Dartmoor Devon

22nd-23rd July 2022

Having been in Looe last year for the aborted Looe Live, I met some regulars who I stayed in contact with. Among discussions about forthcoming festivals in 2022 came the idea of breaking my “Chagstock virginity”. And for the princely sum of just over £100 you are spoilt for choice with 30+ bands, spread across three stages. Easy enough to find (if like me) you’re heading via the South Coast, a few miles on from Exeter and you’re on the site before you know it! After some hooky directions from a steward, I find my way out of the camper van field and head for the camping field (the tents should’ve given it away)?! After a short hill climb, I stumble across my friends, pitch up my aging tent and settle down with a cold Thatcher’s cider ready for the main event. A scribe is never off duty and within minutes of hearing music, I find myself snapping and making notes.

So, once I get my wristband I decide the queue is too big for me so liquid refreshment is taken back at our circle of tents. However, once I hear full songs rather than sound checking I get myself in gear and head for the entrance. Being my first Chagstock my friends give me the guided tour – a brief survey of the stalls is taken before I head to the Main Stage to catch the end of the set by The Jury. I’m reliably informed that this is their first ever gig! I wish I’d got here earlier; this young, energetic trio bang out a set of sharp original Alt/Indie songs. The early birds give them good applause as I head over to the Big Top Stage to catch the interestingly monikered The Strange and The Beautiful. These Devonian multi-instrumentalists deliver happy-go-lucky, feel-good songs – fit for a sunny Friday afternoon.

The Jury

The Jury 1

Over in the Live Lounge I catch Go Tell Alice with their heady mix of Ska and Folk covers and originals. Despite being in the smaller room they really are creating a vibe.

Go Tell Alice
Go Tell Alice 

My first real standout act of the day can be found on the Main Stage. Leeds quartet Huw and the Greater Good play a brand of (to my ears) Indie/Alt. Singer Huw is hugely confident, indulging himself somewhat as he and the band deliver a set choc full of original material. Mid-set Huw sends the boys off stage as he goes solo; delivering a First Date song, followed by a break-up song just alone with his guitar. I would struggle to make a comparison to any other band, they are just so unique – and that is their selling point. Remember the name because these guys have the talent and stagecraft to go on to better things. A large crowd formed who remained until the end, giving Huw and the guys a very generous round of applause.

Huw And The Greater Good
Huw And The Greater Good 1

Over in the Big Top, Flats And Sharps have a near-capacity crowd for their Bluegrass exploits. This Penzance quartet is confidence personified as they engage their audience and play feel-good festy-vibe songs throughout.

Flats And Sharps
Flats And Sharps 

Back in the Live Lounge, Devonians Bar Stool Scholars are entertaining a good-sized crowd with their Ska-infused beats. Musically I pick up hints of RATM although the female vocals have more of a Country feel to them. Once again though it’s that whole feel-good vibe running through the whole arena.

Bar Stool Scholars
Bar Stool Scholars 

It’s back over to the Main Stage for the affectionately monikered Tom Maguire and the Brassholes. This eight-strong ensemble, all the way from Glasgow; bang out the Funk and Soul and get this crowd moving. Immaculately attired and confident with it, this band fill the stage and entertain. I detect more than a nod to Jamiroquai and despite this sound not being to my taste, these guys embrace the brass.

Tom Maguire And The Brassholes
Tom Maguire And The Brassholes 1234

Ok so, I won’t pretend to be a fan of Ferocious Dog having already seen them twice and both times being unimpressed, exercising the “three song rule”; but a passionate plea from one of our party to give them another chance was taken. I have to say they didn’t disappoint. This Folk/Punk/Reggae/Celt sextet draw the biggest crowd of the day and it’s not long before the place is jumping. Politically aware yet not ramming it down our throats, Ken Bonsall (Guitar/Vocals) owns the stage and cajoles his audience. If there is one song in their set (which incidentally I recognise none of) that resonated most with me it’s “Punk Police” – an absolute banger in what is a faultless set. I will now admit to being converted and will pursue future opportunities to indulge myself again in the live arena. Top that Ash?

Ferocious Dog
Ferocious Dog 12

And so to Friday’s headliners. Ash are no strangers to a headline stage, their stock over the years has been pretty high. Ok, so gone are the days of Top Twenty Chart regulars and TV appearances; but this trio continue to gig to good sized crowds and tonight we are pretty much treated to a “best of” set. In no particular order the standout tracks were (obviously) “Girl From Mars”, “Angel Interceptor”, “Kung Fu” and “Sometimes” – inducing mini-mosh pits all around.

Tim Wheeler (g/vox) struggles I feel with one or two high notes, but overall he is the consummate frontman. Bassist Mark is chief shapeshifter tonight, twisting and curling his body into every shape possible throughout; while Rick (drums) is (IMO) way too loud almost the entire set. They save the best ’til last with “Burn Baby Burn” and we remember why we loved Ash in the first place all those years ago. A fitting end to day one as Ash take their bows and the kids head for the Live Lounge for the late night disco. Us oldies beat a retreat to our tents, but with the noise around us sleep is at a premium!

Ash 1234


Words & Media by Ross A. Ferrone

Disclaimer While every effort was made to catch many bands, seeing every band is simply impossible. I have tried to cover all the bands I saw regardless of favourites