After a drizzly arrival on site late Thursday afternoon, it didn’t seem at all like the party had started until Friday morning. A bright outlook from the sky and the festivalgoers made the site illuminate with the prospect of an exciting weekend of live music. Unlike many other festivals, Kendal Calling provides a picturesque setting the heart of the Cumbrian countryside. With stages hidden away in the forests surrounding the main stage and hills all vallying into view, it provided a perfect atmospheric air. It felt necessary to kick off the day with a coffee from Tim Peaks Diner, and so the weekend had begun.

Returning to the Kendal Calling site, late Friday afternoon, was Stockport based band Blossoms. Having played the main stage on the slightly less hectic Thursday evening, they were back to perform in a much small, more intimate setting. Tim Peaks Diner had already started to feel like a second home, away from the cold and the rain of the woods – it was the only fixed feature of the site so was the only stage that wasn’t hard to find (Kendal get your maps right next year). Hotly tipped as one of the most exciting and prosperous bands around at the moment, there was no surprise that the Diner was rammed even forcing people to watch through the windows from the outside. Opening with ‘Cut Me And I’ll Bleed’ they seemed to run through their whole back catalogue of tunes. They seemed to be graced with the presence of their biggest fans but it wasn’t just the two middle aged, alcohol infused blokes that knew every word to every song. Being a band in relative infancy compared to the likes of management brothers The Courteeners and Mr Peaks’ band The Charaltans (both of which they have supported) it was promising to see that not only were the audience enjoying the set, but they were genuinely enthralled by their performance. Not once did I see anyone leave the wooden hut or move onto something else. Even the café staff stopped and watched. Friday 31st also saw the band reveal their brand new EP ‘Blown Rose’ to the world so were quick to promote tracks taken from it, at the festival. Although it did mark the end of an incredible set, ‘Blow’ signed the band off performance duties for the weekend and left their audiences ever more intrigued to see what this band produce in the future.

The House Party stage opened early Friday morning and played host to a multitude of Northern talent over the weekend. From hilarious Dads in cover bands to some beautifully crafted acoustic sets, it had pretty much everything you could want from a festival. Its diversity was flipped once again as late Friday afternoon saw John McCullagh and his backing band The Escorts take to the stage in front of a full and eager tent. Having already had a busy start to festival season (just the week before the band had played Blackthorn Music Festival as well as Tramlines in Sheffield) they were back to spread yet more energy and optimism among Kendal Calling. From switching from acoustic to electric not just over a year ago now, John McCullagh has been able to make the transition perfectly, adapting and refining older tunes as well as incorporating newer influences, perhaps from his band members, to create what seems like a whole new musician. ‘New York City’ and ‘She’s Calling Me’ really shone though as particular crowd favourites in a set that consisted of tunes mainly taken from the band’s brand new album New Born Cry.

Printed on the over priced festival timetable as “GMF” it seemed that Kendal Calling were anticipating a massive flocking and fancied saving some crowd control hassle. After revealing via Twitter that in fact the slot was the formidable Grandmaster Flash, word quickly spread; stall holder to mud dancer to beer slurper. Arriving just in the nick of time, the Grandmaster himself was raucously applauded onto stage in the style of a hero’s welcome. It wasn’t long into his party fever orientated set that security were forced to close the entrances to the Glow Stage – apparently trying to cover this up doesn’t deter the folk of Penrith. Everyone was expecting nothing less of an amazing set – and so it was. Well crafted and calculated down to the tiniest detail of a handclap or chant, Hip Hop’s heart was beating fast throughout. Unlike many less experienced and prestigious DJs currently attempting to get people jumping, Grandmaster Flash has the ability to read his audience so as to not play a track a second longer than necessary, always keeping his heard interested. From Hip Hop classics to modern remixes and even the odd cheesy 90s R&B tune, the Glow Tent is where the weekend began.

The Vaccines have had a whirlwind festival season so far – playing pretty much every one you could think of. Having seen them headline a cold and windy Sound City earlier this year, the main thing in my mind was how would they stand up to an audience, which was double the size in capacity. Tim Peaks Diner had played host to a secret Vaccines DJ set earlier in the day, so immediately it was evident that the band were very much up for their Friday headline slot. Although, the DJ set could have been filled with a few more audience friendly tunes, if anything it was disappointing and didn’t quite live up to its high expectations. Slightly doubted by this, we powered back through the mud and drizzle to the main stage. Consisting of old and new, they set varied in pace and recognisability. After recently sharing new single, ’20/20’, it seemed the band were keen to share a multitude of new songs. All of which featured on the band’s third album, English Graffiti, which reached #2 in the UK album charts on release back in May. Its visual popularity didn’t see to correspond to the crowd reaction however as the newest songs came across as fillers so their audience could quickly fill up at the bar. This slight lack of interest in new material was made up for nearing the end when, of course, ‘If You Wanna’ and ‘Wetsuit’ made an appearance. Fancy dress has played a key role at Kendal Calling this year, and it seemed to be kick started by a wetsuit wearing teen who became a celebrity for the duration of the Vaccines set. Justin Young seems incredibly comfortable leading on stage and his performance as a front man is admirable but his frantic jumping and prancing around does cause him to loose track of his vocals. At times, it sounded like a bad tribute band but is it really musical precision people are looking for at a festival?

Rachel Young

Rachel Young

Rachel Young

Likes: Ponchos, cornflakes and Almost Famous. Dislikes: Egg with any red food, Leicester's seagull population and having no ID.