Kendal Calling 2012: Lowther Deer Park, Penrith

Once again Kendal Calling pulled an ever growing sell out crowd and beckoned us to its fields of dreams and quirky delights. Having grown in stature over the last year, attracting even more surprises, talents and people to the beautiful surroundings of the Lowther Deer Park, it’s easy to see why this is one of the jewels in the festival calendar.

Kendal Calling appears more like a carnival than a music festival. The arenas set the stage littered with colourful tents, gingerbread houses, DIY signs and brightly coloured flags, it’s small but there’s enough room to meander around and breathe in the on goings set amongst an eclectic musical soundtrack from the surroundings.

Friday kicked off with the usual where to begin feelings, arriving early evening we set about the main stage walking past the Glow Dance tent and the House Party couldn’t stop us taking a quick peak in and having a little dance. At the main stage an ever growing crowd complete with a fat lad in a mankini keeping the crowd entertained during the wait for Scroobious Pip. Waxing lyrical, Pip commented on topics from current affairs to love strung tales it was a great warm up for his later performance, where he joined his usual partner in crime Dan Le Sac for their V’s battle. Headliners Maximo Park brought about their usual energetic show. There was the obligatory split jump from lead singer, Paul Smith, during Girls Who Play Guitar, though if you blinked you missed it. Like lightening from start to finish Maximo Park mixed old and new songs, never faltering in performance they set the festival alight and set a standard to other bands for the rest of the weekend. As the lights on the main stage faded there was still plenty going on, there were chilled vibes from the Jazz Stage, pumping beats from the dance tents and whilst the punters danced until the early hours a new day was dawning.

Whilst people were fending off that morning after the night before feeling on Saturday, there was the obligatory Kendal Calling fancy dress, this year’s theme being the amusing and brightly coloured ‘Fairy Tales and Comic Books’, brought about the need for sunglasses to those suffering. Some found solace at the Woodlands Stage, where easy fuelled vibes were filling the air; others crowded into a packed Tim Peaks diner, curated by Tim Burgess and played witness to acoustic loveliness. Further afield Dodgy were on the main stage, a slightly shaky performance in places but they proved they were ‘Good Enough’ and set the crowd into a nostalgic frenzy.

Over at Jazz Riot, Sarah Mac broke through her nervousness and pulled off an entrancing performance to those wanting a little soul on their Saturday afternoon. Shed Seven disco’d down back on the Main Stage and paved the way for headliner Dizzee Rascal. Not one to shy away from big performances, there were hits after hits, lots of bouncing, pyros and an amazing show ending on Bonkers. Leaving the crowd on a high the House Party filled up for dance-a-thons, to the likes of the Utah Saints, Toddla T and a DJ set by Jack Beats, whilst others were House Party or Chai Wallahs bound to party in style.

The final day of Kendal Calling again saw a few blurry eyes; set with the realisation we were almost over and out. Wandering into the main arena to the sounds of people singing along to the Lancashire Hotpots is a bit of a surrealist event, whilst many don’t know the words to their songs they quickly pick them up and begin chanting along with the brightly dressed band like they’ve all been mates for life.

It seems We Are Scientists brought about the right kind of pheromones to Kendal and became festival heartthrobs. As they laid into their set and laughed and bantered with the crowd, groups of girls swooned at every word sung by Keith. Heading toward the end of the festival brought about an indie sway as fresh faced Inspiral Carpets set the 30+ age group in the crowd into a nostalgic trip to years gone by, standout song being Saturn5. Paving the way for festival headliners, James, it was an almost perfect introduction. James are like a fine wine, the just get better with age. Tim Booth’s vocals and crazy dancing sum up the passion behind the band. As the night sky covered the sparkling festival site, it was time to bid adieu to Kendal Calling.

Once again Kendal Calling pulled out all the stops to provide a fun filled weekend. From the variety of stages to the real ales on offer and teas for those needing a bit of a pep up, there was dancing, singing and despite growing in size, it still hasn’t lost its intimacy. Whilst other festivals may have lost their way in 2012, Kendal Calling has gone from strength to strength…Guess we’ll be seeing you in the fields 2013.