Sŵn Day 4: Celebration

As at day 4 of any festival, being awake at a reasonable hour is quite a task, so I only got up in time to catch the end of Winter Villains at the Angel Hotel, and promptly wished I’d sorted myself out much earlier, as the combination of singers in the band had a big choral sound, and their sound a tremendously epic bit of folk. That’ll learn me for lying in.

I blogged about seeing Radstewart a few weeks ago at Gwdihw, but I thought I’d check them out again as I was at a loose end in and amongst the abundance of bands I managed to see. I really like their lo-fi sound, which is good because I didn’t manage to see a thing because Fuel was absolutely packed. That means I can’t judge their performance unfortunately, but their sound was crisp, which meant it was easy to pick up on their outrageous lyrics, including the immortal “If you get drunk in native American headgear then you’re a c**t”. Classy.

Lanterns on the Lake probably had the fullest sound that I encountered all festival, as amidst all the band members they managed to cover drums, electric and acoustic guitars, bass, violin, piano and harmonica. Paul Gregory went a bit Led Zep and used a bow with his guitar on the opening song, and he also pitched in with percussion in other parts of the set. One song ended with every member hitting some toms, which added a bit of drama and some heaviness to the dynamics. It was a marked contrast to next song, where singer Hazel Wilde sang a stripped back number with just piano and vocals. All in all a very lovely set.

It had been a very chilled out line-up generally, until Swearin’ took the stage. Everything prior to this suddenly seemed extra calm as their driven sound kicked in. There’s a punk ethos to their music as it’s chock full of attitude. The drums were up tempo but stripped back, with very little faffing going on. The bass was initially very high in the mix, which might have been down to the soundmen adjusting to rock n roll after all the folk. The guitar parts were all chord based (straight to the point, none of this gentle malarkey) and the fizzy distortion sound added to the lo-fi stripped back feeling. Both singer’s have good voices, and put some lovely harmonies together when they chose to take a break from the urgency.

I just about had the chance to catch the end of Saturday’s Kids‘s set. Just in time to watch the singer smash it up and the band play some massive riffs that had elements of Fugazi and Refused. They’re well worth checking out live if you get the chance.

Last but not least for both my day and my whole festival was Waxahatchee, who I thought were phenomenal. Katie Crutchfield played 2 soft lilting songs by herself before the rest of the band join her for the remainder of the set. The drummer plays some interesting off beats in some sparse songs, in particular one where the snare is hit just the once every bar. The bass underpins this song instead, and is reliably solid for the whole set. When played clean the guitar sounds wonderfully warm, and then it changes to a really dirty heavy harsh overdrive with lots of bass when needed. Crutchfield’s voice is strong (she hits every note perfectly), but also manages to convey a vulnerability as her voice picks up at start of some of the lines she sings. She tells some incredibly moving stories in her lyrics, which are often delivered brutally without and rhyme or attempt to dress up what she’s saying. She sings:

I think I love you
But you’ll never find out

It got to a point where there was some chatting in the crowd, but with a well placed “shhh” by an audience member, the lyrics were clear for all to hear and there were times you could have heard a pin drop. Mesmerising.

So Waxahatchee were the perfect bookend for the festival for me. The two new bands that I loved the most were one of the first (Cheatahs) and the very last. 

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About Dyfrig Williams

Music Bendigedig is a blog about the gigs I (Dyfrig Williams) get to go and see. I’m based in Cardiff, so most of the gigs I go to are here, with a few further afield. I don’t aim to be a critic – this is a music fan’s blog, written from that perspective.
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