(review n pix by MWJ)
After my “high” art dabblings, normal service resumed. I’d only heard about the weeklong events here pretty late on, really a lot of diverse stuff happens at Hendre Hall that maybe doesn’t get picked up by mainstream or alternative gig guides.
Perhaps this is due to the wide variety of promoters utilising the place and them all having their preferred methods of advertising and respective target audiences. However the Snowdonia Online Guide (www.snogonline.co.uk ) has been established for some time, I really should check it out a bit more often. Out of the mad variety of events and themes they were putting on for their annual fest tonight held the most appeal/fitted in best with my busy bank holiday, endless round of garden parties etc, well, just gardening really. The main appeal was a chance to see headliners Stuntface again as it had been a while, a new album on the way, and they always put on a good show but it didn’t work out that way…
A last minute blag of press pass from Link2wales HQ failed miserably due to me turning up before Stuntface who could have wangled me in but no worries, it was a charidee event and don’t resent contributing. Much. It’s just that with the high cost of hiring the place I think promoters have to bump up the price a bit to get reasonable returns. That would be fine if the line-ups were delivered but tonight and at my last visit that didn’t happen. Took the opportunity to look at some of the work of local artists displayed in one of the rooms, some very interesting, some a bit basic. Things hadn’t started in the long room yet so went through to the main hall for all things ska punk, following the pork pie hats.
Just caught the last song or so (or so I thought) of IDST, eye catching girl fronting the band in a Christina Aguilera visual style, but the music is very down tempo ska heading into reggae territory. In that brief listen it sounded OK, a young band in early days but with some distinctiveness to them.
So next The Phlegms, yes I’m sure it was them. A three-piece straight up reasonably pop/hardcore punk, seemingly having built a good reputation locally for their performances. They rely heavily on covers, a lot of classics thrown in there. The Misfits “Attitude” (“you’ve got some f*ckin attitude”) took me back to playing it with Blacklisted at Conwy Carnival on the back of a Hotpoint trailer to an audience including the Mayoress. We also did Jonny B Good which is rolled tonight also, as well as Pistols numbers. To be frank they’re all piss easy but crowd pleasers. There are some of their own songs interspersed, simple enough structures. They’ve definitely built up a big set, it’s all done with confidence, hopefully their enthusiasm will lead to more definition of their own style and sound.
I’d been having a natter with the guys from Stuntface out in the evening sun in the courtyard, fending off repeated attempts to convert us to the blues sets now commenced in the long room, when some troubling news over the phone meant they had to up sticks back to Wrexham at the last minute. Disappointing all round, but the sometimes the show must not go on.
So there’s a game return to fill the gap by IDST, maybe a bit worse for wear but not that bad. From over on Anglesey I think, but versed in the patois of “roots reggae, maaan”, it’s entertaining enough if not my taste. And the other risk of playing slow is it allows unacceptable behaviour to go on. “I’ve got no problem with the music but the sight of those hippies dancing is making me physically sick” – exit Dave Cox stage right. There’s a cover of the Clash’s “Bankrobber” which is about as lively as it gets but fair play to them for keeping the show on the road.
My previous listen to Machynlleth’s Three Minute Warning over in Rhyl had been cut too short to really appreciate but tonight they really put on a top notch show. Excellent sound and lights help get the atmosphere right but as ever the music’s the key. Driven along at pace, crazy Stranglers keyboards, there’s a fair bit of skanking going on, definitely bounces through the ska-punk theme but there’s a lot more force behind the majority. Catchy hooks and rousing vocals, remember some striking lyrics but gone the next morning, have to get their imminent album release on Pigtown Records. The crowd piles in and much fun all round. Stuntface may have been further icing on cake but ultimately an excellent end to the evening anyway.