Kendal Calling utilises its astounding location within Britain’s newest UNESCO World Heritage site to offer patrons a uniquely picturesque festival experience.
By Michael McGleenan
With Lake Ullswater only a few miles away, Lowther Deer Park is typical of the Lake District’s natural beauty, with its rolling green hills and stunning views. However, this festival is not merely built on location, as Kendal Calling delivers a truly diverse mix of music.
The festival opened with a headline set from Franz Ferdinand. Additionally, The Happy Mondays drew the early bird crowds into dubious dancing, followed by Thursday’s main event. Then crowd favourite Take Me Out became a particular highlight with the audience almost out-singing the band.
Friday saw many more thousands descend on the lakes for the eleventh annual event. A trip to Tim Peaks Diner (a stage in itself) on Friday afternoon via the Real Ale Festival was the perfect antidote to any presiding after effects of Thursday evening. Tim Peaks Diner is the creation of Charlatans front man Tim Burgess, and played host to acoustic performances during the day to full on DJ sets through the night. Next, it was Kate Nash’s instantly recognizable Foundations drawing huge crowds to the main stage, where she was followed by Circa Waves. Among the highlights of the weekend were their infectious tunes, the best received being the unavoidably catchy T-Shirt Weather, bringing a sense of summer.
Next up was Jake Bugg. What he lacks in stage presence, he more than atones for with the sheer quality of music. Lightning Bolt and Two Fingers were impeccably performed to what seemed to be the entirety of Kendal Calling gathered at the main stage. Stereophonics rounded off Friday with classics such as Maybe Tomorrow, Have a Nice Day, and Dakota. It does not need to be noted how well these were received by a boisterous Kendal Calling Crowd; barely a word went unsung.
Saturday saw forays to the Woodlands and Carvetti stages. The main stage again attracted the bulk of the crowds with acts such as Feeder and Reverend and the Makers, but there is too much on offer to simply enjoy the mainstream. Local four-piece Graces filled the Woodlands stage with their anthemic pop-rock, and the minute Carvetti stage played host to The Baghdaddies, who gave a hugely enjoyable performance of reggae inspired funk to the few who knew to venture further into the forest. Tipped for big things, The Hunna were worth the hype during their headline set on the Calling Out stage. In previous years this stage has played host to artists such as Mumford and Sons, The 1975, and Catfish and the Bottlemen – to name a few – so a slot on this stage seems something of a good omen for the future. Songs such as Bonfire and She’s Casual would suggest that The Hunna may be soon to follow suit.
Sunday afternoons always tend to be a difficult period; the previous three nights certainly seem to catch up around this time. Lowther Castle had surely never felt so brilliant, and Fester Skank gave the crowd new life in the hills of the Lake District. Blaenavon’s Orthodox Man was another highlight from the Calling Out stage, along with the entire set from North East outfit Little Comets. Tinie Tempah then signed off a memorable weekend with a huge crowd gathered to witness his set and accompanying firework display.
Kendal Calling’s blend of stunning location and world class performance has seen its constant expansion since the first festival in 2006, and this year’s edition looks set to continue that rise. It is these factors that ensure those who attend rarely do so only once, and we will most certainly be back.