This gig happened the same night as the grand opening of the Cardiff branch of shit-in-a-bag merchants John Lewis. A big fuss. It’s tempting to juxtapose the two: corporate planet wasters versus a fine congregation of DIY bands and promoters. I’m old though, and it’s obvious: you sick fucks can shop all you want, it’s up to you. This bill is packed and cheap, and Saturday’s Kids are warming like a lighter under the heart. Their rabid flailing has toughened and coagulated since the last time I saw them: what then was spirited but unfocussed is now a weighty mix of yowling punk, squally no wave and messy brutality. Even when they sound like four people playing different songs at the same time, they at least make them good songs, and that’s all you need.
The hardcore kids look wary of Islet. Jumping on chairs and banging percussion instruments over the whole venue could equal zany hipsters I guess. In their fevered intensity and devastating noise attack though they have no equal; the best band in South Wales, easy. Islet make a dense and hard to categorise racket: lots of wailing and shouting going on, bursts of angular din, bass like an angry Zeppelin, rudimentary keyboard and guitar holding it all down. They take it up several levels by playing like a cult channelling demons, like their hair’s on fire – yeah, I think they mean it.
Anything less is, well, less. Harbour are dedicated to their grumpy hardcore for sure, but without the killer fun element of someone like Shitty Limits, they force me into an anthropologist’s outfit, splitting the crowd along tribal lines (I know, I’m a twat). People who appreciate gruff barking via classic attack pose dig it, subtlety lovers look elsewhere. Harbour hit hard in short diamond bursts, and their bassist wields his guitar like a crazy scimitar, but it’s a set that only sporadically impresses.
Lovvers somehow manage to synthesise all of tonight’s rock elements into one stupidly good wave of fun, while essentially playing the same song over and over. Having singer Shaun strap on a guitar for almost the whole set limits the audience molestation aspect little, but the sexy, drunk zombie component remains: eyes rolling and head lolling over endless slices of garage fuzz goodness. It’s deceptively shambolic, with oddly classy vocal echo, but mostly it’s unstoppable party pop, a weird cloud of yob tunage and snot cool. They bash through an awesome cover of ‘What Do I Get’ by the Buzzcocks to finish, but that’s just rubbing it in really.