Festival Review - Kendal Calling 2018
Festival season continues! Last weekend we embarked on our first Kendal Calling experience, an unmissable festival set in the heart of the beautiful Lake District.
Not only does it showcase some of the UKs most tipped new bands amongst some indie legends and first-time headliners, Kendal Calling has one of the friendliest festival atmospheres you’ll find. Regardless of the rain, lots and lots of rain, the sold out 13th edition of Kendal Calling was a belter.
Each year the festival grows in size, held at Lowther Deer Park in Penrith, 2018 saw the 25,000 capacity festival adding two extra campsites to the map. We were lucky enough to camp right beside the arena, where only a fence separated us from Tim Peaks Diner and the second stage, Calling Out.
You don’t need to be familiar with the festival in order to be able to get around. Kendal Calling is no Glastonbury in terms of scale, but it sure has similarities. In fact, Glastonbury aside, it’s probably the nicest festival I’ve been to. It’s got it all!
Whenyoung kicked off the festival with an early set on the Calling Out stage. Wearing their signature matching jumpsuits in primary colours, the Irish band played a striking half an hour set to a tent full of early punters.
The sun was shining as we made our way to the main stage to see Declan McKenna. Wearing a goldfish style scaly outfit, we quickly knew this was going to be a fun set. It’s highly admirable how much confidence this young artist has, his energetic pop songs generate an excitement that soon replicates onto the crowd.
Next up were White Lies, writing in a Tweet prior to a set the night before, they said they felt both nervous and excited about returning to live shows. The band sounded fresh and showed no signs of nerves in this flawless set.
A personal favourite of mine, White Lies are always a highlight when it comes to festivals. Seeing singer Harry McVeigh with a beaming smile throughout filled me with even more admiration for the band. The set was full of sing-a-long anthems, which even sparked mosh pits, something I’ve never experienced at a White Lies gig before! A genuinely humble band who offer pure brilliance during their performance, in return they deserve to be much higher up on the bill.
James took to the stage soon after to perform a nostalgic set. Complete with their iconic and melancholic tunes, James left the stage whilst the whole crowd were still dancing. Happiness had spread across the arena, whilst everyone waited in anticipation for the Friday night headliners.
Catfish and the Bottlemen took to the stage playing an hour and a half set that without a doubt exceeded all expectations. Initially sceptical about whether Van McCann and band were headliner worthy on the back of two albums, it wasn’t long before my opinion changed. They’ve gone from selling their DIY tunes on ASDA CD’s at their first gigs in some of the UK’s smallest venues to headlining festivals in a matter of years. These boys from Llandudno have come ridiculously far, sure they’ve been a band for over 10 years but it’s amazing to see them come so far. They genuinely looked cool, sounded immense and probably proved a lot of people wrong. What was it that Kasabian said about guitar music eh? We’ve got it right here. Fair play to the Bottlemen!
Even though Kendal is a very family friendly festival, it doesn’t stop when the headliners do. With rave tents, nightclub atmospheres and late-night comedy and cabaret performances going on into the early hours, this festival caters for everyone.
With everyone back in their tents and feeling a little worse for wear in the morning, the rain started and it didn’t stop for the rest of the weekend. This didn’t bother anyone or stop us from having a good time though.
Kicking off the second day, we caught Fuzzy Sun in the House Party tent. Hailing from Stockport, the psychedelic band brought good vibes along to cheer everyone up on this rainy Saturday afternoon. They were genuinely grateful for the big crowd, whether that’s because of the weather or not, there’s no denying that this band are going places. Catch them on tour with Blossoms this winter to prove it!
Back in the Calling Out tent, YONAKA blew me away. With YONAKA being a previous When The Horn Blows Band of the Week, it seemed like I was the only member of the team who hadn’t seen them perform. Having heard a lot about this band I was excited for their set, and I’m happy to say that in result of finally seeing them live, they come in as one of my festival highlights. The energy, crowd engagement and heavy sound of YONAKA is one to watch out for.
Next up were King No-One, who performed a bold set whilst engaging a crowd full of fans. Whether you’ve been following them for years or only just discovered this Yorkshire band, they continuously put on a great show, with their set at Kendal not being an exception.
King No-One have gone from busking on the streets (you can still find them regularly on Market Street in Manchester!) to headlining Hull’s Humber Street Sesh Festival. They’ve worked their way up, developed their style and even got new members along the way. Having followed them since they were just a small band it’s amazing to see them rapidly selling out shows, playing festivals and becoming a positive impact on today’s music scene. Their message is current and relatable with their songs being catchy and bold. What more could you want from an up and coming band? They’re onto big things.
We caught The Slow Readers Club set on the main stage who came out to fans chanting “readers, readers, readers”. Flags swarmed the crowd whilst fans sat on shoulders and sang along to the dark yet wonderfully put together songs. Three albums in the band only just seem to be breaking through to fans outside of their home city of Manchester. If you’re a fan of White Lies, Editors or Interpol, Slow Readers are the perfect combination for you.
When it was announced that Plan B would be headlining instead of Run DMC a few days before the festival, everyone took to Twitter to express their feelings towards it being a ‘plan b’ option. Jokes aside Plan B and his band put on a great performance, especially to say it was last minute. Mixing up his set list between well-known and newer songs his soulful singing and ability to rap on queue made him a real crowd pleaser.
I’m still finding it hard to believe that this is the same man who sang that cheeky song about a girl called ‘Charmaine’, way back in 2006 and a few years later stormed the charts with his breakthrough album ‘The Defamation of Strickland Banks’. Looking physically different and his voice sounding even stronger than before, Plan B is probably at his best. Whilst managing to look dapper in a full suit, equipped with what looked like a bullet proof vest and face paint and having the ability to switch between singing and rapping, he’s got the full works.
The final day of the festival started off a rainy one.
We braved the rain for an early main stage set from our favourite Hull band, LIFE. If anyone is going to make you want to drag yourself out of a tent feeling rough on the last day of a festival it’s a band like LIFE. The stage presence, witty comments between songs and pure passion makes an exciting and unique performance. As each song played on, people were joining the crowd, which soon grew beyond familiar faces. It’s just the beginning, but only a matter of time before LIFE put Hull on the music map again.
Whilst wandering back to the tent (which if you remember I said we camped within listening distance from Tim Peaks…) we heard a certain Libertine singing. Initially thinking it may be a Carl Barat set, we arrived at Tim Peaks only to find out it was the full band. The Libertines were going under the name of ‘Peach Fuzz’ for a half an hour secret set at Tim Burgess’ stage, Tim Peaks. The packed-out diner overflowed out onto the fields, with excited fans trying to catch a glimpse of that evenings headliners. Before closing the set Pete said, “we’re a Libertines support band, you can catch the real thing later”.
Watching the Libs secret set made us late to catch the start of Anteros. Gutted to have missed the first couple of songs, the highly tipped band still won me over. Before playing latest single ‘Bonnie’, Anteros singer, Laura Hayden started an empowering and genuine speech about how “we need more women in the music industry” before coming down off the stage to sing to fans lucky enough to be at the front. Proving to be powerful and really just as good as everyone talking about them is saying, I can’t wait to see how they grow.
PINS were next up on the Calling Out stage, a perfect follow up band from Anteros. The fierce girl band were confident whilst owning the stage, which could quite easily have been double in size for their performance.
We caught Ocean Colour Scene, a band who I could describe as ‘before my time’, but a band that can still excite a field full of people. Leaving all the hits until last, suddenly everyone was united whilst singing along to songs from a truly great era of music. The rain had finally stopped and everyone was finding that last bit of energy to prepare for the final act of the weekend.
Topping the bill were The Libertines. Being one of my all-time favourite bands I always treasure being able to see them all together. Over the years I’ve seen all the side projects; Babyshambles, Pete solo, Carl and his Jackals (regrettably not Dirty Pretty Things), and even saw the monumental come back show at Hyde Park. However, I’ve never experienced the classic Libertines everyone old enough to be a teenager when their debut came out remembers. I live in fear they aren’t going to come out to perform, they’ll mess up or do something daft, but yet again my faith was restored with the boys in the band. I mean it was obvious Carl was leading the band and holding it together, but they were genuinely having fun and so were we, so who cares.
Pete did throw his acoustic guitar into the crowd though, which I expect is a little bit of classic Libertine coming through. Fireworks went off just as Don’t Look Back Into The Sun was fading out, which was a perfect ending to an unforgettable weekend of music (and mud). The band came together for a final bow, we even got to see Gary Powel do the floss dance, which was a nice little treat for everyone involved.
If you’ve lost your faith in love and music, oh the end won’t be long. Now let’s start looking for that guitar on eBay.
Words and review by Abbie Jennings.