When I boldly announced to my housemates that I would be attending the green festival of “Standon Calling” this year, I got a series of mixed reactions.

Standing calling 2010
Standing calling 2010

Of the five girls I live with, two shyly admitted to having never heard of the festival, whilst the other three began reeling with jealousy over the fact that I would be seeing artists such as Buena Vista Social Club (yep, they were there and yes, they were amazing) and The Magic Numbers.

Despite the tent malfunction on the first night (it leaked, we were drenched, the less said about it the better) the festival got a huge thumbs up from me, as a first time goer.

Set on the spacious grounds of a 16th century manor house just 40 minutes north of London, arrival at the festival is a sight to behold.  The setting is captivating, with the option to camp for the weekend, or swap your tent/campervan for one of the many tipis and yurts on offer.

Equipped with an all-night bar licence, an on-site nightclub, a spectacular array of food, a swimming pool and even an area for the little ones, Standon proves to be a most cultural and innovative festival.

Not to be outdone by the impressive line up and entertainment on offer, the eco credentials of this festival hold their own, and the number of green initiatives being employed by the festival was highly commendable.

Over the weekend I was able to catch up with the festival organiser Alex Trenchard, and get a little more of an insight into Standon Calling.

Q.  How long has Standon been calling?

Standon has been calling since 2001, back when it was a barbecue, a set of decks, 50 friends from university, and a game of kick the can.  We didn’t really plan to make it a festival, but every year we wanted that gathering of the friends to get better and better, and over the years it has become a festival.

Q.  What initiatives have you got in place to make this a greener festival?

We try to encourage public transport, so we’ve got buses running from nearby city centres, we also work really hard for our waste to be streamed correctly and we do that with our compost bins.  We also use reusable cups with a 50p deposit on the cup. Last year one kid got around £50 – that’s 100 glasses! We tried to encourage cycling this year also, and about 50 people cycled up this year.

Q.  So with the compost bins, does that mean everybody’spoo will end up on fields around here?

Yes exactly.  We’re really pleased with the eco loos, as they use absolutely no water.  That really serves as a strong plus for a festival organiser because you’re not wasting water.

Q.  Have you any idea of the number of volunteers you’ve had this year at the festival?

In terms of the litter side of things we have about 40, overall we have maybe around 150 volunteers.

Q.  Are you working with any environmental agencies?

We have a very strong relationship with Greener Festival who help us get greener.

Q.  What’s been the highlight of this year’s festival for you so far?

So far, and that’s before we see Buena Vista, my highlight for just sheer wow factor was Etienne De Crecy’s cube show.  I don’t think I havenever seen anything like that, it was amazing.  My favourite band has been Casiokids, although I thought Metronomy on Friday were really good aswell.

All the artists at the festival were outstanding, right from the bigger acts, to the up-and-coming artists.  If I had to pick a favourite performance, it would have to be between Alice Russell’s powerful performance (read the interview with Alice here), and The Magic Number’s intimate performance at the crooked house stage.

In terms of up-and coming acts however, Fool’s Gold were one band that particularly caught my eye.  They’re infectious Afro-pop beats made it neigh on impossible not to at least bop your head along to their set.

Another new band playing at the festival was quirky, Bristolian band Lulu and the Lampshades.   Comprising of three girls and one guy, this band make cheery, folkish music.  Their recent video for the song “your going to miss me” has had over 412, 000youtube views, and sees two of the girls from the band dressed in their pyjamas, singing and hitting out the beat to the song on empty plastic cartons.  However it is not just plastic cartons that these young musicians incorporate into their act.  Old typewriters, biscuit tins, yoghurt pots, and other household items are used by the band as make shift instruments.  Hey, it’s one way of recycling…plus they’d be able to carry on their set if there was a power cut… one more tick for eco!

*Image courtesy of Charlie O’Beirne

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