Sharp Knives, Manifiesta and Efa Supertramp bring their package tour to Cardiff. Locals Taffy Twp and Trigger Warning and the Safe Spaces join in the fun.
Where to start? Aifach records bring a package tour to Cardiff, as part of the annual Free for All Festival, in the city’s smallest, but coolest venue, The Moon.
As we arrive at the venue and walk down the ramp into the heart of the club, it is clear something is different tonight.
There is a warm glow about the audience. Gathered together are rebels, misfits and radicals all soaking up the atmosphere created by the line up. An atmosphere that encourages free thinking and not conforming to traditional boundaries. But it’s not a case of rebellion against the system for the sake of it, but a simple ignoring of boundaries and borders created by human kind based on where you are born, and indeed who you are born.
This anarchic approach is well suited to the Moon, a venue that has been on it’s own journey of defying the system and creating it’s own community led space for art and culture to survive.
The ridiculously small stage has been extended since our last visit and is now simply ‘small’.
Taffy Twp is on stage as we enter and seems to be making a good fist of keeping the packed room entertained. Taffys’s rebellious repertoire has heads nodding during songs and thinking between songs. This is the crowd those songs were written for.
Being cold, slack and not to mention hungry, we missed the set by Trigger Warning and the Safe Spaces but soon spot Cosmo in the crowd. I’ve always said Cosmo would make a good drummer and the guitar is finally ditched for TWATSS. (You knows we loves you really Cosmo).
Although technically third on the bill, given how unknown the two headliners are and the fact that Cardiff was Efa’s home for many years, we suspect that the name Efa Supertramp on the poster is what brought many of the crowd in.
Efa Supertramp is a one person phenomenon. Zine writer, organiser of squatted art galleries, impresario of Aifach Records, half of the band Killdren and singer song writer that is constantly touring progressive spaces and venues throughout Europe. And that is without the political campaigning and activism.
It is the singer songwriter hat that Efa is wearing tonight (obviously – whilst zines are fun to read no one wants to see someone on stage writing one).
The constant touring has had two impacts on tonight’s performance. The first is the old adage, practice makes perfect. The Efa we see in front of us now is a far more accomplished and polished Efa than the one that first appeared on the Cardiff activist/DIY music scene ten years ago.
The second thing is the voice. Apparently loss of voice was a problem on a recent tour, inspiring a zine about losing your voice and how to find it again. But tonight there is no evidence of any vocal problems, it is as sweet as ever, although less shouty than usual on times.
We get songs about freedom fighters, kicking against the system and solidarity. Mostly in English but we do get some welsh language stuff thrown in.
Next up we have Sharp Knives. An anarcho-street-folk-punk outfit all the way from Lisbon.
The three peice set up would, and probably does, work as a busking set. Acoustic guitar, washboard-percussion and vocals.
They energetically race through their repertoire of rebellious agitations and, despite being essentially a folk band, they are more punk than punk. This is all about the time and the place, about making connections and forming alliances, whilst having a good old jump about.
They have the crowd dancing and smiling from the off. This is their first visit to Wales, so unless anyone has made an effort to check them out online, the songs will all be new. But that does not stop boots stomping and arms flailing as the entire venue becomes connected by one big grin.
After a short breather, Manifiesta hits the stage for a unique session of Balkan/Latin American/dub/drum ‘n bass type ting. All knocked out on an accordion.
Initially people are confused. Everyone is in folk punk stomping mode. But slowly and surely, people start to get it and hips start grooving to the beat.
But all good things must come to an end. Not so much a gig but an event, which was far more than a sum of its parts. No one was lectured, but ideas were exchanged, people were empowered and outsiders were reassured they are not alone.
Music will not change the world, but it can change people. And even the oldest of us will have left this gig a little bit more inspired than we were before the doors opened.
Long live DIY.