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A Magazine for Sheffield
Live / stage review

KALLIDA 2019 - Sheffield on Tour

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LarryJ Photography

The third instalment of KALLIDA, a small capacity festival of music and visual arts, took place over the weekend 19-22 July. This year saw a move to greener pastures, as the event flew from its West Midlands birthplace to Sparkford Hall in South Somerset.

A sense of comradery was thick in the close air of the organised coach down from Sheffield, as the driver slipped the gears in motion for an experience that only a 400-capacity festival can deliver.

Though it was raining on arrival, the small-scale site made check in without toil. And as the sun threatened to rip asunder the grey clouds, within half an hour we had set up camp and were under the outdoor tent with a ShinDigger pale ale.

First up was barrowboy bar regular Zeeni at the outdoor stage, whose easy-going record bag warmed up for the first live act of the weekend, London-based hip hop artist J'R' Josephs.

The playful interaction with his backing singer Indiana Dalby held everyone close and engaged in the performance. After the set, encouraging the crowd to stop and say hi, he let everyone know he was staying the whole weekend.

And he wasn't the only one. In fact, I'd wager KALLIDA pulls off the family vibe so well because it feels like there is nothing to separate artists from punters. It's absolutely the type of festival which artists would want to stay and enjoy.

As Friday afternoon became evening, we were whizzed into the absurd world of the French afro-soul duo DjeuhDjoah & Lieutenant Nicholson. Given that everything started on the Friday, we'd had no warm up, so keeping things fun early on to coax us into the heavier stuff later was spot on. Their sound was perfectly-timed, instantly gratifying poppy feel-good alongside irresistibly danceable afrobeat rhythms which got everyone into that Friday feeling.

One feature of the festival is that past 11pm everything moves indoors. KALLIDA came alive in a Georgian mansion. As the heavy door creaked open, it became clear the organisers' promise of a house party was not a hoax. The basement stage bore eerie semblance to a place we've all lived above at some point. The highlight set of the night came from Teki Latex, back for round two after playing last year, who summoned the tops-off sweating masses down those stairs and fixed them there for a gleaming three hours.

Amidst a sense of certain shipwreck, Saturday morning forecast clearer skies for the rest of the weekend. Reminding us of the health-giving benefits of ambient music, luckily, were Pretty Pretty Good down at the outdoor stage all day. Captaining the boat over choppy waters was Yak, newcomer to R&S Records, whose regenerative selections piquantly marked the cycle of a new day and a fresh start.

With the sea sickness easing off, we decided to take a dip and check out the onsite pool. We were met with Bun Dem Down Disco, clad in Club 18-30 T-shirts and armed with enough peak-millennium bangers and pool games to rattle even the most experienced party rep. Highs here included ten solid minutes of limbo and oral litter-picking rounding up the daytime fun.

Saturday night's standout live act was Ugandan artists Otim Alpha & Leo Paleyeng at the outdoor stage. Their electrifying energy, inspired by traditional wedding music, made a real celebration of performance.

The night would cease not. As the coach house was held down with solid techno and electro from London's Proteus and Make Me, down in the basement the illusive DJ Bus Replacement Service demonstrated that heavy metal is often overlooked when seeking to bring out the finer aspects of industrial techno.

As Sunday took hold, we found time to appreciate the many installations from visual artists that KALLIDA boasts. The overarching theme here was movement and the emphasis, much like with the live acts, was placed on the encouragement of audience participation. Across the weekend, we kept returning to TYPETHING Collective's keyboard. As each press of a key conjured up a different ambient possibility, the championing of user autonomy behind this Alice in Wonderland-sized keyboard brought out welcome delusions of Brian Eno grandeur.


KALLIDA's highly danceable music and its visual arts were easy to interact with. This sense of inclusivity is what really marked the festival as one of the most fun. It was impossible to feel uninvolved at KALLIDA.

Karaoke on the decking saw Sunday afternoon shift into evening and not before long it was time to see off the weekend in the upstairs room with the fabled rave act 2 Bad Mice. Bittersweet anthems saw the crowd slink about till the very end. To tie up such a fun weekend, nothing else could cut the mustard.

Marek Nowicki

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