Music

Festival Review: HUB 2013

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HUB Festival: 23-26 August 2013, Cardiff

With new drinking holes and achingly hip ‘flea market’ Cardiff Fashion Quarter opening, Womanby Street’s alternative image became official at the end of August with the first ever HUB festival taking over 8 venues in the area.

HUB presented an impressive line-up of 150 acts over the weekend, with an opening and very exciting closing party at The Full Moon to boot. But before getting on to the music, I’d like to dedicate a few words to Sunday’s poetry session. These slots are something I’d seriously recommend finding a window for at festivals: done well, poetry reconnects you to the soul of the English language. Those performing were engaging, and the informal feel of CFQ was the perfect environment for a little wordplay betwixt festival-goers.

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Over the rest of the weekend we were treated to a talented array of singer-songwriters, experimental rock instrumentals, slick swingers and thrashing metal. The most ‘out there’ was probably the band with coloured drinking straws for faces in Clwb. You’re probably intrigued; they’re called Pheenus.

The vibe was intimate and easy-going, helped along by a good bout of sunshine. Wandering between bars you’d come across street artists crafting a beautiful 2 metre-high gorilla, or a dance troupe taking over the street at dusk. The Full Moon boasted most of the vintage-inspired acts: folky South Wales-based Jam With RoBina performed on Sunday, followed by light-rock ball of energy Chloe Cooke. Meanwhile, Clwb was getting progressive over the road with psychedelic rockers R Seiliog, mastering an array of synths that would suffice for an entire electro festival.

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As the evenings drew in the music got heavier, building to a frenzy of local DJs taking over Four Bars and the Full Moon Loft and Club. Eclipse were a favourite on Saturday night, but Stereoripe got my vote on Sunday, giving a performance that was to the ears what his live graffiti was to the eyes.

More than anything, HUB proved an excellent platform for acts to promote themselves with plenty of free CDs to pick up. I came across Tarsiers’ EP on a whim without catching their Saturday gig and can now officially class myself a fan. On the Sunday, following a set full of raw energy and African drum improvisation in Four Bars, I also got my hands on Maddie Jones’ debut EP Let It Out.

Maddie Jones performing in Four Bars
Maddie Jones performing in Four Bars

Monday night’s closing party sealed the festival’s status as something special. It had transpired the day before that rock duo Deap Vally would be heading the line-up with a secret gig. Since coming to the UK this year they have been received with everything short of fireworks, covering the festival circuit from Glasto to Reading and Leeds and have been tipped by NME as ones to watch. Needless to say, they put on quite a show and were bloody delightful to boot.

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Sam Holland, PR manager for The Full Moon and one of HUB festival’s coordinators, deserves massive praise for the success of the event: ‘When we first opened back in 2011, we saw the potential in Womanby Street to become Cardiff’s ‘Live Music Quarter.

‘Over the last two years Cardiff’s music scene seems to have exploded. We wanted to take the opportunity to put all of the best stuff going on in Cardiff in one place, and show the city (as well as the rest of the country) that Cardiff’s live music scene is something to be proud of!’

HUB really was the perfect way to celebrate the developments on Womanby Street: the sense of creative collaboration left the site with a golden vitality. Gutted to have missed it? Not to worry; Mr Holland has some good news:

‘We’re already planning HUB 2014! Watch this space!’

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