Last year, Dempseys, a small Irish pub in the centre of Cardiff not far from Clwb Ifor Bach, was the venue for The Drums Swn Festival experience. This year, Dempseys has the pleasure of hosting Cardiff independent record label Barely Regal’s Sŵn festival ‘stage’, and is the place to go on the opening night (Thursday) for a preview of some of the best music Cardiff has to offer.
Kutosis, featured here, open proceedings at Dempseys 1930 (finishing at 2015) and deserve the attention of fans of mclusky, heavy guitar riffs, well-thought lyrics and, well, good music. They also appear on the Barely Regal compilation disc ‘Zero Years of Barely Regal’, which is worth a purchase for anybody wanting to know more about the Cardiff music scene.
Though I think it is Goodtime Boys just before them who grab the title of first Cardiff band to play Swn Festival 2010 – playing upstairs at The Model Inn, down the road from Dempseys. This band’s live shows should really have some sort of warning attached - expect one hell of a lot of screaming, jumping, stomping, shouting, riffing, and heavy head-nodding.
Nip around the corner and down the road to Clwb Ifor Bach (… and in through the door and up the stairs), and you’ll find Sweet Baboo, the Cardiff folk musician who recently put his second album out through Cardiff’s Shape Records. For fans of Daniel Johnstone or The Moldy Peaches, you’ll get acoustic guitars, pleasant lyrics and a ruddy good performance.
Straight up after Kutosis (2045-2130) at Barely Regal’s Dempseys are the mighty Right Hand Left Hand - an instrument swapping two-piece who have expertise in loop pedals. There are a number of reasons why Right Hand Left Hand, who make heavy, math-y, and pace-y post-rock, are increasingly popular in their hometown, and their awesome live shows are one of them. Oh, and they also, appear on aforementioned compilation.
Down in Buffalo Bar, for those in that area of town (or those willing to embark on a few minutes walk down Cardiff’s Queen Street), Oui Messy (featured here) play outdoors (head through the front door and down to the opposite end of the bar you’ll find a door and some stairs leading downwards) at 2115, finishing 45 minutes later. A fairly young band, they’re making a name for themselves in Cardiff with their post-punk sound and their knack of writing catchy, interesting songs. They put on a good live show, too.
Over at The Model Inn, a pub a short walk from Clwb Ifor Bach, Shape Records present attack + defend (2130-2215), a band who haven’t played a live show since Sŵn 2009 – and apparently won’t play live again for the rest of this year. Good reason, then, to catch them while you can. Expect the less expected. Three brothers, fair bit (okay, a lot) of psych-y pop synth, a fair bit of noise, probably some shouting, mixed in with some harmonies, and a ruddy good show (apologies for second use of that..). Two of the brothers also play in much hyped (deservedly so) Islet, which might encourage a few more of you to attend.
Starting as Oui Messy finish up, Among Brothers (2200-2245) - who both Matt and Isaac of Barely Regal help to form – play at Dempseys. Featuring glitchy electronics and lush instrumentation, this six (I think) piece make an unsual mix of folk, electro, and emo. Imagine curating a stage at a festival where you book yourselves to play, eh? Actually, it’s not the first time they've done this kind of thing – they also included their own music on their compilation of local bands. Shocking.
The Cardiff band fun ends not too long after with Samoans at Dempseys, starting at 2315 (and ending at midnight). Soon to release a split with Strange News From Another Star through Barely Regal, and also featured on the compilation, Samoans are a lot rock, a little emo, a bit of shouting, and a lot energy. Especially from the sleeveless t-shirt and short-short wearing drummer. If your ears haven’t taken a little bashing yet, they soon will. We advise ear protection, though, of course.
Oh, and if you aren’t convinced yet, Matt from Barely Regal mentioned to me the possibility of free beer. Excited now?