After downpours during the night, Kendal appeared to be holding its own in the title challenge of wettest festival in the world. Despite the deluge, Saturday turns out to be a lovely sunny day. The approach to the main site from the camp-ground is a sludgy old affair though and the talk is mainly of the tragedy of the drug casualties the previous day and whether or not Snoop will turn up tomorrow.
On the Calling Out stage are the ludicrously named Plastic Mermaids who, being from the Isle of Wight, like bands from many isolated regions plough their own furrow. In appearance, they seem like a strange blend of hipster-fishermen and glam rockers. Their music is similarly odd. Somewhere between dreamy post-rock and indie with chunks of dub-step thrown in for good measure, they turn heads and get people swaying, even so early in the day. Just when you think you've got them figured out, a sequinned figure walks on-stage and starts belting out operatic style refrains before the singing gets sampled and it turns into some sort of crazy nu-rave. Actually fantastic and a great start for what is already feeling like an epic day.
Nick Mulvey is on the main-stage and he's lovely and sweet sounding. Nothing particularly exciting about acoustic rock is there but he seems charming and lovely and he has gorgeous eyes. A particular hit with the ladies apparently and he's very accomplished. Opened the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury last year so he's obviously doing something right.
Now there's a bit of a buzz about Seafret who take a mid-afternoon slot in Calling Out. Honestly, not sure what the fuss is about. If they were a biscuit, they'd be a digestive biscuit, and yes, I hear you say: "Digestives are lovely dunked in a nice cup of tea." But the problem here is that Seafret are already as fucking wet as they're ever going to be.
Forgoing the pleasure of The Horrors, I hang around in the Calling Out tent and I'm glad I did. Turbowolf are just the sort of band you need to hear at a festival at some point. Glorious, sleazy, filthy rock n roll with a front man who looks like Frank Zappa only he's raided his mam's wardrobe for the cardigans she daren't wear in polite society any more. Amazing and energetic and a totally crowd-pleasing performance. See this band.
Ella Eyre on the main-stage seems to have a memory problem: “Are you ok, Kendal Calling?” She shouts in between songs. In between every single song. About a hundred times. I lost count. It's probably all the bouncing around she does because she's up and down that stage like a dervish in a understated, yet still slightly outrageous, and probably very expensive ensemble of clothing. Urban and edgy and one of the bright young things of the moment, she suited the warm summer day perfectly.
Dutch Uncles have been on my musical radar for a while now but I haven't managed to see them live. Quite the force to be reckoned with and the tent is full. Singer Duncan Wallis throws shapes all over the place. I'm not sure those sort of moves are legal but it's a festival so let's let that go. All falsetto singing and synthpop with jarring time signatures. Great performance.
The big line-up change of the weekend was that Kodaline were replaced last minute with Super Furry Animals. This, my friends, was the icing on the Kendal mint-cake for people with taste and a complete blow for one young girl who asked me if it was true. Disappoint in her eyes and despite my attempts to tell her that fate had done her a favour, she didn't look convinced.
True to quirky form, Gruff Rhys and the boys entered stage right wearing white boiler suits and got straight into it. Putting on a Power Rangers helmet (I think), Gruff wanders to the drum riser and sits down, singing with a microphone positioned on the side of his head. A solid set with all the goofy antics that have endeared them to so many, for so long. Encoring with 'The Man Don't Give a Fuck' underlines their genius and, to my mind, national treasure status.
Elbow have always been an odd band. They set sail on the Seas of Average many years ago, perennial also-rans until That Album with That Song came out. Guy Garvey undoubtedly is a fine lyricist and a lovely, lovely man by all accounts and this goes a long way to worm your way into your affections. All waving arms and reaching towards the crowd, he's a master of engagement and inclusiveness. 'On a Day Like This' is dropped in relatively early and for many, it will be the only song of Elbow's that is immediately recognisable. As such, there is a huge response and the noise will have been heard on the other side of the Pennines. To my mind, Elbow can play a two hour set to die-hard fans without a problem but for a festival, I'm not so sure. And they had competition.
At Calling Out, Public Service Broadcasting are thonking through their set of plundered archive soundbites backed by nineties style big-beat. I don't pause. You don't need to know about Public Service Broadcasting; such is their omnipresence at virtually every single festival in the country this year. You can make your own mind up. For what it's worth, one of my friends watched them and she said they were brilliant.
Up on the Jack Rocks Woodlands Stage – it's a rock stage, in the woods, sponsored by Jack Daniels' – British Sea Power are going for it in a sea of red and white light. It's difficult to get close but they're mesmerising and I stand there until the end as do their die-hard fans.
A truly wonderful day with some massive highs is brought to a beautiful end with a walk through the very special 'Lost Eden' where installations and sculptures are illuminated in the trees and theatrical performances are enacted. Really enchanting and a great addition to the festival.
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Kendal Calling 2017 review