This might as well just be a list of events with the word ATTEND in marquee along the top; strap in, because October has a ridiculous amount of great gigs in Cardiff and Bristol. The highlight will be Swn Festival, offering scores of new bands and a clutch of familiar names across Cardiff between the 20th and 23rd for what remains a frankly unfeasible price; we’ll have a full preview in due course, but rest assured that this alleged writer recommends it highly and finds nit-pickers and nay-sayers to be tedious in the extreme.
Right then. First up, mention should be made of Oxjam’s excellent work across the region; warm up for Swn’s marathon sessions and sharpen your wheat/chaff separation skills. The Cardiff event (Clwb, City Arms, Dempseys and Revolution, 2nd) features The Gentle Good, Houdini Dax, Denuo, Ruffstylz and loads more; Oxjam Brecon (15th) has The Last Republic, Under The Driftwood Tree, Pamela Wyn Shannon and more; and finally Bristol’s event takes over Stokes Croft (22nd) with dozens of home-grown turns. All cheap, highly worthy events.
Top among the individual recommendations this month are GRUFF RHYS, whose current touring set backed by Y NIWL is a confident, creative joy. He’s at St David’s Hall (5th), and Y Niwl support too, so arrive early. JULIAN COPE is in town (the new-look Globe, 29th); dunno in what format yet, but he played solo acoustic at ATP last year and was a quotable, personable treat. JEFFREY LEWIS & THE JUNKYARD return the following night (Globe, 30th), and with a longer than usual gap since his last visit and (a lower ticket price too) it should be busy, life-affirming fun (also at the Thekla Nov 1st). Likewise ART BRUT (Clwb, 19th), questionable on record but all rock poses and bon mots live.
Fifty-something transgender performance artists and part-time tree surgeons turned acclaimed singer-songwriters are, of course, ten-a-penny round these parts. Nevertheless, make a point of going to see BABY DEE (Globe, 25th); seriously, unique and affecting stuff. Also highly recommended are ÅRABROT; the experimental Norwegian metallers stormed Swn last year care of Lesson No. 1, and the same groovy fuckers welcome them back alongside the excellently sludgy DETHSCALATOR and local newcomers HUNGER ARTIST (Undertone, 27th). Get to that, and to the CONAN / ZONDERHOOF / PUS show at the Gower (8th), for your unpleasantly noisy kicks. Or to the seemingly still going ICARUS LINE, seethingly misanthropic Iggy-wraiths back in the day at Barfly and hopefully back on form (Clwb, 10th).
Elsewhere in Cardiff, Balloon’s fine music/lit crossover night visits Café Jazz (16th) featuring author NIGEL JARRETT, ZERVAS & PEPPER and Hail The Planes’ HOLLY MULLER among others. It’s free, so no excuses. Mathy improvisers THINGS MAKE ELECTRIC have a free show too (14th); part of Chapter’s Experimentica 1.1 season, it’ll be an audio-visual performance which may well draw parallels with sister band Dots. who play the same venue during Swn. Nice. The artier fringes offer some intriguing one-offs; MARC ALMOND’s chanson covers show (St Georges, 7th), GAVIN BRYARS’ brilliant-sounding interpretations of Tom Waits, Kurt Weill and Fellini soundtracks by a ‘circus band’ and mezzo-soprano (St Georges, 27th), little-seen Baltic chanteuses LE MYSTERE DES VOIX BULGARES (Colston Hall, 25th) and vocal artist YVON BONENFANT (Arnolfini, 7th).
Some belting mainstream guff over in Bristol, too; the effortlessly charming JENS LEKMAN makes an overdue return with his swoonsome, chiselled-cheeked indiepop (Thekla, 18th, with LIA ICES); WILCO tour their best album in a while and reliably great catalogue of assured Americana (Colston Hall, 27th); the crystalline, Flying Nun-tinged coastal pop of REAL ESTATE is hugely recommended (Start The Bus, 26th, with excellent Sheffield shamblers SPECTRALS in support); DANANANANAYKROYD bring the tangled limbs and sweaty all-ages fun (Thekla, 12th) and SAM AMIDON does plaintive backwoods folk with a pleasing sense of the absurd (Cube, 19th).
There’s an incredible amount of great stuff happening on the experimental fringes in Bristol this month. Top of the pops is the touring version of the Newcastle-based Tusk Festival, bringing Harry Pussy guitarist BILL ORCUTT’s wild and individualistic solo stylings, Irish 12-string prodigy CIAN NUGENT, noise soundscaper JESSICA RYLAN and concrete cut ‘n’ pasters POSSET to the Cube (13th). Don’t miss that under any circumstances. That’s courtesy of Qu Junktions, who also present FIRE! with OREN AMBARCHI – utterly wild free jazz, avant-skronk and blistering psych-rock in one dervish-like package (Arnolfini, 25th), EKOCLEF – Bass Clef and Ekoplekz teaming up to launch Clef’s new experimental electronica label Magic & Dreams (FAG Studios, Kings Square, 22nd) and a special How Come night with ZUN ZUN EGUI and special guest GREEN GARTSIDE (Trinity, 29th). You utter heroes.
More Bristol treats! Burial Chamber have some cracking gigs lined up, kicking off with Italian prog/doom types UFOMAMMUT (Croft, 3rd) and monolithic stoner dudes YOB (Croft, 14th). In other oppressively loud news, WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM bring their immersive, prog-infused black metal (and, by all accounts, their own PA) to the Fleece (29th), where you’ll also find Ipecac recording artistes DUB TRIO fusing bone-rattling low-end and fearsome metallic noise (10th). Even better, ENABLERS’ whipsmart hardcore and furious invective hit the Cube (15th). That’s not to mention inimitable electronic pioneers SILVER APPLES (Fleece, 24th), an intriguing-sounding ‘acoustic grand piano show’ from alt rock/hip-hop genre-mushers WHY? (Colston Hall, 23rd), Finnish avant-metal/prog weirdos CIRCLE (playing with SECRET CHIEFS 3 and A.P.A.T.T., if the Croft are to be believed, though the latter two have pulled dates twice already (19th)) or Japanese math-rockers LITE (Fleece, 18th).
Limited, but quality stuff of an electronic bent about this month; GOLD PANDA returns (Thekla, 5th) SBTRKT and the excellent BECOMING REAL pair up (Thekla, 6th), there’s crystalline techno loveliness from LONE at Start The Bus (15th) and magpie Planet Mu newcomer TROPICS debuts at 10 Feet Tall (19th), though perhaps most intriguing will be APPARAT’s first full-band tour, taking in the Arnolfini (14th) with SJ ESAU and neat Hood/Fuck Buttons-referencing combo SILVER PYRE in support. RHYTHM & SOUND, PINCH, PEVERELIST and loads more mark Subloaded’s 7th birthday bash (Black Swan, Bristol, 7th) while Aperture’s October is an old-school dn’b one with LTJ BUKEM (Clwb, 7th) and GOLDIE (Clwb, 28th).
Are you still reading? I doubt it, but they just won’t stop. I’m going to try and summarise the rest. Idiosyncratic folk: ALELA DIANE (Fleece, 4th), ROZI PLAIN (Cube, 21st) or RAE SPOON and LIANNE HALL (Café Kino, 13th). Trad folk: ELIZA CARTHY (Colston Hall, 13th). Weathered Americana: ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO (St Bonaventures, 12th). FOREIGN BEGGARS (Fleece, 12th) are a multiracial cross between New Flesh and Nobsta Nutts, funny, vulgar and dextrous, and more entertaining than DELS (Start The Bus, 11th). RODDY FRAME (Fleece, 17th) is better than RODDY WOOMBLE (Colston Hall, 12th) because he wrote High Land, Hard Rain. EMMY THE GREAT (Fleece/Clwb, 11th/13th) is nice enough but RICHARD JAMES (support on 13th) is nicer. BOB DYLAN (Motorboat Arena, 13th) has early onset dementia as evinced by touring alongside Mark Knopfler. Although the Local Hero theme rules. THE KEYS will blow Aussie lightweights CLOUD CONTROL offstage (Buffalo, 11th). LOVE PARRY III make the CAVE PAINTING gig worth a punt (Clwb, 14th). SNOOP DOGG is in town! (Motorboat, 8th). Lock up your “hoes”. ALICE COOPER is in town! (Colston Hall, 26th). Lock up your golf clubs. THE SPECIALS are in town! (Motorpoint, 28th). Lock up your dentists. DZ DEATHRAYS will never be DFA 1979, but are alright (Thekla, 15th). PETE & THE PIRATES should tour less (Cooler, 1st). ANNA CALVI is really pretty good (Trinity, 31st). THE LOVELY EGGS are always better than I think they’ll be (Louisiana, 21st). So are THE HORRORS, in a different way (Trinity, 23rd). WU LYF are worse than I thought they were (Thekla, 25th). ASH really, really ought to give up (o2 Academy, 21st). Oh, and there’s this four-day new music festival with like 140 bands across four days… you’ve never had it so good.