawn-out to six and seven minute long tracks. I stay long enough to hear ‘Red Lights’ and ‘This Momentary’, where jack-knifing beats build to the refrain “Let’s do something real.” Mount Kimbie are playing across the street, lauded as one of the festival’s best. It’s the first time I’ve heard them, and their eclectic electronica demands a second sitting (and a third, and fourth – you get the gist).
Transforming familiar urban spaces with those things about festivals we love best, Liverpool Sound City is an emphatic win. Leave your cares at home, and enjoy.
Festibelly. Sounds good, right? I fantasize about a mile long banquet out in the fields, the kind for medieval kings and queens, with all the mod cons and a soundtrack to boot. It’s day one, though, and I’m out of my depth – nobody mentioned a tightrope.
At a safe distance I watch as adults and kids queue, eager to play out their circus dreams. There’s hula too, and each attract a strong grownup contingent, age one of many barriers beautifully blurred over the weekend’s New Forest gathering.
Invention abounds. One young woman steps hurriedly on stilts as friends pass a hula-hoop around her hips, mimicking the feat. Even in this small field, I fancy I could make the weekend without seeing a single band. It’s part of Festibelly’s charm.
I follow a familiar tune to the Terrapin Station, where an impromptu singalong has broken out to Bohemian Rhapsody. A sudden downpour makes an excellent excuse to lie back in our tent and soak up the bourgeoning camp (oh, how we soak!). There are some brilliant exchanges. “Is cider a depressant?” starts one passerby, and I fight the urge to interject and give the game away.
As the carpark starts to fill, we skip out in wellies to explore Lymington town. The high street is lined with market stalls, and ambling vaguely toward the sea we’re among a handful of people not eating ice cream. Or walking our dogs. Or both. For me, though, it’s a decidedly Bakewell occasion, so we beeline to a nearby café.
Back at base the tunes have begun. Folky Rob Cowen & The Dissidents “love the neon” in City Lights, and a slow, stripped cover of 1970s hit Hotel California is fitting fodder on a bright afternoon. There’s welcome irreverence from The Operators, the lead singer shouting in mock admonishment by way of encouraging the crowd. Tongue firmly in cheek, he says Careless is “about going mental and being stupid, hence Careless.” We hear By My Side and Meet Me In The Morning, and there’s a slick nod to Rihanna (or is that Michael Jackson?) somewhere amid clapping and cowbells.
Parisian trio We Were Evergreen have as much fun as their fans, and why not? They sound like summer – in clubs, parks, beaches, and bars – and just when you think you’ve got a handle on their sound, the lead singer swaps ukulele for trumpet and the tent gets rightly jazzy. At one point there is a request for silence; “Let’s all go ‘shhhh!’” they smile, as if sharing a secret. If you’ve never had the pleasure, YouTube any version of Baby Blue (my favourite was filmed at St. Pancras International).
An aptly named Massive in China stage goes bananas for Crowns. The boys ask in earnest if their instruments are loud enough, and I suspect they want someone to up the volume. The Cornish group play some serious folk – there’ll be bruised knees around Festibelly tomorrow. Frontman Bill Jefferson breaks mid-set to sip a revellers drink, cunningly disguised as a protein shake. “I don’t want to tell you what to do,” he shouts, launching into the raucous Little Eyes, “but I think you’ll have more fun if you can-can!”
I cheer with the heaving tent when our MC mocks the masses waiting in line for silent disco, but as the next act starts up (an Indian marching band, of course) I steal away to join the spectacle. Headphones have sold out but we’re free to roam as the tent erupts in chorus to Eye Of The Tiger. The disco keeps on to the small hours, and we fall asleep to sounds of ‘silent’ fun.
It's high summer when I wake. Couples, families, and indeterminable larger groups sprawl sitting or lying, relishing the day. At the main stage people come and go, music secondary to conversation. The bank holiday makes Sunday the perfect time to party, and all-singing, all-dancing Man Like Me do just that. At the height of random are playful tracks Peculiar and Squeeze. London Town feels comparatively tame, but that's not a criticism. Frontman Johnny Langer isn't shy either; early in the piece he loses his shirt, and later hops off-stage to take a walk through the crowd.
Clock Opera aim to please with plenty of grandiose tracks like Once And For All. There's something unnerving about lead singer Guy Connelly's beard, so I focus instead on the Chris Martin lookalike manning keyboard and synth. Soon, they start to sound like Coldplay, but again that’s no critique.
I’m not fussed on Icarus, but when Bastille hit Overjoyed, Flaws, and fresh track Bad Blood, it’s bliss. Dan Smith and company sound even better live, and they use the stage well, switching places and instruments with ease. Popular cover What Would You Do has the whole site singing, their playful percussion impossible to ignore.
I’m sure I love Gold Panda's heavy bass, but it’s ambient noise this hour of night, and I’m fast distracted by talk of burgers. Punters gather by the roaring fire, a ceremonious end to our official Festibelly experience. Would I go back? Without a doubt, and next time I might even brave the hula.
On Friday August the 10th, BT London Live Olympics Festival in Hyde Park was in full swing; with glorious sunshine, phenomenal live music and – of course – three gold medals for team GB, to ensure smiles were on every face. The Overtones performed to several thousand Olympic-enthusiasts. Combining their unique sound with boundless energy, the lads soon had the entire audience on their feet and every Great Britain flag waving high in the air.
Shortly after their set, they joined me backstage for a quick chat. Band member Mike was chomping on a huge burger, so I opened the interview by addressing him directly.
SFG: So, Mike, with your mouth full of food. Whereabouts in the UK are you from?!
SFG: That’s near me, I’m from Plymouth.
Mike: Our tour ends in Plymouth.
SFG: I will definitely come along to watch! So whereabouts are you all from? You seem to have different accents.
Mike: We’re from all over. I’m from Bristol.
Timmy: I’m from Ireland!
Lachie: I’m from Sydney.
Darren: And I’m Mr Essex. I actually was Mr Essex one year.
Darren: No, that’s a lie.
SFG: Oh, I was going to say!
The boys laugh.
SFG: So how did you all meet up then? How did you get together?
Timmy: Well, the four of us had been singing together for six years without Lachie. We met while singing at open mic nights. I met Lachie several years ago, handing out leaflets for a famous department store. But I won’t mention the name, because he used to take lots of lunch breaks and put the leaflets in the bin!
SFG: We’ve all done it.
Timmy: I then heard his amazing bass voice and said ‘you have got to be in our band!’
SFG: Amazing! So how did you get involved in this Olympic festival?
Mike: This festival has just been amazing to us. We’re really lucky guys, they invited us along and we’ve just had an amazing time.
Timmy: Unreal crowd; everyone is in such good spirits. Not only is the weather great, but everyone is really getting into the whole Olympic atmousphere. Team GB have done so well.
Mike: It feels so patriotic at the moment it’s ridiculous. We’ve actually just come back from LA where we recorded or first video for the next album ‘Higher’, which is out on October 1st. Although we’ve been away, we’ve seen little bits of the coverage on US TV and it’s not the same. But coming back here, you just get right back into the spirit of things. I love this country!
Timmy: But you also learn to appreciate sports that you would never normally get to see. I’ve never enjoyed show-jumping so much in my life!
Mark: Can I just say, I’m really looking forward to Sunday because we’re all going to have a few drinks and watch the closing ceremony.
SFG: So you’ve all been following the Olympics from overseas?
Mark: No, I’m just looking forward to the party at the end of it! Of course, I’m joking, we’ve all been following it.
Darren: I enjoy the diving most. That really impresses me. Team GB did really well.
Lachie: He’s quick isn’t he, that Usain Bolt?
Darren: Yes, I’ll think he’ll win it.
SFG: So who does the choreography for your set? Because when I was watching, I couldn’t help but love your moves!
Timmy: (Jokes) Beyonce.
SFG: I knew it!
Timmy: Well, she gives us a hand. We’ve done most of it by ourselves in the past year, but now we’ve been getting people on board. It feels weirdly like we’re loosening the reigns with the shows. But we’re still involved in everything we do regarding style and choreography, so we always add our little Overtones moment. A bit of a click. A little toe-tap. It’s got to be done!
SFG: Is there a signature move that you do in every show?
Timmy: I have a little move. It’s called the Timmy Shimmy, so I do do that. And if there is Beyonce on, I will grind a little bit!
SFG: Steady on! So, did you come to London just for this gig?
Lachie: No, we live here.
Timmy: It’s where we’re based. We were lucky enough to perform at the Queen’s jubilee this year too. Gary Barlow asked us to be the warm-up act which was amazing. It was such a big thing to be a part of! We’ve been having a great year so far. Of course, we’re all looking forward to the album coming out as well and people hearing the new stuff we’ve been working on. It’s such an exciting time for us. We’ve worked our butts off for the last 8 months; living in the studio. It’ll be great for people to hear it, so check it out! ‘Higher’ is out on October 1st, baby!
SFG: And finally, who do you think would win in a fight out of all of you combined, and one female welterweight Olympic boxer?
Timmy: I have to mention Katie Taylor because she’s flying the flag for female boxing at the moment.
Lachie: I think she’d kick our ass.
Darren: She wouldn’t.
Lachie: She would.
Timmy: Have you seen her fight?!
Darren: Yeah, she’s good, but against five guys?!
Lachie: Darren, take the shame. She’d win.
Timmy: We’d let her win!
Lachie: Although we could stop her with a wall of harmonics. (Sings) GET BAAAACCCK!
SFG: On that wonderful note, it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you! Best of luck with the new album, and thank you for coming to speak to me today.
There’s a certain amount of fear inherent in trying something new. You’re excited, sure, and with a line-up like Kendal Calling’s you know you’ll have a good time. But have you been oversold? Have weeks of hype and anticipation set you up for one colossal fall, that sinking sense of ‘oh, that’s it?’ and the slow admission that things weren’t quite all you’d hoped?
These were the thoughts I silently entertained on the drive to Cumbria, but as we entered Lowther Deer Park and spied a herd of the creatures grazing peacefully in the next field, I was assured of a magical weekend.
We were still fighting with tent poles (the vintage variety, circa 1985) as Newcastle outfit Maximo Park hit the main stage. The sound was surprisingly clear from our spot in the ‘party’ camping zone, and we paused for a brief impromptu dance session before resuming the battle against our half-pitched home.
The festival has a dream-like quality, owing much to its hideaway Lake District setting. Rumours circulate of a wedding on-site, and you get the feeling it’s the kind of festival folks take to heart. One mother of three said the family alternate years between here and Glastonbury, and Kendal does have that same quirky, wonderland (or is that woodland?) appeal, though on a scale less daunting (and easier on the wallet).
Billed as a ‘live music and contemporary circus extravaganza’, the spectacle that is Slamboree had the Chai Wallahs marquee flailing wildly. Bridging unlikely styles from classical to dubstep, I couldn’t count the performers – a juggler here, two exotic dancers there, oh and a few fire-twirlers if you weren’t impressed already. Punters weary from dancing up a storm took refuge to sway in their seats, and no one seemed to mind the stage getting smokey.
After a serious dose of the avant-garde, House Party just didn’t appeal. We made a beeline for bed armed with freshly steamed chai, curious as to what the dawn would bring.
Kendal Calling 2012 | Saturday
The Travelling Band open Saturday’s main stage, though I don’t mind saying that I’m too busy over at Ginger’s comfort van to see their show. You’d be distracted too if your other half handed you a double scoop salt caramel and peanut butter ice cream cone, suffice to say it all sounded dreamy. Of the weekend’s playful roaming acts, something called the Sample-ist stand was my pick. Manned by two DJs in labcoats, and another three gents in white coveralls dancing up a storm beside them, the project involved capturing a voice sample from willing passers by (and there were plenty), then distorting it as part of a broadcast soundscape.
I couldn’t miss suited and booted London lot Spector, who got the audience clapping with ‘Friday Night’. From their dress you can tell they mean business, and boy can frontman Fred Macpherson scream! There’s romance in their synth-rock, with one track introduced as “for the lovers. Yeah, I see you in the trees over there.”
It’s A-grade entertainment when the band breaks mid-set: Macpherson has something unsavoury on his jacket, and needs to brush it off immediately as best he can. Later, and mid-song this time, he produces a comb to deftly fix already slicked-back hair. Spector close to an eager audience with hit single ‘Never Fade Away’. I hope they won’t.
Evening now, and a DJ set from Humanizer has the Glow Dance Tent thumping. Back at the Chai Wallahs stage, a special mention goes to Dizraeli and The Small Gods for their decidedly different hip hop folk. The instrumental ‘Istanbul Express’ transports the (admittedly few) fans assembled to an overland journey in a far away place, and it’s nice to hear the story unfurl.
The masses appear from nowhere for 'Heavy' headliner Dizzee Rascal. Despite signs asking we 'leaf them be', limber fans clamber into trees, vying for a better view. Fresh from his Opening Ceremony showing, Dizzee tells us to "be safe out there”, and I fancy he is talking to those trees. Energetic, the pair (who is that guy with Dizzee all the time?) bounce through 'Road Rage' to new track 'Bassline', a preview from the forthcoming album due out in November. "Make some f*cking noise!" Dizzee commands, and we do.
“He's just a rascal, Dizzee Rascal" chime the crowd, this by far the most attended timeslot of the day. How many artists boast their own them song? After a relatively tame showing in Benicassim, Dizzee is on form, charging through a catalogue of chart toppers including 'Dirtee Disco' and 'You’ve Got The Dirtee Love'. There’s a theme here…In a weekend chiefly devoted to celebrating a shared nonchalance about the start of London's Olympics, Pepper makes a special appearance, joining Dizzee for Olympic collaboration 'Scream'. This particular performance is being filmed, with the promise "You're gonna be famous and sh*t!"
'Dance Wiv Me' is an obvious favourite, but it’s 'Holiday' for the finish and a glitter gun to boot. Dizzee dubs this an Instagram moment, the crowd welcoming his approval with yet more applause.
An aptly named Happy Slap Boutique is the spot to be by the early hours of Sunday morning, as the resident Happy Slap DJs spin their distinctive breed of Balkan, electro and swing to a heaving marquee. Here as elsewhere at the festival, twinkling fairylights serve to offset anything too hardcore, continuing the carnival theme.
Kendal Calling 2012 | Sunday
New Yorkers We Are Scientists set the standard for audience rapport on the main stage, delivering their upbeat breed of indie rock with a sophisticated sense of humour. Bassist Chris Cain fires off cheeky comedic quips, thanking one girl in a wedding dress “for taking this show seriously.” I roll my eyes when my fellow festivalian muses aloud “I wonder if they are scientists…”, but stop as it dawns that they might be.
The boys match the euphoria of a sunny Sunday afternoon, firing off intelligent tracks like ‘I Don’t Bite’, ‘Rules Don’t Stop’, and the one that made them, ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’. Needing no introduction, the immediate and urgent beat has much of the crowd up on shoulders, and a collective cheer erupts when one (shall we say, heavy-set) man successfully manages to stand atop a friend.
The theme for the weekend’s fancy dress component is fairytales and comic books. Some people have put incredible effort into their look, but it’s apparent that anything goes, like the wedding dress girl (unless she was Friday’s festival bride) or the countless wolves and bunny rabbits dressed in smart tweed suits. James haven’t dressed up when they take to the main stage, but it’s clear the packed-out field award them superhero status. Scheduled for nearly two hours, I tire quickly of the singalong affair, and although they sound in fine form I sneak away, prefering to discover something new.
Under the big top now, and the Calling Out stage is abuzz with talk ahead of Los Angeles act Vintage Trouble. Gracing Kendal Calling for a second year, this four man ‘juke music’ group ooze soulful style. Indeed, the collars, vests, hats, ties, even hairdos aid a welcome departure from the present day.
Belting out songs like ‘Still And Always Will’ and a sexy ‘Nancy Lee’ is gifted front man Ty Taylor. With a mighty voice and fun stage presence, he dips and spins his standing mic, working up a sweat. Mid-set he asks the audience to turn away from the stage – he wants to see us dancing with each other. “Is anybody horny in here?” he shouts, and the tent cries yes.
‘Nobody Told Me’ is a complete change of pace, and Taylor touchingly explains the song is for people in times of struggle. For a band only formed in 2010, these guys are convincing performers. When a pair of underwear is flung on-stage, you imagine this kind of thing is typical, but Taylor announces it’s the first g-string they’ve had. “You go down in history” he smiles, before launching into a tamborine-charged ‘Run Outta You’.
As things wind down (or up, depending who you are) on a massive weekend, Yes Sir Boss play to a handful of revellers on the Chai Wallahs stage, the rest of the festival evidently still singing along to James. An unlikely meld of brass and metal, the group play as if to a full house and those few appreciative fans go mad on the dancefloor.
Kendal Calling 2012 | to wrap
Somewhere between the official line-up and set times, acts like Alpines and Little Comet got lost. Or maybe I was lost – it’s that kind of festival! From the most chilled and intimate sideshows, to fun fair amusements, giant scrabble and a real ale party, there’s a little bit of Kendal for every mood (and a heap more if you’re the ‘I’m-at-a-festival-feeling-avant-garde-now’ type). I never made it to Kendal Calling’s so-called ‘Garden of Eden’. I suspect I was already there.