Our first Standon Calling on the last weekend of July was an exemplary display of British festival production, with their best lineup yet taking place across three days. Between Friday to Sunday, some of the most exciting names in contemporary and classic electronic music descended upon the Hertfordshire wilderness.
The highlights of the lineup must have been Orbital and Grace Jones – two musical acts of absolute heritage. Orbital pioneered rave music in the 90s, laying many of the foundations that today’s house and bass artists have built their career on. LGBT icon Grace Jones is a legendary Jamaican performer and model whose life has been an inextricable braid of fashion and music.
Orbital, on Friday night, was our favourite gig of the festival. The crowd was an electric mix – uni students and sixth formers perhaps too young to comprehend the full significance of an orbital show, and old timers who understood the significance of an orbital show all too well. The new blood started mosh pits to every miniscule percussive drop and got an ‘ooh eh eh eh’ chant going for the harder beats. The old timers head bobbed in silent reverence.
Whilst the generational gap couldn’t have been more obvious, something beautiful was afoot – authentic unity. Ages 14-50 united under the umbrella of the dance and a few pingers too many. Perhaps it gives the students too little credit to say they didn’t get it. Perhaps having a good time in a mixed crowd is all it takes to get it.
Grace Jones slayed the Sunday headline slot, predictably. Horse Meat Disco played for four hours in the cowshed, in one of the most euphoric sets of the weekend. Nu-disco and soul-tinged house that can only be described as righteous resounded over Standon. It was made right at home in the cowshed’s tightly packed outdoor area and winding, uv-lit indoor caverns. Even the pissing rain couldn’t dampen the mood.
Other electronic acts that slayed the stage were Joe Goddard of the 2Bears, Norway’s space disco mainstay Lindstrom and house act Maxxi Soundsystem. Elsewhere, Slaves’ gritty alt sound rocked the main stage and on Friday, grime queen Nadia Rose lit up proceedings with her unique, powerful voice.
Highlights of the festival weren’t limited to the lineup – on Saturday, the annual costume competition saw a host of crazily dressed punters catwalk in hope of winning the £200 credit prize. Standon Calling is a cashless festival, so winners of the competition get credit to go on their wristbands, which they can use to buy food, drink and other goods at the festival.
Aside from Orbital, our other favourite moment of Standon Calling was Sunday’s dog show. A family friendly spectacle of canine cuteness, the show features categories such as ‘best child handler’ and ‘best dog not to win in any category so far’. The cuteness on display was the perfect antidote to a weekend of debauchery.
All in all, an absolutely solid example of a small festival. More than anything else, it was just nice to be able to walk from A to B in a matter of minutes. The people were friendly, the cash was unlosable. You can purchase tickets for Standon Calling 2018 here, or visit the website to find out more here.
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