It was with sobriety and a stonking hangover that I approached day two. Venturing further afield, (without drawing too much attention to myself with the old A-Z) it was with pride that I managed to find Tommy’s Bar in the UWIC. Though I did miss the two bands I went there with the intention of seeing: (the Loves and the Bobby McGee’s). Undaunted but a little pissed off (hangover you see) I decided to remain.
My sore eyes were given welcome relief at the sight of the pretty people from Monkey Swallows the Universe. The ambassador was clearly spoiling us this time as their performance was truly ‘excellente’. I’m sure they are sick of the Belle & Sebastian comparisons, even if it is complimentary, but it gives you some idea of their noise. Having said that they definitely know their own sound and Nat Johnson’s voice was pure as the driven snow (just imagine if someone gave Isobel Campbell a lozenge). All topped off with a generous dollop of indie-pop handclapping and a good time is had by all.
Next along the Swn conveyor belt came Kelley Stoltz all the way from San Francisco. Slightly schizophrenic in musical direction (half Oasis half the Eagles?!) they gave a crowd rousing performance and made a welcome break from the more angst ridden insecurities that British bands seem to carry in satchel loads. However, the more I listened the more each song sounded familiar, anything from Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust for Life’ to Primal Scream’s ‘Rocks’, curious, but at least they’d chosen good songs to mimic.
Having shuffled around for a little to long I decided to make my merry way only to discover the answer to all my problems: the Swn shuttle bus. Tossing my now redundant A-Z aside I ventured forth to Canton and the Chapter Arts Centre.
I was greeted by the delight that is Jay May who’s Regina Spektor’esque style had everyone happily residing on the floor. I was however more amazed by her outstanding breath control; she appeared to hold one note for at least ten minutes, which made me slightly faint just listening.
Edwin Collins followed, his voice still wonderful, ‘Girl Like You’ seemed more emotive by the passing years (or had I really drunk too much gin?). Sterling performance though, just him, his voice and a couple of acoustic guitarists.
Feeling slightly lamentful I mounted my trusty shuttlebus back to Clwb Ifor Bach to sample some Welsh fair. First up Plant Duw appeared to be the Red Hot Chilli Peppers of Wales, the crowd seemed to be enjoying them but musically they were doing nothing new. To ignorant English ears Welsh sounds a bit like someone singing in a broad accent you can’t understand a little akin to Shane MacGowan.
Then came the finely attired, crowds favourite, Welsh language Hip Hop band Genod Droog. I must admit I was a little intimidated as the only word I understood was the short one beginning with F. I managed to convince myself that it was actually a personal chastise against the smug English girl in the corner. But such was the atmosphere I soon forgot my egocentrism and joined the party.
Swn is surely set to stay around if the success of this year’s festival is anything to go by. Cardiff now has a musical event equal to other UK cities, it may still be in its infancy but it has all the right ingredients to succeed longterm such as local support and input. And if the mighty shuttle bus continues even Cardiff cretins such as myself can hop on the Swn bus of fun.