SAFE GIGS FOR WOMEN FUNDRAISER | LIVE REVIEW
Gwdihw, Cardiff, Tue 30 Jan
There is no better venue in Cardiff to host this Safe Gigs For Women Fundraiser than Gwdihw. As people are arriving, singer-songwriter Eleri Angharad is opening as a last minute replacement for PARCS. She acknowledges that her folk stylings bring a different genre to the night, but it’s a relaxed opening, with soft lighting allowing Eleri to feel more at ease.
Every corner of Gwdihw begins to fill as Charlie Says [below] take the stage. And what a strong, confident frontwoman the band’s Alcie Bela is: immersing herself into the crowd as she performs, connecting with her audience and giving herself a bigger dancefloor, for her distinctive half blonde-half black hair takes up most of it. While Charlie Says represent the alternative rock genre, Bela’s vocals bring something different to the table, while during Heart Shaped the band experiment with a peculiar sound effect that adds context and narrative to the song. The vocalist ends the set introducing her new business venture – a T-shirt company named after their song, No More Glory, available to purchase in Gwdihw opposite the bar tonight.
Chroma’s Katie Hall [bottom], too, brings the audience in, worming her way through it with microphone lead following behind. Right from the start of their set, Chroma impress. Their energy is unstoppable, their efforts real: I think everyone in the room is a Chroma fan. A powerful Safe Gigs For Women speech from Hall, comprising her four rules of the gig environment, concludes “You will not touch me” and precedes the newly-written Girls Talk, which itself addresses this issue.
The purpose of this event is further underlined as Hall removes her top, both to destigmatise the act and highlight that women should feel safe in doing so. That the ulterior motive of cooling down. “Rule number five… or maybe number one, never wear velvet to a gig!” If you’ve seen Chroma before you’ll begin to recognise their reactions to certain songs – Hall lowers herself to the ground during Vampires, before Try Me ends the set with Liam Bevan and Zac Mather smashing the song with all their efforts.
One great thing about small independent venues is that band members blend into the crowd and you don’t realise who they are until they take the stage – although in this instance, the glitter glistening on Bristolian headliners Soeur’s [top] faces gives away their identity. Hinting further towards their vibe by setting up incense sticks around the stage, a slow, mysterious set introduction turns into heavy, grungy melodies, as displayed on debut single Pass Out. Guitarists/vocalists Anya Pulver and Tina Maynard stand tall either side of drummer James Collins, Pulver’s deeper tones harmonising with the higher pitch of Maynard. Ending with Left Living, Soeur show Cardiff everything they’ve got to offer and make their explosive exit.
With this Safe Gigs For Women Fundraiser being the first event in Gwdihw’s diary for Independent Venue Week, there are high expectations for the rest of the events to follow – but expect them to succeed in showcasing not just their worth as an independent venue, but the small bands which deserve recognition.
words and photos AMY FARRER