I had never heard of Stag and Dagger, but when We Are Scientists announced that they’d be playing at it this year, I was of course going to check it out. It’s one of those multi-venue indoor city festivals. An indoor festival in Glasgow makes a lot of sense at any time of the year.
Once the rest of the programme was announced I was disappointed that I didn’t recognise too many other names on the bill, and that WAS were not even headlining one of the venues. Oh well, times change, and for me it would be a good chance to discover some new music.
I wasn’t able to get there too early but arrived in plenty time to pick up my wristband and catch the band on before WAS, which was GUN. Gun/GUN are old school Scottish country-ish rockers. They were good (reminded me of one of my favourite Frasier quotes when Roz tells her sister “For your information Classic Rock is both classic and it rocks!”) but had the same problem I find with most straight-forward rock music – it can get a bit dull and predictable. They were clearly very experienced and talented musicians, and the lead singer had swagger in buckets but for me it was missing something. It was also strange to hear a band from the era when singing in an American accent was de rigeur, even if you were from Coatbridge. I’m so used to hearing the likes of Biffy Clyro and Twin Atlantic comfortably singing in their own accents that it was bizzare to remember that once upon a time not too long ago people affected the other to be taken seriously. And I suppose if you have adopted that for a number of years you can’t very well change suddenly.
So, the older demographic classic rock crowd dispersed and the younger indie crowd filtered in, as well as the ones who were getting in early for the later bands. I had loitered at the back for Gun, but took up my usual position at the front for WAS. I’m going to try to hold back on the WAS -love cos at the time of writing I’m en route to see them again in a stand-alone gig in Manchester, so will likely write about that too. (I did – find it here) So We Are Scientists highlights – new stuff sounds WAY better live (I hate that this is the case cos not everyone gets the chance to see them live and experience the full force of live versions) I love the edgier, harder sound, old stuff re-worked is immense, they opened with a killer version of The Scene is Dead and we got a banging new version of Impatience too. Other Keith is their best drummer yet (Ok, I never saw Tapper but we can be pretty sure he’s not coming back) I really hope they keep him, I love the different quality he brings and he looks like he’s having a blast doing it. It was Other Keith’s birthday the next day, so Original Keith led us all in a rendition of Happy Birthday.
They only had a 45 minute slot but jam packed it full of oldies, a few from Barbara, and 3 new songs from the new album – Buckle, In My Head and Classic Love.
I had a bit of time before the next band I wanted to catch, so I hung around at the venue a bit in case any of the band were around. Original Keith and Chris came out but were in a rush to go and get some food so didn’t stay. A few people caught them and asked for photos, I ended up taking a group photo for someone but didn’t get to speak to the guys at all. I was just about to pop into a shop to get a snack to fuel me for the next couple of bands when I saw Other Keith heading towards me. He remembered me from the last couple of times in Glasgow (read all about them here and here) and we had a quick chat about the new record, his dad (hi Tom!) his Scottish roots and birthdays. I told him I was going to the Manchester gig so would see him again soon.
Next up was We Were Promised Jetpacks (best band name ever) at the Art School. I honestly can’t remember if I’ve seen WWPJ before. I have a vague recollection of looking for them at a festival or some event. In any case, they are a band that have been on my radar to check out properly. The Art School was packed, so I was glad I got there early. I took a position leaning against the sound booth. Not a great vantage point but I was tired and thought I might have to sneak out a bit early to make sure I got in to Slow Club later on.
WWPJ were really good. I have no idea if they were playing old stuff or new stuff, but they clearly have their dedicated fans who were loving every minute of it. I could have done with a bit longer to really get a feel for them and how they were different from other Scottish indie-rock bands, but I liked the sound of them, especially the more sweeping, landscape-evoking ones.
I was keen to catch Slow Club because I’d heard a few friends talking about them and I had a quick Spotify listen and really liked their sound. So it was over to the CCA for this one, by now I was really digging the indoor-ness of this festival due to the intermittent Glasgow rain and it was cool to just flash a wristband and take your pick of small venues and different bands. The CCA was surprisingly empty for a headliner but Slow Club were very impressive. 1 girl, 1 guy, a couple of guitars and a keyboard. They sang beautiful melodic songs of love and loss and actual hunger, as was explained. They were funny, cool and magical. It was such a chilled out way to end a busy day of very different kinds of music.
So all in all it was a successful day, a rocking We Are Scientists gig, and finally getting to see 2 other bands that I had been meaning to catch for a while. The format of the day was well planned, all smallish venues around Sauchiehall Street as well as the ABC as the focal point. I’ll be keeping an eye out next year and even if I don’t immediately recognise names I might just go along anyway, I’m always on the lookout for new music.