Swyn? Swuhn? Suhwuhnuh? No no, it’s pronouced ‘Soon’, and it’s brilliant.
A couple of hours in Cardiff and it was already clear that Swn sits at the very top of the UK’s burgeoning city festival pile. The venues are excellent, the security is friendly, the drinks are cheap (oh god they’re cheap) – and the attendees are a delight. At one point last night I met my mirror image: identical (quite fringe) politics, identical music taste, identical degrees. He wins though, because he is going to Berlin to do a PhD on the interface between krautrock and ’70s radical German politics. This lovely little encounter sums up Swn pretty perfectly.
Here are three of yesterday’s best.
There are few things better than going to see a band you’ve never heard of, on the frothing recommendation of a friend, only to find that they are even better than promised. Brandyman are the ultimate ATP band. They sound rather like a sludgier Shellac – but fronted by a snarling, predatory, besuited man who appears to scream the details of some pseudo-steam-punk parallel dystopia, while shuffling around the stage in a manner that is 50% fey office worker, 50% straitjacketed axe murderer. Plus, any band that has a song about the Peterloo Massacre is worthy of your attention.
I was pretty close to packing up and going home after Brontide finished, confident that I would see nothing better over the course of the festival. The band take the smile-inducing intricacies of post-hardcore, and the melodic sense of the most euphoric pop imaginable, and rearrange them into something that resembles what the much-missed Meet Me In St Louis might be doing today. Utterly spectacular.
Niki And The Dove
We’ve made no secret of our love for Niki And The Dove. The Swedish trio will undoubtedly be next year’s defining pop success – but last night they played to about a hundred people in the back room of O’Neills. Their gripping combination of cathartic simplicity and carefully whittled esoterica has expanded in the few months since I last saw them – and now, with the addition of ‘The Drummer’ (one of the very finest pop songs of recent years), it represents one of the most forward-thinking, honest, exciting live shows doing the rounds today.