In which annual new music jamboree Sŵn Festival returns to the fray and compels hundreds of (mostly, probably) young people to bounce back and forth between a series of tightly-situated locations, shout a bit, climb on each other’s shoulders and generally get up close and personal. Should you remain of a mind where this very prospect curdles your blood, avoid! If not forever, then certainly for 2021.
I can say this in the course of bigging it up because (a) Sŵn Festival is a responsible event organised by responsible people and (b) its post-lockdown comeback edition, taking place solely on the bumpin’ strip of Cardiff’s Womanby Street, has sold very well to the point where, by the time you read this, you may have to comb the undergrowth for resale tickets. A combo of accrued respect, Sŵn having launched in 2007 and happened every autumn save for the last one, and a lineup of eclectic fun is responsible for this.
The organisers – it’s currently programmed in-house at Clwb Ifor Bach – have always emphasised new and rising acts in their selections, but have doubled down on this of late. Of the 70 or so names billed across three days, few have been around more than a few years, and even fewer could reasonably be called household names. Rather, there’s a “see the stars of tomorrow” ethos at play here, which has certainly transpired at Sŵns of yore. Buzz makes no claim to have the inside dope on music industry ascendancy, but can highlight some names for you.
From the Welsh scene, there’s the brilliant psych-country epic ambition of Alice Low, playing her debut Cardiff show; Clwb Fuzz, who supply suitably distorted acidic rifferama; Teddy Hunter, making sound art accessible; Mace The Great, one of the best rappers from Wales in forever; and XL Life’s absurd and moshable herberty punk/hip-hop. From further afield comes Sinead O’Brien, a Limerick-originated, London-based “postpunk poet” and wearer of fine white suits; Real Lies, kitchen-sink synthpoppers and veterans by this Sŵn’s standards; the ultra-icy protopostpunk of Deep Tan; and classic Scotpop sophistication from Hamish Hawk.
Clwb Ifor Bach, Fuel, The Moon and Tiny Rebel, Cardiff, Fri 15-Sun 17 Oct. Tickets: £40 weekend (sold out) / £15 Fri 15 only (sold out) / £20 Sat 16 or Sun 17 only (Sat 16 sold out) / £30 Sat 16 + Sun 17. Info: www.swnfest.com
words NOEL GARDNER
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