Swn Festival 2010
Just days after the streets of Cardiff are returning to normal after the annual Half Marathon event, the city’s preparing once more for hundreds of people to traverse its roads. This time, however, participants are encouraged more to stroll than run and instead of checkpoints stacked electrolyte-filled energy drinks, it’s music venues, pubs and bars.
Yes, today sees the start of the fourth Swn Festival. Launched in 2007 by Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens and local promoter John Rostron, the festival has gone from strength to strength with this year being the biggest yet.
Although the idea of a city festival with bands playing separate venues might sound unique, the organisers have never tried to claim their idea was original – it was after attending the 2007 South By South West (SXSW) event that they decided to start their own city festival at home in the Welsh capital.
With their first event in 1987, SXSW is the original city festival, launching many similar festivals throughout the US and Europe. In the UK, we already had dottodot in Bristol, Camden Crawl in London and The Great Escape in Brighton, amongst others. With such a bustling live music scene in Cardiff, it made perfect sense to apply the format here, not to mention giving a stage and exposure to bands from all over Wales.
As SXSW has been such a huge instigator for social media applications – Twitter’s popularity sky-rocketed following the 2007 event with Twitter-sponsored monitors showing timelines of tweets about the event at each venue and location-based game foursquare launched at the 2009 event – we thought we’d capitalise on this and do something a bit differently when speaking to Huw about this years event and interviewed him over Twitter.
Now its fourth consecutive year, it looks like Swn is here to stay. It’s got to be a bit nerve-wracking starting up something so big. “We started it with pure enthusiasm,” Huw said. “We didn’t know if people would like it but fortunately they did and more have come ever since.”
With each year that has passed, the festival has grown. Taking cues from SXSW, they’ve added art and film elements as well as seminars presented by well-recognised industry figures. “There’s 150 bands and DJ’s playing, more underage events and more ROCK!” he exclaimed.
This couldn’t be illustrated any better than eith the all-ages show on Saturday afternoon in Clwb Ifor Bach. Curated by local legends Kids In Glass Houses and The Blackout, headlined by Sheffield natives Black Spiders. Featuring a solo performance by Gavin from The Blackout, who attracted a dedicated following from all over the country for their performance at this years Cardiff Big Weekend, the show should hopefully prove popular. “We’re so pleased to have [them] here at Swn; choosing bands for us, DJing and Kids are playing in Spillers Records. We’d love to have Funeral For A Friend and Lostprophets involved next year.”
Although both have gone on to international success, they’re still clearly proud of their roots. With the festival growing, it’s not hard to imagine these bands taking part. “Cardiff has the appetite for a bigger music festival. We see Swn as having massive potential so limiting ourselves to just the weekend would be a shame we want everyone to get involved!”
Although Wales already has Wakestock & Green Man (and are now home to the student-only Beach Break Live), we don’t have any mainstream outdoors festival, could this be where Swn is heading? “As long as we keep promoting music from Wales and beyond, we could we put on events outside in the future. Green Man and Wakestock are both doing brilliant things and have their own niches. We like to think Swn has a niche too.”
As one of the newest additions to the city festival circuit, what sets Swn apart from the others? “With the festival happening in venues across Cardiff, you get a real flavour of the city at its best. Swn is a welcoming festival in a small city, I think there’s a real community feel to it.
“People like coming to Cardiff for Swn, we’ve had a great response from outside of Wales. We’ve also curated nights at other festivals – In The City & Camden Crawl. We’re really pleased that In The City are returning the favour and curating a stage at Swn this year.”
Although being a DJ for Radio 1 has played a big role in helping spread the word for the festival, both Huw & John have been promoting events under the Swn banner far and wide so hopefully this year will be the most successful yet.
The shows kick off tonight at and runs until Sunday with the after party in Gwdihw bar. For up to the minute news on what’s happening, we’ll be Tweeting live over the weekend from the @visitwales account!This entry was posted on Thursday, October 21st, 2010 at 6:27 pm and is filed under Cardiff, Festivals, Wales. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.