Undeniably the most riveting thing to happen to the sleepy Lake District town of Kendal since the accidental invention of Kendal mint cake (when a lackadaisical confectioner diverted his eyes from the cooking pan), KENDAL CALLING, though certainly not an accident like the local speciality, has unintentionally developed into a phenomena; “a mini Glastonbury in the Lake District” as Liverpudlian DJ Craig Charles charmingly puts it. The annual event organised by two of the country’s youngest festival organisers, Andy Smith and Ben Robinson is now in its fifth year and is fully thriving; this year bringing headliners Calvin Harris, Doves and The Coral to the lakes for a three day celebratory love-in (though the latter two being natives to the North West needn’t worry about the travel expenses).
Established in 2006 when Pendulum brought raucous drum and bass to the unwitting residents of the Lake District and three quarters local outfit British Sea Power (lead guitarist Noble was born in Bury, Greater Manchester, the others in Kendal) headlined the second and final day of the one thousand capacity event at Abbott Hall Park, the festival’s trajectory over five years has seen it host local and national artists alike. 2009 saw the festival upgrade to larger settlement, Lowther Deer Park, extending its capacity to six thousand and this year Kendal Calling will again be hosted at the deer park though this time an audience of eight thousand punters will be present, ready to lap up the altruistic atmosphere.
For all our efforts in showcasing new artists, we can be slightly parochial here at Bido Lito!, intent on retaining a Merseyside-based focus which is why when reading the Kendal Calling lineup tears of boundless pride well up and I’m forced to hurriedly blink them away. The reason for this surge of emotions? Simple, the sheer abundance of Merseyside born and bred artists playing the festival. THE CORAL will be headlining the main stage on the closing day of the festival, the five piece are expected to showcase songs from their latest album Butterfly House and a back catalogue of their greatest hits, displaying their blend of romantic yet pragmatic lyrics and whirling guitar sounds which will surely end the festival on a wonderful high. Bido Lito! favourites WAVE MACHINES will be playing the Riot Jazz Café on the opening day and THE SEAL CUB CLUBBING CLUB and SOUND OF GUNS will be sharing the Calling Out Stage on Saturday. Sound Of Guns billed second from top will be playing their usual rousing set, The Seal Cub Clubbing Club will baffle and delight festival goers in equal measure while Wave Machines will get those who venture to see them endlessly talking about the perfect pop that the quartet execute.
One half of the organising duo, and co-founder of the festival Ben Robinson states that though the festival has expanded rapidly, it is still very much in touch with its roots, “We always built the festival around what we would like to see at an event, and as we all still go to a lot of festivals we are constantly coming up with new ideas for how we do things. It’s a very hard job to be an independent festival, it takes a huge amount of planning to get all the elements of an event to come together and there is a big risk too.” Forever gathering new ideas keeps the organisers on their toes and their efforts have payed off – the festival has been nominated for the Grass Roots Festival Award for the last two years and it would be a crime if their endeavour didn’t go on to win it someday. Staying independent when the Big Chill festival has recently been sold to Festival Republic and many festivals have unfortunately been forced to cancel this year may seem like a burden to others, but Robinson believes that their independence has enabled them to, “really put care and attention into all aspects of the festival and give it heart and soul that is missing at a lot of the corporate events.” It’s reassuring to see that Northern sense of pride and independence still roars in both the music and at the heart of the festival industry.