For the ninth year running, Swn Festival happened last week in Cardiff. The line up was diverse and full of surprises, and the pissing Welsh rain didn’t dampen spirits all weekend. In fact, the atmosphere was buzzing all weekend with so many excellent bands playing in venues across the capital of Wales all weekend.
I loved sets by Clean Cut Kid, The Big Moon and Vant, three bands who’ve properly honed their craft and seem to just love playing live. The sense of discovery at Swn is important, so Saturday started with a set by Pixx. The young Londoner has a restrained, contained, beautiful vocal with an under pinning sense of electro melancholy. In contrast, Hull’s Life were frantic and frenetic, bouncing onstage and seemed to hurtle though their short sharp aggro-punk songs with a zest for life I hadn’t seen for a while. Man of Moon, a duo from Edinburgh, create a sound that’s tense and pensive yet calming and captivating too. The vocals, guitars and drums melt as one, and apparently, somehow, Elton John is a fan.
Cardiff’s music scene is varied and always bringing talented bands and musicians to the fore. Simon Love and the Old Romantics have just released an album on Fortuna Pop! which funnily enough features a song called ‘Elton John’, a song called ‘My Dick’ and a song called ‘You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth?’. It was one of the most entertaining sets of the weekend. There were a couple of bands who loved their ‘peas’ on playing Swn this year too. Chester’s Peaness packed out Clwb Ifor Bach with their instant melodic indie slo-punk in a gig that was so busy I could’t actually see them once through the crowd.
Performing solo and wowing with surprising lyrics and ideas aplenty, Oh Peas! is Rosie Smith – aka somebody I’m looking forward to hearing more of in the future. Beach Fatigue used to be called Heavy Petting Zoo and are still very excellent, combining a dry wit with a sense of fun in their punk that’s pretty irresistible. Catchy tunes too. Welsh language emo heroes Breichiau Hir are one of our best kept secrets I reckon, combining urgency and melody and leaving you wanting to cry and learn Welsh. I enjoyed two unusual sets by Plastic Mermaids and Cristobal And The Sea, both bands who know how to create a unique sound thanks to brave, magnificent vocals. I could go on. Stop next time you see me and I’ll tell you who else was amazing.