That time of year again: before Stag & Dagger 2012

This week has become an annual fixture for me. It’s the week before Stag & Dagger, and that means my working days are spent exclusively soundtracked by the bands taking part in the festival as I attempt to pull together an idea of who I want to be watching.  It’ll all change on the day, of course, so there’s no point in over-planning, but generally I enjoy the build up: the heavy listening, the first-run-interest-rapidly-cooling in some cases and the initially-subtle-building-to-obsession in others. The anticipation.

The logistics of the event have changed a little this time round, and on the surface the changes look like good ones. The Art School’s take over of Capitol and the inclusion of the CCA bring more venues closer together, and make the impulse to “nip next door to catch so-and-so for a few songs” more do-able.  Particularly like the designation of the CCA as a singer-songwritery kinda space too. It’s still going to be a commitment to head down to Stereo or (other new venue) Chambre 69, or back to the Captain’s, but no more so than slogging to the other end of the field at T. Generally, though, I like the look of the set-up this year, and will be quite happy starting and finishing at the Captain’s with most of my day spent somewhere on Sauchiehall St.

So what’s the verdict of the pre-event listening party so far?  Well the cornerstones of my night have to be The Phantom Band, whose music I adore but who I’ve somehow managed to fail to see live, like consistently, and White Denim, who I knew nothing about before they were announced on the bill, but whose folk/jazz-tinged, technically superb album, D, has become a fixture on my personal playlist.

Earlier in the day, Hot Panda are close to being my other nailed on fixture. They not only scratch my current Canadian-band itch, they also look like huge amounts of fun. Bands like this are what festivals like S&D are all about.

What else? Well, Post War Years and To Kill A King both occupy familiar favourite territories. PWY sit somewhere between Field Music and Diagrams, while TKAK have more than a flavour of The National about them. Both really good bands.

As mentioned above, the CCA is looking like being the low-key stage, and on any other night I could quite easily spend the entire evening in there. Particularly looking forward though to Eleanor Friedberger from The Fiery Furnaces, whose solo material has a loveable sense of quirk to it, and also to Willy Mason whose songs are simply ace.

After all that, I’m hoping there’ll still be time to get back to the Captains for a bit of synthy beaty chilledness from Discopolis before nipping home across the road.

That’s the plan anyway. No-doubt when the stage times are announced there’ll be frustrating clashes, but the options are good, so it doesn’t look like I’m going to be bored.

Will report back on the other side.

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