August. Pretty shit, right? No-one books tours, punters flock to any fly-blown square foot of concrete masquerading as a beer garden, and promoters comb the sticky carpet at your local underattended gig venue in hope of raising enough pennies to bring some quality bands to town in the Autumn. Do one, August! Or rather, don’t. Plenty to report in Cardiff, Bristol and occasionally even Newport this month, and no-one has to resort to sobbing gently on City Hall lawn in front of Feeder while bug-eyed shirtless psychopaths sick up on you. Stay strong, seek and ye shall find…
Green Man, of course, dominates August’s local listings, this year bringing treats aplenty with Flaming Lips, Joanna Newsom, Beirut, Efterklang and generally more great music, food, comedy, film and general funtimes than you can shake a bladder on a stick at. A few Green Man-friendly preview shows pop up in preparation, too. Balloon bring Simone Felice, The Duke And The King and Jeb Loy Nichols (Buffalo, 19th), Spencer McGarry Season warm up for their Friday Main Stage debut with a two-night run through of both their albums supported by Sweet Baboo, Barefoot Dance Of The Sea and Stephen Wheel (Buffalo, 12th and 13th – combi ticket available) and Oxjam and No Sweat co-host a charity do with Gentle Good, Hail! The Planes, DJs, raffle and cake (Arts Institute, 18th). Good eggs.
Speaking of good causes, pray to Hello Kitty for a sunny day on Saturday 7th when the third annual Woodstick alldayer happens in Bute Park. A fine small-scale celebration of local indiepop, baking and alfresco booze, donations to the CRY charity are encouraged and music comes from Threatmantics, the Loves, the resurrected Teflon Monkey, Joy Of Sex and OH BLIMEY SPECIAL GUEST Calvin Johnson. That’s right. The first dreamboat of the 1950s sock hop/DIY indie crossover, the Beat Happening frontman and K Records impresario then plays Chapter later that day and hosts a Q&A and showing of his film The Shield Around The K in Ten Feet Tall on Sunday 8th. He returns to Bristol’s Cube on the 9th, where twee enthusiasts can also see Francois & The Atlas Mountains (2nd). Also in Chapter, Gruff Rhys hosts surely the world’s most drawn-out Q&A to accompany his film Separado! (Chapter, 4th). Tickets are scarce, though.
If you fancy some treats of an altogether more bracing nature, however, there’s plenty of avant/free skronk goodness all prepared to melt your tiny face. The ever-redoubtable Cube plays host to exploratory guitar-sax-drums outfit Zs (3rd, with Team Brick) before besting that with improv jazz fury from Evan Parker (sax), Ikue Mori (laptop) and Mark Hauseef (drums) on the 11th. Qu Junktions, natch. In between, Bristolian duo Eyebrows cross the bridge to bring subtler, processed trumpet/drum gubbins to Chapter (8th) with excellent support from Zwolf and newbies Everything Special Kid. The latter have form in Death Of Her Money and SAAB, should you need further encouragement.
Fresh from some corking July gigs and a tilt at making the Big Weekend tolerable, Swn will spend August finalising their own festival while hosting a clutch of fine-looking gigs. Trashy US indie kids Harlem (ex-Hockey Night, who turned up at Barfly a few years back) hit Buffalo with Kutosis in support (24th), cosmic psych-folkers MV & EE and the Golden Road fly the freak flag at the Norweigan Church (25th) and intriguingly obtuse Canadian art-poppers Women play the Globe on the 31st. All well worth the small outlay required.
Pop kids! Do you enjoy hot-footing it from your mundane desk job to a train station, drinking cans on a regional rail service, watching bands in unfamiliar locales and then sprinting for the last train home before finding yourself back at that same desk, bleary-eyed and smelling of chips and wet dust, seemingly minutes later? OF COURSE YOU DO. So why not pay further visit to Bristol in August, where you can thrill to evergreen psych godheads Silver Apples (Thekla, 4th), hushed Nico-esque folk chanteuse Hope Sandoval (ex-Mazzy Star, Fleece, 5th), Beta Band alumnus Steve Mason (Louisiana, 12th), legendary Chicago scuzz-punk sickos Dwarves (Croft, 14th) or returning promoters FAG Club’s post-Bristol Pride party with Ste McCabe and the splendidly named Peepholes (Boneyard Bar, 21st). Newport has fewer thrills for those unwilling to attend gigs purely on the basis of crude or amusing band names, but make the effort for faux-Mexican noise supergroup Pintogram (Le Pub, 11th) because they’re special. There’s also a promising alldayer in support of the Love Music Hate Racism campaign (Six Feet Under, 29th) featuring The Sick Livers and The Clay amongst many others.
Let’s round off by illustrating that, even in a traditionally quiet month, punters of very different stripes can get their jollies. Like your dubstep and bone-juddering electro? There’s Planet Mu’s Brackles (Ten Feet Tall, 3rd) and Hyetal (Arts Institute, 20th). Want it heavy? How about a cracking three-way with Taint, the frankly awesome Manatees and Gonga (Fleece, 6th) or hooded, Oz-referencing Irish noiseniks Adebisi Shank (Barfly, 13th, support from Strange News From Another Star). There’s choppy post-punk from Gallops! (EP launch, Buffalo, 11th), finger-picking folk bliss from Gentle Good and H. Hawkline (Chapter, 12th), oddball North Walian psychosis from Klaus Kinski (Clwb, 28th) and post-rock with Her Name Is Calla (Clwb, 31st). All this, and it’s Cataract Awareness Month, National Goats Cheese Month and Get Ready For Kindergarten Month. Apparently. It’s Panini Month, too. Has anyone told Jimmy Watkins?