Stag & Dagger Festival, Various venues 22-05-10

May 31, 2010

Various venues, Glasgow, May 22 * * * *

With fifty acts playing across the city it’s reassuring that Scottish bands provided much of what was good about this year’s Stag & Dagger festival.
Glasgow’s Olympic Swimmers kicked off 12 hours of music with another compelling set of folk-infused indie-rock – the crowd’s reaction no doubt adding weight to their ‘ones-to-watch’ status.
Hot on their heels, Sparrow and the Workshop didn’t disappoint – no big surprise given the strength and depth of Jill O’Sullivan’s vocals and songs like I Will Break You and Into The Wild.
However with the exception of The Unwinding Hours, who once again delivered an emotionally-charged set where Knut, Peaceful Liquid Shell and The Final Hour made themselves felt, much of the evening’s line-up failed to live up to expectations.
For Erland and the Carnival an absence of presence made their performance a rather dull affair while The Antlers’ succumbed to sound issues which annoyingly rendered the sublime Sylvia ineffectual, it’s euphoric vocals lost under torrents of synth-generated bass.
They may not have caused a stampede at the merch after their rapid-fire set but for sheer energy and exuberance Jaguar Love were untouchable.
Led by strutting singer Johnny Whitney, who throughout danced about like a camp Iggy Pop, the trio’s pop-metal undoubtedly split the crowd but there’s no denying it was an entertaining watch.
Elsewhere Wild Beasts put in an earnest and largely uninspired set that overall fell flat due to the repetitive nature of tracks like Fun Powder Plot, Still Got The Taste and Devil’s Crayon.
Topping the bill, We Were Promised Jetpacks’ relentless guitar attack, although never short of passion, failed to elevate what was a predictable set – the inclusion of new track Hard To Remember did little to suggest they have the ability to emulate the success currently being enjoyed by pace-setting label-mates The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit.
All in all it was a day of two distinct halves and one where making the effort to catch the lesser-known bands on the bill paid off.


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