Live Review: Standon Calling 2009

Live Review: Standon Calling 2009

Rivmixx pried head from pillow on Saturday (August 1) morning to make it for the second and third instalments of the three day countrified boutique festival, Standon Calling.

A 45 minute train journey from London’s Liverpool Street was met by a friendly shuttle-bus driver who proceeded to ferry the small crowd of late-comers over the short stretch of road to the festival site. The first thing that hit us as we – the forlorn pitch-less campers to-be – tramped around the site (apart from how many had embraced the space theme – five Clangers passed us casually) was that space is not at a premium at Standon. The land associated with the grand manor house of our host, Alex Trenchard, is vast and more than capable of handling the 3000 or so guests. Fortunately though, the festival was comfortably contained within a manageable area. Rivmixx set-up about as far away from the stages as possible and it still took no longer than five minutes from tent door to dance floor.

Having staked our claim – following much tactical manoeuvring regarding distance to be maintained from compost toilets, designated paths and the ’boutique’ camping class – Rivmixx endeavoured to explore the rest of the site. Coincidentally, the first port of call was the Tree Bar, which was located entirely under and around an enormous old oak tree.

Having recovered from the shock of a four pound bottle of cider (having much anticipated the “fairly priced” drinks that were mentioned on their website), Rivmixx headed to the vast dome of the Apollo stage in time to catch Revere whose poor name belied their musical nouse – the group’s electronic Arcade Fire-esque pop songs came across superbly.

Having borne witness to sturdy sets from the likes of The Flashguns, The Fontanas and Josh Weller (in the yurt-like Galileo tent), Rivmixx wound up back at the main stage in time to catch the excellent Golden Silvers. Opening with latest singleTrue Romance the group led an increasingly active audience through a selection of choice funk-pop numbers, before closing with rousing sing-along Arrows Of Eros.

Shortly afterwards the heavens opened – as they had been threatening to do all day – and a blinding set from the hip hop/dance powerhouse N.A.S.A was almost ruined. However, a 30-or so-man hardcore crowd (including Rivmixx and company) continued in spite of the weather, pac-a-macs flailing in the wind and, as the collective came down to the railings to get closer to the intimate audience, we were all pleased to be deemed “f**king awesome”.

As the evening began to draw in Rivmixx headed back to the Apollo stage to catch Aliens (who were appropriately playing on a stage that came complete with its own suspended light-up UFO). The band seemed to be having sound problems though, and their brand of electro-psych-rock was looser than Paris Hilton after a night on the bellinis. All of this was compounded by the fact that they were clearly out of their tiny alien boxes (this could also explain why Rivmixx saw the band gazing intently at their hands in the Galileo tent the following morning).  Hmmm…

Saturday night’s main-stage headliners were Friendly Fires (not so) fresh from their recent Australian tour.  The group were tired but absolutely giving it everything and before our eyes the group graduated from a hot-tip to a headlining force. Drawing from their Mercury-nominated debut, the group jived and jerked through singles such as ‘Skeleton Boy’, ‘Jump In The Pool’ and ‘Paris’ causing mass sing-alongs left, right and centre. The audience lapped it up, screaming for an encore. “We’ve used every last bit of energy we’ve got to come here and play for you tonight” said singer Ed Macfarlane. And their efforts did not go un-rewarded; the crowd gave as good as they got.

Rivmixx then topped off the evening with a stint cutting shapes at the Barbarella stage (a sort of cowshed cum 1980s Miami disco) and a look at The Fabulous Penetrators, who hurled out a tirade of heavy rock ‘n’ roll cuts.

The next morning, having had a less than full night’s sleep, we decided to begin our Sunday at a slower pace and take in some of Standon’s non-musical elements. Over at Galileo, Soho’s Book Club Boutique was in full swing and host Salena Godden regaled the audience with witty and disturbingly charming poetic odes to life in Hastings and plasticised air hostesses.

Feeling sated, Rivmixx switched tents and joined the queue for the Heritage Arts Company’s Heliocentre. Part installation, part interactive theatre, each audience member has their own experience. Upon entering an initial reception area (outside of time and the universe), Rivmixx spoke to several characters, attempting to piece together a story-line, before being led to a room and interrogated about an alleged involvement in leaking American space secrets to the Russians. You’ll be pleased to hear Rivmixx gave nothing away.

Over on the Apollo stage Invasion were setting things alight, literally. Drums on fire, the band tore through super-heavy soul meets psych-metal numbers with techno-witch Chan Brown leading the charge – Invasion are awesome live. Back on the main-stage Rivmixx faves Fanfarlo played to a smaller crowd than they deserved, but their brand of angular indie-folk was still greatly appreciated by those lucky enough to witness it.

Next on the Rivmixx agenda was the superb Micachu and the Shapes. Having never witnessed their brand of innovative noise-pop trickery in a live environment, we were unsure of what to expect, but Mica and co. played with the intent concentration befitting of those who have studied composition. Awkward in stage presence, charming in song, the band were one of Rivmixx’s Standon highlights.

As the sun got lower, Sunday night was rounded off and left in the capable hands of dub-cover specialists Easy Star All Stars and Afro-beat guardians Femi Kuti and the Positive Force. As Rivmixx and partner chugged back to London, we reflected – we do like our beds and showers, but Standon 2010 is already calling.

Matt Parker

Written for Rivmixx

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