Live Reviews Music

Cardiff’s Battle of the Bands @ Clwb Ifor Bach (08/04/22)

Written by Rubie Barker

It is fair to say that the Live Music Society of Cardiff University knows how to present a night of good live music. With three very different but all incredible bands, the talent on display, from the voices, songwriting and knowledge of their instruments meant the judges had a very difficult decision to make. Each band had won their heats over the past few weeks at various venues around Cardiff and all were ready to perform at one of the city’s most beloved small music venues, Clwb Ifor Bach. The bands were judged on Audience participation, performance and songwriting/creativity. 

The first band to take to the stage were Reckless Disposition, self-described in their Instagram bio as ‘noisy kids’ they certainly lived up to that description. They were a strong opening act to the night, noisy and energetic, despite the lead singer’s confession that she had only just gotten her voice back. After their first song, they asked the audience to move a step closer so they could see the people who had come out to support all the groups and the audience obliged. Their third song of the night was an original, ‘Sleep’ which made its debut at this very event, where another guitar was brought on stage. It is clear that every single member of the band possessed incredible musical talent, and their set really showcased their abilities as musicians, perhaps more as individuals than as a band at points. With a break for an incredible guitar solo, it gave the rest of the band a second to take a break before they launched into another original piece ‘losing my head’. Ending their set with ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ may have been a tad predictable but they pulled it off. They had certainly started the night off with a bang, and to me, they seemed like they would be a very hard act to follow. 

The band who was bold enough to follow were none other than Blue Bones whose music took a far more mellow approach than their predecessors had but still brought life to the night. Their frontman told us he had written most of their original songs when he was 17, and thought love was stupid, and admittedly, still did, which got a cheer from most in the audience. Clearly to score points for audience participation we were encouraged to sing happy birthday to Wilfred the drummer, although, after a rather enthusiastic effort from everyone, it soon became clear, it was not Wilfred’s birthday, but the comedy brought to the night surely scored some points with the judges. For me, the highlight of their set was a rather unexpected and unique cover of ‘Baby one more time’, which surprisingly fit in very well with their simplistic yet authentic set. As a band they were cohesive and their mildly self-deprecating tone, which they confessed they have been criticised for before, was charming and added to their sound rather than distracted from it. While their Britney cover was the highlight of their set for me, some others in the room may have preferred the moment that they began to chant “Evan take your top off”, to which somewhat reluctantly, Evan did indeed, take his top off. A perhaps spontaneous, perhaps planned, moment of audience participation that maybe gave Blue Bones the edge.  

Last but certainly not least to take to the stage were Baronette who right from the start brought an energy that was unmatchable and proved a great way to end the night. With unique lyrics in a style that bridged between singing and rapping, their lead singer provided what might have been the strongest vocals of the night and both Red Hot Chili Peppers and Arctic Monkeys came to mind. A completely original setlist was impressive and although I forgot to write down the names of any of the songs, my notes do say ‘I really like this one!’ about the 4th song they played. Time was given to not only introduce the band but also show off their talent throughout the set, and note must be given to the unusual moment the guitarist and lead singer seemed to play the guitar together, rather impressively, with only the odd questionable note. While an entirely original setlist was an impressive and otherwise unseen feature at the finals, a cover or two did show off the range of the other bands, but the energy and professionalism as a band that they brought to the night could not be ignored as the judges went off to make their decision. 

It is cliché to say that they heavily debated the winner and that all bands were amazing, but clichés are there for a reason, as it was certainly true. All 3 bands were unique in their own way, with a range of genres, vocal styles and musicality on display. But for the judges it was Blue Bones who stood out among the three, officially making them the Cardiff Live Music Societies 2022 Winner of Battle of the Bands.