Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Cardiff Big Weekend 2011

The Admiral Cardiff Festival Big Weekend, held on the lawn of City Hall, is one of the highlights of the year, and 2011 was another classy event, once more marred by the weather. I’m lucky enough to live within walking distance and so was able to cherry-pick my entertainments (and avoid the portaloos).

Friday’s “local bands” evening, promoted by the Swn Festival, provided a good chance to catch up on young people’s exciting hairstyles, and once more witness a mosh-pit merry-go-round. First on stage were the enjoyably heavy metal inflected pop-punky Battle Of The Bands winners Death Before Sunrise – perhaps unsurprisingly not entirely dissimilar to Lostprophets. Next up were perky West Walians OK, whom I’d already seen supporting Darwin Deez a few months ago; they sounded no less like the Wombats than before (not necessarily a bad thing), have added an amusing new guitarist, and went down well with the youthful audience, although anticipation for headliners Funeral For A Friend was heavy in the air.

On Saturday evening, I went down intending to see Chicago’s Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – to find they’d been replaced by reggae legend Horace Andy (most famous for “Skylarking” and his work with Massive Attack); his traditional reggae vibes (“for conscious people”), provoked some pleasingly bizarre dancing. My principal focus (on an evening later headlined by Gabrielle) was L.A’s Vintage Trouble, following their electrifying appearance on Jools Holland’s “Later” in April, and they didn’t disappoint, with their modern take on 60’s/70’s soul, part of a profoundly welcome move toward a human, non-Black-Eyed-Peas-esque take on the genre (cf Cee-Lo, Talib Kweli, Fitz And The Tantrums etc.). A guitar-bass-drums line-up, fronted by the charismatic Ty Taylor, they were highly impressive, and ecstatically received.

Apparently they’re not the coolest band in the world, but I won’t hear a word said against Sunday night’s headliners, ski-chalet-rockers The Feeling – “Fill My Little World” is a classic pop song, and I have fond memories of seeing them play at the Cardiff Barfly several years ago. Even though they’re now past their commercial peak, they still managed to attract a large and hugely appreciative crowd on a soggy evening. One could hardly claim that they turn into rock beasts on stage, but the live experience does add some rough edges, and their encore of “Fight For Your Right To Party” had to be seen to be believed.

Hats off to the council, sponsors, etc. for persisting with it in hard economic times.


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