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Big Weekend - Fringe / Y Wythnos Fach

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 15:03 UK time, Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The Biggest Musical Event to Ever Happen in North Wales EVER (undignified overuse of capital letters and repetition absolutely intentional!) is imminent. And although I'll be just as excited when, say, Klaus Kinski's debut album finally drops, this is a Big Deal. For the best part of a week - between 17 and 23 May - North Wales will be the focus of all of Radio 1's energies and a honeypot for its audience of music-lovers.

Regardless of your opinion of some of the more mainstream artists on the bill, this is momentous and has massive, potential, positive repercussions for the area and many of its bands.

The tens of thousands of people who descend on the Faenol Estate that weekend to see Florence and the Machine, Rihanna, MGMT or Vampire Weekend are also going to be exposed to some excellent Welsh music. It's enough to wash away any disappointment about the paltry Welsh representation at this year's Glastonbury (so far, at least).

And the Big Weekend is FREE. As are Y Wythnos Fach (Fringe) events - which we'll get to in due course.

Lostprophets bring their successful brand of singalong metal to the Main Stage on Saturday, but the most interesting Welsh music - from my point of view - will be found on the 'In New Music We Trust' and 'BBC Introducing' stages, where Welsh representation comes courtesy of (on the former) Kids in Glass Houses and Marina & the Diamonds, and (on the latter stage) The Joy Formidable, I Am Austin, Y Promatics, Pete Lawrie, We Are Animal and Yr Ods.

That's an essential bill in itself, and a healthy overview of new Welsh music with real crossover potential. I'll be particularly tremulous to see The Joy Formidable. Their atmospheric thunder, ripped by flashes of unforgettable melodies, has been well honed over recent months by an exhaustive touring schedule. They'll be tight and passionate to be playing such a massive event so close to their home.

But the aspect of the Big Weekend I am most excited about is Y Wythnos Fach / The Fringe Festival - a celebration of great Welsh music (mostly from the North) as played and enthused about by BBC Introducing.

Huw Stephens, Bethan Elfyn, Lisa Gwilym, myself and our producers and assistants, after consultation with local enthusiasts, banged our heads together to organise a series of gigs that will happen across North Wales in the days preceding the Big Weekend, culminating in four events in Bangor on the Thursday night before the Big Weekend itself kicks off.

All of the gigs are FREE and you'll need to be 18 years of age to get in, unless otherwise stipulated.

So, on Monday 17 May Wrexham's Central Station hosts a selection of the most exciting bands from the town: Gallops (who are on the cusp of releasing a stunning debut E.P.); Polly Mackey & the Pleasure Principle (fresh from another successful trip to SXSW); Trader and No Room For Heroes. It all kicks off at 7pm and you need to be 14 years or older to attend.

The next night (18 May) Speakers Corner in Colwyn Bay treats you to Leucine, Bastions, Kick Start Kitty and Die! Chihuahua! Die!. Again things start at 7pm.

On the Wednesday night (19 May) Morgan Lloyd in Caernarfon features Mr Huw, Y Bandana, Tim and Sam's Tim and the Sam Band With Tim and Sam (brilliant debut album out now) and Through Colour. 7pm start.

Thursday night gives you a whole headache full of choices! At Venue 342 you'll be able to catch Y Niwl, Yucatan, Mechanical Owl and Messner (7pm start). Hendre Hall in Tal-Y-Bont gives you Sibrydion, Race Horses, Yr Angen and Crash Discos (7pm). The Greek Taverna will be filled with fascinating bleeps courtesy of Cyrion, Pen-Ta-Gram, Tokin4wa and Cloud4mations (7pm).

And, finally, Rascals will have its upper floor shaken by Gallops, Masters in France, We Are Animal, I Am Austin and Castles.

It's a mark of the plethora of musical talent in North Wales that this is only a cross-section of what's happening up here. We'd have needed access to many more venues to cover all of the bands / DJ's / songwriters and producers that we all nominated passionately. All of these Fringe events bring the local artists and their audiences closer to the excitement of being involved in such a major event. And the whole point of this exercise - well, other than entertaining you, the audience - is that some of these artists graduate in the coming years to wider audiences and the bigger stages.

It's going to be a hell of a week. Come join us.


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