The S&C Story So Far...
With 2019 rapidly approaching and marking S&C’s 5th birthday, we thought it was time we reflected back upon an incredible half-decade of making music and mayhem in Cambridge - and to thank all of YOU from the bottom of our hearts for the instrumental part you’ve played in that! 😍
Here we go then, pay attention – history lesson in session… 🍓
Way back when in March 2014, a group of fellow event promoters – two studying at Cambridge University, one at Anglia Ruskin, and the fourth a local returning to the city after studying in Manchester – sat in the famous Fitzbillies Cafe on Kings Parade, wondering how they could bring something different to the city’s somewhat predictable and pedestrian music scene.
They were already running four successful club nights throughout the week in Cambridge, however they wanted to leave a larger and lasting legacy on the city. Whilst pondering the idea over a mid-afternoon tea break, the four decided to take a risk and put on a garden party at the start of summer – to offer an alternative end of year celebration for students. As experienced promoters, they backed themselves to sell out the event without having a line up booked...
There wasn’t much time, but the optimistic boys got to work on looking for venues, fencing providers, bar companies and whatever else they thought may be needed to cater for 1000 people raving in a field. Next, they had to think of a name, ideally one related to CREEM, the most successful event they were already running. As they sat eating scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam, the answer was obvious (if not the spelling…). Strawberries & Creem was born.
Somehow the boys managed to turn around a successful first event inside two months, under the guise of a garden party for the Cambridge Medics Society – with DAVID RODIGAN and SHY FX headlining. When the landowners at Anstey Hall emerged on the day of the event – and saw the soundsystem, stage and 1000 party-starters descending upon their once quaint abode – it was clear that the festival wouldn’t be returning there the following year.
The crowd were unbelievable, the traditional stereotype of Cambridge had been disrupted, and the demand for S&C was real. When the hangover had subsided, the boys realised they were onto something and immediately began plans for 2015…
The foundations had been laid, and now it was time for the team to create an identity and really push the boundaries. Their weekly events had always pushed an alternative sound rarely heard in the commercial clubs of Cambridge, playing urban and dance music including Garage, UK Bass, Bashment and Grime. These genres hadn’t yet hit the mainstream, and they saw an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and bring forward-thinking artists to the unassuming city.
In late 2014, they took a gamble in booking SKEPTA whilst most of Cambridge still didn’t really have any idea of who he was. A few months later, he and BBK were storming the stage at the Brits with Kanye West - and the rest is history. Almost single handedly, Skepta helped to sell out the 2,500 person capacity event, supported by other big hitters STYLO G, MY NU LENG, MUNGO’S HIFI, GENERAL LEVY and legend from across the pond GRANDMASTER FLASH.
S&C festival had found an unexpected new home in Haggis Farm, the headquarters of the University’s Polo Club when not hosting mad underground music events, and had doubled in size - with its following and reputation in Cambridge now stronger than ever…
The following year, the pressure was on to secure a headliner in the same tier as the King of Grime. S&C festival had also found new love through combining nostalgic ‘throwback’ acts with those at the forefront of the music scene, and wanted to carry on that trend.
The team had caught wind of KANO dropping a new album (Made In The Manor) before the festival, and believed that he would be instrumental in the resurgence of Grime. It was the genre on the tip of everyone’s tongues and the festival found itself again in a position to push the culture in an area where it hadn’t previously had a platform.
In June 2016, Kano was joined on the S&C line-up by man of the hour BIG NARSTIE and Grime forefather D DOUBLE E, billed alongside American superstar and Grammy winner NELLY – who wowed the crowds with his A-list anthems from yesteryear. The festival in 2016 was another sell out event, doubling in size for the second year running – with an standout crowd once again…
As the size of the festival grew, so did the diversity represented on the line up. S&C was fast becoming one of the most popular events in the city for young people, and there was big demand for dance and house music there as well as that for urban genres such as Grime. 2017 was a watershed year for the festival, which saw the third stage (first introduced in 2016) become a crucial part of the experience – showcasing some of the hottest names in house, alongside up-and-coming DJs from across the dance music spectrum.
With the majority of the team now living in London, it was also time to branch out beyond Cambridgeshire. Keen to stick to the formula of celebrating heritage and championing future in equal measure, veterans of their contrasting crafts WILEY and SHAGGY headlined in a breakout 2017 - supported by rising stars J HUS and AJ TRACEY. The Main Stage and Big Top Tent were packed with prominent names such as MIKE SKINNER, SO SOLID CREW, GENTLEMAN’S DUB CLUB, DONAE’O, P MONEY and ARTFUL DODGER – with the dance stage headlined by disco legend DIMITRI FROM PARIS.
In another record year, S&C turned heads from the mainstream media and established itself as a mainstay on the UK festival circuit - with The MOBO’s branding it as “one of the most enjoyable events of summer.”
With the festival now firmly on the map, capacity increased to 10,000 for 2018 - and there was an expectation to deliver in an even bigger way once more. The team running the festival, however, remained relatively unchanged since its inception, with only two full time members – as the rest juggled the project alongside holding down day jobs at the same time (just about, with a little luck…).
In the spirit of heritage bookings, the iconic T-PAIN was chosen to headline their 5th event, being a favourite of the team’s growing up. He had not performed in the UK for a number of years, and pulled people from far and wide to gather in little old Cambridge. Moving with the times yet remaining true to their roots, two front runners in the Afro Swing movement – KOJO FUNDS and NOT3S –accompanied Teddy at the top of the billing, with SHY FX and DAVID RODIGAN making a royal return for the festival’s 5th birthday.
The dance stage (newly-christened The Hangar) also grew massively in popularity once again in 2018, with sets from the queen of tech house HEIDI, SECONDCITY, LATMUN and MAX CHAPMAN – supported by a promising pool of up and coming DJ’s from Cambridge, London and Peterborough. The Big Top Tent proved just as sweaty and steamy as previous years, headlined by Grime legend GHETTS, with rising star OCTAVIAN (who had just been co-signed by Drake) delivering one of the standout sets of the day.
So in just five short years, a group of friends-turned-family had grown a small garden party into the biggest music popular music festival in Cambridgeshire, doing exactly what they had set out to – bringing something new, exciting and different to their small, sleepy hometown in the East of England.
But most importantly, we couldn’t have done it without YOU, so thank you all so much for your continued support. You make the festival our favourite day of the year without fail! We’re blessed to have the most amazing crowd of any event in the land ♥️
As always, in 2019 we plan to take S&C to the next level once more – continuing to shake the foundations of the city where it all began. Watch this space, exciting news incoming very soon…
Biggest of love,
The S&C Team 🍓