Expectations were high going into day two of Sŵn Festival 2018 after the roaring success that was day one. Tonight, the venue, The Great Hall at Cardiff Student Union. The stage is set. Day two offers one of the most exciting lines up of the festival features The Orielles, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and headliners Drenge. Needless to say, we are all rather excited. As we enter a booming indie/alternative rock DJ set plays, perfectly setting the tone for the evening. While quiet at first, it doesn’t take long for the hall to fill up once the music begins. The opening act, The Orielles.
The Orielles by Max Modell
The night opened with an 80s vibe provided by Halifax based The Orielles, whose melodic surf pop offset against their surreal lyric set a high bar for the evening. The band has come a long way since perform on a much smaller stage at Buffelo Bar at Sŵn 2015 having released their debut album Silver Dollar Moment. This material from this album provided the backbone of their set which they opened strongly by providing guitarist Henry Carlyle Wade’s rocking out on his cowbell as opposed to his guitar, a running theme in a very procession heavy set. Despite their young age, the musicianship on display could easily match or even suppress most of their elders. This musicianship was also matched by their energy which helps make The Orielles one of the best live bands around. On the whole, a fantastic set and the perfect way to open day two of Sŵn, with the performance only slightly marred by the fact their vocals were quite low in the mix, often leaving them hard to distinguish.
As the Orielles finished up their set Henry Carlyle Wade promised there was “bare more to come”, and Sŵn didn’t disappoint with Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever the next band on.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever by Munro Page
Jangle pop 5-piece Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever hail from Melbourne, Australia. Joining an ever-growing roster of indie bands from down under, RBCF’s tight, warm, almost sunny sound takes influence from older generations of jangle pop artists from down under and puts a fresh spin on it. Their songs are filled with multitudes of guitar riffs, tight rhythms, and lyrics that capture the essence of suburban Australia. Their debut EP, Talk Tight, was released in 2015, and followed up in 2017 with The French Press, a record that brought them international attention. June 2018 saw them release their debut album, Hope Downs, a pre-packaged summer soundtrack that received wide praise from critics and has so far spawned 4 singles. On stage, the t-shirt-clad quintet seemed to enjoy every minute of this their first-time playing Cardiff, with bassist Joe Russo bopping all over the stage and regularly jamming with drummer Marcel Tussie. Being a band with three vocalists, the mixture of differing voices adds a real plurality and depth to their sound, engaging with the full width of the crowd that lined the front of the stage. The band are signed to iconic alternative music label Sub-Pop.
Drenge by Dylan Graham
Drenge were the closing act for the second day of Sŵn Festival, and they certainly ended the night with a bang.
Originally a two-piece garage rock act made up of brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless, Drenge now perform as a quartet. Nevertheless, their sound remains as raw and aggressive as ever.
The band strutted calmly onto the stage, Eoin donning a rather smart looking shirt and beige blazer, before things erupted into chaos as the band played their 2018 single ‘This Dance’. A huge mosh opened very quickly, which didn’t really close again until the end of their set. Drenge’s performance was loud and energetic from the start, with the crowd feeding the same energy back to the band.
Drenge aren’t the most innovative band in the world – their whole set could have been amalgamated into one giant garage rock song. However, they do what they do well, and their performance ended with as high an energy as it started.
Towards the end of their set, they played ‘Backwaters’ and ‘Bloodsports’ from their self-titled debut album from 2013. This was perhaps the loudest and most receptive the crowd was for the whole set – the whole of The Great Hall was one giant, sweaty mess.
Drenge ended their set without an encore, much to the crowd’s dismay. However, no one seemed to have any complaints about their set – they came, they were loud, and they delivered.