Samoans – SWN Festival

By Tom Aylott

After a lovely Caerphilly roast dinner, Sunday’s hangover was clear, and SWN festival Sunday was ready to kick off.

To start the day, GWDIHW played host to the irrepressible CUBA CUBA, who never fail to put on a fine show. Tracks from recent album ‘Where Else Is Safe But The Road?’ sound excellent, and a Few technical hitches aside, the band’s alt-indie dulcet tones kicked off the day impeccably. They’re long overdue a big break, and hopefully they won’t be tucked away so much next year at SWN.

Next, a trip across town to Clwb brought us the charming and mood tanking acoustic wares of Tobias Hayes under his SHOES AND SOCKS OFF monicker, and the man’s unique talets for depressing the fuck out of a room and simultaneously being awesome really show no sign of fading.

With a little time to kill, KUTOSIS take things a bit 2004 in Dempsey’s, blasting out some fairly repetitive garage rock. Though they’re not terrible, there’s nothing in particular to write home about, and the sound in the “village hall”-esque venue does them no favours either.

Next up, in Undertone’s charming basement venue, are HAIL! THE PLANES. Despite some hilariously bad sound mixing in places, the band’s off-kilter folk puts the room in a trance, and the brilliant arrangements across violen, trumpet and saxophone bring their songs to life. Led by a fantastic performance from violinist/vocalist Holly, the band are easily one of the most interesting things we saw all weekend.

Dashing back over to Dempsey’s, TIGER PLEASE smash through a set of almost exclusively new material. The band have had an excellent few years, and the new tracks are sounding as promising as everything that’s come before. Whenever and however ‘The Narrator’ arrives, it’s going to be a very exciting record, and seeing some of the new tracks live for the first time, we hope it arrives sooner rather than later.

For our final trip to Clwb for the weekend, SAM DUCKWORTH brings the house down with an incredible set to a captivated audience downstairs. Some great slide guitar work accompanies a great vocal throughout, and there’s no doubt he’s still one of the UK’s most interesting and relevant singer/songwriters.

To close off the day, we headed back to the basement of Undertone for SAMOANS, who have no trouble delivering the goods. The band really are one of the unsung greats in the UK at the moment, and hopefully 2012 will be the band’s year.

Our trip to SWN Festival, brief as it was, was amazing – it’s a great weekend for music discovery and catching up with old friends. Cardiff has loads of great venues hidden away, and the festival itself feels like it’s been put together with love for new music. Roll on SWN 2012 – we’ll be in it for the long haul next time!