Sŵn, Cardiff, Thursday 20 October 2011
So, once again it's the most puntastic of inner city festivals as Sŵn spreads its tentacles across all sorts of live music venues. This year is the fifth turn for the brainchild of promoter John Rostron and BBC disc jockey Huw Stephens and it is a tonic to see Queen Street, St Mary Street and Cardiff's back alleys festooned with corduroy-clad, bespectacled indie kids and curious music fans.
Anyway, It's Thursday. It's crisp and lovely and autumnal, and honestly, apart from Dempseys pub full of Celtic fans, there is a palpable energy and anticipation ahead of a weekend featuring The Joy Formidable, The Fall, Victorian English Gentlemens Club, Y Niwl and many, many more.
Triggering such enthusiasm for artists spanning a multitude of genres is a victory. For example; seeing arch Caledonian miserablist Aidan Moffat croon his nocturnal laments to a packed, Ten Foot Tall is a hen's teeth moment. There's barely breathing room. A legend sure, but this kind of audience would befit someone of Charlotte Church's calibre.
Which is funny, because the angelic voiced Woodbine enthusiast is fronting a band in Clwb Ifor Bach, supporting French whimsy poppers Herman Düne. The venue is rammed as an earnest mixture of T'Pau and er, The Cocteau Twins makes its way through the ether.
Banded Puma at Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff (Photo: Tom Ashmore)
Sadly and sans face furniture, this reviewer was oblivious to the fact the silver-sequined-clad superstar was crooning away, fronting Banded Puma (a one-off band name, apparently; 'made up band' being an anagram, as you'll have seen immediately) until it was pointed out afterwards. So, a lukewarm glance and slink off to the bar was an entirely objective move.
Herman Düne (Photo: Tom Ashmore)
Anyway. The crowd thins then swells for the evergreen Herman Düne and their beardy folk. It's sweet and always has a welcome home in the Welsh capital. Then it's off to Undertone for the bracing, snotty punk of The Cut Ups and Red City Radio and more refreshments. Fixers smash it to a packed upstairs in Dempseys and time and space begins to blur into a mix of smiles and premium lager.
OK, it's a snapshot and the few hours on a Thursday are not enough. Wonderfully there's a genuine sense of discovery with the countless bands on display. There's even club nights under the Sŵn banner for the night owl taking in usual stag and hen do crucibles like Glam and Tiger Tiger. Clichés aside, if you can't find something to tick your musical boxes at Swn you are a rare breed indeed. Get down to Cardiff and get in a queue.
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