by Gareth Rees
The iconic Sŵn festival made a welcome return to Cardiff this year and it was legendary. The festival spanned three days, from Friday the 15th of October to Sunday the 17th of October and featured 77 different artists including two secret sets.
It was a special weekend in which independent artists and venues were celebrated. It was especially important this year as local venues struggled throughout the pandemic to make money. The event sold out this year but was limited capacity due to the current coronavirus situation. All festival goers had to show a covid pass or a recent negative lateral flow test to get in.
An artist’s journey can begin at this festival, it is great to discover new and upcoming bands that you may not have heard of before. It is especially brilliant to see bands in small venues and to have the opportunity to see as many artists as you can over the weekend. It is a perfect celebration of a love for music and independent local venues such as Clwb Ifor Bach and Fuel.
The festival didn’t take place in 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions and it was sorely missed, so the return of it this year was a massive celebration and party for everyone. You get to meet people who share the same love for music and you can meet your favourite new artists. Everyone seemed really happy, each venue was packed and the whole weekend was sold out.
The first Sŵn festival was in 2007 and is a project founded by former Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens. It has taken place since then annually in Cardiff in multiple different venues. In 2018, Clwb Ifor Bach took over the running of the festival. The 2013 edition of the event won the “Best Small Festival” accolade at the NME awards in 2014. It deserves to win another award this year for how spectacular it was.
This year it took place on the legendary Womanby Street in multiple different venues and it was the perfect fit for a 2021 independent small festival. Many artists including Black Country New Road, Lazarus Kane and Self Esteem have all performed at the festival before and have become popular, this is all thanks to this incredible festival. This year will be no different, there were so many upcoming artists that will also follow in similar footsteps such as Panic Shack, Clwb Fuzz and Vlure.
Each and every set at this festival was incredible, it was so well organised and there were volunteers everywhere to help guide you. All of the artists gave it their all and were just brilliant to witness, you could tell that they missed it too. There were acts from all over, including Cardiff and Glasgow. Pigeon Wigs opened the festival in a loud and joyous style. Lynks closed out Friday night and showed everyone how much potential they have, their performance was spellbinding. Saturday’s action included a high energy set from the incredible Scottish band Vlure, an electrifying performance from Clwb Fuzz and a phenomenal set from Cardiff’s finest Panic Shack. The secret sets were provided by Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard and Audiobooks, both of which were massive celebrations of phenomenal indie music. Sunday’s action proved to be equally as good with brilliant sets from Lice, The Bug Club, Shlug and many others. The party continued long into the night with a fitting after party with Panic Shack in Clwb Ifor Bach who played all the tunes and rounded out an incredible celebration of music and independent venues.