Let’s gripe first and salute later: the wholly admirable and totally fucking great idea behind this Bethan Elfyn-curated night was to give the unlovely people of Cardiff an evening of surf guitar music, one of the finest musical styles this wretched planet has coughed up yet. In the event that third surf band couldn’t be found in time, hence Graveyard Jonnys muscling in with their rootsy rockabilly strut. They’re none too shabby to be fair, in a hoedown party covers band kind of way, but having them headline is like opening your last Christmas present to find a ball of pubes and bluetack. Let’s pretend they were on first, instead of the next chump.
Lt. Meat is an excellent collection of atoms, a sardonic bald man who looks like a sexy version of the alien from Ridley Scott’s film, and who plays thrashy waves of surf guitar over preprogrammed laptop tranches of bloops, Garageband drums and weird speech samples. It’s brilliantly amateurish stuff, full of odd noise collisions and technical hitches, the Meat man (okay, his name’s Dave) covering all gaps with rambling, surreal humour and bare-faced charm. You could make a pretty watertight case, as a clip from an old sci-fi film leads into another twanging detonation, that this is all a little Man… Or Astroman-covers-by-way-of-Guitar Hero but you’d be a) a git and b) denying the awesome power of surf so don’t even talk to me.
More bonus points about tonight: great live art from Gareth John Day, and his drawing that slowly evolves into a lady with sharks in her hair. Mustard Allegro have a song about sharks too – a perky little number that finds time amongst its condensed guitar lines for “Great! White!” to be hollered at the ceiling. This Bristol band only do perky little numbers: cheeky, mostly instrumental surf vignettes that bounce and jerk perfectly and typically last under a minute, ending abruptly with a bashful smile. There’s something nicely off centre here: Mustard Allegro aren’t slavish copyists, more playful fans running with singular ideas, making the whole set into something akin to being licked by an excitable puppy. Well worth getting, er, wet for.