As five hour events go, this one packed a potent punch. 19th May was the fourth annual Stag and Dagger festival encompassing trendy Old Street, Hoxton and Kingsland. Each location boasted three or four stompingly good acts and were walking distance from each other. Hallelujah Urban Festivals.

This was one of the first “alternative” galas I have been too and I had my preconceptions – cue impossibly tight jeans, asymmetrical haircuts and nerd specs – but such ideas were replaced by a sense of cheer and community. I got in early to collect my press tags and lapped up the décor of C.A.M.P; an upmarket-but-stylishly-rough-around-the-edges venue for the likes of Eaguls, Beat Connection and CocknbullKid later that night.

…the beauty of this event was that I could fluidly move in and out of places to snack on a buffet of talent.

It was time to venture forth. Stag and Dagger was an interesting mix of suits and hipsters. Being an arts, music and media festival I was bemused to spot a few banker types sandwiched between some Tracey Emins doppelgangers. Marvellous!

Marques Toliver was not an act I had heard of before but the beauty of this event was that I could fluidly move in and out of places to snack on a buffet of talent. Originally from New York, Mr. T soulfully entranced the audience with his violin and lustrous voice.

“That’s the closest I’ve come to being a groupie!”

Another stand out act was a secret favourite of mine: CocknBullKid who was one of the few acts I had heard previously. Earlier that day I spotted her band casually sipping some cold ones and relaxing outside C.A.M.P. Having seen their CocknBullKid emblazoned drum cover I passed them over a knowing look and went on my way. “That’s the closest I’ve come to being a groupie!” I thought. What I love about Anita’s songs are her sardonic, rather educated verses displayed over an otherwise predictable synthpop. She didn’t fail to impress although the stage let her down (bad venue, naughty venue) with lousy lighting.

The lovely ticket lady recommended I check out Ghostpoet so with that in mind I used my two feet to walk to 93 Feet and settled as he took the stage. With a name like that I didn’t know what to expect – Poetry? Rap? A séance?

…the organizers showcased many uber-cool underground acts…

But wow what I got was Mr. Sandman tossing his somnolent lullabies at the crowd, but I daren’t miss a beat. This is definitely an MC to watch out for and his Stag and Dag act went down blissfully.

Alas I didn’t get to watch hugely popular New Young Pony Club play so I left the evening humming Ice Cream to myself.

Apparently the festival was more low key than yesteryear, setting apart the pissheads from the music lovers and truth be told I am much happier for that. The only drawback of course was the timeframe which inevitably equalled clashes or a lot of hotfooting around town.

Nevertheless the organizers showcased many uber-cool underground acts and I left feeling energised and content with my musical kudos. I will certainly be attending next time (nerd glasses optional).

4 Stars

Image courtesy of James Yuill


About The Author

Christabel Samuel graduated from UCL with a BA in English Literature and an MA in Film Studies. When she's not writing for MouthLondon, she's a filmmaker and journalist.

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