Tuesday 28 April 2015

Red Sun Festival: Three Days of Heavy in the Heart of Cardiff

If there's one scene in South Wales that has forever refused to die, it's where the bone-crushing riff and the beard wearers thrive: The metal scene. A scene all about heavy as hell music in small, sweaty rooms designed to blow your ears out, all the while infused with a rock n’ rolling groove driven fuzz that you just can’t argue with.

It's been here for as long as anyone here can tell you, forever finding its way into a select few venues, before often being booted back out. It has lived under bridges, in churches, and in basements of bars that don't really want you to know what's going on down there. As far as establishing a permanent home is concerned, well, it does have some long term friends, but let's just say that there's a long list of supportive venues that are sadly no longer with us, and a shorter list of venues who are seen to currently support the scene regularly on a local level.

Has any of this affected the strength of the scene? Pfft! No. Difficulties such as that don’t stop the people who make and those who mosh along to the music. The scene has stood strong with a grimace and low strung guitar throughout, it has spawned and said goodbye to countless bands who have gone down in local legend status – Taint, Diabolo, & The Witches Drum to name but a few. They’ve toured the land and these days, finally, it seems the scene has actually set up shop on Womanby street, with The Moon Club, Fuel Rock Club, and Clwb Ifor Bach; all now well-known venues for hosting a night out that confirms your need for earplugs.

It would seem fitting then, that these three venues will soon be the destination for Red Sun Festival, Cardiff's first ever, multi-venue, strictly heavy music festival. Inspired by the likes of London's Desertfest and Holland's Roadburn - amongst many of which have sprouted up in the past few years - Red Sun aims to once and for all put the South Wales heavy scene on the map and establish a yearly celebration of all things doom-laden.

Running over the May bank holiday (1st-3rd) the idea behind the festival is to witness “heavy music in all its forms,” explains the events bookings manager Owen Bowley. “The event is also intended to work as a UK showcase of the underground heavy music scene, with all 65 bands hailing from these shores. How many modern festivals out there can boast that?

“We’ll be taking a certain emphasis on the talent emerging in and around South Wales, interspersing the bands who we think are really making waves around these parts, along with the bands who we've been really wanting to bring down here for a while now. Personal highlights include local sludge lords Hogslayer, who are currently making stupidly large waves in the scene. London's Steak, signed to Napalm records, and whose recent album, recorded at Thunder Underground Studios where the albums such as ‘Songs For The Deaf’ were born, even carries a visit from rock royalty in Kyuss front-man John Garcia. We also have Bristol’s drone giants Thought Forms, who are just out of this world, Oxfords Desert Storm, who are practically becoming a household name for stoner-rock, and Hastings' Admiral Sir Cloudesely Shovell, who are basically 70's rock n’ roll personified,” Owen continues concluding: “This doesn't even begin to explain the vast depth of genres the weekend boasts, there is something for anyone who isn't afraid of a distorted guitar and we're keen to provide something for the more extreme elements of metal too. We haven't focused on putting on a few 'big name' headline acts to wow people into buying a ticket, the aim was to have a consistent line-up right from the moment the doors open 'til when we all stumble out at the end of the day. The massive bonus of the festival is that it is being spread across several stages hosted by a number of venues, all of which are literally one minute apart from each other. Because of this we have taken great care to map out the timings and actually make it possible that, should someone really wanted to, they could actually catch some of every single band on the line-up.”

As if that weren't enough, the organisers are also intent on driving home the link between the heavy music scene and the extremely talented artists involved within the bands. All artwork for the festival is hand drawn and designed by 'The Dead Hand', and it features an evolving set of psychedelic monsters settling into a mountain backdrop for a pilgrimage of metal. There will also be a collection of artists sharing their wares at the festival, with the hope of something mind-twisting to look at wherever you go over the weekend. Festival artist Gareth Day explains “There has always been such a strong link between art and metal, and it is as interlinked throughout the UK as much as the bands are. Almost every underground metal band has a ridiculously talented artist within the band, drawing their album covers and posters, designing their t-shirts, etc, and we hope to really show that off that talent alongside the music itself here at Red Sun.”

Red Sun Festival takes place on the first May bank holiday (1st-3rd), in The Moon Club, Fuel Rock Bar, & Clwb Ifor Bach. Tickets are £20adv, and for more info go to www.redsunfestival.com

Words: Phil Weller