Beat Review | Micro Festival

Venue: Gwdihŵ Cafe Bar, Cardiff
Date: 4th June 2012

What better way to kick off the festival season and make the most of a double bank holiday weekend than at the Beat Review Micro Festival in Cardiff’s wonderfully intimate Gwdihŵ Cafe Bar.

Being just that, a micro festival, in what is essentially a small pub with a small staff parking area, the logistics were always going to be a challenge. The bill was split between an acoustic stage indoors and a main stage outside in the staff car park/smoking area with the idea that as one act finishes on one stage the next is ready to go on the other. There was only one clash of note as Scriber, one of the performers I was most looking forward to seeing, had the latter part of his set drowned out by the opener from Rory and Ned. But on the whole it worked well.

Ned Rundell was first up on the acoustic stage. An intense one man, one guitar performer whose incredibly powerful voice, crazed lyrics and mesmerising stage presence brought as many puzzled faces as it did hysterics. Though neither party could argue that it was the perfect way to kick off proceedings and my ‘find out more’ list was up and running from the word go.

Mr Tom opened the outdoor stage with a tight and polished performance that sounded not too dissimilar to The Enemy. Their nonchalant flippancy suited the music and they were clearly having the time of their lives.

Next up inside was Scriber (Joshua Price), an artist that if you are not aware of, I urge you to look him up. Scriber creates beautiful, thought provoking, gentle music that has been described as Leonard Cohen meets Bon Iver. Sadly, as previously mentioned, the back end of Scribers set was drowned out by the Rory and Ned warming up on the outside stage so like many of the others I wandered off to see what all the racket was about.

Rory and Ned (Rundell) know how to put on a show. Ramshackle but totally together they bounce around the stage and crowd area until leads are pulled from sockets, their drummer with a single tom doing the same as they deliver music with narrative lyrics, varying vocal styles and plenty of humour. There wasn’t a dry eye by the time Rory's theme ‘Man Slag’ had finished.

The crowd swelled as the day progressed and on the acoustic stage we were treated to excellent performances from Ivan Moult, Joshua Caole and Little Arrow who offered a welcomed calm in between the electronic indie pummelling from the main stage.

Right Hand Left Hand win the ‘hardest working band’ award of they day as each member switched between instruments to create an instrumental wall of sound. Cardiff three piece We’re No Heroes provided a tight and energetic performance full of jaunty riffs and jagged vocals that was feverishly welcomed by a crowd whose inebriation levels were clearly rising.

The main stage was closed by Catfish and the Bottlemen, a band I’d seen previously in this very venue and like many others was hugely looking forward to. They didn’t disappoint. A perfected set of energy, powerful guitars and sing-a-long choruses had the outside area bouncing. The band were gracious and chatty throughout and the crowd lapped up every bit of it.

All in all a great way to kick of a the festival season. Everyone did a great job from the organisers to the bands to whoever cooked that vegetable curry. Oh and I’ve heard a whisper that it may become an annual event. Let’s hope so.

Steve C

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Undertone, Cardiff
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