Second year not out for Cardiff’s joyous indiepop festival, held in the swanky converted church that is The Gate arts centre. Started by Liz and Kay of top poppers The School as a celebration of melodic aceness, it’s already become a sort of local version of the Indietracks festival, a long held dream of the organisers made real. Last year’s was a blast of balloons, fun and certain musicians drinking a weekend’s rider on the first day. Here’s what we found this year.
Some pretty judicious choices sit at the top of the tree of each of WGP’s three days and nights. The Wedding Present turn in a typically professional set on the Saturday, making an awful lot of balding men giddy, bouncy, or just smile quietly to themselves. Closing the festival on Sunday are Withered Hand, a many-headed Scottish troupe who make up with jauntiness and sheer bonhomie what they possible lack in memorable songs (and who put up with the bizarre arrival of a bunch of loathsome poshos drinking champagne from an ice bucket with admirable charm).
It’s Helen Love‘s Friday night set that best exemplifies the never-grow-old tendency of the festival though. In permanant sunglasses, the Swansea kiddiepop vampire leads her band through way more direct hits than you might remember, with both herself and her songs seemingly pickled in life preserving, Ramones-worshipping aspic (and the crowd aren’t shy about chanting “Hey ho, let’s go” a few hundred times). ‘Punk Boy’, ‘Put Your Foot On The Fuzzbox Baby’, ‘Yeah Yeah We’re Helen Love’ – it’s a set that delights and thrives on the devotional audience response, even if, brilliantly, it’s interrupted by some over-excited 10 year olds jumping on the power cables. ‘Does Your Heart Go Boom’ leads to a frothing stage invasion of men, women, children and balloons, and the grinning realisation that, sometimes, all is right with the world.
Helen Love @ Wales Goes Pop
Like last year, The School open the Saturday with a crowd noticeably larger than a lot of the following acts’. They deserve to be adored really: Liz Hunt’s large, well-drilled band are carriers of the classic pop torch, and Liz herself becomes a stronger songwriter and arranger seemingly with every album. So the new songs sound bold and confident, mixed in with the older ones that sound like lost friends, and as ‘Never Thought I’d See The Day’s queasy organ greatness rolls out, you feel like you want to tell the strangers at the bus stop all about this fantastic music.