Reviewed: Standon Calling – Down The Rabbit Hole
Photo Credit: Fanatic Creative
Upon arrival at Standon Calling you are instantly hit by the theme this year ‘Tales of the Enchanted Valley’. A giant story book emblazoned with vines, animals, flowers, toadstools and the words Once Upon A Time…induces you to start your magical journey. A short walk down festival flag hill you are home. I set up camp in Lavish Lands which houses it’s own bar, nicer facilities and is a shorter walk to the music. With golden face glitter on I go for a little wonder with my festival compadre Charlotte-Hepworth Bell. The first strip is a grand selection of bars, food stalls and fancy dress/vintage clothing stores. I glimpse the Summer Sensorium and instantly know where I’ll be spending most of the weekend. The area has a grand schedule of holistic classes all weekend which is compounded by a massage tent, SoakLDN’s wood-fired hot tubs/sauna, a hammock area and campfire. What more could you ask for!
I get acquainted with Hendrick’s Perilous Laboratory for the Absorbent of Natural Teachings (P.L.A.N.T) for the first of many times. The laboratorians are dapper and jovial and I end up making sweet, sweet music using cucumbers alongside 7 other people which ends in a cacophony and clash of G&Ts all round. The only stage open on the Thursday is Cindy’s Motel and I enjoy listening to disco licks provided by Uncle Funk & The Boogie Wonderland. A peak is reached when Earth, Wind and Fire – September comes on and I’m left with a cheeky grin at midnight when proceedings end.
Photo Credit: Gobinder Jhitta
Friday starts with Hatha Yoga by Harriet Berry, Qi-Gong by Jody Schroeder and a tarot card reading by Chelsea Needham. I end up chatting and befriending all of the crew at the Summer Sensorium for the next few hours before deciding to explore the rest of the festival site. Nadia Rose is the first act I see on the main stage. Despite her miniature stature she delivers her dancehall-tinged grime tracks with an unexpected ferocity and maintains a strong stage presence throughout. She ends her show with Crank It (Woah!) and the crowd wiles out.
I reconvene with Charlotte and head down to Cindy’s Motel to catch one of my favourite DJs at the festival Maxxi Soundsystem. He first came under my radar whilst I was studying at The University of Manchester with the incredible Regrets We Have No Use For on Hypercolour back in 2012. He hits all the spots from the tribal Manoo & Raoul K feat. Ahmed Sosso – Toukan (Dixon Rework) on Innervisions to his own deep’n’gorgeous release Medicine on Culprit.
This serves as a perfect warm up to the main stage headliner of the day Orbital. With their trademark head-mounted torches shining brightly in the darkness Phil and Paul Hartnoll took the crowd on a journey from their latest single Copenhagen to their ethereal remix of Belinda Carlise’s Heaven Is A Place On Earth to the tripped out slow flotion of Belfast. A marvel to see and easily the best main stage show of the festival.
Photo Credit: Jamie Stockwood
I wondered around hopelessly after Orbital trying to find music to get lost to. The Hospitality takeover was not doing it for me at Cowshed. The crowd at Cindy’s Motel where Idris Elba was playing was overtly young which made me feel like I’d entered a school disco. Stumbling past Tree Bar I found myself roped in by Kid Fiesta playing Jomanda – Got A Love For You (Hurley’s House Mix). All the way to close I’m tripping back in time. Highlights included Do What You Feel (Joey Negro Revival Mix), The Goodfellas Feat. Lisa Millet – Soul Heaven (Pastaboys Bini & Martini Remix) and Swirl People Feat. Ingrid Hakanson – Love Songs (Miles Maeda’s Don’t You Want My Remix). My favourite DJ find of the festival. I’ve been listening to his mixes since coming back to London and they’re all freaking delicious. Trust me.
Saturday starts with midday meditation by Jody Schroeder and a deep tissue massage by Chelsea Needham that effectively gets rid of all the aches in my body. I’m so relaxed that I end up falling back to sleep in a hammock. Chilly Gonzalez. I wake up in time to watch the Costume Parade and buy a blue UV wolf mask from Maskadelic to get into the spirit of things. Whole families are out on show and having a ball in fancy dress…including dogs. This parade makes it clear to me that this is one of the most family friendly festivals I’ve ever experienced.
Photo Credit: Giles Smith and Gobinder Jhitta
Where else can you let kids swim in an outside pool whilst parents get down in the Groove Garden to disco fire provided by London Disco Society? After funkin’ my ass off I head off to watch my pals The Menendez Brothers play a straight 90’s classics dance set at Cowshed. The crowd is singing along and mashing it out in the mud like their lives depended on it. Watching from the booth it’s one of the most energetic crowds I witness at the festival and Charlotte informs me that it’s her favourite set of the festival.
Photo Credit: Fanatic Creative
We end the night with Joe Goddard who I’d interviewed at Field Day earlier in the season. He doesn’t disappoint playing a mixture of trademarks like his remix of Nneka – Shining Star alongside new tracks like Lasers from his latest album Electric Lines.
Sunday is recovery day. The only act I watch is KT Tunstall. Her voice is soulful and soothing. Just what I’m in need of. Her lyrics are powerful and the acoustic indie/rock make a nice change from the electronics I drown myself in on a daily basis. She gets the crowd involved constantly and I enjoy partaking in a field-wide Mexican wave which she kicks off from the stage.
Photo Credit: Giles Smith
I’m barely able to walk after the last few days and decide to slump it out on the most comfortable sofa I can find in The Golden Goose. Some stand up comedy is showing featuring the likes of Sophie Duker, Andy Storey, Tania Edwards and John Robins.
Photo Credit: Giles Smith
I would have loved to have stayed and seen Mike Skinner and Murkage present Tonga, Grace Jones and Faithless in the evening but reality was calling. My last activity at the festival involved melting in a 40 degree hot tub and sweating it out in the roasting sauna with the SoakLDN crewdem at the Summer Sensorium whilst the sun set on the horizon. Refreshed to death I head back home to London, a new man, ready to take on the world. If only re-alignment like this happened every weekend.
Final thought: If you want a festival where you can bring the family, dance with your dogs all day’n’night and somehow come out the other end zentralised then Standon Calling is for you!