Dim Sŵn 2014
18th October 2014, Cardiff City Centre

When news broke that Cardiff’s Sŵn Festival had to be reduced from four days to one this year I was left with mixed emotions; sadness at the thought of not rushing around the beautiful city of Cardiff for four days trying to cram in as many bands as possible and relief that it was actually happening at all due to initial rumours that Sŵn may have to take a year off because of financial cutbacks.

For the music lovers of South Wales Sŵn Festival is a must, the event brings many great acts to the city and Cardiff is full of familiar faces and like-minded people who live and breathe music. That is what makes this festival so special and the fact it was condensed into one day did nothing to diminish the atmosphere and shared passion for music which was evident all over Womanby Street on Saturday.

The afternoon kicked off with Baby Queens downstairs in Clwb and within one minute of their set starting I was completely hooked. Their soulful vocals and rhythm ensured the entire audience was captivated, this really is pop music at its best. Forget all that reality TV nonsense full of kids trying to fake it; this is pure, brilliant pop music with no pretence. Next, a short trip up the street to Cardiff Fashion Quarter (CFQ) to watch another much talked about Welsh musician, Gabrielle Murphy. Gabrielle’s set provided me with my second wow moment of the day, this is a young lady who is without a doubt going to become a household name within the next two years. Her voice is out of this world and has the capacity to silence the loudest of crowds. As with Baby Queens, this is exactly what pop music should be about - artists who care and fully believe in what they do and who will not allow themselves to be exploited for an easy road to fame.

Over at Four Bars Grumbling Fur worked their way through a set that combined many different and amazing sounds ensuring my mind was well and truly blown. Violas, guitars, keys, cellos, synthesizers, laptops and so much more, the only thing I could be certain of was that the sound all these instruments/machines created was out of this world.

Back to Clwb for Climbing Trees, a band that has been around for a while but now look ready to take on the world. Their heart-warming, anthemic rock is more than deserving of the larger arenas, let's just hope this band get the break they deserve.

It's a good job Womanby Street is my favourite street in Cardiff as most of the day was spent here. Four Bars was next for the unmistakable Martin Carr who, as I’m sure you would expect, was on top form playing a set from his new album ‘The Breaks’ and proving once again that he is one of the modern-day greats. Jagaara, three sisters from North London, followed. Their set was full of beautiful vocal harmonies and sun-drenched melodies and if you were one of the lucky ones in Four Bars for this set, it will become one of those “I was there moments”.

Hotly tipped band Happyness were next on the list upstairs in Clwb and their set was full of the exciting, indie guitar pop that many bands have shied away from over the last few years. Happyness will hopefully inspire more bands to realise that there is nothing wrong with good old-fashioned indie guitar music. Their set was also memorable due to their banter with the crowd which included a discussion about Welsh mushrooms.

Downstairs in Clwb was full to capacity with a one in, one out system on the door for Houdini Dax. I was glad to have arrived early to be down the front to witness a band that have, over the last three years, become the complete package and tonight's set clearly illustrated that Houdini Dax are more than ready to take over the world with their infectious guitar pop. The band were tight and delivered a set which whipped the crowd into a frenzy; singing, jumping around, punching the air and basically having a great time which is exactly what we want from a gig on a Saturday night. Houdini Dax are ready and they are coming for you, I just hope you are ready for the good times this band are going to bring.

What the future may hold for Sŵn is uncertain, will it return next year as a four day event or will it remain a single day? What is certain is that whatever happens, Sŵn will always be with us. It is organised and attended by people who live and breathe music and therefore its survival is guaranteed.

Steve Tay

Sŵn Festival 2011

Cardiff City Centre
20th - 23rd October 2011

Sŵn Festival 2012

Cardiff City Centre
18th - 21st October 2012

Sŵn Festival 2013

Cardiff City Centre
17th - 20th October 2013

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