The final weekend of July sees the 6th Annual addition of Kendal Calling Festival.  Continually growing in strength and size it managed to bag the Best Small Festival award for 2010 and with only 13000 tickets for 2011 it sold out in record time.

Since a move in 2009 to accommodate growing popularity it’s now positioned closer to Penrith than Kendal in the Lake District. Set in the amazingly beautiful Lowther Deer Park, it’s surrounded by hills as far as the eye can see; this festival genuinely does have a very special site. With nine stages to wander between and headline acts such as The Cribs, Blondie and Chase and Status there is definitely a bit of something for everyone.

In true festival style I land at the festival on Friday afternoon clad in walking boots, waterproofs and a rucksack Pavarotti could happily squeezed into. To my utter astonishment and joy it is boiling, although I’m slowly melting with my SAS gear on. The weather gods really are kind on Kendal and it stays warm and bright for most of the festival.

The tent shoots up with military precision (if you believe that you’ll believe anything) and off we trot to check out the main area and find our bearings. The site is really well laid out with lots of nooks and crannies and you stumble across new places around every corner. Although everything is within a 5 minute walk of each other you don’t feel cramped at all.  The site is peppered with giant oak trees which provide much needed shade for some and a wonderland for many of the arts and performance pieces taking place. With lots of lovely types of food on offer – our favourite was Ghandi’s Flip Flop, all tastes are catered for and for anyone feeling a bit crap there are the healing areas, I had an inkling usage would see a sharp increase as the weekend charged ahead.  The main stage is perfectly placed and has a gentle hill in front for people who just wanted to chill out and relax but still get a perfect view – also good for my mate who is a bit on the short side. I can’t fault the organisation of this festival it really is nearly perfect, plenty of loos (which were the best kept of any festival I’ve been to) and plenty of well staffed bars, which equals less time queuing and more time to see the bands!


Kendal seems to have a strong commitment to promoting up and coming talent rather than solely focusing on the big names so lots of bands on the bill we hadn’t heard of but for me this was a bonus and meant discovering some right little gems. First up is Stagecoach in the Calling Out tent with their infectious Indie pop and extremely tight shorts they go down well with the young indie kids. Over to the main stage for a rather confused set from The Milk which is quickly followed by the fantastic Molotov Jukebox with their self titled ‘Gypstep’ style music – basically a mix of everything, this London based 6 piece, fronted by the wonderfully filthy (mouth not muck) Natalia Tena has everyone including me dancing around waggling my ‘sexy foot’ in the air.  Absolutely perfect band to kick start the festival and inject a bit of energy into the crowd, definitely one to watch and one of my festival highlights.  Keeping the highlight ball rolling it was time for Kitty, Daisy and Lewis, me and my mate have been looking forward to this one so parked our bums at the front early on. I couldn’t believe the size of the tent they were playing in at ‘Get it Loud in the Libraries’ it is tiny but really cool with sofas and books strewn all over. It’s a definite family affair with the three siblings fronting accompanied by mum on the upright double bass and dad on guitar.  With their unique 1940/50’s American style and sound coupled with bags of exceptional talent they are incredible to watch as they move around the stage swapping instruments and lead vocals with ease. Stand out track for me is their second single ‘Mean Son Of A Gun’ and the packed out tent seems to agree.

After two stonkingly good bands we have a well earned beer and food break before heading back over to the main stage for House of Pain which to be honest all I hear is their staple ‘Jump Around’ and them shout “mother f*@cker” every 2 minutes.  Time and gallons of beer had flown by and it is time for the closing act of the main stage Chase and Status. For the first time I notice a definite heavy young presence at the festival, much larger than at others, this is not to say it’s a negative thing as no trouble materialised over the course of the weekend but I did feel a bit old! I’ve got to say I haven’t listened much to Chase and Status who are Drum & Bass influenced but I am more than impressed with their set accompanied by some clever MCing and slick visuals showing just how many big names they’ve collaborated with like Plan B and Kano on ‘More Than A Lot’ which has the jam packed main stage crowd going flamin’ mental.

The heat and lager of the day starts to get the better of me but I battle through for one last band over at the Kaylied stage the Slamboree and what a wild experience it is. Describing themselves as ‘Neo Balkan Rave Circus’, it pretty much does what it says on the tin – some crazy shit all rolled up into one.  I lose count of the different acts but some sexy hula hooping happens along with fire eating, odd glass ball goings on and titillating burlesque.  Brilliantly different from anything I’ve seen and if you don’t like the music go see them anyway for the hula hooping alone. After deciding I can’t physically fit anymore lager in it is time to hit the canvas ready for Saturday shenanigans, what a great beginning Kendal!