Another great Swn Festival in Cardiff at the weekend. Who would have imagined that the city could sustain such a fantastic cutting edge music festival? As well as playing a few DJ sets over the course of the festival I also managed to fit in seeing some acts around the general meeting up with people and chatting breeze on the encouragingly buzzing streets of the city centre. This is a little taster to a few of my highlights.
Although Grime might seems a world away from the rest of the acts at Swn, nevertheless Thursday night at Undertone saw a heavyweight line up including this guy, alongside one of Cardiff’s much underrated MCs, Melo on hype man duty .
I was first introduced to Elro when Traxx from Astroid Boys played me his SBTV ‘Warm Up Session‘ a while back. Hilariously witty and self deprecating, the Chepstow resident has been signed up to Mike Skinner and Ted Mayhem’s label The Beats. I’ve not heard a great deal of his material to be honest but it was a great set and I love this remix. Plus I’ve got a lot of time for Mikill Pane (he’s a dude) and Ghetts always smashes it.
Sadly I can’t remember all the local heads that played on Thursday but they all represented well. Off the top of my head there was DJ Cluedo (who played a killer DJ set) with MCs such as Local, Vocab, Traumatik, Antizzle and M Dot. I can’t find some of my favourite tracks from them but if that’s your vibe then keep an eye on the Esskimo-Rap site which has generally represented with some of their best. Plus the above video is an hour long documentary from the BBC which features M Dot and Antizzle’s group Flow Dem (as well as Astroid Boys and my boys Mr Phormula and Hoax from North Wales).
From outside of Wales there was Kozzie (who was just getting there whilst I was leaving so missed his set unfortunately), M.I.K and DJ Spooky Bizzle, who played this great Trap / Grime version of the classic Playground Riddim, which on questioning turned out to be his own.
After the Astroid Boys smashed it at big O’Neils on Friday, most of the crew headed down to the Push & Run night in Undertone with Ifan Dafydd, Bodhi, Pedestrian and the guys from the label. Heard it was a fantastic night and everybody rocked it, but I had to miss out as was due over at a shockingly sparse Clwb Ifor Bach alongside Toddla T, Andrew Hill (who played a great set) and the ever excellent pairing of Organ Grinder and singer Jessie Allen (CRST. and Darkhouse Fam also played but I didn’t make it in time for them unfortunately). I’m due to catch the Push & Run tour at The Nest in Dalston on Friday then again at The Thekla on Friday 9th November but was a shame not to catch Bodhi’s official hometown debut. As it turned out I missed both mine and Toddla T’s set anyway but that’s a whole other story.
The act I was most excited about seeing were AlunaGeorge at Buffalo, unfortunately I got chatting near the bar and then turned around to a rammed out venue, only managing to catch a fleeting glimpse of their heads and a muffled version of the set, which nevertheless sounded like it was probably fantastic.
I stayed about for Cardiff’s very own Face & Heel’s set however, as I’d not caught them as yet and hadn’t even watched back their Boiler Room outing (above) which first gave them some well deserved hype. It was an excellent set and very much in keeping with the kind of thing you might hear on our Chrome Kids radio show.
Possibly my favourite set of the weekend was something of a surprise. I’ve never connected massively with Micachu’s recorded stuff but her live set with The Shapes was tremendous. It reminded me of all that I love about (60s Garage band) The Monks but brought totally up to date. The kind of set that by rights probably shouldn’t work but then most definitely does.
There were many other artists I wanted to see but missed, some I saw only briefly and a few that were slightly disappointing for whatever reason, plus I didn’t manage to catch any of the art, film or seminars happening, but on the whole I was most impressed with Swn and it feels good to have the city as alive as it was. Much props to Huw, John and all the Swn crew, I shall most definitely be returning for it again next year if I can.