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Kendal Calling 2022

Having never been to Kendal Calling before and also having never camped in my life but having heard a huge amount about previous years from my friend who was there with me to take photos, who is a veteran, I approached this year’s festival with a mix of excitement and nervousness.

Excitement as I’d looked at the line up and saw a few bands I really wanted to see, a few I’d heard might be good and loads I’d never heard of (I love discovering a great new band) and also because Kendal has a very strong reputation as a friendly, relaxed and enjoyable festival. Nervousness because as I mentioned above, I’ve never camped in my life and didn’t really know how I would cope as I do like my bed and a good shower.

I loved it!

Some of the best 4 days of my life, the line up turned out to be even stronger than I expected, the Oktoberfest tent was an excellent addition and the choice and variety of food was tremendous. I quickly adapted to tent life and actually began to enjoy it but if I heard a fellow camper shout ‘I swear to god’ one more time on the Friday night/Saturday morning I might have been taken away for GBH!

My friend who’d been many times before did struggle a bit to begin with as the entire site had been rearranged, if you’ve been to Kendal before the main stage had become the Parklands Stage and a new main stage had been put at the bottom of quite a big slope. Personally I thought it all worked tremendously well. Everyone was able to get a really good view of the main stage and both the Parklands and Calling Out Stage were fantastically well presented inside being festooned with animals, colourful designs and so much other decoration that they almost demanded more attention than the artists, even the mud that developed over the course of Saturday into Sunday didn’t detract from the effort that went into presenting this festival, other festivals should take note, Kendal just raised the bar on effort!

I do have one suggestion for improvement for next year, Kendal is a family friendly festival which includes people of all types, but there was only a viewing platform for those in wheelchairs etc for the main stage, I witnessed people in wheelchairs trying to go into both Parklands and Calling out and struggling, not able to see, being crowded and made to feel uncomfortable, perhaps next year viewing platforms could be introduced to the back of both tents as they are big enough to accommodate them?

As well as the main stages we also spent some time at the Earache Records takeover of the Yam Riot tent and at the stage in the Woodlands area and various other venues, all of which provided yet another facet to Kendal and were well worth visiting.

So enough about all that, what about the music, it was awesome, from the Hacienda Classica on the Thursday night through to Sunday’s closing act on the main stage, Bastille, I saw so many great artists and also so much weirdness as well that I couldn’t have asked for any more. I found unexpected phenomena in Jamie Webster (who knew he had such a large, passionate and politically engaged following) and Henge (I’m still trying to work out just what I saw, dancers dressed as mushrooms, thousands of years old singers, aliens…), fantastic acts that were new to me such as Baby Queen and Dead Pony, other new acts I suspect I will grow to love such as Deliah Bonn and Stone and revisited some acts I knew would be brilliant like Sophie Ellis Bextor, the K’s, Supergrass, Milly Manders and the Shut Up, Elvana, the Vaccines and the Stereophonics.

I worked out over the course over the weekend I saw 35 acts, I am not going to review all of them individually but if I had to pick my top five it would include Baby Queen, Dead Pony, Elvana, the K’s and Milly Manders and the Shut Up but I genuinely didn’t see any act that I didn’t enjoy or think had some talent to them.

My main regret is I didn’t see any more bands I was gutted to miss Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs. Pigs, Pigs, Pigs for instance but fatigue caught up with me, there were also times I had to make choices due to clashes, did I always make the right choice? I’m not so sure but when Elvana were as good as they were sometimes you just don’t make it to the main stage. I did feel sorry for Gabrielle, she was fantastic, what a singer and what an entertainer but she was up against the Euro’s final where England finally won, the atmosphere in the Oktoberfest tent was tremendous.

A special mention has to go the Lancashire Hotpots, a Sunday afternoon tradition at Kendal and one of the most enjoyable acts of the whole weekend. There were easily 10,000 people at the main stage for their act at one o’clock on Sunday afternoon, no-one left disappointed! They truly are the perfect festival experience, congas, dad dancing, dinosaurs and chippy dinners, what’s not to like?

Review - Iain McClay

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