Standon Calling 2012 // The 405 Preview
Once of one of Britain's most hush-hush festivals, Standon Calling takes quirky by the neck and teaches it a good hard lesson.
Alongside consistently strong line ups, what's alluring about Standon is the knowledge that not much will have changed this year, based on last. And I mean that in the best possible sense. The swimming pool will still be unassumingly joyful, as will the crowds of attendees who flock from all over to jump into it; the campsite will be pleasant and trouble free, as will the campers who inhabit it; the main site itself will be as dense and charming as ever, and the gate staff will all have smiles on their faces, as usual.
All this positivity is what's kept Standon Calling at the top of the mini-fest league table for the last few years. It's consistent and caters for long-serving audiences, who in turn bring their friends; and their friends' friends year on year. It doesn't forget what got it there in the first place: a real sense of fun and freewill.
Some more help illustrating just how cool Standon is? How about the dress up on Saturday that absolutely no one misses out on? The yearly themes are novel and endearingly playful as vintage cops chase image-conscious robbers round the main stage and 8-man-long Loch Ness Monsters bob and sway through the crowds; their only concern being how many laughs they're getting.
CasioKids are back. Again. They gleefully exclaimed a couple years back that they had flown in from Germany just for Standon, which roused a homely cheer from us muddied lot, before they broke into Fot I Hose as the sun came down.
Beardyman, Death in Vegas and Fat Freddy's Drop are this year's impressive headliners whilst trendy King Charles and Field Music will try to follow in the paths of greats Florence and the Machine, Delphic and Mumford and Sons, all of whom graced Standon before their meteoric rises to fame. More than just a playground for the buzz-band, the fest accommodates all likings; Willy Mason and Crazy P this year introduce two opposing but altogether appreciated forms of charm onto rural Hertfordshire.
Standon itself is in the middle of nowhere, and the festival is relatively small in size (around 5,000), presumably the two main reasons why the nightlife just doesn't ever seem to end. The Cow Shed is amongst the best of the best for a good dance off, electro god Julio Bashmore is one of many playing through to the seriously early hours.
But besides the music, atmosphere and quirky getups all round, Standon still succeeds because of its love for what it does: the Cow Shed is annually decked out with childlike, handmade decorations in true 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids' style, and this year's theme 'Journey to the ends of the Earth' will no doubt leave you spotting exhausted hot air balloons and rocket ships gassed out and left for scrap dotted over the site for your harmonious, childlike pleasure.
Standon Calling isn't afraid to have fun, trust me; and if you let it, by the lamplight of the Tree Bar or the heights of the Folk Stage, it will make you feel a little bit like you've hit on something truly special.
For more information/tickets head to standon-calling.com