Clapham Calling Festival, 05/07/15

Photo credit: Danny North / Fanatic 2015
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds / Calling 2015  Photo credit: Danny North / Fanatic 2015

Last Sunday we headed down to Clapham Common for one day rock festival, Clapham Calling. With the brilliant sweltering weather the day was already off to a good start. With the festival being highly publicised and having a good genre mix of acts, I was excited to attend the festival and see acts including Wolf Alice, Bleachers and Modest Mouse.

The first act I caught was Sunset Sons (6/10), whose effortless guitar driven indie-rock reminiscent of Mechanical Bull era Kings Of Leon and a mixture of Maroon 5, was entertaining their crowd of 20-30 year old couples like there was no tomorrow. As their set was in the early afternoon, their smaller but dedicated crowd was understandable and with the great reviews I heard over the day, I suspect it won’t be the bands last trip to playing a festival main stage.

Dashing over to the smaller stage, I was next listening to the Swim Deep like, summer-y and catchy Sundara Karma (7/10). Their crowd was definitely younger, although this wasn’t to say that their music wasn’t to taste of the older festival-goers as I saw plently of older couples and attendees swaying and enjoying their music. The highlight of their set was definitely their new song Flow, a brilliantly surprising song that shows the bands belting bass lines, harmonised vocals and how fine tined their instrumentation is.

The Hives (3/10) were up next, a band that ultimately bored and disappointed me. I went into watching their set with quite high expectations as friends had attended their concerts and to me, they were known as a talented and established band. Their songs almost felt like they weren’t for my age group nor my humour, but despite this the older festival goers around me in the crowd extremely enjoyed and sang back enthusiastically. It has to be said that I found myself cringing at lead singer Pelle Almqvist’s absurd and often ridiculous stage banter with the crowd, and because I didn’t know any of their songs previously their set was just a merge of very similar songs that didn’t hold my attention, mixed in with bad stage banter. I feel like I may have more time for the bands albums rather than their live set, as to me their set was very much a human representation of dad-rock, but bearing in mind Noel Gallagher headlined the festival perhaps this is what the crowd wanted.

Photo credit: Justine Trickett / Fanatic 2015
Echo And The Bunnymen / Calling 2015  Photo credit: Justine Trickett / Fanatic 2015

One of the heavyweights on the festival line-up is 80s band Echo and The Bunnymen (6/10), despite only knowing The Killing Moon, Lips Like Sugar and their cover of People Are Strange, I was looking forward to seeing their live set and perhaps putting to the test whether bands have an expiration date or not. They were rightfully playing the main stage for their mid-afternoon set to a large older crowd who were all enjoying hearing their 80s classics live and the blistering sunshine. Unfortunately I found The Killing Moon to be lacking oomph but when discussing it with a friend whom I attended the festival with, I was alone with this thought so perhaps this was down to me being finicky and not a fault on the band. Overall, I enjoyed their set and it was good to sing along and finally hear some of those great classics from their extensive back catalogue but I’m not sure if the band is more suited to a dark venue over a large open air festival type setting, but I can definitely say for sure that they haven’t passed their expiration date and perhaps don’t even have one!

The friend I attended the festival with is a major fan of Modest Mouse (7/10) and due to her constant recommendations of the band, it was great to finally see a band that my friend enjoyed so much. A set that was largely newer material with sparse older songs and hits, the band played fewer but longer songs with more instrumentation and added intros and outros. A testament for how much I enjoyed their set was that I don’t have any notes saved on my phone for referring back to when writing this review, I was too into watching their set and singing along to the very few songs of theirs that I knew. A particular highlight of their set for me was one of their newer tracks Lampshades on Fire, the bands live set gave the song a whole new lease of life. The strange and complex song’s bellowing drums and vocals was a brilliant addition to the bands set list for the festival and it was a very well-received song for the band. Their set was crazy and fun, and totally worth the terrible sunburn that is still haunting me.

I was extremely excited to be finally be seeing Bleachers (7/10) and all I can say is that although lead singer Jack Antonoff wasn’t performing with the Fun guys, there was no abundance of fun in his Bleachers set. Their set was definitely one of the most fun sets that I saw all day, with the bands antics and their sugar sweet 80s inspired pop songs that are definitely a guilty pleasure of mine. The icing on the the cake for me was their cover of Fleetwood Mac’s hit Go Your Own Way, their cover certainly wasn’t up to par with the excellence of Stevie Nicks and co. but it was definitely up there and it was great to see such a big song transformed by the Bleacher’s guys. The band was nearing their set and I mistakenly thought that they had finished their song without performing their most popular and my favourite song, I Wanna Get Better. Luckily I had no reasons to fear and the band launched into the song that propelled them into stardom with reckless abandon, and I was unable to hold back my joy and shamelessly and probably terribly sang along and enjoyed myself along with the rest of the dancing crowd.

Photo credit: Danny North / Fanatic 2015
Wolf Alice / Calling 2015  Photo credit: Danny North / Fanatic 2015

After Bleacher’s set, I was impatiently waiting for the set I had been waiting all day for, the late evening performance from Wolf Alice (9/10). The band had just destroyed their multiple Glastonbury sets and I had no doubts that they would do the same at Calling festival. Wolf Alice are a visually exciting band that is constantly and recklessly throwing themselves into the crowd and engaging with their loyal fans, for example frontwoman Ellie’s crowd surf after their triumphant Glastonbury set. Annoyingly due to the barrier and assumingly stricter festival rules, Wolf Alice weren’t as crowd interaction hungry as they usually are and instead focused on giving the crowd the set of their lives and that they did. Opening up with aggressive and brutal Fluffy, front woman Ellie Rowsell’s high pitched almost screaming vocals bring the song to a whole new depth in their live set and the mosh pits of an excited indie crowd were already starting. They performed other great tracks off debut album My Love Is Cool including Your Loves Whore, You’re a Germ and The Wonderwhy but highlights were older reworked songs such as Bros that ignited the greatest crowd singalong that I had seen at the festival so far.

Noel Gallagher‘s set was one that everyone in attendance to the festival was probably looking forward to except myself, as someone who didn’t grow up with parents listening to Oasis, and never getting into them myself, I never gave Noel Gallagher’s solo stuff a try. I very often find that I have a bad attention span with listening to live sets when I don’t know any of the songs and Noel’s set was definitely a set that fitted into this category. That’s not to say he didn’t deserve to be headlining the festival, I’m just going to say that his music isn’t to my taste nor did I stay for any longer than half of his set. The half I did say for I found to be very dad-rock but then again, the festival is aimed at an older crowd so this makes sense it just means that neither he as a headliner or his set wasn’t going to be entertaining for me.

I had a great day out at Calling Festival in Clapham, I found it to be a great festival that is very music orientated, more so than other one day festivals I’ve attended like Barclay Card Summertime concerts in Hyde Park that when I attended felt very commercial. Attend next year for some probably great acts, expensive beverages and if you’re as pale as myself, terrible sun burns.

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