With the so-called boutique fests, the key is to catch them just before they ditch their super-intimate roots and start acting upon semi-behemoth like ambitions. And thankfully we’ve caught Standon just at the right time.
The site harbours a Big Chill-esque vista – thanks to its almost valley inducing high-rise hills. But when inside, it’s pocket-size rep is soon justified. It takes a mere 20 minutes to navigate - a refreshing relief for legs already well past their 2010 festival use by date. Camping impedes the site-proper too, affording it an especially close-knit community feel. There are around half a dozen musical enclaves and as many eateries, with the rest of the inner-ring consumed by imaginative, side-show haunts. Its attention to detail and level of creativity are impressively high.
The main stage highlight came from Gallic legend – Etienne De Crecy, who despite his slightly brash, over zealous stylings, managed to steal the show with the jaw-dropping, cubic structure that housed him. Made up of an intricate web of white neon lights, it was like watching a strobe firework display set to a fizzing electro soundtrack. The best musical treats though, were delivered by the second tent, where its flawless Funktion One system helped make These New Puritans, British Sea Power and Delorean all sound quite sublime. The less said about Silver Columns however, the better. Eeeek. Small hour haven – Alcatraz – was where the festival really clicked into place however. A theatrical, open-air dance floor that each night heaved with searing enthusiasm to the likes of Hannah Holland, Tayo and Eddy Temple-Morris; all at the feet of a majestic, 5 metre-high DJ booth. It’s intimacy and unified elation summed up the festival quite perfectly.
For its inventive, well-equipped environs and delightfully eclectic line-up alone, this festival is well worth checking out; but it’s Standon’s ability to envelop you into this peculiarly familiar and uber-welcoming family for a full 72 hours, that really impresses and leaves you wanting more.
Words: Dan Kinasz