Kevin McGrath takes a peak at one of Wales’ latest pop-up indy festivals, Hoyfest.
Having fallen in love with the convivial vibe of The Gate Arts Centre, a hundred year old Presbyterian Church imaginatively converted into a multi-purpose arts facility, when it played host to the family-friendly Wales Goes Pop Festival earlier in the year, it’s easy to see why this aesthetically pleasing, Grade II listed building is set to become the permanent home of Hoyfest, Cardiff’s newest Indie Music Festival. The brainchild of Sam Hoy, the founder of Luckyman Records, Hoyfest is in its second season and looking to build on the foundations of an inaugural weekend that largely featured bands drawn from the local indie scene.
The fact that this year Hoyfest will be taking place at the fag-end of summer (two months earlier than in its predecessor), and is being confined to a single Saturday, suggests that the curators have had something of a re-think when it comes to ensuring how such a small scale shindig can carve out a niche for itself in an already overcrowded festival circuit. Topping the bill on the Main Stage, in a definite upgrade on last year’s programme, are Merthyr’s Pretty Vicious, a raw-boned, thrash rock combo with everything to prove after being unceremoniously jilted at the altar by major label suitors Virgin a couple of months back, and Cardiff’s cutting edge garage/grunge outfit Estrons, who can boast home field advantage and a burgeoning reputation in the face-off to be crowned the rising stars of Welsh pop.
Other bands worth catching, include Sheffield’s chirrupy young guns RedFaces (imagine a fusion of The View and Hooton Tennis Club, only with snazzier songs), and heavy-duty rockers Himalayas, who don’t so much play Valley’s rock & roll as pummel the living daylights out of it! While at the other end of the pop spectrum, the pristine sound of Scottish four-piece Vida, the wide-eyed wordsmithery of Fosette (on the Brothers stage) and, in particular, Bristol’s cosmic rock throwbacks Family Jools, are well worth checking out.
With an ambitiously expanded Sŵn Festival in full swing throughout September and October this year, there was a real risk that Hoyfest might have been mercilessly elbowed out of pop’s sun-kissed spotlight. As it stands, though, this year’s enterprising line-up may just give Hoyfest the chance to become a permanent fixture in the Welsh music calendar.
Hoyfest happens on the 30th of September.