This year, North London’s hidden summertime gem Standon Calling turns 10 years old – and it is set to be one hell of a party. What started as a birthday barbecue for founder Alex Trenchard all those years ago, has blossomed into a much loved festival known for a fun, friendly atmosphere and a wonderfully eclectic line-up. Not to mention that the whole festival is themed.
And we’re not just talking fancy dress! Standon fully commits to the themes, coming up with fresh installations and decorations every year to bring new life to the grounds of the 16th Century Manor. ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ in 2010 brought with it a manufactured Baker Street that housed a Sweeney Todd barbershop, and 2014’s ‘Lost in Latin America’ was home to a Caracas street market. This year the festival ground is becoming ‘A Town of Two Faces’ – Wild West by day, wild and wonderful by night. Whilst there are never too many guidelines when it comes to Standon’s themes, festival-goers can expect saloons and standoffs during the day and unadulterated madness after the sun goes down.
That said, it wouldn’t have got the reputation as ‘one of the UK’s best small festivals’ (The Guardian) without the musical chops to match the decorations, and this year’s eclectic bill is no different. There really is something for everyone ranging from Hip-Hop to House and from Funk to Folk. Here’s a quick overview of just a few things you can expect this year.
The headliners perfectly represent the range of music that Standon is hosting this summer. Coming all the way from Gothenburg, Little Dragon are one of the coolest things to happen to electronic music since the computer. They combine ambient electronics with Yukimi Nagano’s tender but addictively unsettling vocals in songs that will wash over you like a synthetic waterfall, but still manage to pack a punch. Whilst the band are a somewhat unorthodox choice for headliner, you will undoubtedly have heard their left-field hit ‘Twice’ on some movie/tv soundtrack in the past, and rest assured, infectiously bouncy tunes like ‘Ritual Union’ and ‘Constant Surprises’ are sure to convert an entire festival to the wonderful world of Little Dragon.
When I heard that The Dandy Warhols were playing the festival I was like ‘Woo hoo hooooo’ (get it?). The American rock band have a vast discography from which to cherry pick a dream festival set-list, including big tunes like ‘We Used To Be Friends’ and ‘The Last High’. The undeniably iconic anthem ‘Bohemian Like You’ is still sure to set the crowd alight even 14 years after its release and bring back a wave of nostalgia for the 90s kid in all of us.
BRIT award winners Basement Jaxx are dancing on the opposite end of the electronic music spectrum to Little Dragon. Releasing dancefloor killer after dancefloor killer, we can expect massive things from the Brixton duo in what is sure to be an electric end to the festival. Smash hit ‘Never Say Never’ rarely fails to deliver a massive audience response, not to mention other tunes like the pulsating ‘Good Luck’ and the funktastic ‘Red Alert’ which will be the perfect cure to Sunday night festival blues.
If you are looking for those reliable ‘throw hands in the air and sing at the top of your lungs’ feel-good anthems, be sure to check out Prides and Saint Raymond. Both artists have been churning out festival bangers left right and centre for the past year. Their energetic live shows coupled with their strong recently released debut LPs, have confirmed them as a must-see this year!
Alternatively, if you are looking to head-bang away a banging hangover headache (try saying that three times quickly), there is plenty on offer to rock out to. Guaranteed memories will be made absorbing the brilliance of punk-rock band Slaves on the Saturday. This duo are making massive movements at the moment, with their angular riffs and poignant lyrics and suitably bonkers live shows. With crossover hits like the political ‘The Hunter’, Slaves could potentially be the band to spearhead a punk revival in the mainstream, so dust off your leather moto jacket, put on your skinniest jeans and head to the front. Also, recent single ‘Cheer Up London’ could not be a more fitting soundtrack for a weekend of escapism within earshot of the city. Coincidence..? Probably.
Shape throwers will be coming from far and wide to see Bondax & Friends, and if that’s your thing you should stay for some Grade-A-garage from Grades (try saying that three times even more quickly). There is a great deal of indie/electro pop music that is impossible not to nod along and vibe with, at this year’s festival (a genre this pundit has branded ‘Breeze’). Upcoming acts Patawawa – who have married indie-pop and house music, whilst simultaneously having an illicit affair with funk – fit this vibe and will be the perfect encouragement for carefree jiving in the sunshine. However, if you are more partial to a sway than a jive, look no further than personal favourite The Horrors. Their beautiful blend of gothic rock, post-punk and shoegaze music will be worth waiting all weekend for.
For your festival craziness, ‘The Goat Roper Rodeo Band’ are worth seeing purely out of respect for their exquisitely unique name, regardless of your feelings about fast paced country/bluegrass music. The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble will be blasting out tunes that will challenge anyone not to get down and groove. But perhaps the name that stood out most from the line up this year (taking all of the above into account) is Unkle Funk and the Boogie Wonderband. Yes, they play funk music. Yes, they wear big afro wigs. Yes, they dress in white flared trousers. And yes, they wear platform disco heels. What are you waiting for? They literally define fun and are an indisputable must-see at the festival this year.
If all that good music and festivities isn’t enough, there is an array of delicious food and beverages for gluttonous consumption, as well as late night DJ sets to keep the party going until the early hours. If we have learned anything from the past 10 years, it is that Standon Calling is a festival for festival lovers. Whilst we can rationally expect big performances, wacky outfits and general fun and frenzy this year, when it comes to Standon, expect the unexpected.
Also, there’s a swimming pool. Need I say more?