Live Review

Stag & Dagger, Various Venues, Glasgow

Stag & Dagger is a test of stamina but as a musical survey (however geeky) it serves its purpose commendably.

Today’s run of gigs kicks off at The Captain’s Rest, the smallest of venues at the best of times, today it seems like a test of perseverance for those prepared to barge their way through a bar full of football fans and a queue of eager S&D ticket holders to get anywhere near the basement performance space. Arriving early largely proves to be a waste of time, and bands whose names promise excitement – Hot Panda, Honeyblood and The Heartbreaks – are destined to remain elusive. Onwards to Sleazy’s!

A slight sense of déjà vue overtakes until it’s finally possible to get into ABC 1 to catch a sample of White Denim’s guitar heavy psychedelic garage-prog. They start off a train of thought that my notebook just records as “the geeks shall inherit the earth”. They give good guitar face but I can’t quite find the right level to enjoy it. The multi-venue nature of this day means you spend most of it missing something. It’s possible to stay put for as long as it takes to imbibe your drink, but then you must move on if you don’t want to be at the mercy of the dreaded timetable clashes.

I cut out to catch some Post War Years at the newly relocated Art School, they suffer from “too many tables syndrome” (lots of gear and not a lot to do) but combine the stridence of Arcade Fire with a synth pop edge. They are described as “Math Rock from Lemington Spa” – further grist to my “revenge of the geeks” reverie.

Back at The ABC, the ineffable Phantom Band are showing why they have been signed up to headline quite so many festival events this summer – they have established a strong identity in their music and it’s hard to leave and miss a note, but I must if I am to arrive at CCA in time for Eleanor Friedberger who, having shed her Fiery Furnaces persona, is now even more firmly in the Patti Smith/ Joey Ramone mould with her unmistakably New York sounds baring this out. Her sound seems more rhythmic and tougher than her old band’s, particularly on ‘My Mistakes’ with its biting “I don’t want to bother you” refrain.

Having dipped a toe into this, I skip back to ABC once more to find Django Django, who have upped the volume, but still render tracks from their debut album with honed precision. It says much for the scale of their ambitions that the over riding feeling is one of gratitude for having seen them before they went global.

In the end, I make a snap decision to go back to The Art School, where the next act are Oxford’s Jonquil. They have two trumpets and that preppy Vampire Weekend vibe, but can’t quite revive my flagging attention.

My geek theory is gathering pace, between the posh, the nerdy and the hairy, that quality we shall call “allure” is almost dead in today’s crop of musicians. The geeks have won, and while the triumph of the obsessive and eccentric feels like a victory in the indie wars, the awful truth is if every dude (and there are precious few women) is a cardigan wearing dork, then where do we go from here?

The structure of the line up means I’m now on the wrong side of the city centre for Bear In Heaven, so I dive into Sleazys to see local behemoths Holy Mountain, Chemikal Underground’s contribution to the enduring phenomenon that is hairy heavy metal. The mic is high, Lemmy-style and there is even a fist fight somewhere down the front. Doubtless this is just how they like it.

Finally I make the walk to Stereo and catch the end of a highly charged set from EMA, but it doesn’t seem to be generating the response I would have expected after so much heat from the blogosphere. Maybe I’m getting tired. Too tired to stick around for much of Forest Swords dubby ambience – which on another occasion might have had more appeal. Stag & Dagger is a test of stamina but as a musical survey (however geeky) it serves its purpose commendably.

Tags: EMA, WATERS, Features

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