I had been on the fence about going to this year’s ‘Wales Goes Pop’ festival as I thought that the line-up was a little thin. That was until my good friend Karl Blockwell gave me a smack and told me not to be stupid. It’s a festival at the end of my road in The Gate, a converted church. Of course I had to support it, last year I couldn’t as I was in Boston and besides it was a fun thing to do over Easter and a load of my mates were going.
Tim Lambert – a friend of mine from London – came down to for the festival and to stay with us. Sian and I popped down to the Gate to find him and get our wrist bands. We kicked off with the first band Mowbird, who I thought were great but they were playing at an ear shredding level, which when I mentioned this to Sian said “Okay! Calm down granddad!” but judging from the worried looking men dashing outside with altimeters I wasn’t alone. The first band who really stood out for me were ‘Feature’ (see above) a female power trio from Ireland who ticked all the Breeders boxes. I went down to their stall and was a little disgusted to be buying a cassette. “Does this have a download code?” I asked a little peeved, it did, so fair enough but still the first cassette I’ve bought for probably twenty five years. ‘The Lovely Eggs’ weren’t bad but I do loath their ‘Electric Accordion’ song, along with ‘Rocky Racoon’ I wish I could erase it from history, but you know apart from that…
‘The Pooh Sticks’ were Friday night’s headliners and bloody brilliant they were too. Must admit I didn’t know too much about them, but they had a fine line in acerbic indie pop. Really energetic in a Wedding Present style.
The Saturday was a slow start with a leisurely breakfast round the Juno lounge and a visit to Dvinyl’s. The first bad that day which made which made an impression were Trustfund (although I have had to go onto Bandcamp to remind me what they sounded like), from what I can remember they were in a Sleater-Kinney/Breeders mould too. The final two bands of the night were Pins and Ballboy. Both were amazing, Pins were very tight and encouraged a stage invasion at the end, which I thought about joining but then couldn’t be arsed. I’d never seen Ballboy but will be seeking some of their stuff out. They were sorta uplifting Scottish Indie from what I can remember. The day very pretty booze soaked and I bumped into Rich, Paul and Steve from the old Twisted days, Steve and I hatched our plans for the upcoming Record Store Day. In fact we had a little Twisted reunion when Gary span the wheels of steel and played a mini indie set with ‘Where’s Me Jumper’ and ‘Cannonball’. Sian and I had a fair old bop.
Everyone and everything was hungover on Sunday. It was good to bump into Captain Keef and his better half Anna. We started the day watching ‘Barefoot Dance of the Sea’ three close harmony girls in the café which was all very pleasant. One of the nice things about ‘WGP’ is that it’s kid friendly and it is quite something to see how much fun a kid can have with a balloon. In this case there was a kid acting up a bit. He clamped his hands over his ears and proclaimed loudly “I’m not listening!” which threatened to drown the band out until his Dad dragged him out. I liked Freschard, who consisted of a French girl singer and Stanley Brinks.
One thing that dogged the festival were bands cancelling, and with some degrees of rubbish excuses (it seems that the band Tigercats were legitimate as they did do a set, but late because of van problems), the most rubbish excuse of the weekend was that a band couldn’t play because they’d tipped tea over their equipment; "Our drummer has ODd again!" it wasn't.
The last full set I saw was from the brilliantly weird Thomas Truax, who I’d seen before and is great value for money. You could feel the energy of the Church Hall lift as soon as he kicked off his full strangeness. It’s just a shame that he only did a half an hour set. After some food at Milgi everyone else I was with buggered off but I went back to see Emmy the Great who ironically was so/so. Everything she said seemed to have an ironic sneer to it: “So, Cardiff’s great…” I watched three songs and when she started doing expressive hand movements along to the music I left.
A great festival with some good new finds when it came to music, and great to catch up with a load of mates. I’m pretty sure I’ll be back next year.