Swn Festival Day 3 & 4 highlights
This Is Wreckage opened my Saturday – this is a band that likes to play loud and dirty and the crowd were with them every step of the way. The Swn guide quoted for fans of Big Black and The Jesus Lizard so this was one I couldn’t miss and I was more than pleasantly surprised. the bass was huge and dirty, the guitar was juicy and jagged and the vocals husky and nicely judged.
Swn Festival 2013 – Day 1 & 2 Highlights
Day 1 – Thursday 17th
The Opening band of the weekend for me was His Naked Torso, a discordant, angular duo from Cardiff dealing in noise-rock of the ear shredding variety. The Moon was pretty full of curious onlookers but the duo still managed to make enough noise that I got out my earplugs immediately. They used drums and guitar along with some caustic screams to get their point across and melded in some nice head-bobbing beats to keep us all hooked.
So, with another 50 bands announced yesterday for October’s Swn Festival in Cardiff how’s the line up looking?
I’ve attended and reviewed the last two years and have been keen to see the announcements for this year, but so far there aren’t a huge amount of bands on the lineup that are grabbing me, some that I’d be interested to see but none that I am desperate to check out which is a touch disappointing with the festival on my doorstep.
On the maybe list so far are:
Band of Wolves
His Naked Torso
I don’t think that’s really enough for a full weekend of fun though so far which is a shame, and so far I’ve held off buying a weekend ticket. The lineup seems to be indie and folk heavy at the moment but they do usually pull an evening or afternoon of decent punk or noise bands out of the bag at the last minute, so far not a snifter this year but hopefully there will be some developments soon.
Check out the full lineup and ticket info at swnfest.com
Day 4 of Swn was a bit of a disastrous one all round really and not the best way to end the festival. I decided to go in to town for 3.30pm to see Without Maps at Buffalo and realised once I was there that I’d forgotten my ear plugs so ended up stuffing tissue in my ears – not my finest hour really. I stuck around for some of Samoans but got paranoid about the plugs and slunk off home early for food and to pick up the offending articles.
I felt like I was getting back on track later on as I headed back into town for Hawk Eyes, however…I got to the venue about 20 minutes early and it suddenly filled to capacity and Islet started playing instead… I slunk off again for the second time that day to discover that Hawk Eyes had pulled out of the festival, so I wandered round for an hour or so catching bits and pieces of bands I wasn’t keen on and feeling disappointed until Exit International came on stage at The Moon. Luckily they were excellent and restored my faith in music at the last moment.
It was a poor way to end my Swn festival experience unfortunately. It was day three that saved the weekend for me and in the spirit of Swn I discovered a couple of really good bands as I did last year. I think to sum up my experience this year I would say that for my taste it was a less interesting line-up, apart from Saturday there were only two or three bands on most of the days out of the whole line up that interested me at all – and a few of those pulled out, it also felt more indie/folk than last year. At other times there were unfortunate clashes – on Friday for instance where Gallows and Pulled Apart By Horses were on at the same time in different parts of the city so I had to choose. It’s good that the organisers put genre related bands on the same days but it does also mean that some clashes were bound to happen which was a bit of a shame.
After a nice leisurely day of getting ready at home I head in to see Survivalists at O’Neills, for some reason they stamp my hand with annoying black ink on the way in even though I have a four day wrist band…very odd. It immediately smudges everywhere, *sigh*. The crowd for Survivalists is sparse and mainly made up of family and friends. They try their best but don’t hold the attention of the punters at the back and most slink off after about 10 minutes. They suffer a touch from muddy sound with the vocals lost somewhere under the guitars and there isn’t a great deal of variety to be had from tune to tune.
Over to The Moon Club next for The Bent Moustache. Crowd interaction is kept to a cool zero and they seem like they’d just like to get the job done – apart from the brusque too cool for school attitude they have some decent tunes on offer; My Bloody Valentine-ish soundscapes with male/female vocals. The former are an off-key (sometimes slightly too off-key) Mark. E. Smith drawl and the latter a sweet (if nervy) addition.
Up next at The Moon are Rangda, this is why I came out tonight and judging by the way the place fills up it’s the same story for many others. Rangda again are not the chatty type but it feels natural and their tunes don’t really need any introductions anyway – swirling oriental edged waves of loveliness punctuated with heavier blasts. They really capture and hold the attention of almost everyone there – the exception being the two blokes behind me who don’t stop talking all the way through, of course their never ending chatter is totally inane and slightly takes the shine off the set for me unfortunately. There’s always someone.
Swn started in earnest last night. After picking up my wristband in the afternoon I took some time out to draw up my final plan of action using the programme – it did take a while for me to decide whether or not to go and see Gallows and stay in Roath or head into town but in the end I chose the town option and headed over to Clwb Ifor Bach to see Effluence at 7.15pm downstairs. They were excellent – the programme calls them “funk-rock noise a la The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster”, but the only part of that I agree with was they certainly were noisy. Manic but controlled, some brilliant interplay between the bass and guitar (very playful stuff going on there), great mix of screaming and singing, many, many changes of tempo and rhythm but also melodic and very entertaining. Not a great deal of stage presence at the moment but it’s early days and the front man had a nice line in spazzy dancing going on.
Also worth a mention were Pulled Apart By Horses who played upstairs at Clwb at 9.00pm. They are obviously well practised and they make it all look very easy – tight as a drum, crowd interaction was relaxed and chatty and they really got everyone going. There was a manic pit going most of the way through resulting in some poor guy getting a bloody face but by the end the whole place was moving. PABH are a proper party band – entertaining and with some proper rock out tunes. A solid set.
A selection of photographs from this year’s Swn Festival:
Day 1 – empty stage set up ready at Undertone
Day 1 – Bedford Falls at Undertone
Day 1 – Caves at Undertone
Day2 – The Good Wife at Buffalo
Day 3 – DZ Deathrays at Buffalo
Day 3 – Mowbird at Buffalo
Day 4 – Shoes and Socks Off at Clwb Ifor Bach
Swn festival moved to four days this year from three, starting on 20th October in Cardiff and playing out all over the weekend. In retrospect, while four days offers more choice it also feels a little overwhelming if you are reviewing and three full days may have been easier, (well, on my feet anyway). That said, Swn held some great surprises, with the best bands of the festival for me ending up being ones that I had not previously heard, just discovered thanks to the excellent festival programme ( which proved to be an invaluable guide).
I wrote on Roomthirteen prior to the festival that this was an event that was not about the big names but about discovering your new favourite bands and that turned out to be more true of the weekend than I realised it would be, with the bands lower down the bill often outshining those billed higher by quite a long way – a case in point being a fantastic set from patterns in The Cardiff Arts Institute (now called The Institute) followed by a dire set from The Fall in the Great Hall.
Occasionally, as with Patterns and Truckers of Husk the venue chosen was perhaps not the best one for the bands sound, with Patterns dream-pop The Institute was too bright and loud and there were times when they were almost drowned out by people talking at tables further back in the pub and Truckers Of Husk had people queuing half way down the street for their set in the tiny O’Neills upstairs room. On the whole though it was great to see so many of Cardiff’s venues being packed out night after night.
My bands of the weekend ended up being:
The Skull Defekts
The Good Wife
And So I Watch You From Afar
Shoes And Socks Off
Reviews of all those mentioned and plenty of others from the weekend can be found on Roomthirteen.