Stag & Dagger as a stream of consciousness, because that’s how it felt (in a good way)

So, there’s a plan, and the plan sees me and SiMurnie in the basement of The Captain’s (what no “Rest” now?) at 2pm of the first sunny afternoon since nineteen canteen but it doesn’t matter because Stag & Dagger festival openers, Michael Anguish, kick things off with a grit-and-diesely set with closer, The Rope, crawling around our heads until Hot Panda bounce on stage like four Vancouverish Tiggers on Irn Bru and Haribo and proceed to Fuck Shit Up in the loudest, most charming way possible leaving the room so up so good so ready for more which is why it’s such a shame that there’s an unseemly gap before the next act, The Honeybloods, finally treat us to a curtailed selection of their sweet but not wholly engaging guitar and drums minimalism so you know we really need The Heartbreaks to lift the room again but they roll out all swaggery without to be honest really much in their songs to back it up so we cut out a few songs in deciding that it’s time to change it up for the Sauchiehall St stretch so we’re hitting the ABC2 just as the doors open and relieving Passenger who apparently has been fretting about playing to an empty room but soon enough there’s a crowd taking advantage of the comfy seats and cold beer and eagerly lapping up Mike Rosenberg’s engaging presence and beautiful songs and his Feather On The Clyde has us back on track and we’re up and we’re chilled and on a whim we roll down to the Art School to enjoy California’s White Arrows a punchy surprise package combo of laid back attitude and tight-as playing that made us glad we listened to that whim but before we know it it’s time to scurry back to ABC1 for White Denim whose recent album D hasn’t been off my playlist for the last couple of months so I thought I knew what I was in for but… how do you describe this?…jesusshittingchrist I had no idea we’d be getting the solid start-to-finish wall-to-wall soup-to-nuts slab of relentless noodly textured nuanced segued-together joyous rock music that unfolds before (and around and on top of) us like a monstrous psychedelic rock and roll carpet and it’s as if the band were told just before taking the stage that they only had thirty minutes stage time and their response was “no problem, we’ll just take out all the breaks and play a bit faster” but it’s okay – better than okay – because their musicianship is easily high enough to turn what could have been a bewildering mess into an absolutely compelling onslaught (aye I like it just a bit) and so we have fifteen minutes to recover before The Phantom Band in whose office shirts and jeans stage persona I find something surprisingly dark like discovering your work colleagues all stay late on a Thursday for a couple of hands of poker and some ritual sacrifice but the music is great and they sound huge in that venue so huge that we need to take it down a notch or several so we forgo Django Django for the CCA where we catch Eleanor Friedberger whose solo songs I like a lot but here – live – after the aural bludgeoning of the last two acts I find I just can’t connect with her and we agree we need a proper break so it’s down to the cafe for a pot of tea and a natter (good DJ in there soundtracking us with a nice selection of rock ‘n’ roll and soul and there’s White Denim getting their post-gig scran wire in boys you deserved that) and so we recharge and filter back upstairs for the last few songs by Washington Irving who sound big (although less indie than expected (verging on Runrigginess towards the end?)) in a now-packed room where we bump into friends who have like us decided to end their night with the beautiful battered blues songs of Willy Mason and it would be a perfect way to end the night if only the crowd weren’t by now loosed by booze and fizzing from the day and unable to let the man play his songs without chatter but as it turns out they kinda fold into the soundscape and above it all Mason is magnetic magnificent and we get encores like last licks of the spoon and then it’s over and we are exhaled out into the world where music is not the world, and we stop.

And we take a breath. Of Oxygen.

And we hold it inside us.

All the way home.


When you do Stag & Dagger right…this is what it’s like.

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