Sunday @ S?n 2012
Seeing that S?n is usually so ahead of the curve when it comes to new music, I’m going to start my review of Sunday on Saturday night. Scroll down if you’re of a pro-Sunday, anti-Saturday bent.
First off, I managed to catch 15 minutes of Aluna George’s twitchy 90s r’n’b take on UK Bass (I think the cool kids are calling it that), which included a cover of Montell Jordan’s This Is How We Do It, in the rammed womb of Buffalo. I can understand the hype around this band.
Next it was off to The Moon, where I caught the tail end of Portasound’s set. There were a few womps, some spacey synths, lots of guitars and Roland wibbles. It was a bit M83 here and a bit early Metronomy there and was therefore very good. Best new thing I heard all weekend.
Portasound were followed by Tall Ships. I’ve always liked Tall Ships without ever being completely blown away by them but they were fantastic here. This was despite some major equipment problems that seemed to scupper half their set list (apparently this was only the second time their special mic thing had failed and both times had been in Cardiff) yet they completely smashed it with their epic post rock. What they could play had a straighter edge than I remember and sounded like a less electronic F*** Buttons. Great drummer too.
We finished the evening in surreal fashion on the third floor of St. David’s Hall with two old blokes behind a ton of electronics (and some bongos) pumping out some tidy dub pressure while a guy in a bed sheet pratted about and a lady with a nice crimp/perm wailed over the top of it. This was Llwybr Llaethog and apparently par for the course.
Despite a desperate and mad dash, we missed Quiz Quest! But this meant we could catch Irma Vep in Dempsey’s, who seemed to have a heavy cold. Coincidentally this performance was like a heavy cold; the curtains drawn and the cardigans on, the fug of echoing electric guitar and warbling vocals - everything sad, scratchy and spooky. Strange.
Tumbling out into the sunshine (and after a quick detour to cliquesville – Cardiff Fashion Quarter) we heard something loud coming out of The Moon. It was Chain of Flowers and they had a certain grungy charm. They seemed to make all the right moves; the guitars chimed and thrashed, the lead singer had presence - jolting and flailing about the place but I thought they were missing something. Plus One Loo thought they were too young to know what direction to take, at times sounding like Pavement and at others close to Oasis.
Micachu & The Shapes. Like all the best pop music it was weird and wonderful and uniquely theirs, from Mica Levi’s croak to the shimmers of the synth and the guitar, and the lopping drums. They were in complete control of their strange, varied yet cohesive sound. It was absolutely fantastic.
After popping our heads in quickly to catch the final song of Yngve’s set (folky stuff, there were even people sitting on the floor) we headed to Clwb for Cold Pumas. A band made up of two guitarists, too many pedals and a drummer in a fetching top, they seem to favour texture over tunes and duly battered the audience with a vaguely krautrock-sounding blasts.
TOY have been getting some serious props in the music press and it’s not hard to see why, their whirling, swirling shoegaze-ish sound was astonishing, as was the sheer hairiness of this band – the bassist had something of the Cousin Itt about him. As the set went on the music became more pulsing, propulsive and driving, sounding like a ramped up Neu! or Amon Dl II, a bit proggy but in a good way. They were in fact superb.
We started flagging at this point and this was compounded by the lack of Orangina in Clwb (and they’re going to stop stocking it soon!) and their insistence on pumping dry ice about the place, so the final act we caught was Peace despite our intentions to see Dry The River in Chapter. Peace look a bit like the Mock Turtles and have a baggy sound, well the bass and drums do anyway (thanks Plus One Loo). I suppose it would be cool if you weren’t around or can’t remember Madchester.
So yeah that’s S?n Festival wrapped up for another year. Another year of fantastic live music, fantastic new music and fantastic experiences. Thanks again S?n!