Kendal Calling 2017 review

We headed up to the Lake District to witness the madness of Kendal Calling's 12th year for ourselves.

Amelia Ward

Last updated: 3rd Aug 2017.
Originally published: 1st Aug 2017

Image: Stereophonics at Kendal Calling (credit Jody Hartley)

Having entered its 12th year, Kendal Calling is a small festival that has proven time and time again it has the staying power and potential of the big players. With a host of new features this year, including Tangerine Fields' pre-pitched tents, and the Kraken Rum Tiki Bar amongst the stunning art installations at the Lost Eden, it's clear that Kendal's expansion is showing no signs of stopping.

Nestled in the heart of the Lake District, the festival welcomes a family audience, with a Kids Calling area dedicated to children, as well as a cinema showing family classics. Careful not to lean too far either way, the party crowd are kept happy with some of the world's best bands and DJs, as well as the late night offering at the Glow Tent, which has seen the likes of Andrew Weatherall, Roni Size and Skream grace the stage in previous years.

Heading up to the Lakes on Friday, after battling the queues and mud in the campsite, we headed down to the Main Stage to catch the classics and some new material from indie pop queen Kate Nash, ahead of her UK tour, followed by a high energy set from Australia's Britpop inspired DMA's.

Over in Kendal's Glow Tent, Manchester's Mr Scruff stood in for an absent Jungle, while Loyle Carner delivered a stellar set from his Mercury Award nominated album Yesterday's Gone.

Closing the Main Stage on Friday were Wales' national treasures Stereophonics, who pulled in a mammoth crowd, reportedly the biggest in the festival's history, to enjoy a hit filled set complete with pyrotechnics. Delivered with the professionalism and class that you would expect from one of the country's most loved and long standing artists, the Main Stage area was completely packed out and the performance rapturously received by the well-versed crowd.

There is a lot to be said for the community spirit of Kendal Calling; a festival where you see 5-year-olds raving to some of the country's best up and coming grime and the dad crowd discovering their new favourite band in a young indie group. The organisers seem to strike the right balance in their bookings and areas to attract a varied but respectful demographic.

This was definitely the case with Saturday's billing. The Main Stage was again packed out for Reverend and the Makers' early doors set, which saw a mass singalong to 'Heavyweight Champion of the World'. Continuing the strong Manchester congregation at Kendal were This Feeling favourites, The Blinders and Stockport's Rory Wynne in the peacock themed House Party tent, as well as a DJ set from Tim Burgess in his own Tim Peaks Diner.

A stand out performance on Saturday came from Edinburgh four piece Indigo Velvet. Their indie based tropical pop, frenetic live performance and Hawaiian shirts gave a lift on a rainy afternoon in the Woodlands.

Other than an epic Main Stage closer from another of The Valleys' living legends Manic Street Preachers, Saturday night was all about the Glow Tent, with King Of The North, Manchester's Bugzy Malone's high octane set followed by Mike Skinner and People Just Do Nothing stars, the radio station collective Kurupt FM. The queue for Mike Skinner's set overflowed into the fields as he dropped jungle and DnB classic after classic. 

Despite the weather and mud, spirits didn't seem dampened, with the final day crowd up, out and ready for more music. Sunday started with an early set from Manchester rock n roll quartet Sauce, whose classic rock 'n' roll grooves filled the House Party stage. Moving over to the Main Stage, a huge crowd had gathered for St Helens' Stillia. The lads have risen fast over the past year, gearing up to join the legendary Ocean Colour Scene on their world tour in November.

Word of a secret set from The Coral spread fast, and Tim Peaks Diner was predictably packed out as the Wirral favourites played a five song acoustic performance, including 'In The Morning' and 'Dreaming Of You', to the lucky few that made it in.

Next up was a special instrumental appearance from The Charlatan's Pete Salisbury and Martin Blunt, and Nick McCabe from The Verve, their first time playing together in 10 years. The pair were joined by Screamadelica singer Denise Johnson for a stirring version of Verve classic 'Rolling People'. 

Another highlight came from alt blues indie princes Palace, whose laid back etherealism was a welcome antidote to the frenzy of the rest of the festival. 

All in all, Kendal Calling truly succeeds in being a family friendly festival, while maintaining a varied selection of both established and up and coming artists from across the genres. The festival continues to grow while truly keeping hold of its independent feel and the genuine care and attention that goes into all aspects from the organisers is clear. 2018's preparations are already underway and we can't wait to see what is in store for us next time. 

Festivals 2017