Sŵn Festival Day 4: Cardiff – live reviewDay four at Sŵn Festival arrives for our roving reporter who enjoys one the best days of live music he can ever remember. To see which bands led him to that conclusion read on…

Whilst some of us music hungry kids are sleeping off the previous evenings excess, there are some music fans up already and gathering across the road from where we sit. Having realised this window is overlooking the rear of the Cardiff Arena, (which is not part of Sŵn Festival, but a forthcoming venue for the likes of Boyzone, Union J, Status Quo, 5ive, Jessie J and Frank Turner) it is thanks to the magic of google that those blokes down there at 11am having their photos taken with blue haired teenagers are ALTER BRIDGE. Now I know you know that I know the difference between Telegram and Temples, but I have to hold up my hands here and say I havn’t got a clue who these stadium rock stars are (had they been the Quo however…..)

Day 4 and potentially the most attractive line up yet … and the day begins with a visit to the open stage in the shopping precinct to have a look at singer songwriter ALED RHEON who impresses not only the pink wristband wearers, but passing shoppers, shoplifters and police on bikes with added “new rave” sirens on the handlebars.

Back into Womanby Street (which someone has this weekend described as “a bit like London’s Carnaby Street, but with great little venues with great little bands”) we’re entertained by another male / female duo who go by the name of JOEY FOURR. It’s Four PM and we dream of being in this same tiny room one day at Four AM with some flashing lights and white smoke billowing out from the stage with our hands in the air sucking the inside of our cheeks and going … well a lot more mental than we are now. Joey is the male half of this duo and as is so typical nowadays, is yet another one or those artists who lives down the road from me who I’ve never met before, but probably will again one day either buying a pint of milk or drinking in one of those pubs that at the moment seems a very long way away.

LAND OBSERVATIONS, one man, one guitar and a perfect cure for our hangovers. Sunday afternoons are made for music like this (or maybe the other way around) and as it’s in that venue with the nice carpet so it’s nice to take the weight off our feet and have a little lie down … er, and a pint.

We go back to the venue we now know as “Fuel” to see RADSTEWART for the second time this weekend and as before we notice a few elderly gentlemen smiling and paying close attention before they all meet up at the end to recall all those old Fall gigs of yesteryear.

Sŵn Festival Day 4: Cardiff – live reviewLANTERNS ON THE LAKE (see pic right) back at the Angel Hotel (people still sitting on the carpet) are sublime. God Speed You Black Emperor with a female vocalist if you like. It’s a great soundtrack for those who stated they might have just the one alcoholic beverage, but are just beginning to realise that a second one won’t do any harm and it would be churlish not to seeing as though all these bands today seem to be terrific and it’s not even dark outside yet”….. as I think I heard someone say.

NANOOK OF THE NORTH are playing in a very dark room and we can pick out vocals, guitars, loud bits, quiet bits and chatting from the audience at the back who won’t let us anywhere near the stage, even though there’s probably not much to observe except a blue strip light hanging precariously from the ceiling. And that’s quite frustrating because after a couple of songs it’s an easy option just give up, walk up a flight of stairs and get to watch TELEGRAM (see pic below video on the right) who really are fan bloody tastic. One can tell this lot have been busy recently. Their songs sound faster and tighter and they jump around looking like proper pop stars. None of this borrowing your dad’s old jumper or grabbing the newest sweary t-shirt with this lot. They look like a band should look like and play like a band who really are going to be remembered and loved in the next few years . Telegrams’ debut single is barely a few days old. It’s one of the songs of the year, and they’re playing in a room slowly filling up at six thirty in the evening with people visibly going “What the Fuck!” It’s scummy old psychedelic punk rock music in bursts of about three minutes that immediately make the listener want more. There’ll be more to come, we’re pretty certain of this.

This is that debut single …


Time next to pop in to see a band that this writer knows nothing about except that they’re called SWEARIN’ and as obvious as a bear being a Catholic in the woods…. everyone loves a bit……yeah, OK…..

SWEARIN’ are ace.

Their bass player is wearing a Killdozer T-shirt. He’s called Keith. This four-piece, with dual male / female vocals sound like all the best American artists that have ever come over to the UK and done well. Nirvana, the Hold Steady, Green Day, Pixies … the list goes on. However, they’re equally ace as all these bands, but different. Again, it’s immediately apparent that this is a band who have been playing every day for months whilst one of their mates pop around to their homes to keep the cats fed. The difference between those bands that are doing this every day of their lives and those that don’t is one of very few things we observe this weekend as we’re crawling on all fours through puddles and dodging bands loading and unloading their equipment whilst we just hand around bars wondering what Strange named Ale we should choose next.

Sŵn Festival Day 4: Cardiff – live reviewThere are two ways around the block to get to the Angel Hotel and we’re bored with them both now. It only takes three minutes and we’ve been doing this all weekend so we barge into the pub dividing it and wonder why this shortcut hasn’t been used more frequently over the past four days before remembering that we had, but then forgotten (and why we’d forgotten) and now remembered again…

SIVU is up next and some of us who have seen this act know what to expect even if numbers in this hall are fairly short on the ground at the present time. Those here will remember Sivu for months, maybe years. He’ll be our little secret, we’ll always buy his records and go and see him play, and that’s because he’s an act to cherish. One man, one guitar, two young associates either side on violin, cello, a number of keyboards and things to hit, some backing vocals and a drummer at the back make up this four piece. What’s more Sivu’s tunes are ones you’ll be reaching for on Sunday mornings and boast about being in a big room watching one rainy Sunday evening in Wales whilst lots of other people were cramming themselves into tight spaces to observe other bands who, lets not beat about the bush here, are probably equally brilliant, but we all cant be in two places at the same time can we?

I’m going in … back into the venue where so many acts have played so many ace shows this weekend. CLWB IFOR BACH (upstairs) is hosting TEMPLES. It’s been a good year for this lot. “Shelter song” was one of the first great tunes we heard in 2013 and there’s an album on the way some of us cant wait to hear. Seeing this lot in a city other than London gives us a better view of what others think of the band and it appears they’re doing great. A big crowd and a rapturous reception to a bunch of songs that really are opening ears and eyes in this room and let’s just assume all over the UK now can we? Another band we’ll all watch on Jools Holland next year and remember the night they played in Cardiff at Sŵn Festival. I think we’ll see Nadine Shah on our tellys as well soon. Possibly Telegram hopefully Sivu, and I’d like to think Bo Ningen.

I regret still never having seen Fimber Bravo or Golden Fable and no doubt the time will come when I see bands like Childhood (If I haven’t already) and shhhh… Apes! and I’ll probably regret not queuing up in the rain to see them this weekend.

Sŵn Festival has been great. Sundays ten bands have probably been responsible for one of the best day’s music I can remember, and that includes that day at Glastonbury a few years ago that seemed to begin with Anna Calvi and end with Coldplay with loads of great stuff inbetween that I’m not going to list here.

Thank you Cardiff, thank you staff and organisers of Sŵn Festival, thank you bands, managers and all the people who were instrumental in making this so flippin’ good and so well organised with everything on time, every venue displaying the line up on the doors. Every venue having spare schedules to grab and locating a lot of the venues all within a a reasonable walk . Well done to those that came and watched as enthusiastically as each other, appreciating the work done by everyone around this area of Cardiff and who will probably return next year (assuming they don’t already live there)

Can someone open up a nice veggie restaurant that stays open 24 hrs a day before next year though please? I’ve realised I’ve eaten more crisps over the past four days than ever … still …
… 34 bands in four days …

I need a lie down.

See you next year – tell your mates and your mates mates and keep forming those bands kids … someone’ll always come and watch you if you’re good … xx

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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