It’s an argument that can end relationships and break up groups of friends. What festival really does have THE best line up this year?
Whilst people have spent the summer jumping between Reading, Glastonbury and T In The Park, the answer has been in a small set of fields 30 minutes north of London all this time.
Standon Calling marked it’s 10th birthday with a line up that can only be described with one word; genius. The variation of music, nightclubs, djs and stages is something I have never seen at any other festival and probably never will. From Cuban legends Buena Vista Social Club to the epic sounds of These New Puritans they proved NME correct after they said; “It’s a festival that practically defines the term critically acclaimed”. Oh, and it has an onsite swimming pool!
We Used To Make Things
The band that were lucky enough to open up this fantastic festival had come all the way through the ‘Road To Standon’ competition. After the final of the competition on the Thursday night it was the fantastic ‘We Used To Make Things’ who came out on top.
The stage was packed with a variety of instruments, and people, and after only a few songs they had the healthy early crowd swaying, dancing and even singing to stand out track ‘Yes Man (no no no)’. With it’s beautiful summery chorus and clever lyrics there was already an early contender for song of the day. The crowd moved away from the stage after the band said goodbye and choruses of ‘Yes Man’ could be heard all around the site for the next ten minutes.
They were a breath of fresh air into today’s modern pop scene and fully deserved the opening slot at such a critically acclaimed festival.
It was then time to catch one of the most talked about bands of the first day. ‘Jonquil’ have been attracting quite a lot of attention over the course of the year and they found themselves playing the simply beautiful crooked house stage. With it’s huge wooden beams holding the tent up and amazing attention to detail in the decoration it was difficult to keep your eyes on the bands.
After battling our way through the entrance and finding a position towards the back of the packed tent it became very clear just why the band are becoming so popular. With their own brilliant take on fast paced electro pop riffs not dissimilar to those used by Foals and more recently Two Door Cinema Club they get the crowd dancing instantly. As well as comparisons with Foals they take brave steps in their own direction that lead to some fantastically unique pop gems that will be gracing indie dance floors in the coming months.
The band, led by singer Hugo Manuel, deliver each song with the kind of energy that is missing from a lot of modern artists and Hugo’s vocals are nothing short of perfect. Highlight of the set comes in the form of the brilliant piece of pop genius ‘Fighting Smiles’ that could be likened to bands such as Bloc Party, Foals, Bombay Bicycle Club at the same time as keeping their own ‘Jonquil’ uniqueness ever present.
It was then time for one of the several acts I was really looking forward to over the weekend. Factory Floor are a dark electro/post punk outfit from London and are another one of those acts who are starting to really force their way into the spotlight. They walk onstage with their heads bowed and immediately fly straight into their first electro heavy song. The songs were beautifully dark and epic whilst at the same time making it impossible for anyone who found themselves in the tent not to dance.
Some songs lasted several minutes and drew you in with every change of pace and beat. The 8 minute epic ‘Wooden Box’ was one of the highlights of the set and almost felt as if you were witnessing a piece of Crystal Castles music being edited and sung over by The Horrors. The use of the live drums made a subtle but vital difference adding atmosphere and volume that could have been missing without them.
Highlight of the set however was the beautifully dark ‘Lying’. The lead female vocals sound like a darker, more emotional Morrisey and that teamed with an irresistible electro beat and a thunderous lead guitar made for a quite unbelievable atmosphere.
After a trip to the swimming pool (at a festival? Yes.) and the live karaoke performed with a live band (genius) it was time for the band I was looking forward to most on the Friday.
Metronomy are one of those bands that might not have broken massively into the ‘mainstream world’ but maybe for us fans that’s a good thing. They bring their irresistible, electro pop, pieces of genius to the main stage just as night begins to fall and as they walk on stage there is a barrage of people flying towards to front.
I really would struggle to think of an act I would rather see at this time, on this stage and in this environment. The atmosphere and dancing of the crowd was like no other festival, there were no fourteen year olds ruining everybody’s fun at the front (like there will be at their set at Reading and Leeds) and the live show Metronomy put on is something I would urge any music lover to see.
Playing a set consisting of mostly songs of their fantastic debut album ‘Nights Out’ they delivered an obvious contender for set of the festival. ‘My Heart Rate Stupid’ provoked some sort of huge dance off whilst the simply sublime ‘Heartbreaker’ gets the biggest cheer of the night as well as the biggest sing a long of the day. In between the silly dancing and jumping you realise just how talented these guys are, the vocal strength of each and every member is almost unbelievable and the way their music flows effortlessly from verse to chorus is uncanny.
‘A Thing For Me’ gets the kid of reaction you would expect as the whole of the crowd sing back the opening few lines to the band before they return the favour by playing a beefed up faster version of the fan favourite.
The variation of headliners at Standon Calling this year was absolutely amazing. The Friday night main stage headliners were the epic rock trio ‘Liars’ from America. Renowned for their live shows and intense atmospheric take on rock music it was a show not to be missed.
Recent album Sisterworld received critical acclaim from every possible direction and they gave the Standon Calling audience first hand proof as to why this was. Lead singer Angus Andrew prowls the stage in the opening of the epic ‘Scissor’ starring out at crowd almost teasing them before the rest of the band kick into the huge chorus sending the crowd, for lack of a better phrase, completely bonkers.
They manage to show off their varying sounds over the course of their set but it’s definitely the songs of ’Sisterworld’ that receive the best reaction. ’Here Comes All The People’ is one of the scariest live songs you will ever here whilst at the same time being strangely beautiful. It’s a song a lot of the crowd, and myself, were really looking forward to and it didn’t disappoint. As the song slowly builds you can sense the crowd waiting for the song to kick into life, and when it does you do fear for anybody at the front.
Highlight of the set is undoubtedly the slightly slower ‘No Barrier Fun’ that receives a fantastic reaction and a large sing a long. It’s a piece of music that deserves so much more recognition that it receives and is by far one of the best tracks of the last 18 months.
As the band walk off everyone manages to catch their breath and try and make sense of what they have just seen, and what it what was pure genius. They could have possibly benefited from playing a smaller more intimate stage making the atmospheric side to their music more accessible but they delivered, my god they delivered.
Song of the day- No Barrier Fun- Liars
Set of the day- Metronomy
Day 1 - 9/10
By Harry Moore