Last Saturday, Cardiff exploded with noise as Swn’s 2017 Discovery Day rolled into town and gave a stage to talents both proudly homegrown and slightly more distant. Stages were set, mics were checked, and balloons were tied to anything that a balloon could be conceivably tied to. Here’s how it went down:
Kicking off the day (for me at least, thanks to a series of delayed trains and broken dreams, god bless the rail service etc.) were London outfit Yowl. Setting up stage in Kong, the troupe managed to make more than the best of an early set and heaved out a fantastic raw cacophony of shaking, wild goodness. The best way to describe these guys on stage in my own vague, music-review way is that they were something akin to fidgeting sonic fever dream of shouting and jerking and, indeed, yowling. Funny that. The lack of clear definition of what constitutes the ‘stage’ in Kong makes a wonderful blurry mess, which meant that the crowd seemed pretty into whatever ended up happening on said stage. This hazy distinction was further muddled when their gnarly raconteur of a frontman became fed up of constantly beckoning his audience closer and eventually just ventured out into the crowd; splitting the bemused and the enthusiastic huddles clean in half like a bizarre, really small-scale act of Jesus or something. Nice.
Who else were good? False Advertising were good! Prepare yourselves for a convoluted metaphor here: If Swn was like a glorious and long-anticipated Christmas day, False Advertising became pretty much a nativity scene or something for me. Like, sure, it’s all well and good to revel in the decadent feast of bands you know and love, but False Advertising reminded me that the TRUE meaning of a discovery day is always to find sick new bands, of which they were definitely one. Heart-warming really, isn’t it? Anyway. False Advertising were good – and really good at that – and the roar of sound coming from just a 3-piece band managed to keep things tight whilst staying beautifully loud. The band even managed to show off some really interesting dynamics and variety on stage in how the vocalist/guitarist and drummer just kind of swapped every so often. It managed to keep every song feeling fresh and new, and it’s for sure something I’m intrigued to see more of when I can.
The award for best tambourine playing goes to Callum from Bad Sounds, hands down. I hope you all get to witness this guy’s enthusiasm for the art of both the tambourine and being on stage in general at some point. Look at him go!! Outstanding. The man’s an absolute percussive hurricane, and even outside of his cymbal-shaking moves Bad Sounds more than proved themselves to be a proper quality act in which to invest your Saturday afternoon. After successfully making light of a few ‘technical difficulties’, they thrived in infusing some super groovy kaleidoscopic humour into a soggy and storm-beaten crowd. With solid moves aplenty, Bad Sounds really pulled their set off with aplomb and left me grinning all day.
Soaking wet and sprinting across Cardiff to the next venue, I was still catching my breath before I even took a step into Pink Kink’s absolute shindig of a gig. Breathtakingly riotous and acerbically energetic, the five-piece spun the whole place into a flustered mess as they hurled the crowd from wall to wall with luminous carousel riffs, effortlessly sharp changes and more musical daring than you can shake a stick at. A particular highlight ended up being the final tune ‘Munchie Magic’, a tropical, babbling, saccharine sherbet stick of a song that left no onlooker’s hips unshaken in a pure explosion of ‘I’m not exactly sure what that was or why I liked it so much but I really want to do it all over again at least 50 times’.
Finally, sending off the night with a bang (acts such as Daedelus continued much later into the evening but as previously mentioned, I am a writer tyrannically constrained by the cruel whims of Arriva train timetables) were cultish up-and-comers Shame. Who were good. Shame were bloody good. I really liked Shame. Most people stumbling out of a Shame gig end up inevitably talking about the pure frenetic energy of what they’ve just witnessed – blurs of spinning guitars kicking across the stage in a deranged, possessed punk ballet as spitting frontman Charlie rattles and leers around to his own feral choreography. Loud enough to melt your kneecaps, newer tracks like ‘Concrete’ kicked things up to a sweaty fever pitch whilst fan-favourite show-closer ‘Gold Hole’ threw an already-energetic crowd into an assiduous frenzy. Clothes on stage were gradually shed song by song and biting lyrics combined with Shame’s staggering force of pure charisma mean that I’m already aching for their next Cardiff show.
All in all, this year’s Swn Discovery Day proved to be another well-deserved celebration of underappreciated talent. A real vibrant party in the city, I’m telling you now that you’d be an absolute spoon to miss out next year.
Gallery by Dali Poulsom.