Standon the shoulders of giants: Standon Calling returns

Lamb at Beautiful Days 2009 by Sara Bowrey
Lamb at Beautiful Days 2009 by Sara Bowrey

We look ahead to Standon Calling 2011 with who to see, last minute tickets and a Spotify playlist.

Standon Calling? Are there going to be lot of Clashes on the line-up?
Ha ha. The festival site is actually about half an hour out of London, close enough to allow that terrible joke I guess.

So what’s the big idea?
It’s more like a small idea that grew and grew. Much is made of the fact the festival started out as a gathering of 25 friends, with a pool and a BBQ and a set of decks, then the next year someone brought a guitar, the next one they invited some bands, then came a stage and so on. The event’s gone to great lengths to keep a little of its homegrown spirit – there’s still a swimming pool there, one of the few UK festivals to have one.

Cool, I’ll bring my armbands! But it’s in Hertfordshire, what the hell am I going to do when the bands finish?
Well, the festival has a 6am licence, so I don’t think that’s going to be a problem, do you? It’s got its own nightclub in a cowshed and secret areas spring up every night after midnight. If you spy a circle of chestnut trees, you’d be well advised to investigate there too – it means you’ve just found the secret stage!

Hmmm, I’ll have to turn detective to find some of this stuff…
I’m afraid ‘Crime’ was last year festival theme. This year’s is ‘Gods and Monsters’, and as the organisers are asking punters to “dress divine, or as disgustingly as you can conceive”, they’re clearly expecting some fairly crazy interpretations, with “one of Cthulhu’s minions dancing with Margaret Thatcher” one terrifying suggestion of what you might see.

Where’s it happening then?
Standon Calling 2011 will take place in the grounds of a 16th century manor house, Standon Lordship, in Standon, Hertfordshire on 12–14 August. It’s got a bit of a pedigree when it comes to seeing future stars in intimate surroundings too, so keep your eyes peeled!

Examples, please!
Standon Calling has hosted early festival appearances from the likes of Mumford And Sons, Florence And The Machine, Friendly Fires, The Maccabees, Noisettes, Glasvegas and Paloma Faith in the past, which could actually be an entire main stage line-up at a festival in itself these days – not bad eh?

Nice! So who should I see this year?
Why not go with:

The triumph of last album ‘Mirrored’ turned sour with the departure of singer Tyondai Braxton, but instead things are looking up again in a big way with excellent new record ‘Gloss Drop’, made with a troupe of special guest vocalists, and the extra twists and turns it provides make for an ever more head-spinning ride. A compulsive headline set awaits.

Egyptian Hip Hop
Awkward they may be, but you still wouldn’t bet against them joining that list of bands who went on to bigger stages. Having decided to shake off their early hype and disappear to record a debut album in their own time, their recent re-emergence at Glastonbury showed a band moving away from the catchy Cure-isms of early single ‘Rad Pitt’ and into the dense electro-rock of their mentors Late Of The Pier. Who knows what they sound like by now?

John Grant
Having released one of last year’s best albums in solo debut ‘Queen Of Denmark’, ex-Czars singer Grant has taken his wry confessionals on the road, charming new audiences wherever he goes. With strong hints of 70’s soft rock among the sighing wit, close your eyes and you can imagine Elton John, Rufus Wainwright and Ryan Adams huddled round a mic, Band Aid style. 

Rendering Red Bull completely redundant, Dananan are one of the most energetic live bands around and will get you up, smiling and dancing no matter how sore your head is. With new material ready to go, there’ll be some new favourites ready to join in the indie-pop-punk fun, as should you. Do you really want to miss out on the Wall Of Cuddles?

Various Cruelties
Another act that you could well see higher up festival bills in years to come, there’s a soulful touch to their songs that sits well with the laconic, lovelorn Maccabees- esque crooning of singer Liam. If the Arctics in ‘Cornerstone’ mode is your thing, you’ll find much to love here.

Any more stuff I should check out?
Lots – and the VF Standon Calling Spotify playlist is a good way to do it…

So how do I go about getting a ticket?
Adult Weekend Tickets are on sale now, priced at £120, with Teen Tickets going for £100, while kids under 12 get in free.

Click here to buy Standon Calling Tickets

Anything else I should know?
It’s testament to the strength of the line-up that it’s still looking so good when a band of Spiritualized’s calibre has had to pull out, due to J.Spaceman’s illness. No word yet if they’ll be a replacement.