Stag And Dagger Festival - Various
Live Review

Stag And Dagger Festival – Various, Glasgow

Now entering its sixth year, Stag and Dagger, as ever, offers up a fascinating cross section of what’s happening on the independent music scene, with a wealth of bands packed into the rich collection of venues on and around Glasgow’s infamous Sauchiehall Street. As always, the biggest problem with the Festival is that there’s too much on. Will we end up on the dubbed out bliss of Forest Swords, or the feral garage punk of Fat White Family?

We choose to begin conservatively, in the atmospheric ABC2 with what seems a safe bet with The Hold Steady. They’ve been an indie stalwart for years, but beset by lineup changes of late. Singer/songwriter Craig Finn might look like a bespectacled geography teacher, and his delivery of his tales of drinkers and losers in pursuit of the American dream as impassioned as ever, but we just don’t get it. Maybe we’re not as big fans of Springsteen and his band; or maybe their moment has passed, and they’re about to turn into the also-rans who’re the subjects of Finn’s songs.

We decide to look to the future, and not the past, to catch one of Glasgow’s most touted new bands, Casual Sex. Casual Sex come on with a knowing swagger to “The Sound of Casual Sex”, proceed to what would have been a No 1 in 1972 with “What’s your Daughter For”. As the titles suggest, they’re a witty, literate take on 70s glam (specifically Eno-era Roxy) seen through the prism of postpunk, with basslines to kill for, and a great frontman in Sam Smith, whether struggling to put on his lipstick or haranguing the crowd. They end up back in the 70s with their storming tribute to Smith’s Dad’s stint as a teacher in “Soft School”.

Next up in Nice n Sleazy’s are The Amazing Snakeheads, another young Glasgow band with a short, if distinctly different take on things. They take a brutalist, stripped down take on rock n’roll that’s electrifyingly evident from the first bars of Flatlining. Frontman Dale Barclay commands the stage like a man possessed, his guttural working class Glaswegian drawl accompanied on Bullfighter by Laura St Jude. It’s not hard to see why this band inspire such fanatical devotion from their fans, who pay tribute by invading the stage at the end.

I leave my colleague, agreeing that British guitar music’s going through something of a Renaissance, to take in the most exciting live band in Britain, Fat White Family. Playing in the intimate confines of ABC2, frontman Lias Saoudi appears halfnaked, seemingly dripping in sweat already, to the ominous chords of “Wet Hot Beef”. Saoudi is a natural frontman, inveigling the crowd like the bastard grandchild of Iggy Pop, but the Fat Whites are a real band, and have the crowd in the palm of their hand. If things calm down a bit for “Autoneutron”, they erupt for “Touch the Leather”, and Saoudi’s soon crowdsurfing, with, I’m reliably informed, his cock out.

Fat White Family are simply the most exciting live band in Britain at the moment. If you’d told me a year ago that the ‘buzz’ band of the moment would be influenced by the Country Teasers and dedicated to class war, I’d have laughed at you. But I suspect that next year’s Stag and Dagger will feature a few bands who will be influenced by the Fat Whites. Or perhaps we can look forward to something even more unexpected?

Venue: Various, Glasgow
Support Band: none

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