For a such a small country Wales puts out strong competition when it comes to festivals. Festivals can often feel just standard but what makes me proud of festivals in Wales is that they all have their own unique atmosphere. However, that does come with draw backs take Green Man for example, it’s a fantastic festival that welcomes music and art lovers of all ages and the party goes on until early hours of the morning. Yet try and navigate your way through the music tents without tripping up on deck chairs. Festival No6 is probably the most gorgeous festival in the UK but it appeals to the glamping craze and therefore comes with an over inflated price tag. Sŵn Fest however has taken what worked so well for it ten years ago and simply expanded it across Cardiff and it’s just perfect. It’s a festival that not only showcases the City of Cardiff but also the wonderful atmosphere of the city.
This year it started off in, Cardiff’s newest arts venue, The Tramshed. We kicked off with The Crows followed by Pumorassa with a captivating performance. After that we had Spring Kings last minute replacement Estrons and Sandinistas. This may have been a misstep putting on two bands who were on the line-up later in the weekend rather than a band like Palomino Party, who perhaps should have been on the line-up anyway, but Meylir Jones’ performance made up for this. The Tramshed was the perfect place to kick the weekend off, it’s currently Cardiff’s coolest venue for sure and even though it’s a bit out of the centre It still feels like it’s part of everything.
Come Saturday I was feeling a bit worse for wear but after a stop off in Castle Emporium to check out the Sŵn Fest Museum and to get some Coffee from Outpost I started the day again. Saturday and Sunday was more your usually Sŵn Fest. Whereas on Friday we stayed in one location on Saturday and Sunday we were here, there and everywhere. At Clwb Ifor Bach I managed to catch a Dutch band who may be competing for the best band name ever Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda VHS? They came on looking the teenagers who hang around Blue Banna on Queen Street but came on blew everyone away with catchy tunes and an energetic set. Others at Swn like Winter Coat, Fenne Lily and Park Winter were also stand outs for me. At Clwb you could also get your hands on Sŵn Fest’s pale ale which went down far too well. At Big Top, above Ten Feet Tall, I saw a very hairy band called Falls. As entertaining as they were, crowd surfing and using audience members as mic stands, their music wasn’t for me. Silent Forum took the stage after Falls being significantly less hairy they were a breath of fresh air. Silent Forum recently got into a twitter spat with, Radio 6’s, Adam Walton who insinuated that they were to young to play Post-Punk music. When they hit the stage at big top they blew everyone away, proving post-punk doesn’t belong to those who happened to be teenagers at the time of Joy Division.
A surprisingly good venue was upstairs at O’Neils where I saw, my weekends standout band, Stealing Sheep. At Moon Club I caught a bit of MCLUSKY but found it to be far too small to comfortably watch a band as loud as them. To end the night on Saturday Cate LeBon played in Buffalo and she was effortless, nodding approvingly at the crowd as she reeled off reworked versions of her best songs. It was cool to see her back in a venue she used to play at before taking over America.
You could hop from venue to another and all you’ll find is people willing to find some new music and have a good time listening to it. They started 10 years ago with a winning formula over the years Sŵn Fest stuck to it and I’m very grateful it’s Cardiff. I believe it competes with other festivals and what it has over the bigger ones on festival sites is that you can go home and have a wash.