Stag & Dagger 2009:Part 1
A surprisingly quiet Old Blue Last played host to American power-shoegaze sensations Times New Viking who, after having their gear nicked from the same venue at last year’s festival, could have been forgiven for staying away. Luckily the only calamity to befall the band this time around was some pretty shonky sound, and the threesome, complete with hot-as-hell keyboardist Beth Murphy and singing drummer (Yes! They still exist!) Adam Elliott tear through a seemingly never-ending bunch of superbly thrashy two minute pop songs. If Pavement and Sonic Youth played Go! Team covers, they’d sound a bit like single Call & Respond, and this is a very good thing.
At Cargo for Wild Beasts a huge queue waited outside in the hope of joining the packed throng within; suddenly these boys seem to have become hot as their 2008 album Limbo, Panto has bedded in. Their bassy, funky art-pop songs offer plenty of variety, keeping brains engaged as well as limbs flailing.
If you haven’t already heard of Melbourne-based rockers The Temper Trap, it’s probably time to get acquainted. We’ve been trying to check them out at packed festivals for the past few months – ever since a rapturously-received SXSW show in March – and while their show here at Bar Music Hall wasn’t as Richter-scale inducing as that show, it was certainly enough to convince any casual observers that they will be one of the breakout bands of the summer. Noisy, anthemic, infectious and U2-apeing, the band really are something to behold live. Singer Dougy Mandagi channels Brandon Boyd and Bono, and they demonstrate a remarkably well-tuned, but not too commercial pop ear.
Back at 93 Feet East, Glasgow’s Danananakroyd demonstrated their particular appeal by removing their shirts and removing themselves from the stage into a moshpit they’d created, the two vocalists beginning the first of their coruscating canon there before taking turns to hitch a ride on one of the drumkits. One of them wears a Fucked Up t-shirt – they’re from the same school of in-yer-face performance as their heroes and are first and foremost about expending teenage energy with the aural equivalent of a Glasgow kiss. Whether you’d want to listen to this in any setting other than a gig is a moot point; tonight they grab the crowd by the collar and never let go. At the end they encourage a stage invasion, after which one invader laughs, “I lost my shoe up there!”
In the Vibe Bar’s main room, Filthy Dukes bear witness to their ever expanding popularity and unleash a late and long set on the packed audience. It’s a better venue for them than their Camden Crawl set, when they were stuck in a corner of the Earl Of Camden, and they seem totally with the crowd throughout. Messages, their next single from fine debut Nonsense In The Dark, goes down particularly well towards the end, and their electropop sheen works perfectly for this set’s chucking-out timing.
Our failing hearing, perhaps bludgeoned to a ringing pulp by years of gig-going, may never recover from Micachu‘s gig at Favela Chic. Probably ‘the coolest woman on the planet right now’, Micachu’s discordant, sample heavy pop is played at absolutely ear-bleeding volumes, and is all the better for it. Lips and Golden Phone are complex but joyous songs built around handclaps, hoover noises and, oh, whatever the band could find to bang that day, and the result is a glorious, confusing cacophony of noises – all of which we liked.
Funsize indie boy Jack Peate turned his headline set into a full band affair at Cafe 1001 and premiered tracks from his forthcoming second album. “I only know one of his songs!” squeals a girl nearby, but she happily shimmies along to the rest of the short set anyway as Peate, ignoring the less than generous welcome of a beer in the face, whetted appetites for his new opus. Well-received lead single Tonight’s Today was aired alongside new single Be The One and material perhaps more familiar to the close-by shimmying lady.
Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando has been blowing about our shores for a few weeks, putting in low-key acoustic sets and taking in Brighton’s The Great Escape, but his headlining gig at Cargo was notable mainly for a couple of note-perfect renditions of stonewall classics Into Your Arms and Rudderless. The scruffy singer was as puppyishly endearing as he was in 1993, and while it would be churlish to criticize a man playing heartfelt, populist ballads on an acoustic guitar, it seemed an anti-climactic and slightly schmaltzy end to an evening of cutting edge music, even if It’s A Shame About Ray was brilliant. Ah well, they would put the Stag & Dagger on a school night…
Stag & Dagger 2009:Part 1