The Land of Cro Cro 24

25 April 2024

Spring has officially sprung, and there is no better way to wake up and blow away those winter cobwebs than listening to fresh live music.

The weekend before last was spent doing exactly that at ‘Cro Cro Land’ a wonderful 2-day festival set in the magnificent Stanley Arts buildings, South Norwood. Interesting fact: ‘CRO’ refers to the postcode district covering the largest population in the UK and is considered the birthplace of UK Punk.

With over 40 mainly guitar-based bands performing, the festival was split over 2 areas, which meant there was always something interesting to watch. Some up-and-coming local bands played in the smaller ‘Concrete Playground, whilst more established groups and singers were in the larger ‘Town Square’ main hall.

Mattiel headlined Saturday Night, playing a sublime set which included fan favourites ‘Count Your Blessings’ and ‘Keep the Change’. She now lives in Europe so hopefully it won’t be long until the next gig.

Sunday headliners were The Subways celebrating over 20 years of being a band, and happily sharing the joy of doing what they love: i.e. playing live. They played an energetic set which kept the audience jumping throughout. For a band that usually plays much larger venues on worldwide tours, it felt so special to see them in a more intimate setting, something they also obviously liked.

Sadly, there are still too many music festivals that have a predominantly male line-up. In Cro Cro land gender equality is genuinely at the heart of what goes on.  The line-up included many fantastic female bands, including She Drew the Gun – described by Louder than War as ‘one of the most uniquely brilliant bands in the UK’. They played a captivating set, including ‘Behave Myself’ a great political song demanding us all to sit up and take notice.

Special mention goes to Bugeye – a band I have followed for a while. They now have a second lead guitarist which not only broadens their sound but gives it a strong solid feel (helped by Paula’s thumping bass playing). Despite nearly losing her voice on the Saturday, Angela (lead vocalist) managed to get through the set with no problem which included a new song ‘It’s a shame’. Is a new album on its way?

With so many great bands performing over the two-day festival Paul and I had to filter which bands to watch. So sadly, I can’t mention all the bands, but those that particularly grabbed our attention included: Margate punk band Pink Suits (The video to their song COFFEE is worth checking out); I Doris – a band where the members wear pinnies and each member is named Doris, they encourage the audience to pledge allegiances to Doris’s throughout the world!

Amongst the London based bands: Dogviolet played beautifully melodic songs, with a wonderful psychedelic/grungy sound; and Whitelands provided a wonderfully introspective shoe-gazing set. I think they are both destined for bigger things.

On Sunday evening, Liverpool band, Gen and the Degenerates played a fun lively set which demonstrated the power of live music as they totally lifted my energies which were slightly flagging.

I must mention how superbly organised Cro Cro Land festival was – everything from getting the stage times of bands to finding where the nearest toilet was thought of. The food court area offered delicious modestly priced food, and there were good seating areas where one could sit and watch the bands/artists, when the legs needed a rest. All the site staff were friendly and helpful. This gave the festival a wonderful atmosphere of inclusion, consideration, and love for each other.

It felt such a special privilege to be at such a fabulous festival. Please let’s have another one next year and put Cro Cro Land firmly on the map.

Keep up to date with Cro Cro Land’s future events on the website, Instagram, X (Twitter) and Facebook. Check out more images from the weekend here.

Header image courtesy of urban sketcher, Lis Watkins. Band photos courtesy of Cro Cro Land by Jon Mo (from top: Mattiel; The Subways; She Drew The Gun; Bugeye; Pink Suits; I Doris; Dogviolet; Whitelands; Gen and the Degenerates). Final photo courtesy of 31% Wool of Lilith Ai by Jennifer Evans.

Posted by guest writer Richard Stableford

Richard is a SouthEast Londoner who enjoys life in its many forms, due in part to his grandparents taking him to pantos at Fairfield Halls, walks around Sanderstead and delicious afternoon teas at Croydon’s Allders. 

One Comment

Caffy St Luce

Cro Cro Land was definitely a music festival of the year for all generations and backgrounds. It was all this and so much more, yet affordable!

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