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Swn Festival 2012

Sŵn Festival 2012 logoGreat news for all you music-lovers out there: the Sŵn Festival kicks off tomorrow here in Cardiff. Running from Thursday 18th to Sunday 22nd, it gathers a staggeringly wide and varied number of bands, including many of the best new and upcoming sounds from Wales and by Welsh people.

Whereas many festivals involve tents, portaloos and vast quantities of mud, Sŵn takes place in the heart of Cardiff, utilising its many venues, including Clwb Ifor Bach, Dempseys and Cardiff Students’ Union. In total, 17 venues will be used across the city.

The event was created in 2007, and is now in its sixth year, having been set up by Huw Stephens, Radio 1 DJ and John Roston, concert promoter and now manager of the Welsh Music Foundation. Sŵn means “noise” or “sound” in Welsh, and is pronounced “Soon” as in “Coming Soon”.

There are some familiar names in the line-up, such as local star Charlotte Church, but don’t be afraid if you don’t recognise many of the acts. One of Sŵn’s strengths is that it’s a showcase for the best up-and-coming new talent. This isn’t stadium rock, but small, informal venues that give you the chance to establish your “I saw them in a bar before they got big” music geek cred.

The festival is also the home of the Welsh Music Prize, established in 2011 – the concert is tonight, Wednesday 17th, with the prizegiving tomorrow, 18th October. The first winner was Gruff Rhys with Hotel Shampoo. This year’s nominations include the following bands and albums:

  • Make Me Believe in Hope – Bright Light Bright Light
  • CYRK – Cate Le Bon
  • Draw Dros y Mynydd – Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog
  • Black Junk – Exit_International
  • The Plot Against Common Sense – Future of the Left
  • Gathering Dusk – Huw M.
  • Illuminated People – Islet
  • Mountain Echo – Jodie Marie
  • In Gold Blood – Kids in Glass Houses

Who am I rooting for? That would have to be Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog, a North Wales band who seamlessly meld folk, country and rock, or possibly indie pop Los Campesinos! who formed their band while studying at Cardiff University back in 2006 and have gone on to great success.

As well as all the musical acts, there are a variety of related “Sŵn fringe” events, including the premiere screening of Manic Street Preaches documentary, “Culture, Alientation, Boredom and Despair”, exploring their album “Generation Terrrorists”. It will be show at Chapter Arts Centre on Saturday at 6pm. Tickets are £2 for Sŵn wristband holders, or £6 for general public tickets.

Over on YourCardiff, Dave Owens presents an entertaining and useful Sŵn survivial guide. Meanwhile, DIY music magazine has a round-up of 10 bands you don’t want to miss, including Cold Pumas, Childhood, Pins and more, though how they manage to whittle it down with so many bands on offer, I don't know! 

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