This was my third visit to CULTVR in the space of around a month. On the first visit, I’d not known that much about the venue. I didn’t even know exactly where it was (it is in fact along Penarth Road, quite far down, beyond the car dealerships). For that first trip, I was going for the event, Digitale, which featured Jimpy DJing who was popular on the trance scene in Cardiff twenty odd years back. That was a fab night, but most importantly, I was introduced to the dome feature at CULTVR.
This is something else to behold. The visuals it can create in the ceiling above you really are like nothing you’ve ever seen before in your life. I believe this is the only one of its kind in Europe, and just so happens to have been built in Ukraine. I think some of the staff are also Ukrainian, and I’m quite comfortable with the Ukrainian flags about the place, with the blue and yellow also being similar to Cardiff City’s colours of course. The second event I and my good friend Neil MacInnes went to was in fact a fundraiser for Ukraine. The turn-out for this one was poor, but yet again, the dome was being utilised to full affect, and for a good while, me and Neil just spent our time gazing up wondering: is this God doing this? Humans? Nature? Or technology? Or some kind of amalgam of all four?
So then there was this little happening. I had got two tickets early, simply because Telgate were playing, who I’d seen in support of another band at Clwb Ifor Bach a few months prior and had thought were fkn amazing. I’d invited a friend, who I believe is a friend of the band, but I think perhaps because she’d just got back from a holiday, she’d been unable to get to it.
I had also seen that another band I’d met but had not seen play live, Clwb Fuzz were also part of the original line-up. I think originally they were due to be first on the bill. I saw a list of stage times, and Clwb Fuzz were not on it, but with a day free of other priorities, I thought I’d get along for the start of the event anyway, which was early (with a lot to pack in) at about 3:30. It was a good thing I did after all as I got to see Motel Thieves, who were very good indeed. Sadly, I think I only caught their last two songs, but these were both excellent. Both started out in a similar vein to The Stone Roses’ Love Spreads (which of course also itself borrows from Jimi Hendrix), but I thought the band then did an exceptional job of making the songs their own. This was a very good introduction to the splendidness that was to follow.
I’d seen that another friend, Beth, was also going to this event, so we hung about together for a while. Someone I’d known for a long time, Emma from Buzz magazine was there – I’d briefly done some work for Buzz a long while back. Paul Lyons was involved in co-ordinating the second stage, which was a Sound Progression showcase.
The whole event was extremely well organised. As soon as a band had finished in the main room, someone on the Sound Progression stage was ready to go. This consisted of an exceptionally good line-up of new and up and coming rappers and freestylers, including a guy called Truth and others. As they generally did shorter sets – often just two songs (but still, superb), this meant that others who were not on the bill could still get up and do their bit. A friend who goes by the stage name of Smokes performed twice on this stage, I think doing two songs each time. He was fantastic, although the second time he performed, later in the evening, with the lights dimmed, and with a smoke machine (!) in place, it was more atmospheric. There was a young lad who had a baseball cap on saying Fresh Kid. Not sure if this was actually his stage name, but for someone who must have been barely sixteen, he was as good as anyone else who took to this stage.
If you didn’t need to go for a fag, get a drink or use the loo, you literally could have had around eight hours of non-stop music and spectacular talent, so well was this event arranged. But back to my more familiar territory of live bands, which were on the main stage. Unfortunately, because I made no notes on the day, I may have got one or two bands confused. Honestly, every single performer I saw was on really top form. But anyway, the next notable band for me was either Sybs or Shlug, not sure which. I’m pretty sure it must have been Shlug. They had a singer whose dress sense was similar to Ian Curtis, but in terms of their sound (assuming I have the right band here), it was a little difficult to pinpoint. They were a little grungey, but also had a Sonic Youth influence. At times it almost went death metal/Napalm Death. I congratulate them for refusing to be easily pigeon-holed.
I may have seen a little of Breichiau Hir, a great Welsh language band (they had to be great, nobody on the bill on either stage was not great). Mr Belway, somewhere around the start of proceedings were (obviously) also excellent: a very colourful band, with a lot of character, and quite clearly, very well rehearsed. A less lazy version of Pulp, perhaps?
At around the 8pm mark, I left the venue to go and pick up my friend Anthony who after all was going to have my extra ticket. He’d said he’d needed a night out for a change. It was at this stage that I realised that the Manics’ gig at Clwb Ifor Bach, which had gained a lot of media attention, was actually being broadcast on the radio. I knew this, because I had Radio Wales on while I was driving to pick Anthony up. I believe it was also being broadcast on another radio station, and perhaps on a TV channel too. I caught their cover of Madonna’s Borderline and a couple of other songs. From what I could make out, it was all over by about 8:30. Probably a bit of a let-down for even die-hard fans. Personally, I consider the Manics to be has-beens who have now become a bit boring, so I was quite happy to have made the decision to attend the event at CULTVR after all.
Anthony was taking his time to get ready – he even had to exchange a pair of jeans at the nearby Asda! – but I was not panicking too much as I knew Telgate were not due on until arond 9:30. I did see bits of one or two bands/performers before this time who were also a great deal better than average.
When people like Noel Gallagher speak of there being no bands around at the moment who are proper rock’n’roll, he’s obviously speaking from the perspective of not actually going out to see bands who are treading the boards at the moment and wanting to preserve his own “legendary” status (though some of course consider that Oasis set guitar music back by approximately twenty years).
Telgate are just an overall phenomenal live rock’n’roll band. They literally have it all, from great stage presence, to totally top notch musicianship, and amazing vocals from lead singer, Casper. They are definitely worth a follow on facebook because they’re also really funny. When one song drew to a close and the crowd started applauding, Casper told everyone, “Shut the fuck up bitches, the song’s not finished yet!” before commencing with the ending. One song was dedicated to a member of the trans community who very tragically had quite recently taken their own life. But not to end on a negative note, for the last song or two, most of the time, Casper sang from the dancefloor, at the same time as dancing better than anyone else in the building.
Black Elvis rounded up proceedings, and again, fab also, but of course, a slight anti-climax for me, as it was the second-on-the-bill Telgate I was there for.
Just a really, really good night, and a lovely crowd at this one. My phone was on about 3% for a lot of the time, so I didn’t take many pictures or videos. I’m sure you can find stuff on YouTube, etc. What I would say about Telgate is that their two or three songs on Spotify do not represent their live sound at all. Live, they are two or three times better than they sound on the couple of tunes they’ve posted up officially.
And the same thing with the dome at CULTVR. At this event, the dome was being used only as a projector screen. This still provided good visuals. But when this piece of equipment is being used to its full effect, it honestly is about 100x better, and has to be seen to be believed. I suppose for this one, the intention was for people to focus more on the audio experience.
So two tips: get along to see Telgate, and get along to CULTVR. Both before it becomes almost impossible to get tickets for.
Telgate facebook page