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awkward aural adventures

Stag & Dagger: Round Up

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My lord, festival season is coming thick and fast already this year, and with Camden Crawl, Great Escape, turning Point and various other flashes of pre summer brilliance setting the standard high it is with a sense of delirious expectation that a night roaming Shoreditch courtesy of Stag & Dagger ganders into view. Fortunately those sensational chaps in their booking machines at Vice, and Adventures In the Beetroot Field know their music and have assembled a staggering line up that is bound to cause numerous heart attacks and spontaneous indie boy combustions as people try and master the simply impossible task of seeing every hot band on offer over the course of one manic evening.

With 21 venues and incalculable permutations available to the statistically minded it is decided that the evening should kick off by catching Plugs rocking up the Vibe bar on Brick Lane. This is a flawless choice as Plugs just so happen to be the best new electro-clash band in the land. Numbers like ‘All them Witches’, ‘Imaginary friend’ and  ‘That Number’ make it impossible for Plugs not to finish 2009 as one of the most important British bands and hopefully the biggest. They are playing countless dates across the summer, so catch them soon, catch them now! Heading back out into the throng and it’s straight back into band clash Hell. Fortuately 93 Feet East solves the argument by virtue of being directly opposite and having the frenetic   Teeth!!! onstage. Teeth!!! come across like a nuclear sucker punch, frontwoman Veronica So commanding that we act like it’s 2am and freakout. A command that the crowd, which includes giddyvlooking members of Dananananaykroyd, is only too willing to comply with. Teeth!!! are a bit lose around the edges, there’s moments when the beats fall apart completely, but they carry a conviction that brushes over any cracks. They also incite a stage invasion, handing out drumsticks and inviting the whole of 93Feet to get up and get off. Well it would be rude not too!

After the intensity of Teeth!!! Toes are briefly dipped into the world of The Phantom Band. They craft delicious mini operas that more than justify the plaudits they have been getting from certian REM members of late. There’s no time to be hanging around with so much on though. One of the beauties of something like Stag & Dagger is that despite the raft of ultra hip names on display, and myriad of bands you have in your head as must sees there is the tantalizing prospect of stumbling across something completely new. It’s that exact prospect that finds us downstairs at Cocomo on Old St for the undiscovered Flowers Of Sulphur. Rammed into the basement room they set about carving colossal improv instrumental works that draw together elements of Floyd, Kyuss and Chrome Hoof over a pulsing krautrock core. It’s utterly mesmeric and an unexpected delight. Check it out. By now the evening is drawing on and the true spirit of Stag & Dagger is taking over as acceptance that you just have to go with the flow and abandon best laid plans takes hold. There’s time to catch a glimpse of The Temper Trap adding to their fast rising profile  at Bar Music Hall before heading into the bowels of Cargo for Cold War Kids. Cargo is so rammed it’s literally one in one out to every section of the place, but when you get stagefront it’s easy to see why. CWKs cull a reverential set from across their back catalogue that has the assembled in raptures, instantly staking a claim for set of the year. At this point of the evening it seems silly to leave as Cargo is hosting 90s survivor Evan Dando. Drawing material from his heady Lemonheads peak and later day solo work Dando is the perfect cap to a deleriously insane evening. Stag & Dagger is quite simply one of the best events on the circuit and what is more with so much choice on offer. It’s like 100 festivals in one, all your mates could have a perfect evening no matter how eclectic thier tastes. Is it next year yet?!


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