Festival founder Alex Trenchard talks us through the names he's most excited about seeing in his back garden this July
“My dog Achilles is limbering up as we speak,” laughs Alex Trenchard, the man who started Standon Calling in his parent’s back garden back in 2001, and who has since helped grow the event into one of the UK’s flagship festivals – hosting the biggest names in music (as well as an annual dog show…).
“The dogs can roam free… I think we had just under 500 entrants into the dog show last year, and you can win a year’s supply of dog food as one of the prizes this year…,” Trenchard continues, eye-deep in preparations for the July 21-24 event, but clearly also wanting Achilles to come home with a rosette. Hosting its own Best In Show competition isn’t the only thing that sets Standon Calling apart, with hot tubs, a costume parade, laser tag and a “who let the toys out?” playroom theme, but it’s the diverse mix of big-name acts that grab the most space on the poster.
Headlined this year by Madness, Anne-Marie, Loyle Carner and Primal Scream, Standon Calling 2022 is looking like the best line-up yet, with the likes of Sleaford Mods, Basement Jaxx, Grandmaster Flash, Sugababes, Example and Sam Ryder joining them across the site’s six biggest stages.
Ahead of the festival’s July 21-24 reopening, Trenchard talked us through his upcoming highlights.
“One of the things we noticed last year, in 2021, is that Thursday night is increasingly becoming a big part of the festival, but we’ve never had major acts on. Around 80% of weekend ticket holders actually turned up on the Thursday night. So we knew we couldn’t just get away with sticking a covers bands on the second stage anymore, so we went the other way and we booked Madness. What great way to start off the festival?! Thursday is the new Sunday.”
“I’m really looking forward to seeing Primal Scream myself, but also because this is the third poster we’ve had them on! They were initially on our 2020 poster, but that obviously didn’t go ahead, and then we had them on the 2021 poster but they didn’t play because of bad weather. So we’ve honoured that commitment and rolled it through for another year, and I just can’t wait to see what they bring. I’m looking I’m really looking forward to them closing out the festival on Sunday night.”
“Anne-Marie is going to be great in terms of bringing the whole festival together, and I predict she’s going to get the biggest crowd of the weekend simply because everyone will want be there. In 2021 actually, I think Sister Sledge had the biggest crowd of the weekend even though they weren’t headlining, and I really think Anne-Marie may well top that – she’s such an amazing pop star.”
“Loyle’s music is just incredible, he’s so lyrically strong. We’ve never had an urban act as a headliner at Standon Calling, so this is really an exciting one for us. Loyle is a huge star but I think he might be new to some of our Hartfordshire audience, so it’s a really nice opportunity to challenge people who may not have listened to this kind of genre before.”
“If Anne-Marie doesn’t get the biggest crowd of the weekend, Sigrid might just instead! I mean, Sigrid could easily have been headlining this year. Her last album is doing really well and it’s just terrific. I saw her Glastonbury, I think in 2019, on the Park Stage, and she was just incredible and just such a performer. She’s gonna play Standon Calling on the Sunday and I’m looking forward to it.”
“Yard Act are such a great band. So great, in fact, that we ended up breaking our own rules to have them back. We don’t often repeat acts year to year, but Yard Act played last year and it was just such a good show that we’ve had bring them back again.”
Melt Yourself Down
“I’m certainly showing my years but Melt Yourself Down are at the top of my list too. They’re playing our new Dive Bar stage, which is basically a spit n’ sawdust venue that plays great live music, great rock, great dance, all in this great intimate environment. Snapped Ankles are playing that stage on Friday too, so that’s another act I’m really looking forward to.”
“I don’t think we even knew he was doing Eurovision where we booked him back in October! Sam’s from up the road – he used to run a juice bar in Coggeshall and my god daughter was one of his customers… But yeah, what a voice. The way he blew up on TikTok is extraordinary. Eurovision gave us a little spike in sales too! Thinking about it, maybe he’ll beat Anne-Marie and Sigrid for the biggest crowd…”
“Anyone who buys a Friday ticket can see Sam Ryder followed by Example followed by Sugababes followed by Anne-Marie, but if that’s not your thing we have Sleaford Mods on the second stage, who are just wonderfully the opposite of everything else going on at the same time. I think we’re probably the only festival in history that’s over had the Sugababes and Sleaford Mods next to each other!”
“Our second stage, Laundry Meadows, is an all female and non-binary stage on the Sunday. I tend to keep the acts I really want to see for the Sunday night because things are (hopefully) running themselves by then, so I’m really looking forward to seeing Self Esteem headline, Ezra Furman is returning too, and then there’s Dry Cleaning – those three are going to be really special. Self Esteem has just had such a strong year, and I can’t wait to see what she brings to the festival.”
Weekend and day tickets for Standon Calling 2022 are available here, as well as upgrades and extras.