Nestled away in the rolling fields surrounding the sleepy village of Standon, lies a well-kept hidden gem of the festival season…envisage the perfect garden party and you’re close to comprehending the spectacle that is Standon Calling. With the best up-and-coming bands, established DJs, an outdoor pool and the poshest portable loos around, this three-day event was an all-round triumph from start to finish.
Firstly, hats off to Alex, the festival organiser, as eight years on from the barbeque that started it all off he has managed to bag himself possibly one of the most enviable line-ups of all the independent festivals this year. With four separate areas to indulge in it was a tough call deciding where to spend time. The Main Stage hosted big name headline acts and showcased a wide variety of new bands. The Shogun stage was a haven for the newest soon-to-be-big artists around and the Lordship tent housed a range of spoken word and acoustic talent. Finally there was the ‘Love Hotel’ – a riotous converted cow-shed which came alive at night once the bands had packed up for the evening.
The first day of the festival kicked things off perfectly (despite headliners The Mystery Jets having to pull out due to illness). Moving up the bill to take the coveted spot were indie/electro/new-rave geniuses Late of the Pier who provided an electric, if not slightly dark set due to lighting issues. Preceding them were the much talked about duo Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip who put on an animated performance which got the party atmosphere going as night fell. To compensate for their no-show, what was left of the Mystery Jets played a non-scheduled DJ set in the Lordship tent which was radical to say the least, with cat suit-wearing men dancing on pool tables and drunken revellers swinging from chandeliers.
Day two was dress-up day with a Japanese theme – think geishas, Harajuku girls and Kamikaze pilots. It also brought another feast of musical delight with some impressive independent artists playing on the main stage. One of which was nine-piece The Bookhouse Boys whose atmospheric set more than confirmed there soon-to-be-big status. Also deserved of a mention are London-based Imperial Leisure - by far one of the most entertaining acts of the day with their hybrid of ska, rap and punk. Their energy was infectious, prompting a mass jumping session which even the coolest of the cool kids joined in with.
Rounding the live acts off for the day were Brighton boys The Maccabees, who as ever excelled with their romantic yet danceable indie-pop, causing havoc amongst the front rows. But the night was still young and afterwards there was a manic sprint to the ‘Love Hotel’ to catch the last half of the legendary Eddie Temple-Morris’ DJ set.
In true festival spirit the third and final day brought a lot of rain (and a lot of sore heads as the partying went on until 6am the night before…). Nevertheless most people had emerged from their tents by 2pm to catch hotly tipped Wild Beasts who mesmerised the crowd with their haunting tunes.
Continuing the much talked about artists theme, next up were Kentish town siblings Kitty Daisy and Lewis who played an outstanding set, justly demonstrating their inspiring musical talent. Belting out their original rockabilly/blues style music and using an array of instruments this band truly impressed and left the stage to demands of an encore from the admiring crowd.
Wales' finest the Super Furry Animals had the honour of ending this memorable event – a perfect end to a perfect weekend. Overall I think it is more than fair to say that Standon Calling has got the whole small-scale festival thing down to an art. So keep your eye out for the discounted early-bird 2009 tickets as if this year is anything to go by you certainly won’t be disappointed.