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Kendal Calling 2011 Review

For those of you who aren?t aware of this little festival?s existence, it is based in Lowther Deer Park in the Lake District. A serene and refreshing location for a festival, it brings together half a dozen stages jammed full of both mainstream and lesser known artistic talent, from music to comedy, poetry to circus acts. It was awarded ?Best Small Festival? last year at the UK festival awards, as voted by the public. This list is an overview of my highlight artists from the 2011 weekend.
6 The Lancashire Hotpots
Achtung Gravy

6. The Lancashire Hotpots ? This unruly mob of Lancastrians played the slightly smaller Kaylied Stage in 2010, and drew crowds that spilled out of the tent and across the field, so it was no wonder that they were invited back to play the Main Stage this year on the Sunday afternoon. Their sense of humour, mixed with country infused songs such as ?I Fear Ikea? and ?He?s Turned Emo? roused the audience out of their mid-afternoon lull, and geared them up for the bigger acts ahead. It goes without saying that their musicianship wasn?t the most exquisite of the weekend, but who cares when they?re singing about smuggling sweets into a cinema, whilst dressed as pirates?
5Sonic Boom Six
City of Thieves

5. Sonic Boom Six ? The evening of the Saturday night was unfortunately a bit hazy due to the lure of the real ale tent, but these guys stood out as one of the night?s best acts. Their set drew in those kids whose headbanging and circle-pitting quota hadn?t quite been filled by Echo & The Bunnymen. Their King Blues-esque ska punk was a bit divisive, with the older audience standing outside the tent tutting at the band?s social commentary, whilst young teens beat the shit out of each other at the front of the stage. Whichever way you looked at it though, their set was incredibly energetic and had the audience worked up into a frenzy by the end of the night.
4Zero 7
Simple Things

4. Sophie Barker ? Whilst meandering around the campsite with a couple of friends, we came across possibly the smallest tent of the festival. The ?Get it Loud in Libraries? stage had sofas and tables where you could listen to singer/songwriters and poets, slightly away from the mayhem of the larger stages. We caught Sophie Barker by chance, and had no idea that she was one of the vocalists who collaborates with Zero 7 until she sang a brilliant acoustic version of their hit ?Destiny?. With a criminally small audience of around 20, she gave a great performance and was deserving of a larger stage.
3Vintage Trouble
Bomb Shelter Sessions

3. Vintage Trouble ? I had no idea who this band were until a friend I was at the festival with told me about them, having seen them recently on ?Later... with Jools Holland?. She dragged me along early on the Sunday to see them, and although my head felt slightly delicate, I was glad she did. They had played on a smaller stage the previous night and had continued until the small hours of the morning. Word had apparently got out that they were worth seeing, as they had a large crowd in attendance, especially considering they were first out on the Main Stage. The vocalist did a hell of a job, with a hint of Chuck Berry to his voice, and more than a pinch of Prince to his stage antics. A tight performance from the band (with what looked the spitting image of Viggo Mortensen on drums) and very catchy songs ensured they stuck in the crowd?s memory. Also, kudos to them for having the most sincere and least self-indulgent Amy Winehouse tribute of the weekend.
2Chase and Status
More Than Alot

2. Chase & Status ? I wasn?t sure what to expect from one of the UK?s most popular electronic duos on the Friday night, as their impressive plethora of guest artists was always going to prove awkward to translate into a live performance. However, for every song they played, there was a pre- recorded video of each guest artist played simultaneously, which was integrated seamlessly into the pair?s set. The addition of MC Rage kept the audience ticking along nicely between songs, without being too intrusive. Although I was personally disappointed by the lack of fan favourites ?Running? and ?End Credits?, the appearance of Liam Bailey on stage for a rendition of ?Blind Faith? was a welcome addition, and the video and light show created an electric atmosphere, setting a fantastic tone for the rest of the weekend.
1Frank Turner
England Keep My Bones

1. Frank Turner ? Sunday afternoon was what I had been waiting for. Following The Lancashire Hotpots, one might have thought Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls would have trouble keeping the audience?s attention after such an amusing act. Having previously seen Frank Turner live though, I knew what to expect. His energy and passion are both infamous and infectious, as was witnessed by a crowd that grew immensely throughout his set, drawing more and more people in from the surrounding tents. Kicking his performance off with ?Eulogy?, the mood was set for the next hour and a quarter as he ripped through the most popular of his songs with enthusiasm. He always seems to do so, but once again he came across like a really nice guy to the audience, engaging in banter and singalongs, but just about managing to avoid the clichés of being a front man. The finale of ?Photosynthesis?, where he got several thousand people to sit down on the field, and then jump up and go mental at the chorus, was one of, if not the highlight of the weekend.
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