KUTOSIS' guide to the Sŵn festival 

Kutosis band members

Kutosis band members by Kutosis
Sŵn is a four-day festival that takes place in venues across Cardiff every October. The main hub is Womanby Street which is packed with pubs and music venues including the legendary Clwb Ifor Bach. For music fans it’s a great way to experience the city. Being a compact place, Cardiff is ideally suited for this type of city festival. And best of all for urban dwelling types who don’t like camping, it’s not an outdoor festival in the middle of a muddy field.

We got really excited when Liars were named to play at the 2012 festival. We’ve always been big fans of them in KUTOSIS and so we were really excited about seeing them. Then we got an email asking if we could support them on the stage... it didn’t take long to decide. It was a great moment for us playing in our home city and opening for a band we have always looked up to.

Sounds of the city

One of the best things about the festival is getting to see some of the most exciting new artists from around the world at close quarters. So many bands have played small clubs at the festival and then gone on to bigger venues. We remember being at the front for Girls back in 2009 in a tiny packed pub. When they came back to Cardiff a few years later they were playing a much larger venue, so it’s great to say that you saw all these bands before everyone found out about them.

While most of the action is focussed in the city centre, it’s worth getting out to some of the further flung venues. Chapter Arts Centre and St John’s Church in the west of Cardiff, and The Gate in the Roath area, or some of the venues in the Bay – they all offer some pretty special backdrops for memorable gigs. Also it’s not all about music – there are art, film and literature aspects to the festival too.

Good eats

Interior of Tiny Rebels' Urban Tap House pub in Cardiff

Urban Tap House, Cardiff by Dave Jones
You’ll need some sustenance if you’re going to see all those bands on your list, so we’d recommend heading to Urban Tap House on Westgate Street and enjoying one of their wonderful burgers, washed down with a refreshing pint of whatever is recommended by their knowledgeable bar staff. If you want to go treat yourself, then Cafe Citta is a great little family run Italian restaurant on Church Street and has a wood fired pizza oven. Make sure to book ahead though as it only seats about 15 people!

After party

A band performs on the stage at Swn Festival

Sŵn Festival gig, Printhaus by Pyklops
If you can take it after four days of constant live music, it really is worth going to the closing party Dim Sŵn. It goes on until the sun comes up and is a great way to hang out with new friends you’ve made over the festival and swap stories of all the new bands you’ve seen. And when you find yourself missing the festival come Monday, you can head to Spillers Records – the oldest record store in the world – to buy all those albums by your favourite new bands.

You’ll meet some of the friendliest music obsessives you’re likely to meet at a festival anywhere. There’s a real energy and excitement amongst everyone that lasts for (almost) all the weekend. Faces tend to look a bit tired and weary by the Sunday but once a late breakfast / paracetamol / more music has been consumed people start to perk up again. Outside the venues the streets tend to get full of people and it really is a great atmosphere, seeing the festival interact with everything else that normally goes on in the city.