Review: Kendal Calling 2018


Through bright blue skies and torrential rain, Kendal Calling celebrated its 13th festival with an incredible, diverse line-up and crowds of happy fans who filled the fields for yet another sold out year.

There were Glastonbury vibes with a large range of attractions for every age group. From the Main Stage to the Calling Out tent, art installations, puppet shows, silent discos in the woods, to comedy acts and DJ sets in the House Party and Glow tents – throughout the day and after hours, there were heaps of options to exceed the crowds expectations of an amazing festival experience.

Kendal catered for every audience with plenty of bars to discourage queues; a highlight being the Portobello Road Gin Bar, which served amazing cocktails for Gin lovers whilst providing a gin master class. Blasts of fire surrounded the Strongbow yard and the balcony of The Lock-Up gave fans great views of the festival with the option for UV face paint, a photo booth session and live DJ.

Although vegan and vegetarian options could have been improved, there were a huge range of food stalls and markets throughout the festival – an ice-cream van everywhere you looked and multiple churros stands to fulfil those sweet cravings. The Soapbox provided hilarious stand up comedy and the Chai Wallah and Yam Riot tents saw up and coming rap, funk and soul artists such as Soul Grenades, Lost Tuesday Society and Amy True throughout the weekend.

Llandudno lads Catfish and the Bottlemen headlined the main stage on Friday night with an insane set – including popular tracks Kathleen, Cocoon, Twice and Homesick. Fans threw in a few mosh pits and filled the night sky with flares as the boys played a generous track list from both albums; The Balcony and The Ride. Friday’s line up included Insanity Records’ Tom Grennan, who clashed with the main headliner but still managed to gain a great crowd at the Calling Out stage following the release of his debut album, Lighting Matches. The Calling Out stage also saw an upbeat set from The Marsicans, guitar heavy Marmozets and alternative indie trio When Young.

Plan B replaced Run DMC for the Saturday headline spot and crowds went crazy as rapper Aaron Davis, better known as Bugzy Malone, took over the main stage with his grime based tracks. Named BBC’s Sound of 2018, talented singer-songwriter Sam Fender amazed fans on Saturday afternoon with his incredible singles Play God, Greasy Spoon and new track, the heart felt Leave Fast.

Crowds shook off the rain on Sunday for The Libertines as they headlined the Main Stage; thousands of fans sang together as they played renowned tracks such as Can’t Stand Me Now and Don’t Look Back Into The Sun. Reading rock band The Amazons stole the show with an incredible, guitar heavy set including tracks Black Magic, In My Mind, Junk Food Forever and Little Something from their self titled album. Sunday also saw The Sherlocks, Ocean Colour Scene and Peter Hook & The Light, who satisfied Joy Division fans by finishing off his set with classic track, Love Will Tear Us Apart.

The Sunday night headliners were finished off perfectly with a long stint of fireworks before crowds headed to after parties; live DJ sets such as Basement Jaxx, an indie party or silent disco in the woodlands until early hours were a few of the options for ending the last night of the festival.

Even in the pouring rain, Kendal Calling Festival massively exceeded expectations. Zombified crowds left the campsite on Monday morning following an epic, incredibly muddy weekend.

Words by Sophie Eastham // @sophyvictoriae