Kudos to the Conch
Stag & Dagger is Glasgow’s best showcase for new and upcoming artists. For many years Suchiehall St is transformed from student mecca to a hotbed of fresh new indie talent, venues are teaming with an international roster of talent that even Doctor Who would have trouble teleporting from venue to venue to catch everyone they wanted to see.
The Side F team feel we made a good attempt at flitting from site to site to catch as many new faces as we could, admittedly we didn’t manage everyone here is who we hope to catch next time we are in town; She, Prima Queen, Mollie Coddled, Liz Lawrence, Gustaf & Strawberry Guy.
Gwenno Saunders, formerly of The Pipettes fame is a Welsh musician who has played synth for the likes PNAU and Elton John. Tonight she is playing songs from her two solo albums which are sung in the Welsh/Cornish language.
Gwenno is very relaxed on staged daubed in blue light which suits the atmospheric, almost haunting sound of her synth lead work. There is plenty of friendly on stage banter and even one point where she is teaching the Glaswegian audience some choice Cornish phrases. Stand out tracks are ‘Tir Ha Mor’ and ‘Fratolish Hiang Perpeshki’.
Bad Waitress @The Attic
Toronto based quartet Bad Waitress deliver us with ear drum piercing, glorious riot grrl energy similar to Bikini Kill with elements of very early Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. Lead singer Kali-Ann Butala has a very wholesome and fun energy as she bounces around on stage. She ushers the crowd closer to the stage while bounding through a raucous 30 minute set.
The music is a glorious blend of post punk melodies, with pounding riffs and almost jazz inspired bass notes. With appealing sing-a-long choruses and tracks like ‘Rabbit Hole’, ‘Strawberry Milkshake’ and ‘Manners’ you get the feeling that this is a bunch of girls doing what the absolutely love and doing it their way.
Protomartyr @The Garage
This is not Protomartyr’s first rodeo at Stag & Dagger having played the festival in 2018 and it’s clear to see why the Detroit based, lords of scuzzy, pounding shoegaze have been welcomed back with open arms tonight. The quasi-headliners have brought with them the biggest crowd of the evening.
With plenty of quirky between track banter the band fire through a set dotted with the hits; ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and ‘The Devil in his Youth’.
This evening’s gig even has a guest appearance with Kelly Deal of The Breeders (who guested on 2018’s Consolation EP) whose frenetic guitar playing adds to intimidating wall of noise that defines Protomartyr’s sound.
Brontes @ The Blue Arrow
We managed to catch the last few songs from Glasgow’s very own five piece disco rockers Brontes. Signed to the city’s Last Night in Glasgow label who have garnered a small cult like following in the city, it unsurprising that the small basement venue is completely packed out. So much so that we were only able to grab some dismal shots by climbing up on to the leather couches.
The female fronted band offer quintessential indie-rock with disco undertones. Lead singer Yana’s vocal delivery has a sultry laziness in its delivery that is invocative of Mazzy Star.
Stand out tracks were ‘Down to You’ and their debut single ‘First Hand Arrogance’.
TRAAMS proved to be one of Side F’s favourite acts of the evening. Purveyors of glorious, post punk synth laden noise. It took a while for the crowd to gather, undoubtedly because they were hot footing it here from various venues, but by the second track the G2 was rammed.
They play hard and fast and with a vibrant energy and back bending guitar playing. They fly through a rapid set, with barely a second to breathe between tracks. Think Television meets TV on the Radio (shame their name also doesn’t have TV in it).
‘A House on Fire’ is such a massive FUGAZI inspired, guitar crunching beast that our ears feel like they are being rattled through our skull. Other great tracks were; ‘Intercontinental Radio Waves’ ‘Flowers’ and ‘Head Roll’.
Let’s Eat Grandma @ The Garage
Despite initial technical difficulties – which in the end cut their set short, Let’s Eat Grandma put on a headlining performance that had the crowd, albeit a smaller than expected one, bopping along like they were at a 90’s disco (which funnily enough The Garage was).
The girl band burst on to the scene way back in 2016 and generated a considerable buzz, due to the fact that they were at the time teenagers, capable of amazing output.
Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth have after all been writing and record songs in their bedrooms since they were 13 years old. Tragically the band were forced to go on hiatus for a three year period after Hollingsworth’s boyfriend passed away suddenly.
Finally they sat back down to write new material which has resulted in their latest album, ‘Two Ribbons’ which they showcase tracks from this evening.
Opening track ‘Happy New Year’ is also the opening track of the new record, it’s very 90’s, synth driven, almost Eurovision pop that packs a punch, with firework effects exploding in the background it’s certainly a track that gets everyone moving.
The girls certainly know how to entertain with theatrics abound during the course of the set, weather it was in the form of Macarena style group dance movies or more sombre grungy, heavy hair forward, zombie shuffles that seems to evoke the girl from The Ring.
At times their music touches on Crystal Castles meets proper 90’s dance, like Fragma. ‘Hot Pink’ is a more dub leaning effort from 2018’s. ‘I Gemini’ which was produced by SOPHIE and Faris Badwan from The Horrors, which ultimately gave their sound a club ready sound.
Other great tracks included, ‘I’m All Ears’ featuring impressive saxophonist skills from Hollingworth and ‘Falling into Me’
After a pit stop for a pint, we find ourselves in our final venue for the evening Broadcast. The tiny basement has recently been revamped so that the stage is now right at the door when you descend the venues rickety spiral staircase. What greets us is palpable sweat, grime and damp from a seething pit of Glaswegians that have made it to the end of what has been a day jam packed with raw talent.
Keg are undoubtedly our favourite act of the evening. The seven piece outfit – yeah you heard that right, are crammed on to the diminutive stage. Hailing from Brighton the band are serving up a big molten slice of demented art-rock, that will not only rattle every fibre of your being but make you want pogo yourself to death.
In today’s social media age it’s hard to find music that is truly unique, maybe the diverse sound of Keg’s music comes from the fact that there are so many band members each seemingly with their own wee nugget of wisdom to impart on their distinctive sound.
You’ve got William Wiffen, a golden locked cherubic synth player who can multi-task like a pro, singing, maraca shaking and synth playing all at once is quite impressive. Frank Lyndsey plays guitar with crunchier hooks that a Granny Smith apple, juicer too.
Joel Whitaker furnishes the sound with some original 70’s dirty disco bass and perfectly synced with Johnny Pyke’s virtuoso and pace setting drums.
Now imagine dolloping all over the top of this swarthy melting pot of sound, the high pitched, welps of frontman Albert Haddenham, marry that with the somewhat show stealing (and also a festival talking point from that point on) jazz trombone and wait for it… CONCH SHELL playing of Charlie Keen and you have ladies and gentlemen some of the finest, exploration of modern jazz and angular disco punk we’ve heard since The Rapture.
The band work immensely well together, their performance is tight and they seem completely unphased when bodies start to fly towards them scraping along the roof of the Broadcast Basement.
Think Gang of Four with elements of Dire Straight during the spoken word section of the show of the show and you have this idiosyncratic, punk funk melange that is unapologetically itself, arcane and irreverent.
We bounced along merrily to tracks such as; ‘Heyshaw’, ‘Breaking Rocks’ and our favourite ‘Presidential Walk’ – defo make moves and check these guys out when they are next in town.
Loose Articles @ Broadcast
Manchester’s feminist, political riot grrl quartet Loose Articles put on a frenzied post punk show, rattling through songs like they are front row in a socialist protest.
With bright hair and fashion choices that seek to reclaim woman’s bodies this girl group are everything you want to hear at 1am in the morning. Gratefully doing shots with audience members the girls career through their set at breakneck speed. Stand out tracks were; ‘Chaos’, ‘Orchard Lounge’ and our fav ‘Up the Disco’.
Wife Guys of Reddit @ Broadcast
After chatting about Wife Guys on the Everyone Wants to Play the Hits podcast with SNACK magazine last month we dutifully hung around to the final show of Stag & Dagger at close to 2:30am in the morning.
Despite having some technical issues with his guitar Aarion Xenon and the rest of the band put on a notable performance. The band have been steadily garnering a local following which is evident by the crowd gathered in the wee tiny hours of the morning.
They have been making a noise on the local scene with their own brand of high tempo indie rock. Stand out tracks were; ‘Drained Junior’, ‘Bacon Grease’. Closing the whole Stag and Dagger festival and fittingly so, was our absolute favourite track of the moment ‘Pig Fat’ – which even seen the appearance in the mosh pit of a dancing pig. We will definitely be seeing this band again soon hopefully when everything is working and in ship shape.