Stag & Dagger - various venues, Glasgow, Sun 4 May 2014
Honeyblood, Ezra Furman and Fat White Family shine at Glasgow one-dayer
You could tell simply from the vast quantity of hire tour vans clogging up Sauchiehall Street on a Bank Holiday weekend Sunday afternoon that something was afoot on Glasgow’s music half-mile. While the biggest Stag & Dagger to date didn’t quite peak, as no one band among the 50-odd billed emerged as a zeitgeist-capturing must-see, this was a grand celebration of Glasgow’s booming music infrastructure if nothing else, with the new Art School now joining Broadcast, Nice’n’Sleazy, the CCA and the O2 ABC in a tight constellation of good-to-excellent music venues so suited in combination to one-ticket, one-postcode all-dayers such as this, you wonder why there aren’t more events like it.
Among a strong showing of local talent, Glasgow dreamy-indie girl duo Honeyblood stood out most, first with a daytime acoustic set by singer Stina Tweeddale on the pop-up stage at Coda Hairdressers, then later with a full-band, fully-plugged-in taster of their very promising-sounding forthcoming self-titled debut album at Broadcast. Among visitors from further afield, Brooklyners the Hold Steady pulled in probably the biggest crowd of the day, for a breathless hour of fist-pumping, wryly funny party rock that others on the same ABC1 stage would struggle to match in the entertainment stakes. A short nip across to the CCA, and the brilliant Ezra Furman shone even brighter. Backed by a piano-bashing, guitar-screeching, sax-honking mob of musicians in the Boyfriends, the mildly-unhinged Chicagoan brought his excellent solo album Day of the Dog’s vintage rock’n’roll-isms to bear with energy and heart – and a heartfelt appeal for someone among the crowd to sort he and his bandmates out with a place to sleep when all the fun was over.
Headlining Stag & Dagger’s biggest venue would have been a stretch for Albert Hammond Jr at any rate, with a solitary EP last year representing the Strokes guitarist’s only solo release since 2008. But scheduled on the ABC1 bill between two of probably the most talked-about new bands at the festival, both appearing downstairs at ABC2 – pulverising rock duo Royal Blood, and we’ll come to the other one in a bit – you almost felt a little bit sorry for Hammond. He had neither the charm nor the material to overcome the challenge of a sparse crowd and dwindling atmosphere.
By stark contrast, London garage rock imps the Fat White Family made up for what they lacked in originality with sheer menacing magnetism, as shirtless, greased-up eel of a frontman Lias Saoudi spat songs about dodgy sex, champagne holocausts and bombing Disneyland into an ever-growing moshpit, and many a by-now very well-oiled punter ended their day with a regular riot of a time.