Usually with a festival, there are two types of Sunday after two hard days of drinking, dancing and very little sleep; the kind when the organisers wind it down for the weekend, and the kind when you power on through and keep the energy levels atmospheric.
Fortunately, for Standon Calling, it’s all about the energy. It was evident from early on that the focus on Sunday had changed from the rest of the weekend, with an even greater emphasis on ska, ragga and drum and bass in comparison to the previous two days. It certainly didn’t take long to get started, either. Kicking off in the Big Top was the New Groove Foundation, blending some classic ska riffs with a little bit of classic rock, they were certainly loud, but provided some seriously catchy riffs which instantly had the heads nodding and the feet tapping.
This was followed by Rotten Hill Gang, who took the tempo down a little with some interesting funk numbers, only for it to be bought right back up by Slamboree. Mixing styles ranging from Dubstep, Electro Swing and Rap, they were one of the surprise finds of the weekend, and showed exactly the kind of variety to be expected at Standon. Chloe Howl was next up; despite this reviewer having very restricted knowledge of this flame haired, electro-pop ball of energy, whilst comparisons to artists such as La Roux are inevitable, it was great to see the passion she put into her performance, and with stellar tracks such as ‘No Strings‘ and ‘Rumour‘, she had the perfect temperament for a future cult hit.
Following this extended stint in the Big Top, it was time to traipse along to the main stage to check out Dizraeli and the Small Gods. Whilst it’s always admirable to see a group who is genuinely trying to create a new style of music, mixing folk melodies and hip-hop, I felt that the music became a little convoluted, and I’m not sure that the blend was slick enough for the group to hold their own. Regardless, an interesting opportunity to check out something that I had never heard before.
This was the prefix for the following act, the Gentlemen’s Dub Club, which instantly raised the tempo, and with the band really involving the crowd within their performance, it was a fantastic site to see everyone getting involved. Playing a vast collection of their newest songs, the group were unashamedly ska-tastic, with the ensemble kitted out in black suits throughout.
Definitely worth a look if you’re in the mood for some relentlessly upbeat entertainment. There was just enough time for a quick trip over to see AlunaGeorge and, whilst the visit was brief, the opportunity to see, she made sure to keep the crowd happy by sounding out her trademark hits like Attracting Flies and, of course, White Noise, originally performed with Disclosure. AlunaGeorge had a real presence on the stage, and created an absolutely buzzing atmosphere, one which was carried over to the headliners of the night. And let me tell you, what a headliner they turned out to be.
Having been at other festivals with De La Soul performing, I’ve always seemed to be distracted by a different group when they’ve been playing. Not this time, and I can’t believe I didn’t get round to seeing them sooner. Surely attracting the largest crowd of any performer across the weekend, they had the crowd in the palm of their hands. Playing an essential mix of old school, classic hip hop, despite their seniority in the genre, their performance was as fresh as anyone around, and their rendition of the classic ‘Me, Myself and I‘ will last with me for a long, long time.
Finishing up with ‘The Magic Number‘ was a resounding hit with the audience, and there didn’t seem to be a single person standing still. An unbelievable end to the Main Stage line-up for the weekend. However, the weekend wasn’t over yet. That honour belonged to the Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show, and what a great way to further promote the variety on show at Standon Calling. Despite not being the greatest DJ of all time, Craig Charles certainly provided the classics, and from the front row, clearly looked as if he was enjoying himself. I know the crowd certainly were.
And that was Sunday; a heady mix of funk, soul, ska, electro and some pop thrown in for good measure, and arguably the best day of the weekend. With Standon Calling, despite the small capacity venue, and the fairly limited choice of stages, you can clearly see the organisers had try to make it feel like a vaster experience by including a varied collection of smaller areas, many of which had loyal visitors throughout the day.
Special mention should be made to the Forest of Freaks stage; this hidden gem under the canopy of a small forest had a great mix of circus acts, friendly bar staff and an intense array of electro swing that kept everyone entertained into the small hours of the morning.
Standon Calling clearly deserves the hype that surrounds it, and is a really strong message that small festivals can provide the same experience as the big boys, but with a much more intimate feel. The weekend was great, the acts electric and the company fantastic.
Come this time next year, you’ll know where to find me.