Swn Festival, Cardiff, Day 2 (23/10/09)

Charlie Ashcroft | Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Swn Festival, Cardiff, Day 2 (23/10/09)

Given the random bursts of South Walian downpour on Swn Festival Friday, Daily Music Guide sought shelter in Barfly, for what would turn out to be a thoroughly entertaining opening segment to the night's proceedings.

Even though she took to the stage slightly behind schedule amid problems with her backing tracks, hip-hop MC ENVY eventually stepped up to deliver a high-octane set of no-nonsense rhymes, against a colourful backdrop of well-engineered beats.

As well as treating to the crowd to a cracking rendition of last year's 'Friday Night' single, she also took things back to basics with a perfectly-executed "red lorry yellow lorry" tongue twister for good measure.

The two halves of her set sandwiched a brilliant performance by Liverpudlian quintet SOFT TOY EMERGENCY. Their show hit the ground running from the off, thanks to wave after wave of pacey electro-pop hooks, with Jen's vocals and Luciano's synths the driving force throughout. Quieter moments such as 'Something Unpredictable' also served to display the band's range and provided a decent shift in texture every now and then.

BEATBULLYZ were next to appear on Barfly's small stage, wasting no time at all in getting a sadly sparse crowd moving with their infectious brand of ska-infused soul-hop.

Their tight sense of melody was evident right from the word go, with the likes of 'Golden City', 'Starlight' and 'Pieces' all making their mark as singers Bozo and Bully operated energetically against a lush wall of atmospheric piano licks, well-placed scratches and tight-as-hell drumbeats.

"This is the biggest small party around!" they declared, knowing full well that they had made a lasting impression on the bopping attendees.

DMG then headed over to Womanby Street into a heaving Y Fuwch Goch to catch SWANTON BOMBS, whose raucous two-man racket fitted their intensely sweaty surroundings very well indeed.

While 'I Like It' well and truly came alive in this context, building up to its wonderful, crescendo-filled conclusion with admirable ferocity, the duo's rendition of 'Doom' unmasked a strangely melodic underbelly within their sheer bloody rawness.

Amazingly, their energy did GIRLS no favours whatsoever, whose opening songs came across as rather plodding by comparison to what the pub stage's previous incumbents had served up. Tracks such as 'Lust For Life' and 'Big Bag' eventually cranked things up a notch though, finally dulling down the conversations of the capacity crowd and grabbing the venue's attention with aplomb.

The subsequent decision to head around the corner then proved to be a sound one, with DMG discovering that ROGUES had just started rocking The Model Inn on Quay Street.

The upstairs venue continued to fill up all way through the Londoners' set, with increasing numbers able to witness them putting on an assured display of relentless vigour, helped by a broad assortment of spiky, synth-coated riffs which penetrated the beery haze like a lipstick-stained knife.