RIGHT THEN. My notorious tardiness means this will appear on the site the night before Swn starts, which is bloody pathetic. But here goes; the result of some frenzied spreadsheet/Spotify/Myspace abuse, tied together with the bright-eyed optimism that always lies before the Swn reality of rain, running order chaos and queues like Next on Boxing Day. Pop music!
Thursday must indeed start with Science Bastard shaking the roof tiles at the all-new Chapter. Then head into town, where a Shape label special is highly tempting, starting with the frenzied kitchen-sink jumble of Them Squirrels. Spread the love, though, as beyond Dempseys lies Zwolf‘s crunchy electro (or The Death Of Her Money‘s epic, spiralling post-metal) within mere feet. Three Trapped Tigers do what numerous pallid Foals-alikes on the Swn bill signally fail to, and blend rave-era keyboard lines, awesomely huge dubstep bass farts and glitchy post-rock to superb effect. Do. Not. Miss. Either Gold Panda‘s noisy fx wash or Team Brick‘s uncategorisable throat singing/noise attack will be a fine follow-up, and if you manage all of that AND Cardiff’s best new band (TM) Islet then you’ll have played a blinder already by 9.30. Wild Beasts at the Gate will be an alien pop joy, but you might well have to commit to it early to see them. As an alternative, stay on Womanby Street for whatever it is DJ Scotch Egg’s Devil Man brings. Let’s face it, the man does not let us down. Not Cool trade in a pretty snappy popcore thrash, before rounding off the night with Zun Zun Egui‘s Bristolian blend of prog noodling, doom heaviness and East African pop.
Friday‘s starting point could depend on your location; Eastsiders will be well served by Vito‘s long-absent slow-building epics and Our Brother The Native‘s twinkly folk jams. The Canton faction should get off to a flier with the redoubtable Peppermint Patti’s early evening bill of righteous shout-pop (King Alexander), swoonsome torchsong and sea shanty (Barefoot Dance Of The Sea) and utterly ace Raincoats-style post-punk (Wet Dog). Haste ye then to Y Fuwch Goch for the always magnificent Sweet Baboo‘s countrified folk singalongs. There’s a lull thereafter, to be honest, but you could do worse than Cymdeithas yr Hobos Unig‘s messy DIY clatter followed by joining the heaving ranks of The Kids for Johnny Foreigner‘s breathless, sugar-rush indie rock. I might well be seeking solace in the haunting acoustica of Tom Brosseau though, especially as he forms a tempting one-two with increasingly winning anthemicists The Twilight Sad. Whichever pairing works for you, don’t miss riotous Leeds nutbars Pulled Apart By Horses – the best crowd-interferers of recent times – followed by 45 minutes on tiptoes craning your neck for a look at Girls. The band, dummy. There’s still arch electronica gems from Daedelus, and Mary Anne Hobbs to bring the night to an end with what could, based on her recent Planet Mu compilations, be a storming hour of future funk and dubstep fun to shake the dregs of your last pint to.
Saturday offers the nine-to-fivers their first chance to start proceedings at a gentle pace, with a rummage around the record fayre over a spot of lunch at Chapter. Allo, Darlin‘s Francophone twee-pop should be a charming musical start early doors, care of Loose‘s third annual Swn alldayer; see them then head to the City Arms to regain some mental faculties over scrabble and the psychedelic wonders of Pete Fowler’s record box. Get some culture at the literary gathering in the Vulcan (including author Rhys Thomas, plugged here as he’s my ex-housemate’s brother) or at ‘Datblygu Uber Alles!’ at the Toucan – not sure what exactly the latter entails but the name bodes well. I’m all for all-male indie fanboy Kenickie tribute acts, so shoot me. My harrowing singing along there done with, it’s a dash to town for Cate Le Bon‘s tried and tested folk-rock gorgeousness before returning for the joyful, inclusive POP madness of Dananananaykroyd‘s wall of hugs. Minotaur Shock‘s chiming acoustica, the so-hot-right-now wide-eyed surf pop of The Drums and a triumphant closing Gate set from Los Campesinos! would all be fine ways to spend one’s time, but sod that – it’s the penultimate Broken Family Band show, and I’m having a sing and a tiny cry. Then trying to get in to see Right Hand Left Hand dismantle the centre of Cardiff from within.
Sunday brings talk of free breakfast, Voice Of the Seven Woods and, for all I know, complimentary neck massage at Gwdi Hw, before I insist everyone join me in OTT in Newport for stoner titans Hey Colossus, local man Lt Meat (backed, in a one-off supergroup, by Kutosis), Exit International and your pals Gindrinker. What better way to round off three days of whirlwind gig-going than one more gig? Right? RIGHT.