Review: Wales Goes Pop! 2016 – Sunday


Welcome back to the last instalment *wipes tear from eye* of our Wales Goes Pop! feature. I’d like to say I’ve purposely scattered the articles over the space of a month in order to dedicate as much time to covering each artist as possible… but honestly I’m just really terrible at juggling deadlines and commitments. I hope part three will be worth the wait to read, because it’s definitely been worth the wait to write.

Sunday’s exceptional line-up reigned in the last day of Wales Goes Pop! 2016. Empty beer bottles had replaced balloons, the Wales Goes Pop! badges had all been snatched up and the kids (and probably the grown-ups too) had made a pretty impressive dent in the once huge bowl of Mini Eggs sat at the entrance to The Gate.

A N i • G L A S S

Opening the closing day of Wales Goes Pop! was Cardiff’s bilingual, electro-pop princess, A N i • G L A S S who, armed with a synth and some serious shapes, filled the café floor with ease.

Ani’s simultaneously complex and melodic pop tunes are expressed live so perfectly by her technical skill and natural ability to fill her surroundings with both her presence and sound. She makes a lone synthesiser look like an orchestra. Matched by her effortlessly sweet and distinctive voice and equally distinctive style,   A N i • G L A S S is probably one of the most interesting names in the scene right now.

Ani’s Wales Goes Pop! performance was one of the most impressive and easily one of my favourites of the weekend, but as many of you will know by now, I do just love good pop music and that’s exactly what A N i • G L A S S makes. Underneath the seemingly complex layers of electronics and synthpop, with elements of psychedelic and indie influence,  A N i • G L A S S’ sound is simply beautifully and expertly crafted pop music.

Getting her audience dancing (well, as much as a sober person can dance at 2 in the afternoon), holding herself with both confidence and good grace and performing in both Welsh and English; A N i • G L A S S’ entrancing sound captivated the earlybird audience and set the bar for the final day pretty damn high.


A N i • G L A S S at Wales Goes Pop! 2016 by RRW. Interview with A N i • G L A S S can be read here.

YounghusbandLaura K & This Is The Kit

Unfortunately Younghusband and Laura K fell victim to the group of ‘artists I missed because I was interviewing other artists’, this time, A N i • G L A S S was to blame.

As for Younghusband, Laura K and This Is The Kit (who I also missed later on that day), they now join the rest of artists on my Welsh Music Wednesday to-do list and they’re in pretty good company. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be covering the Sunday artists I missed as well as: Witching Waves, They Is They Is They Is, Papa Topo and Grubs. So keep your eyes on Welsh Music Wednesday!


Emergency replacement, Threatmantics, swooped in to cover for Ultimate Painting who were forced to tap out of Wales Goes Pop! last minute. They may not have been Wales Goes Pop!’s first choice, but they were a decent addition to the line-up nonetheless. Although Threatmantics were not a band whose songs really grabbed me, they were interesting to watch perform; experimenting with a variety of instruments usually considered outside the rock ‘norm’ (whatever that is) to twist their own unique tapestry of alternative indie rock and roll. For me, it felt like they were lacking something, but I’m guessing that was just preparation.

IKO Chérie

Ambient, electronic dreampop band, IKO Chérie, now based in London (via Bordeaux) put a more psychedelic spin on Wales Goes Pop! Their delicate melodies and tranquil sound created an atmosphere unique to any other across the weekend. IKO Chérie’s performance was utterly mesmerising. Their sound seemed to transport not just one or two members of the crowd, but their entire audience into an acid trip of a dream, but with sweets instead of hallucinogens.


Along with Peaness from Saturday’s event, Gwenno was the other Wales Goes Pop! artist whom I was most excited for across the entire weekend and she did not disappoint and, in fact, exceeded every expectation I had. Gwenno floored me with her stage persona alone; she was powerful in presence and humble in manner, with an air of calm, calculated confidence and a quality of realness found in very few individuals these days.

As for the music, it awakened senses in me I didn’t know existed, transporting everything but my physical form into the dystopian future which the album ‘Y Dydd Olaf‘ takes its inspiration and its name from.

Gwenno’s electronic melodies may seem delicate, but are striking and hit you with a dangerously strong impact. That is not to say, however, something cannot be both delicate and dangerous, because that is exactly what a lot of Gwenno’s songs are. Their dark, ominous tones (often symbolic of their themes) drift over their unique, hypnotic rhythms, making resistance to dance futile. I feel like this is what 80s era pop would sound like if it happened now and not in the 80s.

Gwenno’s performance was flawless, which is not something I say lightly, it was utterly dazzling, in every respect.


Gwenno at Wales Goes Pop! 2016 by RRW. Interview with Gwenno can be read here.

Darren Hayman

Never has a man made me cry tears of laughter and sadness only minutes within each other. Darren Hayman has got the balance between humour and heartbreak mastered. He and his band delivered an emotive, hilarious and heartwarming performance that, for me, was one of the most memorable of Wales Goes Pop! I’ve since listened to Darren Hayman’s back catalogue and haven’t stopped kicking myself for not finding him sooner.

Every so often you hear new music that appeals directly to what you need, without question, and you wonder how your ears and your heart had survived this long without it. For me, Darren Hayman is that.


Darren Hayman at Wales Goes Pop! 2016 by Chris Hunt.

BMX Bandits

Formed in the 80s and lead by somewhat of a cult icon, Duglas T. Stewart; Glaswegian indiepop rockers, BMX Bandits are probably one of the most underrated bands of their era. Which is odd when you consider that even Kurt Cobain allegedly said that if he could be in any other band, it would be BMX Bandits. Of course, Kurt wasn’t the only one eager to join. The band have a phonebook of former names including members of Teenage Fanclub and The Soup Dragons.

BMX Bandits’ music is a bit of a rollercoaster. Sometimes its bouncing, infectious melodies spread to the ends of your fingers and the tips of your toes and you can’t help but move. But then sometimes the smoke of its tristful tone creeps into your eyes and stings until they leak tears. As if their songs suffer an emotional imbalance of romance and melancholy.

Whatever feelings BMX Bandits inspire in you, your physical and emotional mind is undeniably on the end of Duglas T Stewart’s strings. You’re a puppet, dancing and weeping at the same time but loving every second of it… which is oddly symbolic of Wales Goes Pop! 2016 drawing to a close.


BMX Bandits at Wales Goes Pop! 2016 by Chris Hunt.


With a sigh of sadness (and only a little bit of relief) Alt Scribe’s Wales Goes Pop! 2016 feature is finally finished! I had such a fantastic time at this year’s festival and already can’t wait for next year. You can recap Alt Scribe’s coverage of the Friday and Saturday events as well as interviews with Liz HuntBaby Brave, PeanessA N i • G L A S S and Gwenno.

Don’t forget to ‘like’ Wales Goes Pop! on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and keep an eye out for next year’s event. Oh, and I suppose it would be nice if you did the same for us on our Facebook and Twitter too. Not that I’m pushy or anything.

Huge thank you to Wales Goes Pop! for having us, please leave quietly. Until next year!


Photo by RRW.


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