Photo: Sam Holland
Despite the scrapping of the Big Weekend, an annual live music event since 1995 outside City Hall, there has been no end to good news for Welsh music fans this August. The less said about Green Man the better, as I’m told by many it was the best yet, I didn’t go and am willing to admit I’m still quite bitter about it. Columns and blogs are positively buzzing around this year’s Welsh Music Prize announcements, Swn has announced that it will launch a radio station during this October’s festival and this weekend will see the inaugural Hub Festival, a multi-venue affair spanning the entirety of Womanby Street for the duration of the Bank Holiday weekend.
Supported by Cardiff Council, it aims to showcase the best of Cardiff’s ever-burgeoning underground live music scene. The announcement comes at a seemingly troublesome time for Cardiff’s live music scene. Beat Box Bars’ recent insolvency meant the closure of Fire Island and a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the future of Buffalo, Ten Feet Tall and Undertone, which have been staples on the circuit for a significant time.
However, Hub’s 150 strong eclectic bill is a bold one that promises to dispel any uncertainty, featuring a mass of familiar names for those well acquainted with the Castle Quarter alongside some surprises – directed by The Full Moon but almost entirely curated by a range of local recognisable promoters, labels and DJs including The Joy Collective, Signature, Obey!, Gigantic and Juju Nation to name but a few across stages at Dempsey’s, Four Bars, CFQ, Fuel, Clwb Ifor Bach, The Full Moon, Moon Club and City Arms.
And an eclectic mix it is. Fjords will leave you pining after more with their own breed of 80s inspired indie pop and dark electro. A staple of the Cardiff circuit, they deliver a tightly woven sound full to the brim with sprightly hooks and a touch of electronica. See Totem Terrors for fuzzy post-punk fun, Gwenno’s unique blend of harmonious Welsh lyrics and melodic synth, The D Teez for a good old fashioned punk knees up or Prosperina fresh from Bloodstock if doom-laden metal tickles your fancy.
The line-up stretches beyond South Wales’ shores. One to watch would certainly be the coupling of genre-defying groove merchant Joe Driscoll and kora genius Sekou Kouyate, a match made in Marseilles that meshes folk with afro-beat in a sunny sound that is sure to defy the weather, dare it take a turn for the worst.
With such a diverse line-up that caters for all tastes, Hub will most definitely live up to its name, showcasing the talent that has come to shape Womanby Street as the ever-growing centre of the city centre’s live music scene and independent bar scene. Tiny Rebel’s (arguably the Welsh brewing success story of 2013) opening of its first flagship bar in Fire Island’s old building will only serve to add to the diversity of the street and further cement its reputation outside Cardiff’s borders.