Kendal Calling 2017 – The top 10 Artists you should not miss this year!

As Glastonbury comes to an end, the festival season itself really cranks up during July, and by far the best medium sized festival in the UK is Kendal Calling.

Once again thousands of people are heading to the Lake District for a weekend packed of music, comedy, and many other activities that we detailed in our What to Expect article here: What to Expect at Kendal Calling

Lowther Deer Park will be the beautiful setting for this blend of bands and artists, and is really one of the best line-ups of the year – no wonder it sold out a week after the announcement.

With so many great acts on we’ve whittled it down to a top ten that you must not miss:

Manic Street Preachers
Formed in the late eighties, they have produced some of the finest anthemic indie rock music over the last 30 years. Often politically charged and at some point in the set bass player Nicky Wire may say something inappropriate (Glasto ‘94 “I say build a by-pass over this sh*thole”). They are in my mind one of the finest live rock bands around, expect to hear songs like Motorcycle Emptiness and A Design For Life played with renewed energy. Their headline set on the main stage should be top of your list.

James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers (Kalpesh Patel)

James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers (Kalpesh Patel)

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls
This is Frank’s third appearance at the festival and he’s always a favourite. The Punk turned Folk troubadour is with his full band and expect a hit list of singalong classics like Recovery, Photosynthesis and I Still Believe when he headlines the main stage on Saturday. “He won’t sit down and he won’t shut up, but most of all he will not grow up”. He managed to organise a wall of hugs at the Leeds Festival, let’s see what he has in store for the fields near Kendal.

Frank Turner And The Sleeping Souls at 02 Arena in London on 12 February 2014 (Imelda Michalczyk)

Frank Turner And The Sleeping Souls (Imelda Michalczyk)

Brian Wilson presents Pet Sounds
There are those that are called musical legends and then there is the real thing, this is a chance to see a living legend, with probably one of the last full performances of the much-celebrated Beach Boys album Pet Sounds. If the sun is still shining when he plays the main stage, there will be no better place than the Lake District and the summer sounds that Brian Wilson composed, arranged and produced. Not just the album in full, but expect all their other hits California Girls, Surfin’ USA etc. the list just goes on.

Brian Wilson performs the classic Beach Boys album Pet Sounds at Together The People festival in Brighton (Simon Jay Price)

Brian Wilson performs the classic Beach Boys album Pet Sounds at Together The People festival in Brighton (Simon Jay Price)


Punk in its rawest form, a two piece with angst, sweat and shouting. Loved them ever since I heard the weird cry of Where’s Your Car Debbie?. They have been exciting audiences all over the pub and club circuit in the last 18months, but now headline much bigger venues and have started to win awards from Kerrang and NME. Expect lots of angry and emotive shouting at the apathy and mediocrity of everything.

Slaves performing at O2 Academy Leeds as part of the Live at Leeds festival. (Gunnar Mallon)

Slaves performing at O2 Academy Leeds as part of the Live at Leeds festival. (Gunnar Mallon)

Circa Waves
We all might remember T-Shirt Weather the hit single that catapulted this band into the limelight a year or so ago, however the big news is that their latest album Different Creatures is much more of a rock beast with a big guitar sound to match their pop sensibilities. Have a listen to opening track Wake Up, it is just that. Truly developing into a fine live rock band and fresh off a lot of touring. It is going to be noisier than you are expecting, they are not a teen indie pop outfit anymore, and could well be the next huge stadium filling rock band headlining this and other festivals in years to come.

Circa Waves Headline Friday Night at LeeFest. (Simon Jay Price)

Circa Waves  (Simon Jay Price)

The Hunna
Pop rock in its finest form, youthful band with a clutch of arms in the air choruses. Already gathering a big student following and filling medium sized concert venues in the UK. Unusually signed to a US label, so they are getting more publicity in the states than here. Debut album 100 has been well received, packed with catchy guitar pop rock tunes, made by a group of lads that have known each other for years. Expect the Calling Out tent to be rammed like it was for Blossoms last year, so get there early for a decent spot.

The Hunna performing at Boston Music Room London on 2 March 2016 (Simon Reed)

The Hunna  (Simon Reed)

A band that should be destined for greatness and seem to be finally getting some decent exposure. I keep forgetting that they are still only just aged around twenty years as their more adult orientated sound is somewhere between Alt-J‘s distant psychedelic warbling and the more mainstream of Bombay Bicycle Club. Although they won’t hold back if they get a chance to break out the 8mins of Swans which is a full-on post rock mammoth with swirly guitars that Radiohead would be proud of. Get in the middle of the Calling Out crowd and revel in those wonderful epic, guitar and keys laden tunes.

The Shimmer Band
This lot are very new, so new that even Steve Lamacq had only started playing them this year. I had by chance already seen them support another band in 2016 and very quickly felt that this was a group going places. Like a cross between Roses/Oasis and Kasabian, but with some synthy influence from their home city of Bristol. That’s quite a superb brew of something familiar and yet very fresh.

The festival organisers must feel the same way as they have allocated them to the main stage, the band have yet to make their debut album! I’m going to stick my neck out here and say this band are going to be massive – play their track Freedom very loud and you might understand what I mean, it’s meant to be played live in a big arena.

There is a certain bluesy rasping voice that shouldn’t really come out of a tall lad’s mouth but with Leo Wyndham the emotion he can express with it is quite transfixing. You match that with some haunting guitar melodies and you have Palace, a four piece based in London, who have released their debut album So Long Forever. Some say they are the next Foals or Maccabees, I don’t see the same energy levels instead they are much more of a dreamy alt blues band, much softer and subtler than those indie skinny jeans rock types.

Leo Wyndham of Palace performing at O2 Shepherds Bush Empire on 27 April 2017 (Simon Reed)

Leo Wyndham of Palace  (Simon Reed)

Jeramiah Ferrari

Nothing better at a festival than a spot of reggae, and when it’s home grown from just outside of Manchester (Leigh to be exact) that’s a bit special. Jeramiah Ferrari played last year to a packed tent at around 1am and it was superb. Don’t miss this repeat, mixing his own compositions with a classic like Toots’s 54-46 Was My Number with ease and some significant authenticity. Everyone was in a great dancing mood, so I know where I’m heading when the sun goes down.

There are so many other superb acts playing over the weekend like Stereophonics, Editors, Feeder etc. That cutting it down to just 10 was a difficult task and I know that during the 4 days I will probably witness many more new artists that even I don’t know about. The main thing is to enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think – and I’ll see you in the fields!

Kendal Calling Feature by John Hayhurst