Standon Calling: Washed Out, but never a washout.

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Since Michael Eavis’s surprising comment to The Times about Glastonbury Festival being “on the way out” due to festival apathy and the economic downturn, there has been much discussion about the state of the UK’s festival scene.

Standon Calling Logo
With around 600 festivals in the UK this year, its decline, however, is not immediately apparent. Isle of Wight, Glastonbury, T in the Park and Reading/Leeds, all sold out this year, and while there were some festival cancellations – 31 in all, and mainly smaller ones – many smaller festivals have also continued to sell well this year, including Kendall Calling, Secret Garden Party, End of the Road and Green Man.

They have done this by offering an alternative to the larger commercial events, with a combination of home-grown, family-friendly and village fair vibes, and by being virtually or totally sponsorship-free. Added to this, some differentiate themselves by carrying a theme that attempts to involve attendees in dressing up. Standon Calling is one such festival. Its theme this year is ‘Monsters and Gods’, which as well as inspiring fancy dress, will influence the stage and set designs, art installations and interactive theatre at the event.

Forty minutes away from London, Standon Calling started in 2001 as a gathering of friends celebrating a birthday around a swimming pool with a barbeque and some record-decks. It has since developed into a so-called ‘boutique’ festival, set in the grounds of a 16th century manor house, and in the last few years has hosted Brits winners and Mercury music nominees including Florence and the Machine, Friendly Fires and Mumford and Sons.

This year’s ‘next big thing’ on their bill is US electro lo-fi musician Washed Out, who is currently topping the Standon Calling Band Tracker that the Guardian put together using the Musicmetric API.

The buzz about Washed Out began in 2009 when he posted a number of bedroom recordings on his MySpace page. Since then he has released two EPs, and his debut album Within and Without, which came out last month, is a summer record that I’m sure you will be able to enjoy at any time of the year.

Washed Out is the alias of Georgia, USA-based songwriter Ernest Greene, and one that very much sums up the sun-bleached, blissed-out aesthetic of his process-heavy sound that allies him with other bedroom acts associated with what is known as the Chillwave movement. His idiosyncratic brand of Chillwave – a reverb-drenched romantic psychedelia that mixes 80s synth-pop with early-90s dance beats – also sits well alongside the current crop of West Coast new-surf acts Best Coast and Girls, and even the ethereal Warpaint.

As well as monitoring Washed Out’s position on the Standon Calling Band Tracker, you can track his buzz and sentiment on social networks, bit torrents, and the web, and also compare it to other similar artists, using the Musicmetric Fantracker (above).

Oh, and if you are going to Standon Calling this weekend, be sure to bring your swimwear – they still have a swimming pool!

Toby Burton

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