Standon Calling : the boutique-fun festival


Standon Calling, the Hertfordshire countryside festival that started in the organiser’s garden to grow into a cool, fun, family-friendly themed festival closed last Sunday with a fantastic set by Kelis. The legendary singer performed all her hits in front of an uber-excited young crowd.

Under the fantastic theme of ‘Legend of the Lost Seas’, 10,000 attendees enjoyed a strong line-up of singers, DJs, comedians, entertainers in facilities that include a heated swimming pool, circus marquees and other settings. Mermaids, pirates, fish, lobsters and other sea creatures danced until the wee hours of this incredible festival. A modern dance series was curated by Sadler’s Wells-regular Choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne. But if you were not into dance, you could simply have fun at the dog parade.

Before starting her encore, Kelis referenced and thanked the staff of her special food truck and was seen serving customers on the Friday night. But no “Milkshake” was available. This encapsulates the spirit of the festival: intimate yet qualitative. Even the food stands are carefully curated at Standon Calling. For those who like their luxury, the festival offers premium camping located 5 minutes from the stages. Yes, you can almost touch the performers and hang out with them at the numerous bars after their sets. Walks around the main site in the small village is also refreshing. Electropop band Everything Everything electrified the atmosphere while Adam Green cracked more jokes with a funny act on the smaller stage. Pop princess Jess Glynne was in full form Saturday night and the party continued for good.

Rock’n’roll took over with artists such as Suede, Anna Calvi, Thurston Moore Group and a special David Bowie Disco which gathered both children and adults.

Carl Hill created and runs a number of nights including the famous Feeling Gloomy (both in London and NY), the world’s only club devoted to sad music, Club de Fromage, one of London’s biggest pop nights, Burn Down The Disco and Coffin Dodgers Disco. He also created Speeding Hating (TM) and has played all over under the DJ names Clifford Gloom and Slow Alfie among others. For Art is Alive, he talks about David Bowie and what makes this year’s Bowie Disco a success:

How does Standon Calling compare from other festivals and parties you’ve performed at?
Firstly the scale. Wander about and if you have a friend there you will run in to them, that is lovely. The setting is great, with the house and the pool it feels a bit like a massive garden fete rather than a festival. The crowd always fun as well, there only fault is they can be too enthusiastic at times! Again because of it’s size you bump in to people who have seen your set and can have a nice chat with them while you queue for a burger.

What was your highlight at Standon Calling this year?
I didn’t get to see much as I was backwards and forwardsing to London. I did get to see Suede though and they played The Chemistry Between Us for the first time in years, that was a lovely moment.

Do you think David Bowie would have performed at Standon Calling, let’s say 40 years ago?
I think he might well have.

Can we expect a David Bowie-themed Standon Calling?
Well I don’t run Standon Calling but Alex, if you are listening, that is a jolly good idea. Obviously Feeling Gloomy and Burn Down The Disco would have to do the main DJ set…