Chagstock – The people’s favourites return

Ross Bryant
Ross Bryant

‘An annual party that evolved into a festival’ – it’s the kind of thing you hear after a teenager’s house party gets advertised on social media and a riot ensues, which incidentally, isn’t that far from the truth.

To say that the weather forecast was looking unfortunate is an understatement. A weekend on the calendar that was cushioned on both sides by clear blue skies, rudely adopting the thunderstorm symbol for both days. That being said, Saturday was perfect festival weather and Friday’s rain really wasn’t that bad in the end. Who needs the Met Office anyway?

After an online poll run by organiser Simon Ford, festival-goers voted for their favourite bands from the last 10 years to come back and play this year. Fun Lovin Criminals, Mad Dog Mcrea and Noble Jacks came out on top.

One of Friday’s favourites were Holy Moly and the Crackers, a mad mix of upbeat songs, blistering energy that comes through a unique and seemingly infinite mix of instruments. Vocalist Ruth Patterson from Newcastle left a lasting impression on the crowd.

A loyal and undeterred crowd braved the lashing rain to watch From the Jam who, with their arsenal of hits, played a very tight set. You’d never even know that Paul Weller wasn’t with them. They’ve stayed true to the original recordings with decades of touring clearly working in their favour, a very tight performance indeed.

Unsurprisingly, Mad Dog Mcrea also smashed it on the main stage. Their catchy gypsy/folk beats always draw a jovial response (the rain stopping might have helped too).

A highlight of Saturday was Amy Montgomery, a 20-year-old singer from Dublin whose voice is something to behold. It blew the away remnants of early afternoon hangover. Her whole band aren’t bad either.

Another act that left a lasting impression were Chainska Brassika, a blistering ska band from London (think Madness on steroids). The crowd were like putty in their hands, a sea of bodies dressed in all manner of maritime fancy dress, bouncing to brass infused beats; things were taken up a gear.

Saturday Marquee stage headliners Noble Jacks also got a great response. After their introduction to festival performing at Chagstock a few years ago, the young Brighton-based folk band are now definitely a firm Chagstock favourite. I overheard “that was amazing” or words to that effect declared by a number of people leaving the stage.

Fun Lovin Criminals did what they do best. You really can’t put that band in any kind of box; hip hop, rock ‘n’ roll, blues-jazz, Latino, soul. Every vibe you think of sprinkled into an enjoyable set. The New York band brought main stage proceedings to a fitting close.

One of the great things about Chagstock is that unlike the big corporate shindigs, you’re actually afforded the physical space to have fun, and not be hearded around like cattle for a weekend, spending the night in perpetual states of queuing. Everyone at Chagstock is in good spirits. It really shows us what festivals should be all about.

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