Swn Festival makes a welcome return to Cardiff. A festival that promoters the local city, the local music scene and a array of upcoming acts around the UK. Here’s what we managed to catch.
Our night starts with THREATMANTICS, a nice easy kick to the festival. A feisty little bunch as well, but we only manage to catch a handful of songs before dashing over to The Model Inn to witness THE GOODTIME BOYS. It takes some courage to leave a successful commercial band to start back on your own, and in a band that no where near comes close the same genre as your last, and one that clearly suggests he wasn’t enjoying the commercial side of life. Penny throws himself into the hardcore role and into the crowd, literally – who stand like statues. Amongst the noise you barely notice Penny’s vocals, until the sound cuts, it’s a ‘hard hitting moment’ and you realise just because you can shout and play loud, it doesn’t make you good, thus the only potential part of the band is their energetic presence.
Another quick dash from The Goodtimes Boys and we manage to catch the end of KUTOSIS, another random mix of affairs. It’s a much more cosy atmosphere in Dempseys, and a more embracing crowd. A first viewing for us and certainly not the last.
Let’s see STAGECOACH… Headband, check. Unusual instrument, check. Looking like you’re straight out of a cliché pop indie band, check. Playing like a bunch of happy chaps, double check. We’re not being mean, they are a genuine lovely, exciting ‘ohh ohh ohhhing’ of a band. We only have stroll down the lane back to Dempseys to catch the next act. That’s one of the beautiful things about Swn, that most takes part along Womanby street, meaning you have plenty of time to watch as much of, and as many bands as you can.
Now this is a ‘band’ that quite frankly doesn’t need a ‘band’, and cleverly titled RIGHT HAND LEFT HAND. Two of them stride back and for from guitar to drums and back again, setting up melodies using an array of pedals to record parts and re-enact bass on guitar. Even at times, they duel together on drums. It’s something you don’t regularly see, and all goes swimmingly well instrumentally, up until the one guy opens his mouth to ‘sing’, or grumble along, which is what it felt like. That nice melody just got ruined.
The ‘not so good’ highlight of the night is OUI MESSY. A long walk and out the way at Buffalo sees us in the beer garden, cold, and pondering that if it should rain, would the electronics blow up? Anyway, the indie lovers in their sweaters casually relax on the benches and sit quietly to watch Oui Messy, who like their title, are messy. To a point where you can see your breathe in the cold and start debating… is it worth it? They clearly need more practice and need to find something that will shatter and overthrow their shouty, yet indie scene with something exceptional. Plus the sound wasn’t too good either.
TALL SHIPS are the random band we’ve decided to check out after leaving Buffalo early, and what a dramatic change it is. ‘The Red Cow’ (as it’s known to those who don’t speak Welsh) is packed out, and well.. unless you’re the few from the front, all you get but all you need is the music to embrace you. Especially their final song which feels deep, and match-less to others in their set. A clear winner to end on, where the bassist is left playing an extra guitar, the drummer has taken his snare alone elsewhere, and after a barrage of keyboard bashing the guitarist ends up on what’s left of the drum kit.
It was a hard choice, do I stay around for TALONS or do I head over to Samoans before the one in, one out scenario takes place. Delightfully, I stay for Talons, and rightly so. Talons are a bad you’d want played at the dramatic moments of your life. Intense, yet filled with sympathies that both get your pulse racing but moments later calm you right down. Eyes of those drawn in show their feelings, heads sway, and the crowd stay engaged throughout. Stunning way to end the first night.