Starting to feel like something of an institution Stag & Dagger’s fifth year in Glasgow promises to provide the vast spectrum of musical tastes we Weegies have to come to expect in mid May.
Since its inception the variety of acts prove a tasty distraction to end of the season football matches.
Athough billed as an all day event not much is scheduled to test the stamina prior to 7pm with the exception of happenings at The Captains from 1pm onwards.
Unfortunately despite my supposed best intentions I fail to catch a glimpse of either Hot Panda (combo of sleep/football) or Die Hard (just sheer laziness) both of whom I had pencilled in to attend.
So, following that less than triumphant beginning we eventually muster up enough energy to collect our wristbands.
Having previously experienced both Miaoux Miaoux and White Denim we conclude after much deliberation our first pick of the day; Post War Years.
With the ABC kicked off and some unmentionable sporting event taking place the band open to a fairly sparse disinterested crowd.
A couple of songs in and it’s coming across all Hot Chippy with synth pop tones and vocal harmonies meshed with samplers.
Halfway through the band confess to not having a setlist awakening those in The Art School as they warm to the clearly hungover four-piece.
After slowly going through the gears (as well as requesting the audience come closer) the band finally take it up a notch with ‘All Eyes’, a clear highlight with its crashing heavy bass bringing the walls down.
Instead of holding tight for Still Corners skip along to the ABC and the psychedelics that is The Phantom Band.
First off let me say I do actually like a lot of The Phantom Band, indeed I enjoyed one of their many Glasgow gigs not so long ago.
However, for whatever reason the best compliment to pay them on tonight would be ‘energetic’.
They appear to huff and puff throughout their set despite frontman Rick Anthony’s insistence “always a pleasure never a chore”.
Playing a selection of songs from both Checkmate Savages and The Wants small sections of hard-core fans drum up an atmosphere but their set will have done nothing to attract the uninitiated.
Django Django, so good they named themselves twice, have played the waiting game remaining in self imposed exile since releasing debut single ‘Storm’ in 2009.
Such patience would now appear to be paying of as fresh from an appearance on Jools Holland they find support in the form of hipster and average mr music man alike.
Awaiting Django Django’s presence with a healthy level of excitement and expectation the audience roar as they appear on stage complete with uniformesque like matching t-shirts.
Samples, blips, beeps, riffs, vocal cues and suddenly we’re transported to a jungle, very effectively, and opener ‘Hail Bop’ kicks in.
What follows is a three (or four) song medley mix of tracks like ‘Waveform’, ‘Default’ and ‘Skies over Cairo’ with interludes of lesser known songs from their debut album.
The full version of ‘Skies over Cairo’ provides a fantastic evocation of deserts, sand dunes, oases and bustling bazaars.
Watching the assembled masses struggle to find the suitable dance moves for such a track is a personal highlight.
The set builds to a stupendous finale as fan favourite ‘Wor’ kicks in; synths bounce off the walls and reverb back, bringing us all together in an encompassing Django Django embrace.
Much to many’s surprise there is even time for an encore just as people had began to creep out.
Following this we dart over to the CCA for a not so enjoyable 10 minute taster of Washington Irving.
Not that the band are to blame, the venue is at breaking point in terms of capacity meaning if you dared to sneak off for a pint you were unlikely to return to see or hear the band.
That aside, while I’d not put a huge amount of faith in my findings after 10 minutes it would seem Washington Irving are set for a bright future.
The self-proclaimed electric folk outfit speaks of their distaste for Dunfermline which gained a muted response before someone joked “haw am frae Dunfermline”.
Songs such as ‘Abbey Gallop’ suggest a band with no little skill in songcraft and raw Americana who on this evidence are likely to continue on an upward curve.
After somehow escaping the CCA there is only one plausible destination: Stereo and EMA.
Gracing Glasgow and Scotland with her presence for the very first time Erika M. Anderson is in town to showcase her debut solo effort Past Life Martyred Saints.
Her blend of introverted singer-songwriter brooding with furious abrasive punk does not immediately catch the imagination of the Stereo crowd.
Requesting the “sexy blue lights” she and her band rip through the powerful ‘Marked’, no doubt spectacular irrespective of lighting choices.
Melting through frazzled soundscapes of feedback and general bombast we are treated to ‘Grey Ship’ in all its glory before Anderson ventures on a 10-minute solo independent from her band.
By the time EMA jumps off the stage to confront the now engaged audience ‘Milkman’ is in full flow as she laments the disintegration of relationships.
While appreciating the Kim Gordon/Sonic Youth-esque screaming brilliance of ‘California’ the only minor complaint is ‘Breakfast’ is not played!
As EMA wraps the microphone cord around herself while seemingly lost for the moment there is a respectful hush in recognition of a performer whose charisma and aggression set her apart.
Naturally, following EMA’s set the only way was down, however Forest Swords‘ chillwave does provide a rather helpful nudge to Stereo’s attendees with a mellowness which comes as a welcome contrast to EMA’s darkness.
Undoubtedly not everyone’s cup of coffee Forest Swords enabled a chilled out conclusion to all the Staggering & Daggering.
‘Miarches’ loops and clattering beats combine with live guitars finish the night off nicely as the masses slowly began to slink away and retreat home following another successful Stag & Dagger.
Words: Andy Quigley
Photos: Kenny McColl