Kendal Calling - Day 1

posted 7 Aug 2009, 01:56 by The Editor   [ updated 25 Aug 2009, 13:32 by Harry Cooke ]
Friday 31st July
Lowther Deer Park

I'll start with a confession... I didn't camp in a tent for Kendal Calling. After the winds at Benicassim, and the rather poor weather forecast for Cumbria, we decided that the safest course of action would be go in the campervan. Although a campsite has the traditional festival atmosphere, sometimes it's nice to get a decent night sleep, a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea in the morning, and a clean toilet every day. As Kendal Calling was in the Lowther Deer Park, we were also lucky enough to see the deer wandering around their home that we had invaded for the weekend.

As we arrived at the campsite on the first day we noticed a circling aeroplane towing a banner, which we finally figured out was an advert for "The Streets - Go Low" - Impressive for a festival of this size (6000 capacity). We picked up our wristbands and failed to notice for the first two days that they read "Kendall Calling '09", however this minor spelling mistake only endeared us even more to a festival organised by only six people, an incredible feat.

The site itself is lovely and small, the campsite is literally in the next field to the main arena, so no long hikes back. Unlike large festivals there was plenty of places to sit, with plenty of benches built on-site in creative styles and surroundings adding to the feel of a welcoming, local festival. Everybody, from wristband exchange, to security, to the stewards (Provided by Climate Camp) to the Police were all happy, friendly, and very welcoming. The lack of sponsorship from a huge larger brewery gave the local ales a chance to flourish in "The Holy Quail" pub, where a selection of Cumbrian ales were on offer, all sampled, and all enjoyed. 

The first day was the shortest of the weekend, with the first bands on stage at 5.30pm, but with acts going on in the dance tent until 3am there was a party atmosphere from the beginning. First up on the main stage were Riot Jazz, and their name is certainly apt as their brass band with hip hop and rhythm and blues could be heard echoing around the hills for miles. Middleman followed on the main stage, a recurring theme in summaries of Middleman is "bouncy". Fun tracks designed to get you dancing with strong pop chorus kept us watching for the whole set.

Goldie Lookin Chain are fantastic live and are the perfect band for a festival. Their combination of catchy chorus tunes ("Your Missus is a Nutter") with comic lyrics and cringe-worthy vulgarity in their interactions with the crowd combine to create the perfect parody band. Approaching their tenth year together, GLC continue to show their wit in their new songs and the love the crowd has for hits like "Half Man Half Machine" and "Guns Don't Kill People".

The Streets headlined the main stage, and having advertised themselves from the air had a sizeable audience for their set. Having just seen GLC do "You Knows I Love You", hearing "Dry Your Eyes" did make me chuckle. Mike Skinner has built up a reputation for being a showman live, and when one woman went topless at the front, Skinner followed suit. "Don't Mug Yourself" was the highlight of the set and the closing song "Blinded By The Lights" finished the main stage evening nicely.

Meanwhile, over on the We Are Calling stage, Fight Like Apes were headlining a packed out tent and anyone who chose Fight Like Apes over The Streets were treated to an energetic, crazy dose of fun. Fight Like Apes clearly love music and having a good time and combine the two for a powerful set. MayKay's vocals are witty, funny and bitchy, pulling you in then slapping you in the face. 

The Comedy Tent and the Dance tent carried on late into the night, so far so good!

Harry Cooke 
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