Summer round up: A month of festivals, part one

Wednesday 7 September 2011, 09:12

Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn

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Like a shiny, wet oasis at the end of a desert trek, I've had a few days off this week to recover after a pretty mental month. Every single day of the month was crammed with activities (fun activities admittedly) but there's only so much outdoor fun you can have before you catch a horrible cold. So while I'm sniffing, and sleeping, reading, and swimming, and generally feeling brilliant - thought I'd try and look back over the highlights of the summer's events from my corner.

Eisteddfod 2011: Wednesday and Thursday at Maes B

Yr Ods

Yr Ods

I found myself in the first week of August DJing for the legend that is Meic Stevens, back from Canada for a flurry of gigs, and an artist I've admired for a long while, Lleuwen, back from now her settled home of Brittany.

Opening the night was new artist Gildas, who made a name for himself on the Welsh scene as part of Al Lewis' band, before heading out solo. The evening gathered a nice momentum: a small but appreciative crowd for Gildas, then a warmer reception for the wild prog folk of Lleuwen, and by Meic, the young crowd were totally jumping. After about 45 minutes of a thrash through his hits, Meic was in fine form, the audience of few hundred crowding around the stage - then disaster, the guitar broke, and it was an early end to what had been a brilliant gig up to that point. Mind you there's always a bit of drama when Meic's involved.

The next night, I was in the larger room, on Glyndŵr's University's campus, with Yr Ods, Y Bandana, Creision Hud, and Y Trydan. I'd seen two of the bands before, but in small venues, this huge hall on campus was enormous. Must have been a few thousand capacity. The whole night was a young, fresh, vibrant line up. All playing totally unique songs and competently playing to a standard well beyond their years. Y Trydan are very new to be fair but had a massive group of fans, then Creision Hud and each band after them had a magic response - singalongs, crowdsurfing, and a totally hyper crowd going nuts.

I try and get to part of the Eisteddfod each year. It's such a good thing to be part of - seeing the Welsh language music scene for one week each year, being properly celebrated by kids from all over Wales. 1500 young people were there that Wednesday night for the Eisteddfod gigs, and many many more by the weekend. They know the songs, appreciate the music, and feel this is their generation and their culture. At their age, I was lucky enough to see Gorkys, SFA, and Catatonia and many others - that was my time to jump about like a nutter. Celebrating this country's unique language through music is a precious thing and a vital part of the Eisteddod's work.

The Big Chill Festival, Malvern

Kanye West at Big Chill. Photo: Marc Sethi

Kanye West at Big Chill. Photo: Marc Sethi

So the big massive surprise for The Big Chill this year was securing one of the biggest names in hip hop - Kanye West - for the festival. It was everyone's lips all weekend, and the crowd numbers definitely swelled for his grand entrance on Saturday night. He started his set singing from the 'front of house' sound tower, and then all sorts of dramatics followed, from a 50 strong ballet troupe, to white lino carpeting every inch of the stage. It was dramatic and Kanye played a two part set of all his hits.

Aside from the big dawg, and his 150 people posse, and his helicopter on site, and his late arrival on stage etcetera, there were also plenty of amazing acts throughout the weekend to continuously wow. From Janelle Monet to Femi Kuti, to a surprise appearance from Idris Elba and Lucy Liu when The Bullits took to the stage. One of the highlights for me were the Chemical Brothers on the Friday night, taking their dance and visual carnage into the night.

The Big Chill is just that: a beautiful, spacious, eclectic bill, with a great atmosphere and like Green Man and Latitude, just perfect place to sit back and lazily watch the days dream by. One of the summer highlights once again.

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Summer round up: A month of festivals, part two

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