Standon Calling 2008 - Rated!

United Kingdom United Kingdom | | 05 August 2008

Overall – 8/10

With a killer line-up that included Super Furry Animals, Late of the Pier and the Maccabees amongst others, and a 2500 maximum capacity, Standon Calling is a perfect example of a small festival getting it absolutely right. From the dress-up competition to the releasing of Japanese lanterns into the Sunday night sky, everything about this event gave it that little extra something that sets it out as one of the best on offer this year. Actual flushable toilets and hand lotion were a nice touch too.

Getting There and Back – 8/10

Free shuttle buses ran from Ware station, only a short ride from London and other main towns and cities in the east, every hour on the Friday and Saturday and then took worn out revellers back on Monday morning. So they were a little late at times but with friendly staff keeping you informed at regular intervals, it’s hard to begrudge them a few minutes here and there.

The Site – 8/10

No massive treks from stage to stage here as everything is so close together. It probably takes about five minutes to walk around the whole “arena” site, so running between stages to catch those must-see bands isn’t an issue. The campsite being situated right next to the main field is also handy, minimising the long, painful stumble back to the tent after a few too many.

Atmosphere – 10/10

With such a small capacity the atmosphere is super laidback and friendly. You’re guaranteed to bump into everyone you’ve met countless times across the weekend what with the tiny field everything is set in. Even late at night there’s none of the nastiness that can appear at other events, if anything it’s even friendlier.

Music – 7/10

A varied and eclectic line-up means there’s something for pretty much everyone, from the shouty experimental punk of Pre to the melancholy pop of Evi Vine and everything in between. There’s not only a great mixture of genres but also of established and lesser-known groups, providing punters with endless opportunities to discover some new music.

Uppers

Johnny Foreigner

Playing songs from their debut album ‘Waited Up ‘Til It Was Light’, the Birmingham noise-pop trio are overwhelming. Raw, raucous and ridiculously fun, songs like ‘Salt, Peppa and Spinderella’ and ‘Yr All Just Jealous’ make Friday night. It all ends too soon, as time really does fly when you’re having fun – the campaign for Johnny Foreigner to headline starts here.

Sebastian Horsley

Tucked away in the Lordship tent, Sebastian Horsley entertains the small audience gathered before him, reading from his book ‘Dandy in the Underworld’ and telling stories that you wouldn’t dream of repeating in front of your mother. Outrageously politically incorrect, Horsley has the crowd in stitches with his seedy anecdotes and witty one-liners.

The Mae Shi

LA experimental punks bring the noise to the main stage, playing tracks off their latest album ‘HLLLYH’, as well as delving into their vast back catalogue. Guitarist Jeff Byron starts the set from the crowd, returning back there a few times throughout the group’s performance which includes stellar renditions of ‘Vampire Beats’ and ‘Run to your Grave’.

Glasvegas

Having recently been described as the ‘best new band in Britain’, you’d probably expect a blinding forty minute set that had your jaw on the floor for the entire duration. Glasvegas don’t quite provide that but they are responsible for the spine-tingling moment of the festival, namely the heartbreaking, gut-wrenching ‘Daddy’s Gone’, which is made all the more special when front man James Allan stops singing and lets the crowd do the work for him. Faux Scottish accents never sounded so beautiful.

Johnny Flynn

A small contingent of revellers brave the rain to watch as the fresh-faced and extremely talented Johnny Flynn takes to the main stage to play songs from his first record, ‘A Larum’. Songs like ‘Leftovers’ and ‘Tickle Me Pink’ are almost enough to make you forget how wet you’re getting, but not quite.

Downers

They Came From the Stars, I Saw Them

Is this the most awful pop ever? Quite possibly. Some bands with silly names are good – not these. Like Klaxons crossed with Jack Penate minus any of the ideas, They Came From the Stars, I Saw Them are exactly the sort of people who need to realise playing synths does not automatically make you cool. Or good.

Wild Beasts

Wild Beasts actually make some quite interesting music. Shame, then, that they go and ruin it with bursts of falsetto vocals over the top and completely destroy what was a perfectly good pop song. The live performance of said songs leaves a lot to be desired too, with the quartet playing a mundane set like their just going through the motions.

Ipso Facto

Hotly tipped doesn’t always mean the musicians in question are actually that great. Ipso Facto, four girls dressed in monochrome patterns and black lipstick stand on the Shogun stage and, well, stand. There’s little difference between most of their songs to the casual listener and the lack of charisma or stage presence makes the whole thing as dull as the grey skies outside.

Florence & the Machine

Don’t get me wrong, the girl’s got an amazing voice and some fun, catchy pop songs up her sleeve but there’s something about her that feels a little contrived. Florence darts around the stage in what looks like a vintage wedding dress and talks to the crowd in between songs in a monotonous drawl that is blatantly put on.

Los Campesinos!

‘Hold On Now, Youngster’ is one of the records of 2008 so far, no doubt about it. But having just announced the release date for their second album this October, it would be totally awesome if they could perhaps play some new songs. No? Having to make do with all those songs you’ve heard before is not that bad really - Los Camp! know how to make everything sound super fun even after you’ve heard it a million times – but such teasing is a little unfair.

by Rhian Daly

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