Sŵn 2016 day two – Keith Goldhanger skips around the Welsh Capital seeing as many bands as possible that are appearing in eleven different venues across the city over the weekend.
Plans have been made for the day ahead and these plans we are sure will go pear shaped at some stage.
We’re early so HIMALAYAS https://www.facebook.com/Himalayas get a look in The Moon club. They all have nice shirts and nice hair but their music failed to get the first fist pumping into the air.
BAD VIBES https://www.facebook.com/badvibescc we’d decided would be the token punk rock band of the day. Anyone over a certain age needs to implement this rule as a sign that self discipline hasn’t gone the same way as their 1980’s mohican – they were ace. Fuel, about a three second walk from The Moon club is hosting what we think at first is a loud and fast trio playing in front of a one man mosh pit. The mosh-pit one (as we’ll call him) we work out as soon as we can see the stripes on his underpants is also the ‘singer’. Tunes come and go and are gloriously messy thrashy distorted affairs. Whilst he’s laying at our feet we start to think he looks a bit like the chap that fronts Everything Everything but we’re wise enough to realise this isn’t the same man (underwear like that wouldn’t be seen hugging the arse of a Manchester indie band). The bass guitar breaks so the bass player plugs in the additional guitar sitting redundant over on the right. A man who many of us were unaware previously existed then arrives to ironic cheers just as the band announce they have just a couple more songs to go and we’re told by the drummer that he’s the second guitarist. He’s too late to claim his own instrument, picks up the bass, drops it on the floor which gets it working again and then the band, now a five piece playing all the wrong instruments finish off a couple of tunes with their backs to us before leaving us glad we’d arrived. We grabbed the front man as he was leaving the building who told us he’s not actually the singer. . .
“Oh, he’s off at a business conference in York this weekend” he tells us.
“I’m just filling in”.
We wonder if The Dead Kennedy’s ever had this problem when Jello had to go elsewhere for the weekend however this chap fronting Bad Vibes did a grand job and later on, in his absence whilst relaying all this to a couple of other audience members, glasses are raised and the story of how this individual actually got to be in this situation is left as one of life’s great mysteries.
ELLIE MAKES MUSIC – pic above– https://www.facebook.com/elliemakesmusic, today with her ‘bestie’ on backing vocals and ‘another bestie’ on keys is sublime. We get a Kate Bush cover and it allows us our breath back after our punk rock experience over the road.
MUMBLEMAN https://www.facebook.com/mumblemanmusic get a couple of minutes attention but we’re back over at The Moon club for THE CRADLES – pic below – https://www.facebook.com/TheCradles who are the first really
superb outfit we’ll witness today. This lot make us wonder if this is what The Courteeners were like when they began. Frontman Joe (we’re already on first name terms) coming across as a very sincere lovable chap delivering the voice to some potential indie anthems one could imagine being played one day in front of a few hundred fanatics.
Back over the road we see BOSSY LOVE – pic below – https://www.facebook.com/bossylovemusic who are what we call in the trade truly ‘Poptastic’.
Superbly delivered songs that Prince would have been proud of are being performed in front of our very eyes. High pitched backing vocals from the drummer on the right and keyboard player on the left make this a thrilling find. The female vocalist sings and dances to the hip hop beats in between her band mates and we have to be reminded it’s only three o’clock in the afternoon as we see one or two already trying out their dancing shoes for the weekend. We’re smitten and feel joyous. What made us even more happy about seeing this was the realisation later on that this is Amandah Wilkinson from Operator Please and one of those crazy chaps from Dananananaykroyd. One of us went twelve hours before realising this fact. The world needs to see this, it’s the best pop music some of us have heard for years.
PALACE WINTER https://www.facebook.com/palacewinterdk then make it trio of outstanding performances in a row. What comes across at first as a plodding Cure influenced outfit end up in the same euphoric league as Band of Horses with their chugging guitars and banging hypnotic drums. Another one we’ll be finding out more from we imagine.
SUPERGLU – pic below – https://www.facebook.com/supergluband Travelled here from Essex, arrived into town, got the sound man to mend their bass guitar and played a storming set all within their first half hour of arriving in Cardiff today. It’s always an entertaining experience seeing Superglu and their songs, as we’ve been slowly getting ourselves consumed in recently would give some of the new Pixies material a run for their money. Fast, tight, well performed catchy songs are what we get in between the banter that in many ways is just as entertaining as the tunes that we get in between.
By the time we enter the upstairs of Clwb Ifor Bach to catch ISLAND https://www.facebook.com/islandislandisland they look as though they’ve been playing for a few hours. They’re covered in sweat and the at the tail end of the set we see them playing some glorious laid back tunes that build up until they explode into hand raising euphoric anthems.
We’re not counting the bands we’re watching that we want to see and hear again another day (yet) but we imagine we’re already into double figures. Sadly DERRERO https://www.facebook.com/derrero at the Moon club may not actually be a band we’ll get another chance to see. Reverting back to earlier comments about the amount of bands some of us know laid next to the amount of bands that we don’t know, then this band fall into the latter category. It was pointed out during the show that this lot must have every Grandaddy album there is available, such were the songs that ebbed between the simple electronic drum machine and rousing battering live drums at the back of the tiny stage. It turns out this band, playing their first gig (and possibly their last) for fifteen years have on more occasion shared the same stage as our Californian heroes. Another indication that we can sometimes believe we know what’s going on out there (and some of us have seen Grandaddy countless times) but are sharply given reminders every now and then that we’re all missing out on some glorious bands however much we attempt to cover as much ground as possible.
Life used to be so simple,
“Killing Joke on Tuesday?” . . . . “Yep!” – 1983
“Blanck Mass on Wednesday?” . . . . “Who?” – 2016
The first schedule clash of the day was solved by entering the wrong venue at the right time and catching a quick glimpse of what we think is SILENT FORUM https://www.facebook.com/SilentForum but may have been FALLS https://www.facebook.com/fallsband. Panic begins to set in and we then skip back over to Womanby Street and have a look at what may be ALEX DINGLEY or even JAMES CANTY https://www.facebook.com/thisisJamescanty
Time for a rest and a sit down to work out what’s been happening but first a ten minute walk over to Gwdihŵ where we sit and wonder how all the folk walking into this building are going to be able to witness anything in this tiny room.
GALLOPS – pic above – https://www.facebook.com/gallopsgallops struggle through the best set of tunes that we’ve heard today that actually make us dance (ok then, make one of us wave an arm in the air). Fans of Canadian
electronic hero’s Holy Fuck will love this. They’re like a hardcore version of (early 80’s) Cabaret Voltaire. The struggle these chaps are having in the heat of this venue is as entertaining as the tunes. They won’t realise this of course but as the odd tune crashes, not to be retrieved it’s commendable how they crack on with the next instalment determined to get through to the end. There’s heaps of equipment at their feet and on tables and it’s no surprise really that a band such as this are going to struggle with sound problems, but It sounded great where we were and this was superb thrilling electronic madness that we can’t wait to see again one day. A real winner.
We then think we’re going to give TRUCKERS OF HUSK a look, another instrumental band we’d assumed but learned later is incorrect because we’d only bothered to listen to one track before we came here. As the band inside Undertone begin and two of the front men start singing the only STRONG ASIAN MOTHERS https://www.facebook.com/StrongAsianMothers tune we know already (because some of us do like to listen to a bit of the radio when we’re not losing our marbles in Wales on a Saturday afternoon) we decide it’s time to get the beers in (that’s right, some of us haven’t even started yet) and hang around Clwb Ifor Bach for SHOCK MACHINE.
We’re early, so the Queens shillings get spent in the downstairs section where CASI https://www.facebook.com/casimusic is performing over the far end of the room sounding like an Austrian Eurovision entrant and wearing what we are told is “a very odd outfit”. We didn’t manage to get to see Casi of course but she gets a tick on the list to clarify the act as another artist we’ve seen the top of the head of and heard a couple of tunes from this weekend.
SHOCK MACHINE – pic below– https://www.facebook.com/shockmachineofficial are James Righton from Klaxons, a bloke from Friendly Fires, another from Citizens! and another from Metronomy. Four bands who were our favourites once upon a time. What could possible go wrong ? – Well nothing actually. This was a fabulous performance that had the audience dancing in the aisles and showing delight in the fact that we’d all arrived in what we would argue for the rest of the weekend is the right venue to get our Saturday night in full flow. This band could be the UK’s answer to MGMT (although some would argue only had two great songs) or Empires of the Sun (who some would argue spend too much time dressing up). There’s a set of tunes we experience tonight that we think may become household favourites in time to come in the same way that each members’ former activities have been in the past. Having regretfully described this band earlier in the summer as I quote ” like Donny Osmond singing Flaming Lips tunes” an apology was due. However as the set ended and James came down to have a little dance with various members of the dancing crowd (the good looking ones) it was decided that this is what Donny may have done once. Younger readers may wonder what the dickens we’re on about. Ignore me and move on . . . this is not important or necessarily an issue that should have even been brought up again.
Whilst this was going on a band called MCLUSKY were playing (we’re told) a one off show in a packed Moon Club. We managed one song that sounded fast and furious and had members of (Sunday entertainers) Dingus Khan crowd surfing along to the sounds. Yet again, it pains me to point this out but even though many people know all about this band and how they turned into Future Of The Left not everyone in the room towards the end is this knowledgeable. Not knowing about certain bands existence is no longer a crime we like to think it’s fair to say. Not bothering to make any effort into finding a great piece of music in 2016 might be though. It’s weekends such as this that come in handy when we stand in that big field in Somerset every summer declaring an ignorance about bands or artists called things like Kanye West and Beyoncé. It’s why some people end up watching New Order instead of that woman from Tottenham. We could make pretend we know all about this band (about every band) but we’re sure you could google the info you need yourselves if necessary.
PEANESS https://www.facebook.com/peanessband get a look in at Four Bars but we’re ruined and we’ve got tomorrow to come as well as the obstacle course known locally as St Mary’s Street on a Saturday night. A street accommodating people without anything warm to wear who stand queuing outside bars that are pumping out Phil Collins and The Killers Mr Brightside. Once inside they’ll probably drink as many cheap cocktails as they can (three for a tenner!) before standing outside again to shiver and smoke fags, chat to other people without the intrusion of the man from Genesis and then return inside for more spirits to keep themselves warm for the queue outside the chip shop where they’ll spill their chips on the pavement before getting into a fight and getting a lift home in a Police van.
Although the last bit of that wasn’t actually witnessed it did come close.
The differences between Sŵn and Glastonbury are slowly beginning to be noticed.
Part Three to Follow
Here are some of these bands we enjoyed today.
All words and pictures by Keith Goldhanger. More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Keith on Facebook and Twitter (@HIDEOUSWHEELINV).You may subscribe to the Goldhanger Shorts Facebook page too if you so wish.