What hosting the BBC 6 Music Festival means for Cardiff

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Sam Cross

The BBC 6 Music Festival arrives in Cardiff this weekend, bringing the full rock and roll circus of musical royalty.

The event, accompanied by the Creative Wales Fringe Festival, means a week of shows and events in Cardiff’s pandemic-starved music venues.

The Fringe kicked off at Moon on Monday, while the official BBC event began on Wednesday March 30 at Clwb Ifor Bach. This combination is designed to highlight the best that Cardiff has to offer, putting its musicians and venues on an international stage alongside some of the world’s finest artists.

Hosting the event is a sign of Cardiff’s ambition as a city of music. In 2019 the Cardiff Music Board was established to protect and promote the city’s musical heritage. With so many small, popular venues across the country closed or forced to adapt to a new environment, preserving the city’s cultural hubs is crucial to the longevity of the music scene.

For places

Rob Toogood, owner of Fuel nightclub and concert venue, said: “We are really happy to be part of the festival. Good to be part of an event that brings national attention to what Cardiff’s music scene has to offer.

In the long term, Rob hopes the festival can bring people to places they don’t usually go.

“I hope the festival will shine a light on the less covered but still hugely popular parts of the local music scene,” he says.

“The Manics playing Clwb are fantastic and it would be great to see this stuff more often; huge local bands playing in smaller venues.

For a venue, the Fringe offers the perfect opportunity to start fresh, bringing a new flavor to Cardiff’s music nightlife. Carpe Noctem opens its doors on Charles Street on Friday April 1, hosting the “Bitch, please!” launch event. Located on the site that once housed Minsky’s showbar, Carpe Noctem will provide a home for indie electronic music in the Welsh capital.

For music fans

It’s not just businesses that benefit. Cardiff’s thriving music scene is only possible thanks to a stalwart cohort of music lovers who support concerts organized by venues and promoters across the city.

Bill Cummings, editor of Cardiff-based new music webzine God Is In The TV, says the festival shines a spotlight on everything happening in Cardiff.

“I think the Fringe is inspired,” Cummings said.

“It unites different community groups. Big events are great and attract attention, but what happens when they leave? And that’s why the fringe event is great. It’s like a snowball.

“Bringing big names into small, beloved venues – having the Manics at Clwb – is like giving something back. Post Covid this helps sites as they have struggled for two years. It was difficult for many rooms to get back into the swing of things. It was hard.

“But Welsh music is really taking off again. There is a lot of exciting talent across different genres in Cardiff. You will hear the term Cool Cymru 2.0 but I don’t like that description. I think it’s the Welsh new wave. There are so many great things happening here.

Adwaith, who played Clwb Ifor Bach on Wednesday. Photo by p_a_h, licensed under CC BY 2.0

For artists

For singers and musicians already active in Cardiff’s music scene, the festival offers a chance to showcase their talents in front of potential new audiences.

Foxxglove, who plays Tiny Rebel on Friday April 1, said: “I think it’s going to be huge for Cardiff’s music scene and [will] spotlight the talent here. There’s such a variety of talent from all genres and walks of life and it’s truly inspiring to see.

As this is the first time the festival has come to Wales, a platform is offered, not only for Welsh artists, but also for Welsh-speaking artists, which Foxxglove says is important.

“I think it’s absolutely amazing how many Welsh/Welsh language artists are going to be playing ahead of the festival,” she said.

“It’s so lush to see Cardiff getting the recognition it deserves.”

After two years of concerts being cancelled, postponed and rescheduled – First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford announced that all Covid restrictions in Wales ended on Monday March 28 – it is fair to say that the city is hungry to get back to its “boom, pre-Covid situation, sweating it out in tiny rooms and giant halls together.

“It’s great to see the live music scene coming back and thriving, it’s going to be great,” Foxxglove says.

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