We start off in the Black Cap for a set from Wrexham’s Mowbird. They blast along in a Pavement-y, US indie kind of way. The guitarist and drummer share vocals whilst their keyboard player coughs weakly and twiddles with a doll’s head that has been stuffed with various electronic gizmos. Creepy but fun. A good start.
Trwbador also hail from Wales and are so quiet that they make the xx look like AC/DC. Angharad Van Rijswijk is fetching in a tight crocheted dress and plinks at a small red toy piano. Owain Gwilym plays an acoustic guitar, which sounds almost deafening in contrast to the hushed vocals. I like the band, although they are hard to hear over the hubbub of the bar.
St Michael’s Church is having a record fair. In a side chapel, Race Horses are playing a semi acoustic set. It’s an amazing, intimate setting and the band’s cornet and harp interlude fit perfectly.
I nip up the road to the Roundhouse Studios to catch Tanya Auclair battling technology to deliver an in-the-end triumphant set of tape loops and ukulele.
The Kabeedies are playing to a rammed room in the Lock Tavern. It’s the only thing all day that we can’t comfortably get into.
Hymns are serious, proficient and making a loud racket in the Underworld. Unfortunately, I find them rather like the medicine that may be good for you but just doesn’t taste very nice. They’re far too grim and earnest.
Antlered Man at the Black Heart are much more like it. By turns preposterously heavy and ludicrously complicated, they wow from the off. The splendidly named singer Damo Ezekiel Holmes is compact, ginger of beard and occasionally slashes at a guitar strapped to a table. The band are both hardcore and elaborately proggy and don’t really sound like anything else. Really good.
In the Purple Turtle, Throwing Up are hiding behind a curtain. Newly expanded to a four piece, they emerge to reveal that drummer Ben has now moved to second guitar duties. He has the tattoos of a Norse god, all eagles and flames. He also has the word’ Rumours’ on his arm. Perhaps he is a fan of Fleetwood Mac. The band play no nonsense femme fronted Ramonse-y power punk. It’s a deceptively simple but big, big sound.
Fever Fever play a blinding set at the Monarch. Intense and heavy rock rap that triggers ecstatic dancing inside the venue and a small crowd to form in the street outside. I love this band.
I end the evening in the Barfly to see old favourites Sauna Youth. I recognise some of the personnel but find they have done a ‘reverse Throwing Up’ and that singer/guitarist Boon has retreated behind a drum kit. The band are a 300mph motorik monster that destroys all in its path. This is absolute ball-out tear-ass rock and roll at its best. They polarise opinions – many leave, whilst the rest of us lurch and bang our heads until they all but fly off. Terrific!
Now that’s a good end to Day One.