R.I.P. Samoans

R.I.P. Samoans

There’s less than a week to go now before Samoans play their final ever show, and well, it’s also gonna feel like the end of an era for many of us outside of the band. The first time I saw them, my first Sŵn festival, the set featured all brand new songs from their (at that point unreleased) debut album but the singer had lost his voice, so I had little idea how it was meant to sound. The next was one of my favourite festival slots of all time, regular readers may well have heard this story before; but watching the songs from Rescue live in a marquee, with the sun setting behind at the end of a bright spring day, turned Gwdihŵ‘s car park into a miniature urban paradise. Samoans are also the last band I ever saw play in Four Bars before that was closed, as well as many more times over the years and in various places.

Despite the difficulties the band faced during the making of the first album, from having to take a year out due to injury to changing drummers during this time, they (with a newly-added second guitarist) seemed to have been pulled closer by experience. Since then though, cancelled shows and rumours of inter-band hostility have given a more fractured countenance, and second album Laika just didn’t have the same chemistry as its predecessor. So when the band announced they would be playing just two more shows before splitting up, it was disappointing but not entirely unexpected news. For a group who were once Cardiff’s future stars to call it a day is a loss to us all, and I for one look forward to hearing whatever musical projects each of them persues next, as well of course to one last party first.

The show takes place this coming Saturday (May 12th) at Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff, more details can be found here. Thanks for the good times, guys.

[Preview] Minty’s Gig Guide Venues Map Launch

[Preview] Minty’s Gig Guide Venues Map Launch

As you may, or may not be aware, over the past few weeks the creator of Cardiff’s favourite live music podcast has been sharing drawings of the city’s venues. These images combined will form a comprehensive map, highlighting the wealth and diversity of spaces we have here to support artists, all the way from their very first shows to the 75,000-seat stadium. Thursday night (November 2nd) sees its official launch at Clwb Ifor Bach, a venue that has sat at the heart of our music scene for more than thirty years, and recently had to be defended from the ever-looming eye of developers.

In swift response to this threat a campaign was launched to ‘Save Womanby Street’, the tiny pedestrianised strip of Cardiff’s city centre where Clwb is situated – home to an extraordinary number, for its size, of the places to be featured on Minty’s map. One Saturday afternoon in April, somewhere just shy of 2000 people gathered here and marched on city hall in protest against the application to build flats right against the side of the iconic building. With the backing of many local MPs and councillors, the campaign showed signs of real impact within weeks as Wales’ Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs announced her intention to amend current planning policy with explicit reference to the agent of change principle, and to allow for the designation of areas of cultural significance. Before the end of the summer this had been debated in the Welsh Assembly and unanimously agreed upon. Over the months that followed all appeared to quieten, when out the blue it emerged that the plans for development had been withdrawn, with no reason given; quickly Cardiff Council purchased the land, to not only prevent future threats but also with the aim of expanding the venue.

Now it’s time to celebrate our success, and how better to do so than with a beautiful and informative guide to everywhere Cardiff has to offer to live music fans! Oh of course, and a big party featuring performances from alt-rock live wires CHROMA and hip-hop violinist Mike Dennis, as well as a secret, to-be-announced-on-the-day headliner. Alongside these will be guest speakers in the form of Save Womanby Street founder Ewan Moor; one of the campaign’s earliest supporters, Cardiff Central MP Jo Stevens; national Music Venues Trust representative Jon Fox and Adrian Palmer from For Cardiff. Full details of the event can be found over on facebook, and just in case you want a quick reminder why these, and other grassroots venues need so desperately to be protected:

Event Preview: HoyFest 2017

Event Preview: HoyFest 2017

Following on from a successful debut last November, HoyFest returns this month with a few favourites playing again and lots of new loves to discover, including headliners Pretty Vicious and the ever-vibrant Estrons. Condensed from last year’s two-day event into one manic Saturday, the festival has also been moved up a few weeks, this time coinciding with freshers’ in Cardiff. As before it will be held in The Gate, a beautiful converted church turned arts centre situated in Roath, one of the city’s main student areas. I don’t half wish I’d had the opportunity of an event like this on my doorstep back when I’d first moved here!

However while it’s unarguably convenient for them, the event isn’t aimed particularly at students. Showcasing some of South Wales’ finest up-and-comers, alongside various visitors from elsewhere in the UK, there’ll be something for everyone to discover no matter your level of familiarity with the local scene. Bands are alternated across across two stages to avoid clashes, the main area being the theatre and a second space in the cafe; the latter was previously sponsored by Fireball Whisky, which I can’t say did my head a lot of good – this year’s alliance with Brothers Cider doesn’t bode too well for my hangover either! Curated by Cardiff-based label Lucky Man Records, the festival takes place on Saturday 30th September, tickets are available online now and more details can be found on the event page or via the festival’s social media.

The Holy Bible 20 Years On – My View

The Holy Bible 20 Years On – My View

[2 years yesterday]


Ok so I have to start by saying that this post is gonna be very different to the rest of the blog; while the idea of it is based around a music event it’s actually just a personal piece that I want to write. And since this is still my blog, I guess I can. If you’re not interested in it don’t worry, I won’t be posting this stuff very often (probably never again actually).

I want to write this because it’s important to remember that music doesn’t become redundant as soon as it stops being ‘new’. I’m not talking about staying in love with an album that you got when it first came out, either. ‘The Holy Bible’ was released over a decade before I bought it; I had pieced together what I could of its story from fragments in magazine articles, that was enough to intrigue me. I…

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Event Preview: Sŵn Festival 2016

Event Preview: Sŵn Festival 2016

I walk to the door of the pub, get ID’d. Show my wristband, the festival is over 18s only, that has to be quicker than digging around to find any actual identification on this rainy late October night. The security guard realises what I’m looking for and points me to a different door, up the stairs he says, that’s where the bands are. I’ve lost count already of how many acts I’ve seen tonight, but the first in this particular venue; I follow his instructions round the corner and finally inside, up to the live room. As I gingerly push open the door to a fairly crowded space, I’m hit by a wall of heat and sound, the music has already started and reverb hits me physically before I have time to scrabble for my earplugs. When next I see Chain Of Flowers (which is to happen innumerable times over the coming years) I’ll be more prepared; for now I take a deep breath and push my way through the audience to get a better view.

This moment came to be the most lasting memory of my inaugural venture to Sŵn festival back in 2013. Something about the contrast of unavoidably disgusting late October Welsh weather against the bright room packed with warm bodies and noise more alluring that I’d known existed in the city a month previously, sum up the reason I’ve been to every weekender and one-day DimSŵn event since. Tomorrow sees the festival begin to celebrate its 10th year with Crows, Pumarosa, Sandinistas and Estrons (last minute stand-ins for Sprink King) and Meilyr Jones in Tramshed before expanding to a dozen venues for the rest of the weekend. As usual my schedule is jam-packed with options that I’m just going to have to choose between based on my mood at the time, but here are a few acts that I’ll definitely (hopefully!) not be missing:

Soul Structure – 2:45-3:15 Fuel
Lovers Open Fire – 3:15-4:00 The Big Top
Superglu – 4:30-5:15 Four Bars
FALLS – 4:45-5:30 The Big Top
Bryde – 5:45-6:30 Clwb Ifor Bach (downstairs)
Silent Forum – 6:15-7:00 The Big Top
Estrons – 6:45-7:30 The Moon Club
Broken Hands – 8:00-8:45 Clwb Ifor Bach (upstairs)
Sports Team – 9:15-10:00 Four Bars
McClusky* – 9:45-10:30 The Moon Club
Tibet – 11:00-11:30 O’Neills

Shame – 1:30-2:00 Clwb Ifor Bach (upstairs)
Adverse Camber – 2:00-2:30 O’Neills
Wolf Girl – 3:30-4:00 The Moon Club
Fehm – 5:15-5:45 Fuel
Bad Breeding 6:15-7:00 Gwdihŵ
Dingus Khan – 7:45-8:30 Gwdihŵ
Dream Wife – 9:45-10:30 Clwb Ifor Bach (downstairs)
My Name Is Ian – 11:00-11:45 Four Bars

Below you’ll find a playlist of as many of these acts as I was able to locate on soundcloud, the others I guess you’ll just have to check out on faith. Or maybe don’t, as you can find the full schedule here and loads more info over at Sŵn’s website to help you make your own decisions who to see.

If you’re not sure yet whether this festival will be worth your time, just think about how much you like music. (If you don’t I have to question why you’re even reading this, unless you’re my little sister, in which case thanks for the support Jojo!). If it’s death metal or acid house that you’re into then there are other events throughout the yeah which cater to those, maybe not so much this one. However if alt folk/weird pop/indie rock and post-punk interest you, it’s definitely worth popping along to wander between venues and stumble across your new favourite artist. Whether it’s a local band who’ve been under your nose all along and you just didn’t know where to look, or an obscure act from some far-flung corner of the UK who you’d likely never have had a chance to hear otherwise, there will be someone who you end up begging Sŵn to bring back next year. And even if that doesn’t work, you’ll be there again anyway to find yet more new music to fall in love with, because you know it will happen, it always does.