A who’s who of the British underground set to descend on Cardiff: Sŵn Festival 2022 Preview.

Bringing together the most exciting acts passing through the UK and leaving room to spotlight a wealth of talent from Wales.

Words: Lloyd Bolton | Photo: Tom Mitchel

Fifteen years since its inception, Sŵn Festival is back from 21st October with perhaps its strongest line up yet. In less than a month, the streets of Cardiff will be rattling to a diversity of beats, from the thrum of Grove to the dance rock judder of Sorry, both equally exciting. Since being founded in 2007 by Huw Stephens, the festival has developed a reputation as one of Britain’s best city festivals, bringing together the most exciting acts passing through the UK and being sure to leave room in the spotlight for the wealth of talent from a little closer to home in Wales.

This year’s line up has been one to read and re-read over and again, because every time I spot yet another brilliant act that I had previously skimmed over. There are a good few bands I missed on the summer festival circuit that would are perfect for that setting. Walt Disco always bring the party with their tongue-in-cheek grandiose stylings, which modestly frame their fierce raw talent as songwriters. The Orielles are similarly synonymous with a good time, but this year I am particularly interested to see their set following the release of ‘Beam/s’, the most exciting evolution from an established band that I have come across this year.

This year’s Welsh offerings remind me of the changing of the guard that I shamefully have not kept up with in that scene. Stephen Black’s two acts, Sweet Baboo and Group Listening (his collaboration with Paul Jones) are the only Welsh acts I know particularly well. Aside from this, I have much to discover behind the wall of psych fuzz that is Dactyl Terra. The Welsh scene always has plenty of treasures to offer and I am looking forward to this year’s trove.

Elsewhere on the bill are plenty of HoH favourites that are sure to keep things noisy and sleazy and sweaty and saintly. Opus Kink and Deadletter will be taking turns to tear the roof off of their respective venues, bringing the clashing guitars and thumping horns of London across the Severn. PVA’s ingenious balance of techno and post-punk will be sure to dazzle as they roll in fresh from the release of their outstanding debut album, which has expanded their remit and demonstrates a masterful command of a range of dance styles. On the softer side, Heka promises a refreshing contrast to the aforementioned. Her beautifully tender tunes make chants out of soothsays, which are lifted to the heavens by brilliant use of the loop pedal.

There are also plenty of acts I am looking forward to seeing for the first time. Lilo are suddenly everywhere in London and judging by their EP Sleep Country from earlier this year, I would be a fool to miss them. I inexplicably missed both of Alabaster Deplume’s sets at End of the Road, but was assured that this was something I needed to see at some point. Meanwhile, Scottish club-punks VLURE have been top of my must-see list all year, and they seem set up to bring the weekend to a storming close on Sunday night.

It is a good problem to have to go into a festival already having to console yourself that you will almost certainly have to miss some great bands due to the quality throughout the bill. I will try and get to as much as humanly possible and report back the other side of Cardiff. This is set to be an incredible weekend. 

Find tickets and more info here.