Replacement Weekender, Moon & Fuel Rock Club, Womanby Street, Cardiff
This was supposed to be a different festival, it was announced last year but only a few weeks later the organisers pulled out leaving fans and bands stumped. Thankfully the folks at The Moon managed to schedule this replacement using many of the bands that were already confirmed for the previous incarnation. The catchily named Replacement Weekender took place across two nights on Cardiff's alternative hub Womanby street, on the Friday just in The Moon club, but the Saturday not only featured more bands but the acts were split between The Moon and Fuel Rock Club. Unfortunately other business meant I couldn't attend the Friday but I was there bright and early for Saturday's shenanigans.
Normally arriving at Fuel Rock Club at 4pm is invariably a precursor for Eradication Booking Agency's extreme metal fests, however there was a totally different vibe for this Saturdays, as Greebos, stoners, hippies and beardos all made their way to Cardiff's only rock club for the first band of the day. Positive Reaction (6) had the mammoth task of opening the festival what better music for 5pm on a Saturday than some hardcore influenced punk rock which mixed grooves and rapid fire vocals, if there were any DRI fans in the audience then they would have been stomping merrily however there weren't too many in the room (through no fault of the band) but Positive Reaction elicited just that, hardcore isn't my thing but on stage they really show what they are worth as their set flew by.
Next it was over to The Moon for Newport post-metal doomsters Kong Lives (8), a band that were a bit more my taste, having seen them before I knew what I was in for but they thoroughly blew me away in the intimate surroundings of The Moon, their mostly instrumental sound, brought huge monolithic riffs and lots of feedback, when the mics were used the three string playing members all untied in screams and growls using their vocals as another instrument. It was atmospheric and ethereal and also bowl movingly heavy gaining a pretty big audience, the heads banged in unison but slowly as the band played their elongated arrangements. It was going to be a very long day if all the sets were going to be as good as this! Back over to Fuel and something a little faster in the shape of Throwing Knives (7) not long removed from their M2TM appearance, the punk rock band got the still dazed denizens moving with their bodies to their sprightly punk-filled rock music that reminded me a lot of Rise Against and Rage Against Machine, the latter because of the almost rap-like vocal styling of Brett Davies, a speedy show that got the crowd in Fuel shouting at the top of their lungs so much so that after their final song the band were coerced into playing one more by the crowd, maybe it's all about timing but it seems here Throwing Knives were on point.
Back over to The Moon for the first of two brain melting sets, on the cramped The Moon stage Sheffield progressive sludge metal crew Kurokuma (8), crouched over their pedalboards and began to make some unholy sounds using just guitar, bass, drums and as many effects as possible, reverb, modulation, distortion and more, selecting tracks from their back catalog, not many mind you as they do know how to write an epic. Once again it was mostly instrumental, with the vocals dropped in occasionally, but when they can create cascading compositions that hook you in without any vocals at all, you do think that they may be surplus to requirements, their set flew by in a wave of noise and distortion with a few false finishes meaning many didn't quite know where to applaud, which did cause a few smirks to be honest.
Once it was over though a mighty cheer went up with many stopping to chat to the band before funneling out over to Fuel for the nastiest band of the day, Cardiff blackened sludgers Tides Of Sulfur (8), who hadn't played a home town show for a long while but as the initial chords kicked in I once again felt the familiar ringing in my ear that this band always brought, playing some older stuff and new stuff of their recent EP Paralysis Of Reason, most importantly they played Humourless Cunt which wins the award for most offensive song title of the day, I'm always amazed of just how crushing this band are Anthony peeling of riffs as Tom Lee (who was pulling double duty) battered his kit into dust at the back. On the other side of the stage Chris has the filthy low end, screams and lots of gurning together they scared any of the 'normals' that were out for a day of drinking (there were a few). It was excellent to see them again on home turf next time I won't leave it as long.
Back over to The Moon for the more traditional punk fayre of Not Since The Accident (7) who also featured someone on double duty guitarist Steve also plays bass in Throwing Knives, having not long seen them I knew what to expect and they delivered again with a fun filled set of Bad Religion-like snot nosed punk, which got The Moon bouncing, they served as delightful break in proceedings buoying the crowd up ready for the first return of the day. It was a big one as the on-again-off-again legends of the South Wales stoner scene Thorun (8) returned to the stage after a lengthy hiatus, they haven't missed a beat bringing their patented brand of thundering instrumental stoner metal to Fuel, this was the second largest crowd of the day (as you'd kind of expect) with many wearing their probably now vintage Thorun t-shirts, a more melodic offering than the other mostly instrumental bands playing the festival Thorun managed to recapture the magic of years ago with fluid melodic guitars over swaggering stoner riffs. Exiting to a thunderous ovation, we can only hope that this is start of a 'proper' return from Thorun.
With joy at it's fullest it was time for another reunion of sorts as Newport-ish stoner doom band Haast's Eagled (7) maintained the evenings returns from the grave, unlike the previous band this one featured a lot of vocals that had a massive range though to my ears, sometimes dropped out of tune, but musically it much more psychedelic, still heavy as safe full of ball bearings but with a flowing melody that made them the most like a traditional prog band on the bill, to enforce this they played their own interpretation of Us And Them from Pink Floyd's seminal Dark Side And The Moon. A great set from another reinvigorated band who I hope will also be around for a while to come, welcome back Haast's Eagled it's been a while. Over to Fuel for their 'headliner', it was a riotous affair as hardcore/thrash punk band Grand Collapse (7) managed to destroy Fuel as the masses started to filter in for the last two bands of the day, there was absolute anarchy in Fuel with some craziness from the crowd as this Cardiff band brought the maelstrom thrash riffs in the style of Hatebreed, Suicidal Tendencies and Biohazard with some chunky breakdowns as well, a pretty good way for Fuel to sign off for the evening.
Then it was over to The Moon for the the last band of the entire day and what better way to finish this stoner/psych/doom/noise menagerie than with Cardiff's premier purveyors of driving psych stoner rockers Lacetillia (9) who once again climbed onto The Moon's stage, both Michael and Lukas' faces obscured by amps (a godsend some may say, just joking chaps) it was vocalist Fry and bassist Ed upfront and center with Tom Lee once more installed behind the kit, unlike their previous show at The Moon, this one featured much more of the as yet unreleased material but it all sounds brilliant already, after these gigs they'll be perfectly honed for their second record (coming this year). This set had a bittersweet nature to it as Fry dedicated to the band's friend Adam who died recently (please go here https://bit.ly/2XhNK00 to help his family repatriate his body), on stage it drove the band to play an incendiary show which got rowdier as the great unwashed started to pile in to The Moon, both Fry and Ed were animated up front and the band were tight as hell cranking out riff after riff. Lacertilia always give a brilliant show and this capped off was quite a remarkable D.I.Y festival born out of disappointment but one that was a real triumph.