This Easter weekend saw the annual Wales Goes Pop! festival in the Gate in Roath.
I love this festival, and not just because it's at the end of our road (which does help). It's very friendly and chilled. We wandered down earlish and were amongst the first people there. It meant we could have a leisurely beer and check out the first two bands HMS Morris and False Advertising which we knew nothing about and were great. I especially liked HMS Morris and will be seeking out their music. I was saving my pennies for Tender Prey and their album launch. Their set was virtually identical to the one I saw them do when they supported Amber Arcades right down to the PJs and US Prom introduction to one of the songs, but that didn't stop it being great. Bought the album after and Ms Tender Prey was happy that I had the right change, cause she was hung over. Rock and Roll.
We went for some Pizza and the Dusty Knuckle pop up counter outside, and I was impressed to see Tender Prey queuing up. Then it was back in to see Girl Ray. I thought their sound was off a bit off, I could hardly hear the vocals though it did improve later in in the set. I love their music, but this is the second time I've seen them and didn't think they were great live, although I did make Sian laugh by singing the alternative Marc Riley jingle lyrics to one of their songs.
It was also the second time I'd seen Tender Prey and they were amazing! Graf Spillers said the next day that he thought 'Who's that grumpy bastard watching Tender Prey and not moving? Oh it's Darren, well he does a lot of running so his hips are probably shot.' but he enjoyed the way I became more animated as they set progressed. They were great! They might well be my favorite live band at the moment, and it does help that I've had their album 'Strike A Match' on heavy rotation since I bought it in February. They're just so joyous live. Wales Goes Pop! is very family/kid friendly and it was great to see some Rug Rats wigging out at the front. From about the fourth band in the venue began to get pretty packed. It was the busiest I'd ever seen Wales Goes Pop! and it was a very strong line up for the day. The next two days would prove to be quieter, maybe they'd put all their eggs in one basket? Probably down to band schedules.
The final band for the Good Friday were Honeyblood. The first time I saw them in the Louisiana in Bristol I could have sworn they were American, but no they're Glaswegians. They've got another album under their belts since I last saw them, last year's 'Babes Never Die', which I think they said they played every song from. They're feel good indie power pop which I loved and the drummer, Cat, got into the spirit of the festival by batting the bountiful balloons back into the audience with her drumsticks.
I really wanted to bop along to saw indie heartwarmers with Gary Twisted, but Sian and I were knackered so we weaved our way into the night. A weekend friendly early doors end for the first night.
Saturday was a late start for us, and the first band I can remember seeing were Spinning Coin, who'd supported Sacred Paws when I saw them in February. Very good they were too, thought there was more than a touch of Teenage Fanclub about them.
I'd really wanted to see the Marc Riley approved SLUG. Whereas all the bands I'd seen on the Friday had been mostly made up of women, SLUG were exclusively a bloke band, this seemed to extend to the audience for the set as well. Sian wasn't a fan, especially when they did a Proggy Horror film song, which was probably my favourite part. The lead singer was also very jovial. Went to buy the album, went to the stall, couldn't see anyone selling it. so wemt and sat back down. It was only when I sat down that I saw the bassist stood next to the table looking at his phone, Alan Sugar he was not.
One of the other great things about Wales Goes Pop! is that we were bump into loads of friends. So there was a mate of mine down from London and plenty from around Cardiff of course. Didn't have as much time to chat with everyone as I would have liked, but I never do.
We sat on the pews (PEWS could have been a band for the weekend) for the next two bands. I'd wanted to see the Hooton Tennis Club.for awhile. I think they play Cardiff fairly regularly but had never got round to seeing them. Enjoyed them especially the big hit 'Powerful Pierre' which had got a lot of play on 6Music back in the day. Next up were Gulp, but not even a band containing an ex Flaming Lip and a Super Furry Animal could stop the pull of the chips from the Albany Fish Bar. So off we went.
It was an even later start for us again on the traditional hang over day of WGP!. We drifted in at 3:05 for the Orielles, who all looked about twelve and who were great
The real surprise of the festival were The Boy Least Likely To. I'd loved their début album way back in 2005 and they'd occasionally come back into my orbit over the years, but this set reminded me of how great they are with a hits heavy set of recognistion firing songs 'Paper Cuts', 'Be Gentle With Me' and 'I'm Glad I Hitched My Apple Wagon to Your Star' which I'd burned to a compilation CD for Sian way back when. They were also funny.
"It took us two and a half hours to get here, guess where we came from?" asked the lead singer.
"Newport?" someone in the audience replied.
Chris T-T did three sets on the Sunday. I saw the first two which were funny, political and thoughtful. The first set used a couple of AA Milne poems. Both of the sets were in the downstairs café area which is a hard space to play and you're contending with other ambient noise, but it was testament to him that he commanded the space for both sets.
Sian and I went for our traditional WGP! falafel on City Road and for that was WGP! over for Sian for another year. I went back to see BC Camplight, another Marc Riley pick. I got back in time to see TOY who okay in a retro psych way. I wanted to see BC Camplight because I'd had tickets to see him a few years ago before he'd been kicked out of the UK, but now he was back back back! I thought it took him awhile to get going. He spent the first half of the set moaning about staying Travel lodge and asking for drinks, but after he got settled he was great. I think this might be the first time I'd actually made it all the way through a WGP! and seen the closing act.
What a great festival and a great weekend. I think it was probably my favourite of the 4 I've been to, sad it's over and already looking forward to the next one.