After 17 quiet months, bank holiday Monday saw live music back in the heart of Cardiff once more. Under the banner Live and Unlocked, four grassroots venues hosted special gigs in Cardiff Castle over the long weekend, this final slot being given to one of my favourites, The Moon (also organisers of the Hub Festival).
The ambiance in the castle grounds was on point, with the landmark lit up beautifully to offset the scene of a stage covered in vivid Celtic lighting. As spectators gathered, the energy between people who hadn’t seen eachother in a while consumed the space before any music had even begun.
Prendy, from The Shutdown Show, hosted this predominantly urban event and was gassed to be back on stage for the first time in over a year! An opening set from enchantress of the decks DJ Trishna showcased an exciting collection of Welsh artists; Niques then graced the stage and blessed us with her soulful voice and flawless bars. Hitting every note on key, she built the perfect momentum, indulging us in some tasty drum’n’bass and funky garage vibes: Coming To My Yard and Inconspicious were standout anthems for this reviewer.
Afro Cluster, next up, brought special guest MC Magugu on stage for Young Shall Grow, the latter hailing the former as being among the best bands in the UK. I can see why – Afro Cluster’s sound pushes boundaries, intricately fusing hip-hop, afrobeat, jazz and funk. An extensive collective fronted by Skunkadelic – big ups for being the first Nigerian to perform in the castle! – I was blown away by his charisma and ability to connect with both old fans and new.
Finally, out-of-towners The Allergies closed the show with a DJ set, the Bristol duo’s track selection including old school bangers and head-bopping hip-hop tracks alike, blended perfectly with each drop igniting a happiness in party-goers souls.
A magical experience from start to finish, and good value for money to boot, with the crowd’s mood maintained throughout the evening. The castle setting was unreal and as the night went on, the collective stamping and dancing in its grounds brought an almost mystic energy to the city and acted as a central beacon of hope for music lovers.
Cardiff Castle, Mon 30 Aug
words LAURA FEDELI photos JOSH EVANS
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