After two days of near constant drizzle a few fans are already breaking camp and heading for home but far more seem excited by the prospect of a day’s entertainment that includes singer/producer, and Twitter superstar, Example and Scottish indie-folk supremos Frightened Rabbit. qmunicate dove into day three of Kendal Calling to see what floated to the surface…
First up are The Lancashire Hotpots, a group of comic troubadours, whose end of the pier stylings go down a storm with a crowd desperate for a laugh. ‘The Baking Song’ is laced with dreadful euphemisms while ‘I Fear IKEA’, details the perils of losing your way in the eponymous furniture store. Frontman Bernard appears dressed as a pirate for a song about smuggling confectionary into the cinema and there are tributes aplenty to hard-drinking northern stereotypes in ‘Lager, Cider, Ale and Stout’.
There’s a lot of buzz around Ealing indie quartet Lyger and they’re rewarded for the long trek north by an excitable crowd. With punchy songs that sound like Pulled Apart by Horses duelling with Parquet Courts, they’ve plenty of energy and ‘Stroke’ sounds like a sure-fire winner.
Back over on the main stage Simon and Oscar from Ocean Colour Scene treat the crowd to an acoustic set. Simon Fowler has an impressive voice but he seems a little under the weather today, ending one song in a coughing fit and apologising for not being completely game-ready. He’s not really helped by the acoustic format which robs his more anthemic tracks of their heft. Fortunately ‘Profit in Peace’ rings remarkably prescient and he can always rely on ‘The Day We Caught The Train’ to save the day.
By contrast, Reel Big Fish are far more dynamic. Standing out as a rare American act on a bill dominated by Brits, Aaron Barrett’s sideburns, quiff and Hawaiian shirt bring a touch of exoticism to a grey Kendal Calling and his band are on fine form, delivering tracks like ‘Good Thing’, ‘She Has a Girlfriend Now’ and ‘Beer’ with plenty of energy. Covers of Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ and A-ha’s ‘Take on Me’ also go down a storm, as does a medley of ‘SR (Suburban Rhythm)’ delivered in a variety of styles ranging from square-dancing to black metal.
Next up, one of the biggest (and youngest) crowds of the weekend assembles to see pop sensations Clean Bandit. Only half of the band seem aware of their surroundings and at times they appear a little over-pleased with their own cleverness but there is an undeniable pop prowess to ‘Extraordinary’ and the irresistible ‘Rather Be’. The hooks are primarily musical not lyrical but they go down a storm with the teenaged crowd and Florence Rawlings is a good replacement for Jess Glynne on vocals.
In his head at least, Miles Kane is a rockstar. Opening with a high-kicking version of ‘Inhaler’ he runs through tracks from both of his solo albums, urging the crowd to cheer and scream at every opportunity. ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ sounds like the Strokes playing skiffle and ‘Kingcrawler’ is a joyous, glam-tinged romp. Like many an act to come out of Liverpool there’s sense that his worldview extend little further than 1971 but he’s got bags of charisma and if he’s yet to release a classic solo album, there are signs that he may get there yet.
Once more returning to the Calling Out stage, qmunicate had the pleasure of witnessing young pop sensation, Jess Glynne, in action. Though strangely she didn’t make an appearance with Clean Bandit earlier, her solo material is full of promise and she makes sure to drop in both ‘Rather Be’ and her collaboration with Route 94, ‘My Love’. Unlike the popular but clinical performance by Clean Bandit earlier, here ‘Rather Be’ is given a rawer, more soulful edge, while a brief cover of AWOLNATION’s ‘Sail’ earns cheers from the audience. There’s a touch of Emeli Sande to her performance as analogue and electronic instruments merge in the background and it’s clear that she is a singer on the verge of big things.
Headlining the final night on the main stage is pop/dance superstar Example, who flew in from Amsterdam to be here. As you would expect, it is a set with near zero subtlety; but the up-for-it crowd don’t seem to care. Opening with ‘We’ll Be Coming Back’ and ‘Say Nothing’, some of his day-glo hooks make Calvin Harris look restrained but the audience pogo excitedly and by the time he drops into ‘Kickstarts’ and fireworks explode, it would be hard to say that he wasn’t a popular booking.
Of course, for those who prefer their Sunday nights to be a little less frenetic, there is always Glasgow’s very own Frightened Rabbit to keep them entertained. Though the audience is curiously undemonstrative at first – perhaps Example sucked in all the oxygen? – Scott Hutchison and co deliver an hour and half set that demonstrates why they are already such a Scottish institution. Kicking straight into ‘Holy’, a track from their latest album that pitches them as a kind of Caledonian Arcade Fire, this is Frabbit at their most energetic and upbeat, delivering their trademark “Happy music and miserable lyrics” with plenty of verve. ‘The Woodpile’ is an explosive anthem but the biggest cheers are saved for ‘My Backwards Walk’ and closer ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ from 2008’s The Midnight Organ Fight.
Words: [Max Sefton]
Pictures: [George Sewell]