It was only when I got to 'Wales Goes Pop' that I started to think that I wasn't in the mood for an indie festival. It's literally at the bottom of my road in 'The Gate' arts centre and a bucket load of my mates always fo so i was always going, but getting there on Good Friday I didn't know if I could be arsed. I suppose part of it was because I wasn't drinking due to running the International Half marathon the next day. Anyway it didn't take me long to warm up 'Wales Goes Pop' is a great festival where you can't always tell who the audience are and who the bands are.
The first band who made an impact on me were Chorusgirl, a spikey indie pop four piece who helped shake my ennui. I met up with my mate Tim Lambert from old London town and we watched Marc riley favorite Pete Astor. Tim rightly pointed out that that astor was channeling the spirt of the the more chilled Velvet Underground which was very pleasant.
The last band I saw on the Friday were local heros The Loves. Now I'm pretty sure that I saw them back in the day before they split up. Their bubblegum pop indie that The Loves trade ain't orginal but who cares when it's done this well. The Daniel Johnston cover was very much appreciated.
So to the Saturday and the half marathon. I had very low expectations for my performance. Partly because since Tokyo I've managed to pick up a few minor injuries. All largely due to my own idocy. I've fallen off my bike, stubbed my toe, walked into stuff and did twist my ankle while out running. The net result of this was that I was peppered with cuts and grazes. I went to the Expo at the Motorpoint Arena to pick up my race number on Thursday. It did feel a bit over the top to have an Expo for a half, even if it is the International half. I've never been a fan of going to Expos. I'm a grumpy runner and would rather just turn up and run. Still, it felt a little subdued after Tokyo, but I guess most things would be.
The morning of the race didn't feel like a race day at all. I cycled into town to buy the new Kiran Lenoard album and have a nose rose the start line. The barriers were up, but just a few hours before the start there wasn't much of an atmosphere. I suppose what added to the feeling of anti-climax was the late start of the race, 2:10pm. I'd have much rather a morning kick off, but hey ho.
The forecast for the day was that it would shed down with rain. It had remaind dry for most of the day but by the time I got to the start it had started to spot with rain. I bumped into my old boss and mate from my Capita days, Steve Twigg and we had a natter about times, I was a little worried at the start line because despite liberal layers of Deep Heat being ladled on my lower back it was killing and my right start and begun to hurt. To add insult to injury they got Peroxide aryan warbler Rhydian to murder an Elbow song at the start, I suppose that was reason enough to start running.
After a bit of shuffling and faffing we were off just in time for the heavens to open. I hobbled the first part of the first mile and did think that I might have to pull out. Then wonderfully over the next two miles I managed to shake off the aches and pains. I'd managed to run a few decent runs since Tokyo so I set myself an ambitious pace, vith the caveat that there was nothing riding on it. Early on I realised that it was a comfortable pace and surprised myself by being pretty pacey. It was exactly the same route that the Cardiff Half has used for the last two years and it is a good course, pretty flat with few hills. There was a huge downpour between mile 6 and 7 when I was by the steelworks but it sort of helped cool me down.
I had no idea what sort of time I was doing and was just looking at doing around 1:40 but made sure that everytime I dipped below the pace I'd set that I dug in and upped the speed. i had enough in the tank for a sprint vision, and blow me if I hadn't got a new half marathon personal best of 1:36: 17 when I checked my watch! Dunno how I did it but it didn't feel like much of a struggle getting round, so I happy. It was bloody freezing when crossed the finish line so I dried to hobble home as quick as I could.
I was in a party mood after the half so after a visit to Milgi for their Ginger Collins it was back to WGP for the majestic Gindrinker. It's fair ro say that Gindrinker are Kardiff legends, possibly in the same way that Ninja is, but I'd forgotten how truly great they are, it was good to be reminded and they were Tim's favourite band of the weekend. Next up were another of Marc Riley's favourites Shopping, I've always liked them when I've heard them on 6music, but they moved way up in my estimation live. They were just full of energy and had a funny drummer. The next band Spook School also had a funny drummer and all looked about twelve (apart from the drummer who had a tache), I loved Spook School and apparently there's a bit of buzz about them?
The final band of the night were local heros Los Campesinos!. Hands up I've never been a great fan of them and i did sort of switch off midway through their set but did enjoy their final song cause it mentions indie disco 'Twisted by Design'. Talking of indie discos Simon Love rounded the night off with some heart warmers and I left The Gate way past my bed time.
The Sunday is always the hangover day of 'Wales Goes Pop', We weren't the only ones with thousand yard stares at the festival. Before hand the Sunday seemed to be the strongest day of the festival. However the band - Younghusband didn't touch the sides and I only caught the beginning and end of Gweno cause I popped out for some food. I was really looking forward to We Are the KIt every since I bought her/their (I say that because it's basically Kate Stables + backing band) last album 'Bashed out' and became more than a little obsessed with it. She was great, lilting and fragile songs, completely perfect.
Next up was Darren Hayman who for the performance was played by Stanley Spencer. Now I must have seen him before and I'm sure I saw his old band Hefner, but I don't remember him being this good. He was self deprecating, funny and engaging. I especially liked his songs about 'Thankful villages', villages where all the soldiers returned from World War I.
I hung about yapping to friends, but I was knackered so I threw in the towel and missed BMX Bandits. 'Wales Goes Pop' is a lovely friendly festival full of great people and new musical discoveries. can't wait till the next one!