Stag and Dagger Festival 2010 Hits Shoreditch: A Review

Some wonderful bands, but Shoreditch does its worst. Read on for my highlights... and lowlights... of the Stag and Dagger 2010.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Abi-Daker-White-HinterlandWhite Hinterland by Abigail Daker.

Having picked up my two Stag and Dagger press passes, two booze vouchers and a free lighter – yeah! – my first port of call on the circuit got off to an inauspicious start when I cashed in my free drink ticket, to be presented with a *small* bottle of Becks. Not even a pint! Better not to bother with a free drink at all, me thinks.

Stag and Dagger Teeth of the Sea Stag and Dagger Teeth of the Sea Taking these photos permanently damaged my ears.

We were at the Macbeth to see psychedelic rock band Teeth of the Sea, who’s tunes I had been listening to on myspace earlier. They provided a howling start to the evening’s entertainment, and left me wishing that I had remembered ear plugs (again). Most of the punters sensibly lingered close to the back of the bar but I took a step too close to the speakers for a photo and blew my eardrums right out with the very first band of the night.

Macbeth stag and dagger The Macbeth by Tim Adey.

My conclusion? Bands like this are best enjoyed in the privacy of one’s own home… where I can safely choose whether I want to suffer from permanent tinnitus in exchange for the momentary pleasure/pain inflicted by an insanely loud wall of noise.

Kevin-Bradshaw-Teeth-of-the-Sea Teeth of the Sea by Kevin Bradshaw.

Next up were a band that I discovered a few months ago when I heard their catchy single Icarus on 6Music. White Hinterland are a boy and girl from the hipster end of Portland, Oregon. Framed by candles he fiddled around with knobs and a *trendy* old school cassette player on an Indian carpet. She played uke and keys in turn, all the time nimbly leaping on and off her loop machine in bare feet, all the better to create rich textures with her mellifluous vocals.

YouTube Preview Image The Video for Amsterdam by White Hinterland.

They ended on a real highlight of the evening: a soulful minimalist cover of Justin Timberlake’s My Love, though this youtube version doesn’t do it justice. Shamefully I didn’t recognise it, but I was soon put to rights.

Stag and Dagger white hinterland Stag and Dagger There was a strange character there. I think he was chanelling the Joker.

Then it was time for fun part of the evening number one: Use Stag and Dagger map to find next venue. And instead miss most of next band due to extremely crap over-simplified map which ensured that we followed the wrong trajectory into deepest darkest Hoxton. By the time we made it to the very traditional east end pub The Stag’s Head – which still retains it’s curved glass rack above the bar and numerous nooks and crannies of the kind that every trendy bar rips out as soon as they can – we were just in time for one last song from Little Death, and to marvel at the extremely cute and leggy bassist, always a surprise in a predominantly male indie band I find.

Stag and Dagger Little Death JuneChanpoomidole-LittleDeath- Little Death by June Chanpoomidole.

We stayed on to watch Baby Monster half an hour later, straight out of LA via some white zinc facepaint. Two men making love to their keyboards: this was pure Erasure for 2010, and an unexpected highlight of the night. By now I was thoroughly bemused by the Stag and Dagger crowd; a few indie kids swamped by townies out on the lash, more interested in ogling short-skirted blondes than serious beard stroking.

Kevin-Bradshaw-Baby-Monsters Baby Monster by Kevin Bradshaw.

We dashed back to The Legion in Old Street via the shrine to school girl Agnes, now reduced to a depressing pile of wilted flowers. Ironically I was to be within yards of another random shooting in London Fields only the next day. Thems the breaks in Hackney these days.

Stag and Dagger Agnes

The Legion has been enlarged and *improved* since I regularly used to attend Jen and Mikes’ Hot Breath karaoke nights. Oh wowser, this was Shoreditch central on a Friday night indeed. Let the fun part of the evening number two commence: I pushed my way past the pissed idiots lunging cross-eyed for my boobs to wait near at the front for The Radio Dept, a Swedish band that I have liked for many years. After half an hour of jostling and beer spillage as men crashed towards the ill placed toilet behind the stage I was more than ready to leave. The DJ played a series of high energy tracks whilst The Radio Dept looked stressed as they fiddled with their instruments on stage.

Eventually the crowd began baying for the band, but as I looked around the bar I thought “You know what, I reckon about ten people in this room even know who The Radio Dept are; the rest don’t give a shit so long as they can get twatted and pull.” An unfair appraisal? As a young friend of mine commented “It’s just like my usual Friday night out: except today I’ve had to pay £20 for the pleasure.” With an abrupt disregard for the music due to follow him the DJ cut his rave tune for The Radio Dept, but within moments I had decided that the sound was so incredibly bad that I had to leave: it was just too depressing to hear such incredible music massacred. So, The Legion has widened its area to encompass more drinkers and more dollar, but doesn’t ensure decent sound for its bands. Shameful.

Instead we went on down to the rave in the grimy environs of Hearn Street Car Park. We stayed briefly, enough for me to realise that we only listen and enjoy industrial music for fun because most of us don’t have to work in noisy conditions in our post-industrial society. Those who do would surely think us mad.

The Stag and Dagger, in summary? I think this year’s attendance may have been affected by the huge queues of last year that prevented people from getting in to watch the bands they came to see. In their place we had a bunch of drunken city twats. I’m sure there were many more hidden gems to unearth on the eclectic Stag and Dagger line up, but frankly I’d pay good money to stay away from the Shoreditch hordes. I guess I should have known better. It’s an ambitious concept that champions some excellent little known bands, but the organisers can’t control the crowds who choose to come. I don’t think I’d bother going to the Stag and Dagger again: for value for money and comfort I would recommend that you simply pick a good line up of bands in one venue on any day of the week.

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6 Responses to “Stag and Dagger Festival 2010 Hits Shoreditch: A Review”

  1. [...] had never previously listened to White Hinterland before starting this illustration for an article about the recent Stag & Dagger event, although one or two of their songs sounded vaguely familiar and it’s not impossible that I [...]

  2. Robin Seamer says:

    An interesting read. I had been considering (but not made it to) this event but it sounds like it wasn’t a huge amount of fun. Nothing worse than live music being spoilt by people who are best described as idiots or as you say “drunken city twats.”

  3. Amelia says:

    haha, I’m glad you agree with me x

  4. Nice piece there. Was just searching the web for some pics to use on my Stag & Dagger piece when I stumbled upon it. You must have been following me last weekend as we took in the same bands in pretty much the same order and were also witness to the shooting at London fields the next day…Although this was our first taste of Stag & Dagger, and thoroughly enjoyable to boot, I see what mean about the pissed-up city-types getting in the way of a good time. Not being a resident of London, I buzz off my intermittent Shoreditch adventures when visiting mates down there, however, this time was marred slightly by the tools you describe.

    Anyway, have a looksy at my witterings if you wish:
    http://interimalchemist.wordpress.com/2010/05/23/beer-loathing-in-shoreditch/

  5. Amelia says:

    Hi Dean, thanks for your comment – how funny that we were following the same trajectory last weekend, though fortunately neither of us into the path of a bullet! I will indeed check your piece out too. Have a good weekend, Amelia x

  6. [...] shoulders.  Eventually we lost patience ((judging from Amelia’s Magazine’s festival review, we didn’t miss much); Adrian left for his bed, it now being midnight, and I scarpered down [...]

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