Tag Archives: Bluebirds

Das Plastixx (single launch), Bluebirds, The Bleeders at Audio, 29/4/18

The Bleeders seem to have morphed out of The Modests and as a duet of drums and guitar create a hard rocking wall of sound that hits you right between the eyes.

A superbly energetic performance from lead Jackson Harvey is only briefly interrupted by a stage dive that disconnects his guitar, but not by the broken string, which seems evident for most of the set.

An accomplished performance given his first gig as a duo with Daniel McGuigan was only last November.

Their blistering paced alt rock performance sets the tempo for the rest of the evening.

Bluebirds serve up some garage rock and blues with a psychedelic edge; dark and menacing, Daniel Telford’s angst driven lyrics and charisma are the focus of this performance.

Mighty powerful delivery and gritty subject matter with a punk mentality furnish an outstanding performance that seems all too short.

This is Das Plastixx’s night and as the band which formed in 2016 release their latest single ‘You Wait for War’ as the follow up to their debut EP Button Up in January this year.

A four piece of guitars, bass, drums and Jack Mohan on vocals and keys they have a very full grunge rock sound with a hint of psychedelia, due in the main to the keys, but with some outstanding guitar work by Mark Anthony Carroll who fills out the songs with some first-class guitar solos.

Mohan gives a bit of a Liam Gallagher vibe when not on the keys with his hands behind his back; he appears to be wearing a tiara, but I guess we all have our own ways of dealing with hair trouble.

Garage rock with a post punk 90’s feel and great instrumentals their individualism sets them apart, their future should be bright.

Words/Photos: Derek McCutcheon

Track of 2017 (30-21)

30. Siobhan Wilson – ‘Whatever Helps’ [Song, by Toad]

Immediately, ‘Whatever Helps’ shows off a more darker tone than Siobhan Wilson’s earlier, more twee-sounding material; the delicately soft vocal remain, but it is now layered, and more ominous sounding. An ode to fighting against a lost love, and the depression that comes with it, the lack of a backing band on the track allows Wilson’s gorgeous voice to drift like a lonely stranger passing through the night.

29. MC Almond Milk – ‘1995’ [Save As]

‘1995’ is a nostalgic journey through summers filled with dirty gutties and bowl cuts that will have anyone of a certain age and disposition grabbing a bottle of Devon’s finest tonic wine and heading for a park with Oasis blaring on their Walkman. As the story continues from 1995 to 2015, the narrative goes through the ups and downs of life and growing up; the craft is how the beat and music becomes more frantic during the less pleasant parts of Almond Milk’s formative years and relaxes when he raps about the good times.

28. Annie Booth – ‘Chasm’ [Scottish Fiction/Last Night From Glasgow]

Written about the barriers we put up between ourselves and others to feel better/more comfortable when in fact it makes us more distant than ever ‘Chasm’ is a lyric-driven beauty that builds over a chirpy alt-rock enthused rhythms as Annie Booth’s warm silky voice teases over the top in a conversational yet heartfelt tone. On her EP three years ago Booth displayed a knack for cleverly written songs, but there was a raw element about the release the has been honed in on here, clearly her experiences with in Mt. Doubt have evolved her sound, making her not just one to look out for in the Scottish folk scene but on a much wider scale, both musically and geographically.

27. Young Fathers – ‘Lord’

‘Lord’ offered the first taste of Young Fathers’ third record and what have they given us? Is it a call for redemption? Or a message from another plane? Whatever it is, it’s proof that Young Fathers are still a band like no other, because in the best way possible, it sounds like several different songs at once. One song is a gentle, baby’s own piano, one part a gospel choir of harshly treated vocals, one part bleak electronics evoking a droning cello or a glass wall vibrating. It’s Dante’s Divine Comedy in a song and the sign of an act that still has no shortage of ways to confound, an intriguing scene setter for where the trio might go next.

26. West Princes – ‘Wet Bark Is A Slug’ [vodoidARCHIVE]

Lifting you beyond the rain drenched dreariness of Glasgow’s synonymous party street that we can only assume these guys are named after, West Princes brought beautifully warm breeze with ‘Wet Bark Is A Slug’. The first taste of released material from these guys is subtle yet playful number that gives us a taste of band who are likely to have a big 2018.

25. BDY_PRTS – ‘Rooftops’ [Aggrocat]

‘Rooftops’ is an upbeat slice of electronic indie-pop reminiscent of Robyn or La Roux; warm chords power a rising melody line that sounds like Marina & the Diamonds are shaping for a big-lunged chorus as O’Sullivan and Reeve knit their voices together for an impossibly catchy refrain. There’s a touch of Jenny Lewis to the lovelorn chorus “the pieces of my heart are falling from the rooftops” but for song that seems knitted together from a handful of different sections, it’s the lush call and response finale that lingers long in the memory.

24. Mt. Doubt – ‘Tourists’ [Scottish Fiction]

‘Tourists’ is a story about Leo Bargery’s fear of flying with a tone is tongue and cheek, while the melody is a smooth, free-flowing mantra. The composition is sincere but the sentiment more jovial, Bargery’s voice has the capacity for wandering through low tones, luring you into a peaceful hum, before leaping up an octave or two. It’s got a hummable chorus, that plays darkly humorous lyrics off giant guitar chords and some neat female backing vocals, from Annie Booth, as Bargery contemplates whether he might be happier in ‘Southend in Sea’ and deploys the rather smart line “my aversion to aviation, keeps my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds”.

23. Savage Mansion – ‘Do You Say Hello to Your Neighbours?’ [Lost Map]

‘Do You Say Hello to Your Neighbours?’ is a fleshy piece of pragmatic laziness, emitting imaginary craft and an unquestionable attitude that textures the track throughout. Launching into a distinctive and highly melodic guitar line, which quickly establishes a prominent radiance; the deadened drums provoke a sense of moody-solace, lifting appropriately. ‘Do You Say Hello to Your Neighbours?’ is a serious slab of attractive songwriting, non-pretentious and thought provoking, excitingly hopeful.

22. Bluebirds – ‘Subcultural Love’

Bluebirds have developed a reputation as being a must-see live act, and ‘Subcultural Love’ certainly shows off an intensity that very few bands are able to capture. ‘Subcultural Love’ is dark and unnerving, drawing the listener into a five minute bind with no respite. Vocalist Daniel Telford’s Nick Cave-esque snarl guides the track murkily, before the track crashes into cacophonous life, as he howls “we need to see some more skin”.

21. Out Lines – ‘Buried Guns’ [Rock Action]

The supergroup of sorts comprised of James Graham of The Twilight Sad, Kathryn Joseph, and Marcus Mackay captured a mesmerisingly gritty, undoubtedly Scottish record in Confrats and lead single ‘Buried Lines’ was the pick of the bunch. The track is a strikingly hypnotic stroll through a mysterious setting, as Graham’s distinctive Scottish vocals intertwine with Joseph’s elegant yet gritty delivery over powerful brooding production.

EPs of 2017 (20-11)

Albums 30-21 – 20-11 – 10-1 EPs 30-2120-1110-1

20. GURL+++ – Nerv00se

Nerv00se is the latest peek into the mind of Aberdeen based producer GURL+++, and it’s an interesting piece. The genre defying release utilises heavily cut up vocals, elements of hip-hop, dance and house, with more ambient twist of sleepy keyboard and clunky bass. Nerv00se ends with a real feeling of saying goodbye and closing the door on something; a fitting end to a complex and interesting record.

19. Monkoora – Nuclear BB [Hot Gem]

Monkoora’s Nuclear BB was a entrancing mix of pop production, harsh notes and seething lyrics, but it all comes out rosy in this dynamic EP. It’s a genre spanning affair that takes elements hip-hop, ambient techno and ethereal folk to name a few, throw into the mix some haunting harmonies and the chaotic edge of an artist willing to speak her mind and you’ve got a release that won’t be easily forgotten.

18. Cameron Roxburgh – Outside

Cameron Roxburgh aim to bring experimentalism and something new to the traditional singer-songwriter milieu and this new addition to the duo’s already stellar set of records will challenge your conception of music and offer a change to everyone who dares explore Outside. There’s magic in the clarity of Roxburgh’s words and a deep connection through his disinhibition, even his mum and dad get a mention in ‘+up’, as skillful fingers create a resonating, memorable experience. Outside is full of complexity and yet packed with witty anecdotes for even the most skeptical listener to enjoy, a masterpiece to behold.

17. L-space – Sol 0

Sci-fi influenced dream pop act L-space came to our attention this year and Sol 0 was one release of a few that caught our attention with synth driven tracks full of ethereal harmonies and dreamy guitar.

16. Life Model – Lucky [Frux Tapes]

Lucky was a dose of simmering guitars and blissful dream pop energy and sets Life Model aside as one of the most exciting guitar pop bands in Scotland. Sophie Evans’ sassy, charismatic delivery is matched every step by Chris Smyth’s dynamic arrangements. Life Model are band that had grown impressively of the last few years and it’s great to hear their output coming to fruition on record.

15. Mt. Doubt – The Loneliness of the TV Watchers /  Moon Landings [Scottish Fiction]

We couldn’t separate Mt. Doubt’s two EP releases in 2017 so we have fired them into together, collectively they have shown Mt. Doubt’s growth as a band as the feel like a group effort and these releases gives the listener plenty of meaty sounds to get stuck into. Leo Bargery’s booming, yet melancholy vocals stay front and centre but it’s the beautifully constructed tracks are increasing becoming just as important. This is a band with plenty of ambition and with a growing confidence are pushing in all the right directs.

14. Codist – Porcelain Boy [LP]

Listening to Codist’s Porcelain Boy will cause your head to move in every conceivable direction, instead of just the traditional up and down. All of these head movements are in the affirmative, as Codist exceeds the expectations of anyone familiar with them unveiling this powerfully cool, technically brilliant and acoustically pleasing EP. Porcelain Boy carrys tropes from myriad times, places and styles and masterfully packages them together in a surprising and original way; without ever being boring, predictable or twee. Unpredictable without being chaotic and impressive without feeling overdone, Codist spay homage to a great wealth of well-loved styles, presenting a fun-filled and seriously talented band with nowhere to go but up.

13. TeenCanteen – Sirens [Last Night From Glasgow]

With rebellious lyrics and a playful, pop-influenced sound, alongside Carla J. Easton’s distinct vocals, Sirens maintains the high standard that TeenCanteen have set out for themselves, giving an excellent insight into the eclectic ability of the band.

12. Bluebirds – There Is No God

After the spectacular self-immolation of notorious rockers The Amazing Snakeheads, there’s a gap in the market for some grimy, gory Scottish rock and straight out the coffin Bluebirds seem like possible contenders. There is No God is five-tracks of grotty, shambling post-punk propelled by the sort of funereal organ and scene chewing vocals that would even Nick Cave would probably write off as “a bit much”. It’s not music for the faint hearted, channelling the B-movie vibes of The Cramps and the livewire energy of Fat White Family with abandon; there’s an unhinged energy to Bluebirds that is impossible to fake.

11. Withered Hand and A Singer of Songs – Among Horses I [Son Canciones]

After a good wait following his 2014 release, New Gods, Withered Hand returned after spending a week on a farm in Catalonia with A Singer Of Songs’ Lieven Scheerlinck and together the duo have have delivered an EP that has shown a clear progression in sound, with a complex, sunkissed record that doesn’t lose the wit and lightheartedness of his previous work.

Bluebirds – There Is No God

After the spectacular self-immolation of notorious rockers The Amazing Snakeheads, there’s a gap in the market for some grimy, gory Scottish rock and straight out the coffin Bluebirds seem like possible contenders.

There is No God is five-tracks of grotty, shambling post-punk propelled by the sort of funereal organ and scene chewing vocals that would even Nick Cave would probably write off as “a bit much”.

‘New Town Sheep’ is raucous and angry, slurred and cracked and barely in tune, while ‘Dog’ starts with vocalist Daniel Telford taking in a night on the New York tiles and ends with him howling “there is no God” as the darkness swallows him up.

It’s not music for the faint hearted, channelling the B-movie vibes of The Cramps and the livewire energy of Fat White Family with abandon.

‘I Fell in Love with a Call Girl’ is a rambling eight and a half minutes of gothic excess with barroom piano and the sort of circular guitar part that wouldn’t sound out of place on one of the proggier Iron Maiden songs.

Whether the entire exercise really needs all eight of those minutes is up for debate, but it’s impressive that the group are pushing the boundaries of a punkish-indebted sound that tends to frown on anything over three minutes.

‘Subcultural Love’ rumbles with murderous bass, while ‘Show Me Yours and I’ll Show You Mine’ has a piratical swagger and massive build and release dynamics, culminating in Telford screaming hoarsely into the void.

Is it good? Well, if you’re looking for well-rounded character studies you might be advised to look elsewhere, but there’s an unhinged energy to Bluebirds that is impossible to fake; their hunt for haemoglobin is a grimy, vengeful success.

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Words: Max Sefton

Bluebirds – ‘Subcultural Love’

‘Subcultural Love’ is the first release from Bluebirds‘ debut EP, pleasantly-titled There Is No God.

The Glasgow-based Edinburgers have developed a reputation as being a must-see live act, and ‘Subcultural Love’ certainly shows off an intensity that very few bands are able to capture.

The track is dark and unnerving, drawing the listener into a five minute bind with no respite.

Vocalist Daniel Telford’s Nick Cave-esque snarl guides the track murkily, before the track crashes into cacophonous life, as he howls “we need to see some more skin”.

The void left by the premature end of The Amazing Snakeheads has left a vast amount of music-lovers craving a fix of fierce, in-your-face rock and roll.

It certainly appears that Bluebirds are the band to step up and deliver it.

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Words: Graham McCusker

Premiere: Bluebirds – There Is No God

Edinburgh four-piece Bluebirds have blazed into our world over the past year or so with some truly balls to the wall rock n’ roll shows between Glasgow and their hometown, and after hitting us with debut single ‘Subcultural Love’ last month we now have the pleasure of bringing you their follow up EP, There Is No God.

Recorded at Glasgow’s Green Door Studios with Stu Evans, after the band were inspired by the sounds of Amazing Snakeheads’ album, There Is No God is a strong set of tracks that really captures the band’s menacing presence.

Taking a real nihilistic approach, both in lyrical content and sound itself (and indeed title), Bluebirds have produced a debut effort that spits ‘this is who we are, like it or lump it’, from Daniel Telford’s knowing sneer right down to the jazz tinged drumming.

Take your first chance to listen to the new EP here:

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Stag & Dagger, 30/4/17

Perhaps the most highly anticipated annual event on Glasgow’s musical calendar, Stag & Dagger heralds in the start of the festival season and once again floods Sauchiehall Street’s venues with an array of excellent talent.

Over the years, the festival has put on up-and-coming acts in intimate venues before they have exploded, with the likes of Royal Blood and Catfish & The Bottlemen having played pre-stardom sets at the festival in recent years.

As the festival takes place over six venues and eight stages, we take on reviewing tasks as a duo in an aim to cover all of the best offerings Stag & Dagger has to offer

An early stage time at an all-day festival can be a hindrance to artists who often are subjected to empty venues as audiences try to pace themselves – not here.

As LUCIA takes the stage for her early afternoon set (14.45), the Broadcast basement is packed to the rafters, and her brand of catchy punk sets a high standard from the off.

Her raspy vocals shine on the swaggering ‘What Am I’ before ending her short and sweet set on the riotous ‘Saturday Is Dead’.

The venue stays equally as mobbed as Shredd follow her and it’s Shredd by name, shred by nature as the three-piece make an absolute racket, making noise that sounds at least twice the sum of their parts.

Their set peaks on the excellent ‘I’ll Leave It’, sounding like The Vines in their heyday.

With more venues starting to open as we draw into the later portion of the afternoon, there’s more competition to attract crowds, however absolutely no one gives up their coveted spot in Broadcast for Rascalton.

One of the most hotly-tipped acts in Scotland at the moment, they are greeted with frenzied “RAS-CAL-TON! RAS-CAL-TON!” chants as they come onstage, and they haven’t even finished their first song by the time crowd surfers appear overhead.

The four-piece sound like Terry Hall fronting The Clash and the likes of ‘Hey Hottie’ and set closer ‘This Is It’ (where they are joined by Baby Strange frontman Johnny Madden) are indie anthems in waiting.

Immediately following them next door a cacophony of noise has another packed crowd witnessing a band that certainly has us excited in Edinburgh’s Bluebirds.

Regardless of the volume, and there definitely is volume, there is a real melody to them that runs through the four-piece, while pounding rhythm’s and Daniel Telford’s snarled vocals come up front and centre giving a punk edge to their heavier end of post rock sound.

Bluebirds carry a real confidence in their presence, and with their debut single, ‘Subcultural Love’ just out they could be onto a winner with Telford’s vocals at times taking a haunting reverberated spoken word format, akin to what we’ve come to expect from Dale Barclay in both Amazing Snakeheads and more recently in And Yet It Moves, before diving head first into powerful sections, backed by rhythms that stay clearly in place and keep their urgent tracks from tipping over the edge.

There is a massive queue outside the ABC as the excitement builds for The Vegan Leather, granted the venue isn’t quite open yet.

The band specialise in finely crafted effervescent electro-pop, and have everyone in the ABC2 dancing from the off.

In fact, the only person enjoying themselves more than the crowd, is frontman Gianluca Bernacchi, who has a smile plastered on his face throughout.

The Vegan Leather is The 1975 that it’s cool to like; fun, smart and accessible, their set is just one big party, and this is them just getting started – they play a midnight set at Broadcast later this evening.

It is then up the hill to the Vic Bar at The Art School for Roxy Agogo.

Fresh from being on lead guitar duties for LUCIA earlier this afternoon, Agogo and his two-piece backing band, featuring Christopher Ballantyne of The Lapelles, immerse themselves into their set of avant-garde performance art.

Agogo wishes the packed crowd luck early on, and his indulgent set is often a difficult listen; he does manage to sound refreshingly original as a result though.

‘When You Dress Up’ is a sleazy romp, before the immense ‘Crocod!les’ shocks everyone into submission as Agogo shrieks “I NEED SOME ATTENTION!” with the urgency of a man demanding his audience’s full undivided focus.

Meanwhile back down at Broadcast Berlin duo, touring as four-piece, Gurr become one of the highlights of the festival with a sparky dose of 60s girl group wonder that comes with a heavy dose of the 90s thrown in.

The fronting duo, Andreya and Laura Lee, are dripping with an addictive attitude as they tear through fast paced numbers even throwing in a chorus of ‘Hollaback Girl’ before launching into another charmer.

Gurr are fast, fun and completely endearing, the duo give a real engaging presence complete with welcoming smiles, cemented at the moment they request the crowd move forward and the crowd take the cue without a beat of hesitation.

Their surf tinged pop is just the dose for the early evening, as we start to move into regular gig times, and even if some mid song banter seems to get a little lost, the girl’s likeability wins through and we’re left with a truly rewarding set.

After making the dash up the hill to The Art School only to find that Shogun’s set has been canceled, there isn’t a better alternative than Artificial Pleasure down in The Priory’s dark, dingy basement.

If The Vegan Leather are The 1975 it’s cool to like, then Artificial Pleasure could become what The 1975 wish they were; their groove laden electro-artpop, complete with Phil McDonnell’s warbling falsetto are much grander than the setting forgives, indeed the frontman challenges people to dance with “if you dare”, in the tightly packed space.

Their sound packs all the indie dancefloor filling vibes you could wish for and McDonnell’s heavily accented banter is engaging in its crowd praising, which results in heckles of “fuck Newcastle” echoing around the venue.

Gang Of Youths are one of the surprise of the day; playing their brand of anthemic indie-rock, the Australian’s absolutely smash it.

They use their time onstage as a platform for some politically inspired rants, with frontman David Le’aupepe preaching “if you’re scared, I’m scared too”.

There’s a feeling of unanimous uplift in the atmosphere, also in the literal sense as Le’aupepe dives into the crowd and lifts people in the air as they end on single ‘Magnolia’, and the cacophonous ‘Vital Signs’.

The floorspace isn’t heaving by the time Marnie takes the stage in The Art School’s Assembly Room space, but it should be as the Ladytron singer’s set is shimmering in all the right ways; on point drumming from Jonny Scott, ethereal synths courtesy of Sarah J Stanley aka HQFU, and those dream glossed vocals that allow everything to soar in this space.

Marnie’s second solo outing, Strange Words and Weird Wars, is due very soon and given the chance to breathe there’s no reason why this collection of up-tempo dream pop won’t be as successful as her full band’s material; Marnie and her sound is effortlessly cool feeling in this space and leave those that have made it up the hill in a tranced daze.

Back at Broadcast and we have a distinctly less upbeat vibe from London trio Girl Ray, still Poppy Hankin’s distinctive Nico tinged vocals and the band’s lo-fi pop sound is a real warmer, possessing a timeless feel that’s hard to achieve.

Their sound draws a lot from the heartbreak hits of C86 indie pop; the twinkling keys, bouncy rhythmns and high lovelorn vocal passages, however it is when the slightly accented vocals dip into Hankin’s enriched deeper range that lift them beyond just an indie pop band to something a bit special.

A jump next door and Calva Louise start their set to a sadly sparse crowd, but the London based trio, who hail from Venezuela, France and New Zealand, and only have one track available online to date do not let this phase them, blasting though high octane garage rock riffs, crashing cymbals and squealing guitars that keep anyone that does wanders in firmly staying there.

Frontwoman Jess Allanic’s manic facial expressions almost match her vocal delivery and her on point surfy guitar shredding is seriously impressive, there’s plenty of reasons why Calva Louise have been hotly tipped for 2017 and it’s plain to see from their set today.

Calva Louise presented the one big clash of the festival with them taking the stage the same time as 2015 SAY Award winner Kathryn Joseph, lucky there’s two of us ay?

There are very few singer-songwriters on this year’s bill, and Joseph’s diversity to the rest of the lineup and clashes with some of the festival’s bigger names means that the CCA is barely half full, however this just adds to the beauty and intimacy that makes the Aberdonian so great.

Joseph is still surprised at how many people have turned up, and she can’t contain her excitement at playing a Wurlitzer piano for the first time live.

The natural reverb from her instrument adds depth to the likes of a hauntingly beautiful rendition of ‘The Bird’ and stark ‘The Blood’.

The venue is deathly silent throughout her performance, people scared to even take a breath so as not to interrupt the ambience, emanating from the songstress’ gazely stare.

Kathryn Joseph is easily one of the highlights of the festival, and to be lucky enough to witness her perform in such an intimate setting is a privilege.

Talking of highlights, up in the Vic Let’s Eat Grandma are about to take the stage, and the incredibly young duo, who met aged four, started making music together at 13 and now, just four years later are on a mission to transform pop music, sure create a sound that simmers the room to a hush.

Whether the crowd don’t know quite what to make of the girls or are just dumbstruck by the talent on show is debatable, however one thing is for sure, Let’s Eat Grandma produce music that is way beyond their years as delicate and haunting ethereal electronics, match with subtle guitars and laptop beats allowing the girl’s vocals to shimmer.

Bizarrely both girls disappear off stage after the first song, but after sorting/locating what they needed they return with a xylophone opened track that is linked up with sharp keyboard chords, giving way to a pounding beat, cue dancing as the teenagers set a real swagger before breaking out a ukulele and then a clarinet, neither of which break the vibe of the track instead creating an interesting instrumental dynamic to the duo’s set.

Still, as much as their multi-instrumental forays work and are impressive, it’s in their more straight forward moments that this duo shine most, that said when they introduce a saxophone you can’t help be impressed again, however in moments when it’s just them with a beat, keys and dual vocals that come across as the most impressive.

There’s something wonderfully eclectic about these girl’s, they’ve been accused of being too dead-pan in their delivery and indeed they don’t utter a word to the audience until the very end of the set, but things like starting songs laid flat on their backs, engaging in handclapping routines mid track and posing in sitting positions simply staring at the audience come across more as an interesting curio that standoffish.

You do get the impression it would come across as annoying if the music doesn’t work, but it does, and if these girls can harness the special talents they have at the tender age of 17 there could be very, very big things to come.

Entering the mix upstairs one of the festival’s big hitters has already started his set, still probably three hours earlier than would be prime for a Gold Panda set, yet he already has the room drenched in powerful beats as he bobs away seemingly entranced by the creation of his intricate sound.

Club atmosphere’s can’t really be expected pre-11pm but this is as close as we’re going to get here and Gold Panda doesn’t let the illusion go as soaring electronics are enhanced by bleeps and beats that get every part of you moving, while engaging visuals keep a focal point behind, his hunched busy presence.

In terms of music this year’s Stag & Dagger is another success, with Scottish music lovers being spoiled with a plethora of excellent sets over the course of the twelve-hour extravaganza; the countdown has already begun to Stag & Dagger 2018.

More Photos

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Words: Graham McCusker/Iain Dawson
Photos: Allan Lewis/Stewart Fullerton