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.