Stag and Dagger (Part Two), 1/5/16

In the previous coverage of Stag and Dagger our reviewer, Adam Turner-Heffer, spoke of the fun of people’s entirely different experiences of the festival.

Intriguingly enough mine and Adam’s days overlap in only two places, one being rejecting the daunting queue for We Were Promised Jetpacks and the other being the early in the day slot of UNDO.

Still, my day, which for a good portion is spent helping out with flyering for the exciting looking Electric Fields, who today have their own stage upstairs in The Art School, is just as engaging and while I wasn’t particularly enamored by the bigger names on the bill there is still plenty of noteworthy performances.

My day begins at 3pm in the Broadcast basement, well almost, the venue is that mobbed I only manage to catch the end of Lovesick’s from the stairs, still from what I can make out the band possess a real rock ‘n’ roll attitude and their sneery vocals provide an engaging focal point on top of plenty of psychedelic tinged indie rock vibes.

Learning my less from the previous set I get down in plenty of time to see The Ninth Wave, and find myself tightly squeezed in towards the from of the stage.

The band’s melodic guitars and synths refreshingly come off a lot more raucous live than they do on record, as clattering, yet groove infected instrumentals are given a pop edge by Hadyn Park’s distinctive pop rock vocals, which give in to some dream pop tinged harmonies courtesy of Elina Lin.

The Ninth Wave definitely come across at their best when they utilise the male-female vocal dynamic to the max, but this is something that’s an almost ever presents and although the set takes a slight lull for some slower material, they make a big impressive in front of surely the biggest crowd they’ve played to thus far.

Over at the CCA there’s a real hush surrounding Bella and the Bear’s set and the extremely talented duo use this to make their cutting edge lyrics stand out on top of their mellow folk twinkles.

They’re a band that have quite rightly had a lot of praise and I’m ashamed to say this is the very first time I have managed to catch them in a live setting, but I’m sure it won’t be the last as Lauren Gilmour’s voice oozes as much character as it does quality, and their arrangements, which occasionally break out into on the button, yet very Scottish, spoken word, leave a touch of beauty that you don’t often witness at a hectic festival.

Popping up the hill for HÆLOS I am greeted with a set full of soaring cinematic electronic pop, and for a band playing their first ever Scottish show they deliver a set that is as vivid and intriguing and it is euphoric.

The band utilise having two drummers in refreshing way; the two percussionists work off of each other to give a really big and ranged sound, rather than just elevating the volume, which seems to be the result when most acts resort to this tactic.

Still, the band delivers a set that well worth catching, full of interesting pace changes and glitches that emphasise on the soaring potential of it all.

Downstairs in The Art School I witness, what for me is, the set of the day and it comes from Laura St. Jude.

The set begins on a hauntingly powerful note, as a cacophony of sound whirlwinds up to something all the more sombre, as St. Jude’s gentle yet firm vocals possess a certain country quality that all comes with a devastating sense of foreboding that drives the set with gasps that provoke a feel of doomed misery, or even comfort in that same feeling.

The set is honest and unnerving and just draws you in for more; it’s a real testament to St. Jude that she manages to maintain the spotlight even when joined on vocals by guitarist and former Amazing Snakeheads frontman Dale Barclay, and while Barclay’s gruff snarl gives the set another post punk tinged dimension, it acts to build an irresistible chemistry and compliment St. Jude’s angelic delivery rather than outshine it, which I’m sure it would do when paired with many musicians out there.

Bumping into The Ninth Wave and their manager I end up down at the ABC for a short blast of The Lapelles, who possess just the right mix of balls out indie rock attitude and earworm worthy tunes that could see easily see them explode.

The reason it’s only a short burst is that Be Charlotte is due to start any second just round the corner, and the Dundonian youngster kicks of with the flawless accapella intro to recent single ‘Discover’, before a simple yet infectious beat adds a real blast of tantalising energy.

Charlotte is an artist it’s difficult not to pay attention to, her performance and set is so engaging and diverse that it’s hard not to be impressed as she switches from gob smacking vocals to cutting edge spoken word to triple percussion assaults that simply silence the crowd and create an awe filled atmosphere.

There’s so much to this girl’s set, just as you think she’s edged onto something that’s a bit too experimental for the masses she pulls another Radio One banger out the bag and in turn demonstrates she’s got all the chops to get to the very top, but isn’t just a straight up pop singer either.

Over at The Art School Stanley Odd are back after a wee break from gigging and they pick up where they left off with consummate ease; Stanley Odd have for a while been one of the most entertaining live acts in Scotland and tonight is no different as Solareye bops around the stage with a gleeful look on his face delivering that distinctive politically charged hip hop we have become familiar with.

The band moves from driving gltichy electronics to huge beats with soaring chorus’, executed flawlessly by Veronika Electronika, to heartfelt speeches to the most moment catching freestyles imaginable, they even manage to leave everyone talking about them despite leaving their most famous track to date, referendum anthem ‘Son, I Voted Yes’ out of the set instead finishing on a new number, which has the packed room chanting “it’s all gone tae fuck” well beyond the end of the set; only in Scotland would you get this kind of reaction to this kind of new material.

Downstairs and I catch a portion of Smash Williams’ compelling electronics that give way to a snarled yet almost folky vocal from Stuart Dougan, I don’t manage to catch much of them today but, from this glimpse, alongside the splattering of material they have available online and the strong catalogue of bands behind the duo, surely any upcoming release is one to look out for.

Over at CCA and Sheffield’s Slow Club begin on a gentle piano led track that simply allows the beauty of Rebecca Taylor’s voice to soar effortlessly over the room, before engaging with the audience in her thick Yorkshire accent with a warm humour that contrasts their beautiful emotive material refreshingly.

There are moments during the set where the crowd seems stuck to the spot, entranced by Taylor’s immaculate delivery, but it’s credit to the duo’s delightful indie pop dynamic that when Charles Taylor takes lead or indulges in harmonies with Taylor the set is just as engaging.

Slow Club are a band that know exactly how to tug on heartstrings and sound immaculate doing it, but equally know how to reign an audience in with amusing banter, keeping their set light and entertaining; they have a new album out this month and tonight along with the consistency of their last three releases suggest it’ll be one well worth checking out.

Following this set I grab a few drinks and hang around til late on to catch Sweaty Palms in action at Broadcast, no one really remembers what happened in this half an hour, but what they do remember is that it was a riot, a phenomenal riot catalyzed by a band that are destined to make waves much much further than a basement in their hometown.

More Photos

Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Paul Storr

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