From the outset the Friday night of the 2012 Land of Kings Festival was crazy good fun, a night of variety, talented performers and general japes around Dalston.

Being super excited at the prospect of a festival in the neighbourhood I decided to work from home for the afternoon to be first in line for my wristband. So 6pm on the dot I was loitering outside Magnolia on Stoke Newington High Street wondering if I had the right place. 45 minutes later we were finally let in to get our wristbands and take a glance. Magnolia was a surprising treat, the long carpeted hallway leading to a huge dance floor and DJ setup with the first act already in full swing.

A friend had convinced us all to buy additional tickets for the Bestcleo “3 course dinner” and performance  ( For an extra fiver, we were all dubious to what this “3 course dinner” might have in store, and with the performance taking place in a local greasy spoon (on the corner of Ashwin Street and Dalston Lane) we all abstained from any face stuffing activities beforehand to allow for maximum gut space during the event. We were given a plastic cup with what smelt like a shot of vodka sloshing around the bottom and told to take a seat.

A respectably dressed elderly gent stood up and announced that for the next 35 minutes he would give a lecture on the difference between religion and belief. Thankfully this only lasted 20 minutes, our vodka was replenished throughout and the first course arrived….a dry bagel! YUM! Over the course of the next hour or so we were served a plate of pasta with a ketchup garnish, a hot cross bun with jam (delight!) and exposed to the Bestcleo dancers gyrating between the tables, one even face planting my friends lap and refusing to move. FUN! After a round of word bingo on the big screen, we decided to head off. In future I might load up on booze and other food first to avoid the overhanging desire to abort mission and get to the parties!

Full of carby goodness, we hit the Dalston Roof Park. It’s one of those ace places you come across in London that are made for sunny summer evenings hanging out with your mates. If only we had more of those in London! (as an aside, I went there with some friends this Saturday when it actually was sunny, we drank Absinthe cocktails and enjoyed an AMAZING view of the sun setting over East London…when it happens it is so GOOD!!!) It was fairly quiet when we arrived at the roof garden, so we had a nosey around then shot off to the Shacklewell Arms  to see Bos Angeles play.

With a lush, beachy summertime feel to their tunes, Bos Angeles played a light hearted set to a small crowd. It was a nice vibe to start the musical side of our evening, the only sourness caused by my own sense of impending doom when faced with the youth of these talented young chaps. I had to fight the urge to go up to the lead singer and grab his little cheeks and let him know that one day he would be old and jaded like me! So a pint down and we headed to meet some friends at new Dalston outfit, Birthdays.

We arrived to a packed out downstairs bar for Trophy Wife. Squashing our way to the front to find our mates, the vibe here was much more rowdy than it had been at Shacklewell Arms and whether due to the fact the night was getting on (10.30pm by this point) or the performers were a little more established and polished, this was a great gig. The venue still held a fresh paint smell we aren’t accustomed to in Dalston but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before it grimes up and becomes a favourite.

Next was a mission for the singletons of the group to experience what the Land of Kings program described as a “Live Art Speed Date”…ok, so not so much for the singletons, more because I was getting rowdy and demanding by this point and decided that’s where I was going! Luckily the team gave into my charms and we headed to the Dalston Boys club to check out this night curated by the Stoke Newington International Airport.

My first memory of this place (once we found it, around the back to the right of Vortex) is my friend Nola greeting me with a craft knife and a potato stamp and saying “They really shouldn’t give knives to drunk people, it’s a bad idea!” UNNERVING. But a few potato stamps later and we were enjoying the vibe and observing the loosely organised dating activities….somehow a human pyramid was formed, there seemed to be a lot of balloon blowing going on and an MC (unsuccessfully) trying to instigate random snogs. The venue is like wandering into a relative’s garage, random stuff everywhere…which is probably just as dangerous as knives for drunk people. We had fun. Then we wanted to see NZCA Lines at Vortex.

I had been listening to NZCA Lines and had read about him recently in Crack Magazine. Upstairs at Vortex is a great venue for the light show that accompanied the mellow synth and vocals of Michael Lovett and we stuck it out here until the end of the gig. Good dancey stuff.

By now it was 1am and some of our party were waning. We headed back to Dalston Boys club to catch Caze Nove, had a dance, met some strangers and posed for photos in front of the nude painting upstairs. All in all, a great way to end an awesome evening. Then home to bed by 3.30am (see above, I am getting old, no partying until the bitter end at 5am!).

I was a little sad to miss the Saturday night of Land of Kings Festival, but thems the breaks,  next year I’ll try to do it all!


Words and pictures by Tor Cameron



3 Comments on “Land of Kings – Friday Review

  1. Pingback: Onra at Birthdays « Hackney Bubble

  2. i just got pissed off about land of fussing kings when i was talking to a fking boring sloane about dalston and he mentioned it. i guess all good things come to an end and dalston has come to an end but no on knew it would be quite as grim as this.

    • Just after I read this, an email arrived telling me that Kate Nash was playing at Shacklewell Arms… you might be right!

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