the relaxed Standon Calling draws to a chilled out close

Standon Calling 2009 review

published: Thu 6th Aug 2009

Easy Star All Stars

Friday 31st July to Sunday 2nd August 2009
Standon, Ware, Hertfordshire, SG11 1PR, England MAP
adult £89 for a weekend ticket with camping, teen (13-17) £65, 12 and under free
daily capacity: 2000
last updated: Wed 27th May 2009

The final day of the festival started with many festival-goers taking part in a makeshift pool party with the underwater sound system blaring, although there were mixed views over whether the music underwater was clear or not. However this was not a major problem as the novelty of being able to jump into a pool at a festival overrode this small issue.

The first act I had the pleasure of seeing (whilst queuing for lunch with the rest of the festival-goers at the limited food vendors) was Babyhead. This musical collective specialises in ska music tinged with hip hop and garage beats. Their performance was not mind-blowing but suited the late-start feeling of the day that most parents with children and other hung-over sufferers were experiencing.

Although there was no-one crowded around the main stage where they were playing, the surrounding field was scattered with bodies chilling out and nodding their heads along to the cool beats and ska sounds. The set was played out very professionally but would have been lost in a more vast setting as their tunes were all very 'samey'.

around the festival site (2)
Up in the Galileo tent, I managed to catch the end of Gay Bingo, which I was more curious of than anything else. When I walked into the tent it all became clear as three transvestites called out Bingo numbers in an extremely camp fashion to a room full of eager players.

After the Bingo there was another round of Rockaoke, just as the day before, and an astonishing number of people grappled to the front to have their chance at belting at their favourite tune with the help of the full backing band. I also took a wander into the Kid's Area where a traditional style Punch & Judy show was being played out in front of a packed group of extremely excited children who thought the whole thing was hilarious... it was quite funny, even for an adult!

around the festival site (3)
I also took this free time to have a bit of a chill out and discovered the Bacardi cocktail bar, surrounded with huge wooden tables and stalls, which leads me to say that although there was a severe lack of food options at the festival, there was an amazing amount of bars (5 within the small grounds), where you could buy anything from wine and cider to a wide range of spirits and even champagne; queuing for a drink at this festival was never an issue!

I caught Micachu and the Shapes playing in the Apollo tent next and it was probably my least favourite performance of the festival. Although I'd heard of these guys before and vaguely knew what they were about, I wasn't impressed and I found myself thinking that I just didn't get it at times.

Micachu and the band had a selection of instruments to mess about with including her tiny guitars, the drummer's half 'standard' and half homemade drum set, and the electronic keyboard and synthesizers.

Firstly, the venue seemed to dwarf them as their music seemed fade away into it, which meant that everyone had to gather relatively close to the stage. Throughout the performance people drifted in and out and although there were a handful of people having a dance, it was the least monumental performance I had seen at the festival. It changed from being a mixture of what seemed like noise to 'nothing' music that left very little impression.

Easy Star All Stars
Easy Star All Stars were the act I saw next on the main stage and as their performance continued and grew, so did the crowd. There's no denying that these guys have done some amazing reggae versions of classic music and albums, and they played out some great classics to the sing-along crowd such as, The Beatles classics 'With a Little Help from My Friends', 'When I'm 64', and a particularly spine-tingling performance of 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds'.

They also performed their own tracks from their only album of their own songs, which went down well with the swaying crowd. The lead singer, adorned in colours of the Caribbean, jumped from one corner of the stage to the other giving the crowd a run for their money with his grinding hip movements and energized dancing.

The whole band held together the performance in their own way with the lead female, Joanne Williams, singing with her lilting voice and perfect harmonies; as well as the brass players and the extremely cool main bassist, Ras I Ray, bouncing along to the smooth beats.

As they introduced their last song, there was a chorus of boos from the crowd, prompting them to declare "We've only got time for one more. Take it up with the authorities!"

Their final tune was their version of 'Karma Police', which had the whole crowd swaying in unison, including the younger children at the front on their parents' shoulders. As they introduced the whole band and played their instruments to the last moment before leaving the stage, I was pretty sure that they had been the highlight of the festival, along with Friendly Fires.

I then caught the end of Son of Dave on the Galileo stage, which I wished I had seen the full set of because when I walked in the relatively small but lively crowd was immersed in the folksy ambience of clapping their hands along to the harmonica-filled Blues beats that he was playing out and singing along to with his American drawl. He played with the air of an old Rock/folk musician and it was perfect for those festival goers who had had enough of raving and just wanted to enjoy a jaunty, traditional performance.

Unfortunately I missed what was meant to be one of the most exciting acts of the festival in the shape of Femi Kuti and the Positive Force, as I had to leave early but apart from that I was sure I had had the full Standon Calling experience and it has slightly changed my view on festivals for the future.

Everything about this festival was easy – there were no lugging tents across camp and worrying about people stumbling over them in the middle of the night, if you lost something you could be pretty sure that you were going to get it back, and the wide selection of bars meant that you were never far away from a tipple.

Parents with their kids seemed to find it quite easy as well, mainly with the distraction of the Kids Area and the swimming pool, and it really struck me that whether you are a hardcore raver or a mum of three, you can mould the Standon Calling experience to meet your own needs and not infringe on anyone else.

around the festival site (1)
The first minor complaint I have was the lack of food choice especially with their strict rules on bringing food in, however they didn't actually exercise this rule so the best thing would be to bring in a few meals yourself, as the food you could get was actually very nice, especially from the vegetarian stall.

Finally, if you find it hard to get to sleep, you have to bear in mind that this is a boutique festival and therefore everything is very close together and music does not stop playing until about 6am on most days so earplugs might be a good idea!

I know one thing for sure, I am definitely not missing out on Standon Calling next year, as it is the perfect remedy for a cold summer in England and by the end of it I felt as if I was a fully fledged member of the relaxed, friendly and fun-loving Standon family!
review by: Fiona Madden

photos by: Fiona Madden

Friday 31st July to Sunday 2nd August 2009
Standon, Ware, Hertfordshire, SG11 1PR, England MAP
adult £89 for a weekend ticket with camping, teen (13-17) £65, 12 and under free
daily capacity: 2000
last updated: Wed 27th May 2009

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