Last weekend Standon Calling came to town. Or more precisely, to the village. For within the glorious fields of Hertfordshire Standon’s quaint community played host to various bands and artists across 3 days. With the theme ‘A Town of Two Faces’ the cow fields of Standon were transformed into a miniature Western, with everything from a sheriff’s jail to a mock bank. The layout included an array of different food vendors (Mac ‘n’ cheese option: Kanye Western, anyone?), several bars (or should I say saloons?) and activities ranging from trapeze lessons to swimming. For a low-key festival, this is definitely one where you get your money’s worth. While unable to witness the whole event On Record were lucky enough to check out Saturday’s performances.
With the first sun of August spilling across the main stage Do Me Bad Things (reformed veterans from the 2005 debut of Standon Calling) were first to rouse the crowd. The nine-piece blues/soul/metal band from Croydon gave an energetic performance, with special mention to ‘The Song Rides’, ‘Time for Deliverance’ and ‘What’s Hideous’ (Check them out on YouTube!). Chantal Brown’s vocals and Richard Aldhurst’s guitar propelled the band to the kind of show-stopper that should have seen them on the Main Stage later in the evening. With the puzzling shame that was their early disbandment in 2006 it’s at least a comfort to know that they’re back to their old ways again.
Away from the main stage there was plenty going on, with the BBC Introducing tent hiding away some exciting new bands. Southend’s Youth Club made the most of an early afternoon slot and turned out a session that saw RnB vocals crisply floating over guitar driven pop. With an intimate tent vibe songs such as ‘Breathe’ and ‘I’ll Give You My All’ seemed even more personal with the crowd.
Early evening and the BBC Introducing tent saw Nova Twins give such a ferocious and heavy performance that the frenzied crowd (consisting of families and middle aged goers) demanded an encore, which genuinely seemed to surprise the band. Georgia and Amy’s brand of heavy bass and guitar mixed attitude soaked hip-hop/metal inspired vocals and definitely made them a highlight on par with The Dandy Warhols. Fingers crossed there’s an EP/album in the pipeline.
After a mellow session from The Antlers, the main stage saw Slaves energetically attempt to buoy the crowd. With that in mind the two-piece from Tunbridge Wells gave a committed performance, full of the heavy riffed/simple lyrics they’re becoming known for, yet the crunch of Laurie Vincent’s guitar unfortunately seemed absent. Not a fault of the band, but it’s something that will mark their performance unmemorable in the years to come.
The Coup de grâce of the day’s events came in the neo-psychedelia of The Dandy Warhols. With the silent buzz of the crowd Courtney Taylor-Taylor and Co figuratively blew them away with a sawn off shotgun of love, and a couple of scuzzy Molotov cocktails. Their set consisted of a balanced mix of old and new songs, with the likes of ‘I Love You’, ‘We Used to be Friends’ and ‘Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth’ some of the highlights. However, it was their take on ‘Godless’, the opening track to ‘Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia’, that really stole the show, with the band drafting in a member of The Specials on trumpet duties. Although The Dandy Warhols seemed to some to just be a one hit wonder (mainly the drunkards), their ability far escapes the likes of ‘Bohemian Like You’. Their set illustrated a mature band with a beautifully rock’n’roll past that they’re not ashamed to re-live on stage.
Standon Calling may not be high on the radar of regular festival goers, but here’s hoping with this year’s showing that there’ll be a new buzz. As low-key festivals go, there’s a lot of positives: 30 minutes outside of London, attract big bands (The Horrors, Roots Manuva, Basement Jaxx) and they know how to get the most out of the other events within the festival. All in all well worth pencilling in your diary for next April when early bird tickets go on sale.