It’s September, but music festival season is showing no signs of slowing down just yet. Next weekend – 7th to 10th September – will see thousands descending upon the most picturesque Gwynedd town of Portmeirion to deny the very obvious onslaught of autumn. Taking the headline slots for the sixth installment of Festival No. 6 are indie veterans Bloc Party, Scottish mind-expanders Mogwai and psychedelic survivors The Flaming Lips. But as ever, it’s the lower reaches of the line-up that are home to the most exciting acts. Let Too Many Blogs take you through seven of the must-see names from slightly lower on the bill.
The Falkirk miserablists have been back for over a year now, and nobody can be quite sure how long they’ll be staying around. Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton are true heroes of the 90s underground, with tracks like ‘(Afternoon) Soaps’ and ‘The First Big Weekend’ some of the best examples of the plain-speaking, idiosyncratic DIY style that became associated with the Glasgow independent scene. With two such unpredictable forces at the centre of Arab Strap, you would be best advised to grab your chance to see them whilst you can.
No band represents Welsh music better than Super Furry Animals and since 2012, SFA bassist Guto Pryce has been doubling up as one half of Gulp with Lindsey Leven. Taking their cue from the space-rock madness of Pryce’s other band, Gulp are a blend of garage rock intensity and absurdist glam-pop fun. Leven’s vocals lend their tunes an otherworldliness that sets them apart, and with the duo working hard on their follow-up to 2014’s ‘Season Sun’, expect to be treated to an array of new material to whet the appetite.
Stina Tweeddale and Cat Myers have been Honeyblood for five years now, slowly building a formidable reputation as one of Glasgow’s finest bands in a generation. Their self-titled debut in 2014 and its follow up ‘Babes Never Die’ last year are both bursting with understated little packages of indie pop joy. You sense that they are on the brink of a significant breakthrough and if so, it will be sets at festivals like this that get that ball rolling. Don’t miss this chance to be part of it.
Klangstof are a quartet from Amsterdam that combine fierce post-rock guitars with expansive, cascading electronic composition. Their songs have a tendency to begin with fine, intricate, quiet details before elegantly building to enormous, ear-bursting climaxes, not unlike this festival’s Sunday headliners Mogwai, but their willingness to tamper with synths and processed sounds may even give them the edge.
There is a tremendous burden on any band from Manchester that manages to build a certain amount of momentum, but nothing seems to phase Pins. Not even the admiration of Iggy Pop, who expressed a desire to work with them and by the end of the week they had recorded ‘Aggrophobe’ with the great man. Their two albums are a fusion of spiky, angular, confrontational post punk and fizzing pop energy. Dangerously good fun.
It isn’t a Welsh festival unless Stephen Black is on the bill somewhere. Quite apart from his work with Euros Childs, Gruff Rhys, Cate Le Bon and Meilyr Jones, he has been consistently releasing high quality records under the Sweet Baboo name since 2003. By some counts, there have been seven full-length albums to date, each one as good as the last. If god forbid, Mr. Black took the decision to withdraw from the music world, you imagine the entire Welsh industry would collapse in on itself. Pay your pilgrimage and catch his show in Portmeirion.
If you have happened across Xam Volo at a festival or gig in your life, then you’ve almost certainly not forgotten about it. It is the solo project of Londoner Sam Folorunsho, a ridiculously prodigious 23-year-old for who the phrase ‘old soul’ was made. So much so that he decided to sing about it, with the track of the same name serving so far as his calling card. On stage, the heaviness of his performance is immediately striking, a charisma that is so rare to find. We are still early in the Xam Volo career path, so take your chance to jump on the bandwagon early, if only so you can show off in a few years’ time.