Easter saw the Wales Goes Pop! festival at the Gate. Now one of the regular fixtures Floyd calendar it's a chance to catch up with friends, upcoming bands and some old favorites, and I do believe that this was the first year that the festival has sold out.
The night before I'd been to The Exchange in Bristol to see the brilliant 'No Age' with my mate Jas. It was a big Jeff approved gig which was good to see. I'd never hear of No Age before but was thoroughly impressed, two brothers one on drums singing and the other on fringe and guitar. The singing drummer - and I'm a sucker for a singing drummer - did ask if everyone was a Vegan cause : "Hey...we've heard that everyone over here is a vegan now?" Great noisy night.
The next day we started later, getting into The Gate after a boozy lunch in Milgi. We got in to see Jemma Roper but to be honest the first few bands didn't really touch the sides as we caught up with friends. I enjoyed the hilariously Peaness. I was keen to see Jeffrey Lewis and because I was a few bottles of Prosecco up I thought I'd have a chat with him. I wanted to tell him how much his song 'Bugs and Flowers' meant to me, and how I'd used it as part of a meditation class I taught. I asked him if he'd play it that night, and he said he was still working out the set list, so that's a no then. I was a bit burbaly but he was charming if a little embarrassed. I bought a copy of 'It's the Ones Who've Cracked That the Light Shines Through' which he was good enough to sign. Enjoyed his set (I'll whisper this, I preferred his Clwb Ifor set). We watched three songs from an under the weather and under par Sweet Baboo and went home.
Saturday was a late start again, the first band we saw were the wonderfully shambolic Axolotes Mexicanos. With an energetic lead singer who spoke little English and would talk over her lead guitarists as he desperately tried to keep up with her and translate at the same time. I've never seen a band split up on stage before and thought I just might this time. Joyfully Six Form they raised the energy of a year which was in danger of becoming a bit samey.
We missed Desperate Journalist as we went out to a very cold Roath Yard Street Food festival. We got back in time to see Dream Wife who are spiky, punky fun. I saw them last year, and - in a theme for this year - we managed three songs then went home.
I guess Sunday was the day we were sorta waiting for. We got to The Gate in time to see Colour Me Wednesday, terrible name but decent enough band,. Next up were Goat Girl who'd I'd been looking forward to. They were a great gnarly band. Their song 'Man' is on heavy rotation on 6 Music and I replace the the word 'Man' with 'Cat' for Sian's amusement. You have to be there. goat Girl were great and seemed to have more substance than a lot of the bands on the bill.
I enjoyed Brix and the Extricated, and actually danced to Totally Wired. Brix is tiny and comes across as you're favorite mad Aunty. I bought 'The Big Midweek' from the merch stall cause Riley goes on about it so much, and an enthusiastic punter behind me recommended it.
It was very busy in The Gate on Sunday night, and the demographics age did shift up by about twenty years, probably in anticipation of the headliners Shonen Knife. An old school friend of mine Kris Christopher had traveled down just for their set, and very good it was too. Probably the best of the weekend. Kris was one of the happiest bounciest people I've see at a gig this side of Big Jeff. They were lots of fun with probably the smileiest drummer I've ever seen. I'm not hugely familiar with their music but will have to rectify that. Both Sian and I bought t-shirts and we actually managed to stay for the entire set. Afterwards we chatted to a Tim and Liz Lambert and a few other people. As soon as it had began Wales Goes Pop! 2018 was over.
I'll be honest, it wasn't a vintage year. There seemed to be too may bands with two word names like Body Perfect who sounded similar, but there was enough and I enjoyed catching up with so many friends.