Review: DimSwn

Credit: LCN Photography

Credit: LCN Photography

Credit: LCN Photography

We review Cardiff’s premier music festival, DimSwn…

Seazoo – Clwb Ifor Bach

On entering the downstairs of Clwb Ifor Bach, you could be mistaken for thinking that you’d been transported into eighties era Top Of The Pops. It’s a fact that Seazoo point out as they finish up their sound check. Bathed in atmospheric blue and green lights that befit the band’s aquatic name, an eager audience await what for some is probably their first band of the day.  This introductory gig does not disappoint. With cutesy songs that discuss everything from digging up the ground to animal hotels, Seazoo have all bases covered. An amalgamation of sounds and lyrical ideas combine to create a singular vision that is like nothing else in our DimSŵn schedule. – IT

LUVV – Undertone

Hitting a dark, crowded gig at three in the afternoon is something of a novelty. What isn’t is hearing a bloody good guitar band take to the (basement) stage of Undertone. Luvv offer up slick post-punk that’s as moody as you’d expect from a band with an elusive internet presence. Stating that ‘people are pigs’ on their social media bios may not be the most inviting sentiment, yet their standoffish persona only makes us love them more. Like an object of affection, the more the band play like the amassed crowd aren’t even in the room, the more they captivate us. Call us well and truly under their ‘noir punk’ spell. – IT

Glass Giants – The Moon Club

Cardiff boys Glass Giants win over The Moon Club crowd in the first few bars of their set. Boasting an addictive pop-rock sound that’s seen them get airtime on Kerrang radio, they are about to set out on a UK wide tour. Their DimSŵn date is the first time the band have played together in a while, but you wouldn’t know it; Glass Giants are on top live-form. After a successful set at the Chapter Arts Institute last year, the fun tracks from recent EP ‘Cocktails & Bikinis’ go down a storm. With Kids In Glass Houses calling it quits, we think that perhaps it is time for the Welsh-pop-rock kings of old to hand their title over. – IT

Prides – The Moon Club

At the end of a very long day, we’re exhausted and don’t have the energy for anything too noisy. Fortunately for us, Prides’ are headlining The Moon Club and their synth-pop sound provides the perfect remedy for our weary limbs and aching ears. Upbeat and uplifting, there’s not a gloomy face in the room. The Scottish trio appear equally pleased at their splendid reception. Even a cover of Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ goes down well with the cool kids in the crowd. That’s the thing about Sŵn festival. Tribes disintegrate and come together to enjoy fantastic live music, regardless of genre. It may have been downsized to a one-day event this year, but the reaction to Prides instils in us plenty of faith for the festival’s future. – IT

Kid Wave – Undertone

Kid Wave are the best band of the day. Don’t contest us. Creeping to the front of the crowd in Undertone, we have a front row view as the four-piece proceed to take our breath away. While their shoe gaze-pop sounds dreamy on record, in a live setting the band have more rock-and-roll credentials than anything else we’ve seen throughout today. They nearly take each other out with their instruments as they thrash about the tiny stage, yet perform with the effortless breeze of seasoned professionals. Seeing that they only started life as a band back in 2013, it appears that some people are just born with talent beyond their years. We’re very jealous.  – IT

Telegram – Clwb Ifor Bach

The cavernous upper room of Clwb Ifor Bach is packed from wall to wall and Quench Music just manage to slide in to the tiny slither of space left at the back of the room. Telegram are illuminated onstage, a beacon of musical hope in the distance. Their psych-rock tunes have earned them famous fans like Johnny Marr, so it is hardly surprising that the band get one of the best turn-outs of the day. Their expansive shoe-gaze transports us from cold, grey reality, and for fervent indie fans their flawless set is probably the highlight of the day. – IT

The Amazing Snakeheads – Clwb Ifor Bach 

They came, they made a bit of noise, they fucked off again. Glasgow punk n’ roll band The Amazing Snakeheads would doubtless thrive on a more ‘intimate’ venue and a crowd made of sterner stuff than what was offered by Welsh Club (both found in Fuel, across the street), but were met with a packed room of tired festival-goers eager to watch an act whose name they recognised. Rollicking single ‘Here It Comes Again’ can’t fail to get a pit started, but the remainder of their debut album Amphetamine Ballads (really) falls on virgin ears, who had no issue with leaving these shirtless men to it while they got a drink. – JD

Happyness – Clwb Ifor Bach

Label Rough Trade have described Happyness’ debut album Weird Little Birthday as ‘jangle-gaze’.  The term might make you grimace at first, but it’s really pretty accurate. The trio’s Americana-tinged shoegaze is appropriately murmured and fuzzy, but they supplement it with a lot of humour; as they sing on ‘Baby, Jesus (Jelly Boy)’, “I’m the motherfucking birthday boy / Don’t steal my thunder, Baby Jesus”. They draw on the releases of a productive year, and bow out with the dreamy sway of ‘Montreal Rock Band Somewhere’, the closer to their self-titled debut EP.  I’m still not sure where Rough Trade pulled ‘jangle’ from, though perhaps they didn’t want to label it ‘happy gaze’. – JD

Woman’s Hour – Buffalo Bar

Night has fallen and the festival draws to an untimely close, the memories of 2013’s four-day spectacular resonating through Buffalo Bar as Woman’s Hour take to the stage. It’s a reticent end to the day; the crowd are hushed and from the dingy outside streets, any evidence of a festival is banished, the delicacy of debut ‘Conversations’ filling precisely the space required of it and nothing more. A meditative mood sweeps the room, each track passing with a little more melancholy than the last as the set glides towards its conclusion, a fittingly wistful end to this years festivities. – CM