Radio One’s Big Weekend Fringe Festival

(review n pix by neil crud)

You can stick ya Cheryl Coles, ya JLS karaokees and ya sminky pinkies right up your corporate whoring, citizen erasing, life numbing stinking arse. Chatting to Rhys Mwyn between songs in the bowels of this great little venue in Caernarfon, we were both exasperated that 500,000 (mainly North Walians – are there that many?) applied for tickets for Radio One’s Big Weekend, and yet only a tiny proportion of those people will ever experience real live music. That’s grass roots live music, the sense of being, of being part of a movement, of a culture, or even a gang! Their experience of the live show will be a sanitised affair, more than likely watching a bunch of pricks and slags miming some shite that Cowell’s team have wiped from their noses onto a manuscript and straight into their bank account. There again, a couple of years ago we were almost in danger of having our music taken from us as the mainstream almost become a stomping ground for angry young guitar bands. Thankfully their anger was shallow and empty and as soon as the cheque book wafted in front of them, any sense of misadventure was shut out of their new suburban dwelling.
Like Adam Walton described in his review of Kixxstart Kitty in Colwyn Bay last Tuesday night; he almost wanted them to smash the PA into smithereens in the name of rock ‘n’ roll; and that was at a gig he helped organise! Yes, guitars have been smashed on stage in that very name for forty years, but these days it’s because Matt Bellamy can afford it! A teenage Colwyn Kitty isn’t going to do that on his EMA 6th form payment; although I do remember ramming someone else’s guitar against a stage ceiling during a frenetic finale, and Pocket Venus made a habit of trashing other band’s drum kits and Kyle from Gintis did blow holes in a stage ceiling with his own guitar head one night. There were cries at the time of yobbos, dickheads etc, but what the fuck! It’s entertaining, it’s edgy, it’s stupid and had Kixxstart done what Adam had wished for, it would have made a brilliant headline. Maybe next time.

Anyway, I think I got a bit carried away there! My point is, and has been for the last few reviews; if you don’t learn to discipline yourself and learn to drag yourself away from your Fuckville or Taffia Wars you are going to turn grey and wonder where the fuck your life went. You can become re-born and re-learn that there is a world out there that you can experience in real life, in 3-D without the Buddy Holly glasses, one you can touch and feel, where you can communicate without having to type, IM or cyber, one where you don’t have to have your mouse in one hand and your cock in the other – one where you can actually see and hear the bands we write about.

Let’s face it – if people stop going to see bands, bands will stop playing, and the route for any aspiring musician will be the audition one, that slimy slope of chavvy perdition. There won’t be any bands at the all important grassroots level to aspire to, it has almost ground to a halt already… please don’t let it die…

Tonight (and all this week) was the exception; lots of people enjoying lots of alternative live music. Hailing from Holy-holy-Holyhead, Through Colour (pic above) opened the doors in Caernarfon with their emo-istic brand of rock, they have mellowed musically since their My Turn To Kill days, but still have an energetic stage presence. I do recall singer Steve splitting his head open when I last saw them, and carried on in true Terry Butcher style (see my Kixxstart, guitar smashing comments and add real blood to the rock ‘n’ roll list). I’m not a fan of this music at all, I think there’s little to distinguish one band from the hundreds, possibly thousands of others wheelspinning in the emo car park of life. And yet to see that their (pretty decent) track Kids of Cancer has had over 118,000 plays on MySpace means they’re doing something right, so what the fuck do I know?. Also a glance down their list of upcoming gigs flick-combing the country means they are one of those bands that your kid brother or sister needs to aspire to, so drag them away from the x-box and down to a Through Colour gig.

There again, they could be a timid sibling perhaps with a nervous disposition who needs breaking in gently – so rather than slaying them in front of bleeding vocalists, you’d be better off heading to Ewloe and knocking on the door of Tim and Sam’s Tim and The Sam Band With Tim and Sam (pic above). It was the Walton who introduced me to this young, and yet musically mature bunch of folky post-graduate herbal tea drinking darlings, and yes, my iPod is littered with Global Parasite, Headhaunter, Strike Back, Bastions and Whales, but there is always room, and a time and place to mellow out. And now, nestling next to songs like Global Parasite’s Cunt and Headhaunter’s Fuck You is Tim and Sam’s debut album ‘Life Stream’, which I bought off the band after seeing tonight’s set. I’ve also just remembered that I’ve also mail ordered it..! I liked them so much I bought the LP twice ha ha!! You could describe their music as a stoned student; y’know the type of person who gets up in the morning with melancholia, then shakes himself down and has all the best intentions of making a go of the day, but in the end just gets back into bed… Well that’s a Tim and Sam song! And more power to their elbow for making such music! It was both uplifting, entertaining and frustrating; frustrating because during the song you just wanted to grab the the drummer and scream, ‘Hit the fucking things!’ – but that’s why I’m compelled to see them again.

Books and covers are so deceiving at times, seeing the name Bandana (pic above), a band from Caernarfon on the bill – you are inclined to expect yet another emo/screamo act, carbon copied and ready for the Radio One Introducing stockpile. So to see and hear a Welsh language punk-swing-rock band with enough peculiarity in their character to keep all eyes facing forward at this packed out gig was a very pleasant surprise, and I gave myself a black mark for pre-judging them. It turns out that frontman, Gwilym Rhys (well, frontboy really!) is the son of pioneering 1970s Welsh punks Trwynau Coch, and with his father as a mentor, it is obvious the DNA is working as the boy produced an energetic and entertaining performance. Back tracking to my earlier rant about rock ‘n’ roll, back in the late seventies, Trwynau Coch had the balls to set up their stuff inside one of the Eisteddfod tents on the field and play a few songs as a demonstration against the lack of facilities at the Eisteddfod for the young. This was the first time a band used music politically in Wales against the Welsh speaking middle class driven system. The mixture of great live music, total chaos, panic and having so called people in authority shit themselves and the over-reacting was superb.

And of course, someone who is quite happy to shit on authority is Mr Huw (main pic)- formerly the bass gimp from Kentucky AFC, he has taken his cow-punk element from those days, grown a new band and milked the plaudits from the Welsh media while singing songs about cunts, killing family members and shagging cannibals. The tunes are all catchy, probably because they’re all the same tune! And yet it damn well works a treat and I can’t wait to get my grubby mits on his new album Hud a Llefrith. Rhys Mwyn did shout in my ear, ‘Let’s have a Cacan Wy Experience revival’ (Huw’s first band) – and I’d second that emotion on the count that I never saw them first time round. What I say to you is, come and see all these bands now, before they end up in a zoo called YouTube, which could be the only place you’re willing to see endangered species (it’s safer there than out in the wild, you wankers)