Harru's Blog

October 26, 2009

A Review of Swn. Saturday.

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomharrrington @ 1:51 pm

It’s Saturday morning and I’m struggling. I’ve planned and want to see a bit of the afternoon gig at the Model Inn featuring Super Tennis and Tubelord, but my ageing, aching body is not going to let me, so it’s an afternoon with Gillette Soccer Saturday and copious cups of tea. I’m annoyed with myself, but it means by the time the bands kick off in the Gate I am at least capable of movement. It’s just as well, as the Gate is not a venue that caters well for the infirm, with two flights of stairs between the main hall and the bar, as well as the barrier that must be hurdled in order to reach the floor. I resist this necessity for Sparky Deathcap however and take a seat in one of the old pews. His brand of softly spoken Anti-folk doesn’t really kick in until the backing band is brought on for the penultimate song, and the music finally reaches those of us at the back. Copy Haho are next, and a real revelation to me, elevating their melodic hummable indie pop, from decent guitar pop tunes to something far more powerful and energetic, including songs such as ‘Wrong Direction’ and managing to beef up everything enough to fill the cavernous church. However, about half way through the bassist mysteriously disappears, to the surprise of his band mates, only returning towards the end in the middle of the crowd. Answers on a postcard please.

I want to try and catch Internet Forever, but the queue at the bar combined with service a sloth with M.E. would find slow means I miss out (sorry Chris). Back upstairs, more hurdling and it’s time for Dananananaykroyd, and I don’t care if I’ve spelt it wrong. This is my first live encounter with Dana… It’s fair to say I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band this loud also be simultaneously this happy, and with the now mandatory ‘wall of cuddles’, crowdsurfing and general euphoria accompanying ferocious party rock tracks as ‘Greater Than Symbol And The Hash’ and ‘Black Wax’, both band and audience are left beaming and wanting more. Luckily for everyone then, Los Campesinos are headlining. Since I last saw them they’ve released two albums, or an album and a record if you prefer. And you can tell they’ve spent a long time playing these songs. What was a naively promising band two years ago has matured into a headlining act more than deserving of the position. With a third album on the way new songs are mixed with songs from the second record (Miserabilia, Ways To Make It Through The Wall) and all interspersed with now old favourites such as You Me & Dancing and Don’t Tell Me To Do The Math. They now have more than enough quality songs to fill their slot, and Gareth seems to have really grown into his role as focal point for the seven piece, interacting seamlessly with band mates and the crowd, all culminating in a gigantic indie rock love in featuring crowdsurfing members of LC, Danana and JoFo for the finale. It was really really really good.

We manage to dash across town in time to catch the bulk of Slow Club at Dempseys, but to be honest, it proves a bit anticlimactic. Whereas Los Campesinos have really kicked on, Sheffield’s Slow Club seem to have stalled. Maybe I’ve caught them on an off night, and the crowd is amongst the worst of the weekend for whispering and fidgeting, but there’s no magic here. Gone are the unusual spoons, pots and pans used as percussion, and there’s less interaction between Charles Rebecca and the audience than when I’ve seen them previously. Perhaps if they’d played earlier in the weekend, and not close to midnight on Saturday it would’ve been different.

Never mind, the Moshi Moshi DJ’s then played R Kelly and Erasure, I got drunk, spent far too much money and had a brilliant weekend. Cheers Huw.


A Review Of Swn. Friday.

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomharrrington @ 1:51 pm

It’s 4pm on Friday and I’ve been let out of work early! Tonight will be spent mostly in Ifor Bach, owing to laziness as much as the schedule, and after grabbing a quick pint or two the first band on is Exit International. Imagine Future Of The Left, with 2 bassists and less imaginative lyrics and you won’t be very far away from what we have here. I don’t want to sound harsh because I did quite enjoy the set, but it’s difficult to see them growing from the clichéd warm up band with more people at the bar than at the front into anything more substantial without a touch more invention and flair. Classic rock poses from bassist #2 though. For the first time of the weekend it’s time for a mid evening change of venue as I make the short transfer down the road to the delightful Barfly, which I’m amazed to discover has a new floor and a proper stage nowadays, as well as draught Red Stripe (no sign of the recession in this smelly basement). The less said about Envy’s 15 minute set the better, but Liverpool’s Soft Toy Emergency prove an unexpected treat, with their female fronted 80s pop rock, which reminds me of something I can’t quite put my finger on until someone mentions Roxette… There are some very decent songs here though, and these guys may soon find themselves enjoying bigger and better things.

With my Barfly interlude over, and my friends’ Pizza Express tea demolished (they had vouchers and everything!) it’s back to the Welsh Club for Johnny Foreigner. With a new album out I’m looking forward to hearing some new songs and they don’t disappoint, mixing very promising newies with raucous versions of now classics (in my eyes/ears) such as ‘Eyes Wide Terrified’ and ‘Salt, Pepa and Spinderella’. Bassist Kelly makes her customary attempt at crowd interaction with the usual awkward but endearing questions about the latest releases at the cinema, but in general this is a much better JoFo audience than I’ve been in before and the set races along, but finishes just in time to dash downstairs. Awaiting us there are Pulled Apart By Horses, and about hundred people too many for the packed downstairs room with it’s inconvenient pillars and strangely placed steps. Eventually I squeeze into a spot on one of the aforementioned steps and get the perfect view of their quite fantastic massive rock tunes, as well as their traditional naked torsos. Another band who can’t stand still, they somehow manage to find room in the crowd to play their instruments and everyone is left sweaty, bruised and ecstatic, not to mention covered in vomit, by the end of what seems like an all too brief set, although it’s probably being going on for hours for all I know in my frazzled state.

After such an enjoyable evening something had to go wrong, and sure enough we face the first disappointments of the weekend as attempts to get into both Girls and Silver Gospel Runners at the tiny Fuwch Goch (red cow) and Dempseys respectively are foiled by a one in, one out queue and some ill-judged scheduling. The Model Inn is also boasting a large snaking line emanating from it’s front door, so we decide to abandon the live bands for the night and enjoy the DJ’s at the Welsh Club (which is also full almost to capacity). Some incredible indie-discoing and many mixed drinks later and it’s bedtime at something past 4.

A Review Of Swn. Thursday.

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomharrrington @ 1:49 pm

Having recently returned to Cardiff after an absence of 8 years, this was my first experience of the Welsh capital’s attempt at what Alexei JoFo describes as ‘one of those my city is a festival’ things, and it compares very favourably to Nottingham and Sheffield’s efforts. With most venues within a 5 minute walk of each other it’s nice and compact, pulling decent and enthusiastic crowds throughout the 3 days.

My festival started on the Thursday night in Dempseys slightly grotty but adequate upstairs function room, with Cardiff’s entire Scottish population cheering on Celtic on Tv downstairs. After rushing home from work and back into town I miss the first band, but am there in time for Fredrick Stanley Starr to kick things off with a set of harmony laden folky pop, more than a little reminiscent of Fleet Foxes, which is pleasant but unlikely to get the earth moving. That task is left to Islet, a six or seven (possibly even eight) piece instrument-swapping, multi vocalist whooping extravagance, with a huge aversion to discernible time signatures and conventional melodies. Highly enjoyable, and the first band I think I’ve seen to use a radiator as an instrument. Next up is, to my disappointment, not Elvis, but Evils, who continue to keep the crowd bouncing with some drum and bass tinged electro, but are perhaps one or two more memorable tracks away from a really good set. I had no idea what to expect from the night’s headliners, Zun Zun Egui, but it’s fair to say I wasn’t expecting an hour long set of loud, African influenced, swirling psychedelic rock. They appear to divide the crowd, of which a large proportion cannot get enough of the epic 20 minute finale, but a similar amount, myself included, feel that it was possibly 6 or 7 jams too far. That’s Thursday finished then and with work in the morning I head home for an earlyish night.

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