Lovefoxx, Cold War Kids, Casio Kids, Micachu and The Shapes, Times New Viking - Stag and Dagger: preview
James McDonald 18/05/2009
Apparently Thursdays are the new Fridays. Now entering its second year, East London's answer to the Camden Crawl, Stag and Dagger, promises to be larger and grander than last years' debut, in which an unprecedented 4500 revellers enjoyed 120 acts in a single evening. 2008s line-up was punctuated by the likes of Hot Chip, Diplo and Ladyhawke, but the festival's growth this year has been stark in comparison, now stretching to Glasgow and Leeds on separate days under the same banner;
'Adventures in the Beetroot Field and Margaret London, in association with VICE Magazine, are excited to announce that STAG & DAGGER, the first one-ticket-gives-access-to-all music event launched across London's East End is back, with a bigger line up, more bands and DJs, more venues and two additional national dates.' Hooray!
Along with the prospects of adjusting your body to daytime drinking, stumbling aimlessly along high streets in desperate attempts to catch bands, and the inevitable pile into oversubscribed venues, Stag and Dagger's growing potential this year has been further strengthened by a mouth-watering bill, the more notable inclusions to which I will walk you through now.
Firstly, household names.
Lovefoxx - Tired of being sexy, doll-faced pragmatic new-rave pin-up Lovefoxx is utilising a hiatus from more commonly known CSS by pursuing 'other creative projects', namely a solo performance which carries with it the very real possibility of death by drowning in a wave of glitter. Although her individual explorations away from the band are yet to be heard, attendees can be assured her set will contain a now characteristic cherry-pop blend of indie-dance goodness, dazzling face paint, and a whole lotta sequins.
Cold War Kids - born in Jonnie Russell (guitar, vocals, percussion)'s apartment above the restaurant Mulberry St. (the title of their first ep), Cold War Kids now find themselves returning to the UK promoting new album 'Loyalty to Loyalty', the content of which guarantees for an unmissable set at this years Stag & Dagger. Their genius is often marmite in taste, bringing with it equal measures of wholesome satisfied grins from their supporters, and scrunched-faced repulse from those who oppose. Some, when Cold War Kids crop up in conversation, are impartial. Whatever your views, the band's set is likely to be enjoyed by a capacity crowd, and will be one of the main talking points post Dagger.
White Denim - having been tipped by many as one of 2008's shining musical alumni, Texan trio White Denim are on a collision course with a hectic night of noise. '[Their] songs are borne of experience and doubt. The skipping country-rock, the heartfelt songs and gentle and moody Shuggie-style soul music, details relationships that can't succeed. Influences range from the early works of Funkadelic, to seventies Brazilian pop, and it shows. There are more elements of jazz and soul than previously heard and the vocals sit in the mix rather than on top, like another instrument. Their playing is clever without being ostentatious and there is an overflow of melodic hooks', apparently.
Casio Kids - are travelling from Norway and stopping in Shoreditch as part of their UK tour, bringing with them accessible pop melodies, shadow puppets, and the mantra that 'electronic music should be more visual.' Regardless of how limited visibility may be at the show, whether it be due to a horde of sweaty fans blocking the stage or the result of excessive alcohol consumption, their dance anthem 'Fot I Hose', along with their set as a whole, is likely to be one of the festival's highlights.
Rusko - Christopher Mercer (aka Rusko)'s loosely associated dub-step groove is perhaps the most mainstream example of the current phenomenon in London, and a suitable introduction at the swallow end of the pond to those unfamiliar with the sound. Mixing electro high end with jungle bass at the root, he is certain to set speakers, dancefloors, and bones a-rumbling long into Thursday night.
Jack Pinate - Leaves his guitar at home to DJ at some point in the evening's proceedings. Cue photo-ops.
Maps - To the delight of many, James Chapman showcases what he's been up to since the widespread success of Mercury nominated album 'To The Sky'. His eclectic take on product and performance makes for a unique offering every time he puts on his cape of pseudonym and takes to the stage, and his appearance at the Stag and Dagger this year will be no exception.
Danananananaykroyd - The GIITTV and grammarian favourites inject an infectious enthusiasm into the event's proceedings with their inclusion on the Thursday's bill. Fresh off the back of their mammoth debut 'Hey Everyone!', which has left most still reeling from its vigour, Dananana's riff-laden modern rock circus promises to hit the town, and those in attendance, very hard indeed. A spectacle not to be missed.
So that's the main bases covered. Secondly then, and perhaps more importantly, within a heavy (and righteous) modern emphasis on exposing new talent, here are a small number of the performing bands you may not be familiar with, but by cripes you will be soon enough!
Tubelord - Tubelord's mission statement is to create 'pop songs for rock kids', and with a well balanced blend of technical delight and melodic wonderment it's easy to draw from previous releases that their mission has, to date, been most successful indeed. I feel they're more than they modestly credit themselves to be; one of the most exciting young bands around at the moment, with a potential for greatness that is further realised every time they play. If you get the chance to catch them live, whether that be at any future shows or at the Dagger itself, you'll never leave disappointed.
Micachu and The Shapes - An altogether refreshing and sometimes plain weird reflection of modern music, the myriad of their catalogue is accessible in a way that everyone can draw something from it. The band collectively orbit around 21 year-old Mica Levi, who has been touted as 'one to watch' since the release of her debut album 'Jewellery'. Her unconventional use of sound and instruments has been described in the past as 'unbridled eccentricity', and her collaboration with Raisa Khan on keyboard and Marc Pell on drums (- the Shapes) gives an enviable platform on which to further her musical pursuits.
Times New Viking - Messy lo-fi rock from celebrated innovators Matador, Times New Viking (see what they did there?) offer something completely different to the increasingly uniform post-punk bracket, by essentially not giving a flying galaa. They are loud, pugnacious, and at the best of times down-right brutal in the stature of their sound - an ideal escape from electronic confines.
Lukid - By no means a confine of the electronic genre however, Lukid (aka Luke Blair of Archway, North London) enforces a trip-stop drum root reminiscent of Flying Lotus (amongst others) at the heart of his music, and is a prime example of one man and his computer taking the form of the modern 'band'. Blair's talents are clear to all and if you find yourself subconsciously nodding to some smooth background beat this Thursday, chances are he'll be the source.
At risk of breaking into a full-blown essay on 'who you should see' or 'how you should enjoy your festival', I'll check myself here. The fact is those of you already attending this year's Stag and Dagger may well have a clear idea of the acts that will comprise you're evening, and you're probably very content with that indeed. I, however, take great comfort in reflecting on both the 'big names' the festival has managed to draw this year, along with an almost unaccountable number of talented 'new' acts that complete the line-up as a whole. Surely that's what makes the Stag and Dagger what it is, a celebration of the contrasts in the music that is around today, in a setting almost as aptly and uniquely diverse. It should be a good 'un.