It all started when, after meeting me at the station, Mr C (that's the lovely and deliciously funny Mr C who creates my blog and Etsy banners for me) asked me if I'd like to go to a gig at a music venue I'd never been to in Cardiff called The Gwdihw. A couple of his mates are in a band that were playing there that night. Well, I thought, that sounds like a fun way to spend a Monday night, so off we toddled to this elusive place. (It's ok, we didn't go straight there without us getting a cab back to his house to drop off my bags, or without him taking me out to supper at Wagamama first. Though a gentlemanly thing to do, those kinds of details are not important to my story right now.)
Upon arriving at the pub,which is very unassuming and made me feel a little bit like we were walking into someone's house party (not a bad thing), we made our way straight to the bar to get some drinks. As I stood there, the first act was setting up, and I had a little look at my surroundings. I began to notice the owls: owl bunting; owl ornaments; owl money boxes; owls nestling above a doorway....
"Great!" I thought, "they like owls too!" What once was a casual appreciation, has recently turned into a full-blown obsession, so I was thrilled to have found somewhere which shared my love. But that wasn't all. Mr C and I stepped outside to view the courtyard area, where, you guessed it: more owls.
"Wow!" I said, (a little too loud, it has to be said) "there are owls everywhere!" "Well," said the nice man with two nose rings, another of Mr C's mates, "that would be because the word 'gwdihw' in Welsh, means 'owl' in English." And suddenly everything became clear. The owls made sense! How could I have spent 3 years in Cardiff and never have been to the one place that I would have loved the most?!
Revelations over, Mr C and made our way back inside to watch the bands.
Wow! What bands! I don't think I have ever been to a gig where I've known no-one on the bill, and come away singing the praises of not one, not two but all three of the acts.
First up was Kai Lena, from Chester (now studying Creative Sound and Music at Newport,) with just a microphone, a piano and a loop pedal for company. But boy did she blow us all away! With her other-worldly nature, folk-like lyrics and powerful voice, she stunned the audience into silence and drew us into her world. Building up layers of vocal sounds and singing over the top reminded me of tUnE-yArDs, but in a much less wild and unconstrained way than Merill Garbus. Kai Lena's sound was both strong and vulnerable. She knows what she's doing and she's doing it well.
|So other-worldly, Kai created a halo around herself which makes this both a really good photo, |
and a really bad one, all in one.
Next on were Jewellers, a two-piece, both called Gareth. Now I have no words to describe what these guys do, because it's like nothing I've ever done before, and it's not music that my classically-trained brain knows music as, but is musical nonetheless. They had me mesmerised as they pushed buttons, twiddled knobs and looked intently at Apple products and, well, who knows, but what came out of the speakers was like a massive soundcloud that swirls around, swallows you up and holds you captive, and I loved it.
Headliners Paper Factory (Mr C's mates) hail from Llanelli and cite Queens Of The Stone Age, Biffy Clyro and Modest Mouse amongst their main influences. And it wasn't long before these influences could be seen, creeping through their sound to the fore - songs "Hook For A Hand" and "Hot Air Balloons" clearly echoing their idols in chord sequences, riffs and vocal sound. Their set was loud, fun, heavy and tight, proving that the years of playing together are beginning to pay off. A band to watch.
Having gone to the gig with no expectations, I came out re-invigorated by new music and excited to see what all three acts will do next.
Owls and live music doth a good night make. And thank you Mr C for taking me.
emmalemonade x x x
P.S. My new obsession will be deer: