After a pleasant journey up to Wrexham, (thank you National Assembly for the direct trains that take half the time), I'm sensing a little buzz of excitement in the air.
Considering this is a Monday, school night, exam time, and every other factor under the sun, I'm overjoyed to see the snaking queue rolling around the pavement in front of Wrexham Central Station's live music venue.
Tonight is the first night of the BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend Fringe festival
- or Yr Wythnos
(literally 'the little week') - an attempt to bring something to the communities of North Wales, rather than just bulldoze through with the big guns at the weekend, and leave a trail of pop n' roll destruction. The Fringe will bring together the best new local talent and showcases them across the week, culminating in two big nights in Bangor city itself, with all styles and genres welcome and a big dance party added to the mix on Friday night.
For me, it's a great chance to see bands we champion all the time, and thanks to the co-curating teamwork of BBC Radio Wales's Adam Walton
on BBC Radio Cymru, I'll see some new bands, which is also what these gigs are all about.
When I arrive at the first night, Adam is on the decks playing some fine new tunes from The Drums
to We Have Band
, and the atmosphere is charged with teenage hormones, student slackers, and even some wisened music fans. It's a mixed bag, but above all, Central Station is packed. 350 people stomp through the door from the off, and Central is a notoriously difficult space to fill.No Room For Heroes
are loud, confident, and have good 'strong' vocals. They probably won't thank me for this but they veer toward the emo within the rock genre with their heartfelt breakdowns, and ballady numbers. They're young and if they stick at it they'll probably grow into their sound a bit more. At the moment they sound a little generic, but still impressive enough. Trader
are also young, heading towards more of the indie lad rock (or Gog Rock, which I've now nicknamed it) associated with the area, especially the Manchester, Liverpool, Wrexham circle. They're clearly influenced by stadium rockers Oasis
and the like, but there's a cheeky charm and endearingness to this band, which is all the better for not having the cocky swagger. If they stick together and grow with their music and become more adventurous, again they could really go places.
Next its Polly Mackey & The Pleasure Principle
. Having met the band recently at South by South West and at a gig in Cardiff, I'm really warming to the PMPP gang and they seem to have been pulling all the strings in the business over the last few years, getting great gigs across the world from Benicassim
to Great Escape
They are professional to the end, with merch table, banners, manners and attention to detail. They rock out, Polly sings impeccably, and they really could be something special, but... personally, I feel like they may need to look at the songs again and simplify the structures a little. Sometimes the melodies get a bit lost in so much going on. I've seen them a few times now and sadly the choruses or melodies refuse to stick in my head. I really would like to see them do well, and they have all the ingredients, just need to bake it at the right heat now to see it rise! Gallops
are on form tonight: loud screaming guitars, throbbing laptop crunches and driving, building melodies. Wrexham is ready for Gallops, and the kids at the front are pogoing like mad to the experience. The heart of the band are the drums, destroying our ears and our minds.
They seem like a tight unit, and yet, as has happened few times now, half way through they combust, with their drummer heading off the stage, deafened by the monitors apparently.
They continue to rapturous reception from Central Station and by the end of the night, everyone is jumping around. It took Gallops to create that, to finish the night with style, energy, and just a blast of pure aggression in the music.
Tonight (Tuesday), we'll be at Speakers' Corner in Colwyn Bay, and I'll update you tomorrow.
Then we're off to
Caernarfon on Wednesday before reaching our final destination, Bangor,
on Thursday night. If you fancy coming along to one of the gigs, you'll
find all the information on the Radio 1's Big
.Read Adam Walton's review of last night's gig in Wrexham on the BBC Wales Music blogCheck out the line-up for the BBC Introducing stage at Radio 1's Big Weekend