We were incredibly fortunate enough to be invited along to check out the wonderful Kendal Calling, located just outside of Penrith, and here is our full run down of the festival and the bands that we managed to squeeze in!
I suppose the main thing people look at when they consider attending a festival, besides the line-up, is how easy it is to get there and back. Kendal Calling is perfectly located and very easy to access whether that being through public transport (which is how we traveled) or by car/camper van. If you do decide to go by public transport in the future, there is a shuttle bus that takes you to and from the festival direct from Penrith train station which makes things much easier.
So starting off with Thursday, after trecking a short while through thick mud we decided to pitch up relatively close to the arena entrance and food stalls, a tactical decision that turned out to be a masterstroke as the weekend progressed. We didn't actually get to see too many bands on the Thursday between setting up camp, preparing ourselves, dining and exploring. We did manage to catch British Sea Power and Happy Mondays though.
British Sea Power are a rising force on the music scene at the moment and I had never seen them before the festival and wasn't really sure what to expect from them, but I was very impressed with them, they gathered a strong crowd of early festival goers and really set the tone for our weekend of immense music.
Happy Mondays were utterly amazing and played nothing but hits. We did speak to Rowetta from the Mondays before the show and she mentioned how the band were closer than they ever had been and how Sean Ryder was on top form and this was all demonstrated during the set, they seemed like a close knit band again and were really on top of their game as they blasted through all of their hits to a very diverse crowd, and everybody was singing and dancing along.
Our first night on camp was actually very good, the night was cut short as we were exhausted from a full day of travelling (due to train delays!) but the weather held up for everybody which made the start of Friday a nice and dry occasion.
Friday was our first full day on site and we had a fairly full schedule planned out. We had a quick chat with the lads in DMA'S before heading over to the main stage, where we managed to walk freely to the front of the stage and take a perch at the barriers.
Kate Nash was the first act that we saw and was something a little different to what we are used to reviewing, but she absolutely blew my mind. She was loud, she was in your face and she was commanding that main stage. A lot of people were yelling for her to play her biggest hit 'Foundations' throughout the entire set, clearly unaware that she was obviously going to play it last so that 90% of the crowd didn't wander off, but when the end finally did come around every single person watching the main stage was singing along. Kate even came down from the stage to be among the fans before disappearing backstage. Kate Nash really surprised me with just how amazing she was on the stage presence that she holds, she was very, very nearly my act of the weekend, but missed out narrowly (read on to find out who to...)
DMA'S Were the next band up on the main stage, and we managed to keep at the front for the Australian outfit. A lot of people will recognise the band from their hit 'Play it Out' which features on the FIFA 17 video game. 'Play it Out' was what they decided to open with and captured the audience immediately. The band have played over here a number of times and with each visit they manage to gather more and more of a following and after the main stage performance it wouldn't surprise me if they went on to even bigger things in the very near future. You can catch them on a small UK run out this year. And you can check out an interview we had with the band shortly.
Circa Waves were up next as our jam packed first day continued. Having never really listened to the band before I didn't really know what to expect, which made the set that much more better! There vibrant, bouncy brand of indie/pop rock really woke the crowd up, much to the security's delight... They impressed me with how perfect their live sound was and how their energy passed from stage to crowd, as a support band on the main stage they did exactly what they were asked to do and then some and certainly gained a new fan.
Jake Bugg the ever rising superstar was up next to grace the main stage with his presence. I had a very tough time getting into Jake Bugg when he first came on to the scene and never really listened to him since, giving it up as a lost cause that I'd never really enjoy him... Oh how f****ng wrong I was! I have never really heard somebody sound better live than they do recorded but Jake was utterly outstanding, he sounded impeccable and then some, he could quite easily have headlined the stage with the turnout he had and the sound from the audience singing back to him was utterly deafening.
Stereophonics closed down the main stage on the first night with an absolutely faultless set (despite what a few people may think, I'm looking at you Matt Bassy!) they played all the hits, new track 'All in One Night' and even some golden oldies such as 'A Thousand Trees'. The set had everything you could of hoped for, and, coming from a lifelong 'Phonics fan I think they were absolutely incredible and I could not fault them at all!
Following Stereophonics we decided to have another wonder around the festival grounds to see what else the nightlife had to offer. The festival has so much going on that caters for all ages and all interests, from the Glow tent which offers DJ's until the early hours of the morning, you can take a nice walk through the Woodlands and check out some of the art pieces and interactive forest that comes alive as you walk through it, there are plenty of bars dotted around for a drink, and there is even a silent disco, which is where we ended up until the early hours!
Saturday was by far the busiest of the days for us, we interviewed Billy Bibby & The Wry Smiles, which is quite possibly one of the best interviews we have ever done, certainly the most laid back and most fun in a very long time! (It's a shame our camera decided to malfunction during it, but we have the text based version as back up!) we had a look around again to see what else was around for festival goers to do if there wasn't any music they fancied. The festival caters for everyone, with play areas for small kids, a ridiculous spectrum of music to check out and perfect spots for the essential festival selfie!
Larkins were the first band we saw on the Saturday, it should have been Billy Bibby & The Wry Smiles but the set times were switched around at the last minute meaning we missed BB&TWS, but we did get the nice surprise of Larkins. Larkins were very good and managed to keep a great sized crowd for their set. I nice little gem of a find and a band we will certainly be hoping to see again...on purpose this time though!
Feeder were on the main stage soon after Larkins had finished so we rushed over there to watch a band that has been delivering hits for over a decade. The band burst through their set smashing every hit they had ever released. The turn out was immense and it seemed as though everybody enjoyed reliving their youth through the iconic tracks that the band have produced. It was an exceptionally good set, and with a choice of hit singles it was always going to be a solid set, and Feeder seem to be back on the up and getting right back to where they belong.
Editors & Honeyblood were bands we only caught glimpses of, but they certainly left a lasting impression. Editors sounded amazing from where we were stood and were probably one of the best sounding bands of the weekend. Honeyblood were late on to the Calling Out Stage after earlier setbacks put the stage behind, which meant that they clashed with Brian Wilson and there was no way I was missing that! But from the couple of songs I did see they certainly sounded amazing and it was hard to leave the tent, but Brian Wilson! Honeyblood, we will be back to see you, hopefully soon.
Brian Wilson The Beach Boys are widely regarded as one of the most iconic/important bands in history and with the turnout that Brian Wilson accumulated at the festival it's hard to disagree.Touring Pet Sounds in full one final time due to popular demand the main stage saw an audience of all ages gather around to hear the massively iconic album played in its entirety, as well as some massive Beach Boy hits for good measure. Brian Wilson looked tired and a little drained, and it's no wonder, as he continues to absolutely kick ass at the age of 75 on the biggest stages around the world. I think it must have been a record turn out for the festival for the set and many people we spoke to regarded it as a once in a lifetime opportunity to see The Beach Boys perform (Brian Wilson was joined by Beach Boys Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin) before they inevitably retire and relax.
Manic Street Preachers headlined the main stage on the Saturday and were by far one of my favourite bands of the weekend. The Welsh rock gods absolutely annihilated Kendal Calling with a monstrous set kicking things of with 'Motorcycle Emptiness' which can easily be regarded as one of their biggest hits, so to see them open with it was a sign of things to come. They blasted their way through every single hit they have to their name to produce one of the greatest sets and live performances I have ever seen. Some fans were a little annoyed that were was no encore but firstly, what the hell tracks could they have really played that would of added anything more to the set?! And secondly there is a time curfew to keep to, you should know there was never going to be an encore. The band were incredible and an absolute must see if you ever get the chance!
And just like that, in the blink of a very, very muddy eye we had arrived at the final day. The sun was shining and the rain had died off as bursts of heat descended onto the fields as we prepared to say goodbye.
Sunday was amazing, as we walked through the fields one final time to reflect one what an outstanding festival Kendal Calling really is we were greeted with more sunshine and more crowds turning out to watch the bands.
The Lancashire Hot Pots were the first band we saw as we headed for some food. It was absolutely mental the amount of people that were gathered at the main stage to watch them perform their spoof/comedy songs. The crowd were dancing, bobbing and singing along which was amazing to see so early on!
Lethal Bizzle was next up for us, and was again something totally different to what we are used to working on, but he was bloody mental! He had the biggest mosh pit of the entire weekend going, the noise from the crowd was unreal and his stage presence was second to none, he was absolutely brilliant!
Nothing But Thieves followed on from Lethal Bizzle and are another band to have a track featured on the FIFA franchise (FIFA 16 - Trip Switch). The band are developing into something absolutely massive and the following that they are gathering was evident on Sunday with a great turnout. Another vocal masterclass from the festival as Conor Mason sounded utterly faultless. They also made sure that the crowd were fed by launching a loaf of bread out to them which was nice..
Slaves all I have heard since arriving at the festival is Slaves, Slaves and Slaves. The whole festival was raving about them, it was one of the main bands that people were there to see, they were garnering so much interest from people of all ages, which was amazing to see. We somehow managed to be right at the front for the band and felt the full wrath of the mosh pits as they crushed against us. Slaves are the future of punk and they have managed to get so many young people interested in punk which is incredible. The live set up and show is just on another level all together, how the hell Isaac manages to put that much energy into shows as well as play the drums and main vocal duties is absolutely incredible and something that is really awe inspiring to watch. Slaves are going to be enormous, there is no doubt at all about that, expect to see them headlining festivals soon, I am calling it right now that the band will most likely be playing Hellfest 2018 because they fit the bill perfectly. Slaves were my band of the weekend, no doubt about that at all, they were on another level.
Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls well what more can be said that hasn't already been said about Frank Turner, he is a true professional, an absolute legend and all round crowd pleaser, performing show number 2077 and showing the world what being a rock star is all about, smashing shows to pieces and playing your heart out, he was phenomenal as always.
Tinie Tempah again another act we don't normally review but we were breaking new ground this weekend and we certainly achieved that. I wasn't really sure what to expect from Tinie Tempah but I was convinced it would be a good show so went along. It was absolutely crazy, again massive mosh pits were forming, people were flying all over the place, his showman ship was incredible, the stage show was the best of the whole weekend with pyros and confetti and streamers all been thrown about. Massive anthems were blaring throughout the set and there was even a crowd tsunami that moved from one side of the stage to the other taking everything in it's path, fair play Tinie, what a massive show and a brilliant way to close down the festival.
So there we have it, a run down of the bands we saw and the things we had a look at during our short time at Kendal Calling. I think now is the perfect time to give a little shout out to the security that manned the main stage all weekend, we spent a lot of time on the barriers and got chatting away to them quite a bit and got to see first hand the way they operate and they were by far the best security team we have ever seen at a live event. They kept the crowd safe, kept the artist safe and entertained and got involved which is always amazing to see, rather than big, intimidating figures in the shadows these guys came out and put smiles on everyone's faces to give another special touch to the festival. So fair play and thank you for everything Jodie, Robbo, Craig and Harriet and every other member of the FGH Security Crew.
Hopefully we will be back in the fields next year to bring even more coverage, until then stay tuned for interviews coming in and more updates!
Feel free to show us your best snaps from the weekend and let us know your highlights!
Installment plan tickets for next year are now available: Tickets 2018