Today’s post was meant to be a celebration but I fear it’s going to be a bit of an obituary. I wrote a lot of the Advent Calendar blog posts before November was even up but held off writing about Shrag because I had a ticket for the Riots Not Diets Christmas Party at the West Hill Centre that they were headlining on the 8th of December. I heard a rumour before hand which was confirmed by the band at the gig – it was probably their last time they would play Brighton.
What a bombshell – I had no idea it was coming. This year’s album Canines had been lauded across the music press as their finest yet, and gave us three fine singles – Tendons in the Night (which was a split single with touring partners Tunabunny), album lead track Show Us Your Canines in the Night and and the glam stomper Devastating Bones. While the singles were Shrag’s most muscular yet the rest of the album showed a band who’d finally found a maturity in their sound. The New Order-esque breakdown in the middle of On The Spires of Old Cathedrals gave us the shivers every time we heard it and album closer Jane With Dumbbells was majestic.
Things felt a bit different at the last gig. Helen finally looked a bit older and less like a child, and there was something a bit less indie about Steph. Maybe I was just projecting, knowing that in a few weeks time (there’s one last gig in their Diary, at Fortuna Pop’s Winter Sprinter in London) they won’t be part of Shrag any more. Maybe the band know that they haven’t got anything to prove any more. Maybe they were just drunk. Who knows.
What I do know is that in these quarters Shrag will be sadly missed. They’ve put out some fantastic records over the past few years and played some great gigs. They leave us with one final single put out as part of the Where Its At Is Where You Are singles club. Unseasonal Thoughts melds spiky guitars with 80s synths, and might just be the best thing they’ve ever done. At least they’re going out on a high.