As the rest of the country was getting over the riots festival-goers flocked to the Hertfordshire countryside to experience the theme of Gods and Monsters.
I caught Zun Zun Egui on the main stage, who provided a relatively quiet start to the day with their quirky afrobeat music. They are really different as they mixed traditional African vibes with thrashing guitars and it had the littleuns bouncing about the place; their stage presence was absent though and made the act lose something.
Costumes were starting to make their way out of tents as the day progressed, and some people had taken the theme literally while others used a twist. There was the obvious such as God and Cleopatra figures to more obscure ones such as Maradonna. The monster theme produced lots of Elmos, Monster Munch characters, and more controversial ones such as Josef Fritzl, paedophile priests and I even saw a looter!
After grabbing a bite to eat from the extensive food choices I watched Canadian indie trio, Born Ruffians, after being lured over by the familiar sounds of their tune 'Hummingbird'. The tent was nicely filled up and they were a great, fun act to watch with their playful guitar riffs and unusual voices.
Other onsite activities included a Healing area, which offered massages, as well as yoga and spiritual activities. There was an ample kid's area next to the swimming pool, and the performing arts Heritage Arts Company were present with an immersive theatre experience inside a derelict building.
I was lured to the main stage by Baxter Drury, son of Ian, and what a character he is! There was a Happy Mondays feeling about him and his music jumped from hypnotic to a Britpop style. He's a definite showman and as soon as he spotted a reveller with a 10 foot style demon costume, he asked him to come to front of stage so he could sing the next song straight into his eyes, after declaring "I'm going to call you Max!"
He finished his set with 'Cocaine Man', which actually put me into a semi-trance with the deadpan lyrics and haunting chorus.
He was followed by another great stage presence: American poet/MC Saul Williams who took to the stage to a field that was now brimming with people, and launched into a soliloquy that covered every famous person, thing, issue that could be thought of. He spat his lyrics out to the audience, stern faced with immense passion, and it honestly had the field mesmerized.
More people stood up or joined the crowd and watched him with intent and by the time hed finished the crowd erupted into applause and reverence.
He took a break to refer to the riots, "Your country has been in the headlines worldwide at the moment. It's special that you guys took the opportunity to dress up like this, showing in all this shit, the power of imagination still remains."
Lamb was the headliner and took to the main stage under a beautiful evening sky in front of a packed field. The angelic Louise Rhodes came onstage and apologized for having a cold and feeling poorly but expressed "I've been looking at the costumes all day. I'm loving it! The power of Lemsip is going to get me through this tonight!"
The duo then played a full set of their electro fused anthems with Rhodes providing the melodic lyrics beautifully, considering her illness, much to the obvious delight of the audience.
After the set, high as a kite, I floated over to Poo-Narnia... yes, you heard right. This was the ultimate toilet experience boasting the cleanest toilets onsite with a live DJ outside providing music, toilets and/or shoutouts for a small fee. It was my favourite thing at the festival as the DJ had been on form all day and was happily playing dancefloor classics to people gathered outside the cubicles!
Unfortunately I had to leave next morning due to food poisoning (noodles and prawns was a bad choice) but I wasn't actually that bothered. It was a great experience but something was missing from Standon this year, and the news that they had been giving away free tickets last minute, shocked me beyond doubt but didn't fully surprise me.
Hopefully when original organiser Alex Trenchard returns to the festival it will be back to its old epic self but I still enjoyed the inventiveness of it.
review by: Fiona Madden
photos by: Fiona Madden
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