Review: Kallida 2017

Despite the forecasted wet weather, we were pretty damn pumped to chuck ourselves (anorak or no anorak) straight into the launch of Kallida festival. Being fresh on the scene, we didn’t quite know what to expect from Kallida but were told to anticipate a unique combination of heavyweight soundsystems and an array of mind-bending visual arts. Add location into the mix: the picture-perfect Baskerville Hall surrounded by stunning countryside, plus a pretty impressive lineup, and you have a recipe for an enticing new festival. Looking forward to popping Kallida’s cherry, we piled our camping gear into the car and headed into the rolling hills of Wales.

After pulling up at around 2pm, we were greeted on site by a load of happy faces – it seemed just about everyone was as excited to be part of the Kallida family as we were. Slowly and a little unsurely we began to pitch our tent, though upon hearing my methodical reading of our not-so-helpful instructions our neighbours – a couple of absolute gents – aided us damsels that were in a little distress and set us off to a jolly good start!

Next, we scoped out the festival grounds on the hunt for clues as to what lay ahead. One thing we noticed straight away was that everything was within a five minute walk from you. For once we’d be burning more calories dancing than walking between toilets and stages, which is so often a major drawback with larger, less intimate festivals. With just one main stage during the day we never had FOMO and were able to enjoy ourselves at our own leisure.

After having familiarised ourselves with the site, we took ourselves over to the bar and bought some very reasonably priced cocktails at three for a tenner. Unfortunately, due to the venue’s licensing, any boozing had to be fuelled by the festival’s bars and was policed by eagle-eyed security. Luckily, pints turned out to be not as over-priced as you might expect and you could grab yourself a tinny from inside the Hall for £3.40.

As the night drew in, live music began booming from the main stage that was, much to our relief, sheltered from the rain. After a relatively slow start to the day, the 12-piece Afro-beat band Nubiyan Twist succeeded in lifting the community spirit with everyone up on their feet dancing and foot shuffling to their infectious mix of jazz, hip hop, reggae, and soul. MC Nubiya Brandon’s melodic vocals were simply delicious and got us all excited for Kallida’s impending house party (10pm until 5am).

Nubiya Brandon’s melodic vocals were simply delicious and got us all excited for Kallida’s impending house party

With its easy-going atmosphere, it was clear that the day was the calm before the storm and its departure marked the beginning of Kallida’s magic and euphoric moments. The evening took on a completely different vibe as the house party portion of the evening massively stepped up the festival’s game.

It was evident that the team behind Kallida had gone to great efforts to curate a broad visual arts selection, with fun to be had waiting around every corner. Partygoers were greeted by psychedelic art and light installations, a cinema and two main music rooms – an absolute sight for sore eyes….and ears.

We could simply not stay still as we greedily consumed all that Kallida had to offer

We could simply not stay still as we greedily consumed all that Kallida had to offer. One of our favourite features was ‘Lucent Matter’ by Royal College of Art alumni Rose Leahy, Sylvana Lautier and Kim Yip Tong, which consisted of a film screened on a dome that visualised the universe through light, matter and colour. As you lay on cushions, the dome loomed above you with mesmerising images of a night’s sky littered with stars and clouds and provided us with a well-deserved rest from throwing shapes.

After having enjoyed DJ duo Wayward who have recently released their new track Alexandra, we spent most of Friday night in the Music Room, which hosted Bristol-based DJ Dub Boy, Clarks, Swing Ting and Jam Jah Sounds. We danced until the early hours under a beautifully embossed ceiling and impressive chandelier to a mixture of dub, electro house, reggae and dancehall before we moved into the Red Room to catch the festival’s surprise guest Benton, followed by DJ Storm. The music reverberated around the walls of the mansion, creating the ultimate party – though next time Kallida’s guests would benefit from cracking open some windows, as it was a particularly sweaty affair.

Slightly rattled after Friday night, we slowly emerged from our tents to a better day weather wise. We caught some rays on the grounds and rested our weary bodies, preparing ourselves for another night of debauchery. Kallida’s cosy crowd was jam-packed with colourful characters and we even witnessed a couple getting engaged, which was cute – congrats guys! It is safe to say that Friday was off to a great start with everyone in high spirits.

Mid-afternoon, Vels Trio provided some super chill vibes as he serenaded us with a unique synthesis of deep grooves, hip hop and jazz, whilst mouth-watering smells from the BBQ wafted right under our noses.

Music aside, the festival ran a vegetarian and vegan food stall all weekend, who we we can confirm are more than capable of whipping up a cracking Halloumi burger. If you were feeling a bit more adventurous or had a hankering for something a little meatier, you could also go and eat a more civilised meal in the Hall’s pub-style restaurant.

Vels Trio provided some super chill vibes as he serenaded us with a unique synthesis of deep grooves, hip hop and jazz

As the evening loomed, K.O.G & The Zongo Brigade took to the main stage for the perfect transition from day into night. As soon as they launched into their first song everyone was in the mood for silliness and dancing, as their funky hip hop got us all perked up for the evening ahead. The infectious 9-piece band delivered West African vibes and served us a tasty brew of afrobeat, soul, funk and reggae.

Afterwards, everyone headed inside the walls of the grand 19th century mansion for round two of the festival’s house party. We were particularly excited for the legendary UK garage producer Sticky, who did not disappoint with some absolute classics. He drew a large crowd that came together to pull out their best moves and he was, for us, the star of the night. Also on the lineup was Liquid Steel Sound, which provided some cutting edge electronic bass music, and Off Me Nut Record’s Thorpey & Phatworld who blasted some dirty bassline.

Saturday night also provided a new immersive audiovisual installation from Morestatelab titled ‘Afterglow’, creating a unique experience for Kallida’s partygoers. The trippy geometric patterns danced alongside an original piece of electronic music and was pretty-eye-catching.

For a spanking new festival, Kallida was well thought out and certainly one to look out for. With only 500 tickets available it made it that extra bit special, providing a refreshing community feel of being amongst friends and not strangers. Everyone was free to express themselves and let loose with no judgment, cutting shapes until the early hours like nobody’s watching.

Kallida was one hell of a party rather than a festival

Having said that, I do feel that Kallida was one hell of a party rather than a festival and with the evening’s events stealing the show, I can see that some may have felt the day’s offerings were a bit lacklustre. Personally, I feel Kallida provided the perfect balance between relaxation and revelry, but for those looking for around-the-clock entertainment and live music you may be better off sticking to what you already know. I however, am already hotly anticipating next year’s Kallida festival as I’m sure many others are. With its exciting amalgamation of visual arts, DJs, and set designers it is truly an all-round experience and one you cannot afford to miss.

Words by Georgie Partington