SWN Festival Day 2: Cardiff – live review

SWN Festival Day 2
18th October 2013

Day 2 at SWN. Still lots of bands to see. Still beer in the pumps. Can Keith hack the pace? Of course he can.

Necking three pints of ale whilst craning my neck to catch a glimpse of an old man slumped in the corner may not have been the best idea in the world.  but it’s really up to you whether or not to decide if that dictated the end of what the world calls Thursday night /Friday morning or not.

Day two will be busier than day one.

There are small queues and its still early.

Totem Terrors. Now here’s a band we’ve never heard of. Totem Terrors are a cool indie duo with a drum machine. During the bits its that don’t remind us of Half Man Half Biscuit we’re reminded of the B52’s. Good tunes, great vocals and an enjoyable beginning to day two.

Pawws are one of those bands that people still getting ready to go out will love at three o’clock in the morning whilst arguing with their boyfriends or girlfriends and throwing up outside Macdonalds. Being reminded of Madonna isn’t what was expected but word downstairs of half hour queues to get in mean we stand our ground and flip between the two venues in the same building.

Which means we get to stand in a huge crowd watching Heavy Petting Zoo who seem to have a Bez like man in a white shirt and plaster cast arm dancing like Shakin’ Stevens whilst adjusting his quiff every 6 seconds. The band’s singer starts a conga around the crowded room to a soundtrack of some pretty neat garage rock. Strange but compelling.


Wolf Alice are pretty ace in a Pixies meet Echo And The Bunnymen kinda way. With a female voice commanding proceedings along with some pretty neat guitars blaring out tunes of varying degrees of volume their melodic tunes are winning everyone over.

This building is filling up and a six piece by the name of the Alex Dingley Band are entertaining the folks in the downstairs department. When they look like they actually know what they’re doing they’re OK but the reason behind running up and down flights of stairs and visiting unknown artists performing their stuff (and keeping us out of the rain) is to witness one of the finest beat combo’s currently treading the floors, jumping up and down, waving and screaming and keeping the hoards from standing outside smoking more fags in the rain.

Bo Ningen.

Hair, lots of it.

Noise, lots of that too.

Tunes, huge tunes, huge riffs, loud guitars.

SWN Festival Day 2: Cardiff – live review

Bo Ningen are pretty much a Japanese heavy rock band. As we’re limited to the amount of bands of this calibre over the years then we can only mention “Boredoms” which is kinda lazy I guess but Bo Ningen are bonkers. Bonkers in the most agreeable way. Guitars are swung over our heads, hair flaps too and fro and words are screamed that no one seems to understand. Recent tune “Henkan” comes to us early and sounds like Siouxsie‘s Love In A Void sped up, reversed, cut up, stuck together by a blind man and kicked in the bollocks.

Excellent stuff and their second gig this evening, We realise that earlier they’d been playing with some band featuring a bunch of “A list celebrities” who are a great catch if you happen to own a bar in town and need an excuse to persuade punters to patronise it at two o’clock in the morning (apparently).

SWN Festival Day 2: Cardiff – live review

A quick stroll over the road, well …. pavement and it’s time to calm ourselves down a bit with the sublime Hejira who couldn’t be more different than what we’ve just witnessed 2 minutes earlier. Quiet piano lead tunes are just what we need at the moment and it’s great to hear Litmus Test again.

Then, from the sublime to the bloody ridiculous as we run against a tide of people leaving our third venue of the evening in droves. Lywbr Llaethog sound great coming up the stairs but standing in a room (nice carpet) watching a bloke in his underpants and big hat mincing around the stage and grabbing the mike to utter vulgar obscenities whilst baring his arse whilst a couple of blokes behind a desk make some pretty damn cool electronic beats is not really what we’re in the mood for so we decide we’d rather go and watch Bo Ningen load their van up which is the most conventional thing anyone of us have witnessed from these four dudes all night.

Finally, and after a brief introduction to the behavior of the Friday night drinkers in this city centre ( braces himself for Saturday night ….) we wander into see (or rather hear) Drenge for a bit , who are making the most enormous racket you could imagine whilst wearing pyjamas.

They’re loud, fuzzy, bluesy..loud! loud! loud!

We stagger out, back into the real world and find ourselves shouting “WHAT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! “NO I DON’T WANT TO COME INTO YOUR FUCKIN PUB THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH” as politely as we can to lots of people lots of times to those handing out flyers amongst crowds of stag and hen parties, arguing, throwing up and queuing for the chip shops.

…..I wonder what it’s like on a Saturday in this city ? I cannot wait .

Not really …. End of day two.


Bands mentioned in this review can be found by following the following links – Totem Terrors, Pawws, Heavy Petting Zoo, Wolf AliceAlex Dingley BandBo Ningen, HejiraLywbr LlaethogDrenge

All words by Keith Goldhanger. More work by Keith on Louder Than War can be found here. He’s also on SoundCloud here, Facebook here and tweets as @HideousWheeelInv.

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Keith Goldhanger -- Spent the '90s as a frontman with London noise merchants HEADBUTT - spent the '80s in 'Peel favourites' BASTARD KESTREL. Spent a few years mashing up tunes and remixing bands as HIDEOUS WHEEL INVENTION. Is often out and about getting in the way of things and bumping his head on low ceilings - Will give your band the time of day but will dislike any band that balances full pints of alcohol on the top of guitar amps (Not keen on lead singers that wear hats either).


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