“I made a couple of robots from tinfoil in the kitchen earlier in the day. Then I had a fight onstage. Then I climbed up the tent…” So remembers British Sea Power’s Martin Noble, of his band’s headline set at the first ever Kendal Calling back in 2006. That tent pole he climbed? It was fifty foot high. A feat of aerial daring that caused the promoters, Andy Smith, then only 18, and Ben Robinson, still 21, no end of terrors. “I was seriously nervous when he started going up,” Andy recalls. “We’d put everything we had into this – and you really just can’t plan for that.”
Martin’s high-wire act turned out OK, and their first festival, put on for 900 people near Kendal Castle, passed off successfully. Just three years after opening, they moved to the 20,000 capacity Lowther Deer Park, where Kendal has lived ever since.
Meanwhile, back up at the Lost Eden, the hedges were getting increasingly bolshy. A scan through festival literature reveals these three to be: "Daisy, Launa and Mo, our glamorous 1950s housewives in sunny suburbia, who enjoy nothing more than a bit of baking and a quiet spot of gardening on a Sunday afternoon”. They ambled through the Eden for several hours, spooking some passers-by, and handily reminding others to fix the Flymo when they got home.
Soon enough, the Tribe Of The Stag came out to play. “They were coming up really close to people and trying to freak them out,” says our photographer Scott. They wended through the forest, celebrating freedom, art and exploration.
Behind them marched Spark! five drummers in bright white face paint and silver costumes, who picked up great gaggles of curious followers as they swept through the Lost Eden. A stage-hand walked behind them, perfuming their path with dry ice. They stared, and grinned, as their drums changed colour in time with the dense, complicated rhythms recurring and morphing constantly. As they reached the far end of the Lost Eden, they performed a dazzling forty minute display of drums, lights, intricate choreography, before, in another puff of dry ice, they were beamed back up to whatever planet they’d come from.
And now, with the tenth anniversary over, Andy and Ben and everyone on the team would like to take this moment to say a very special thanks.
“From that first tent-pole climbing high-wire act at Abbot Hall Park in Kendal a decade ago, we never believed it would turn into what it has. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to every single person who has, by coming or contributing, made this festival with us.”
See you in the fields for another ten years.
Ian Taylor, Paul Whiteley,
Giulia Spadafora and
Words by Gavin Haynes. Web development by Andrew Kendall for Digital Photo Gallery. Art direction by Kris Atomic.