Live review: Teenage Gravediggers Festival
As the maiden festival for Reeks of Effort & Space Junkie Press, Teenage Gravediggers saw performances from indie-rocks finest acts
aturday July 12 was a special day in Cardiff. With the maiden run through of the annual day fest by Reeks of Effort & Space Junkie Press on offer, it was fair to say that expectations were high. Arriving just in time to catch a typically idiosyncratic performance by anti-folk act King of Cats, the evening was set for a series of high quality performances. With a vocal delivery which echoed the flailing catharsis of Jeff Mangum and a real tenderness in the songwriting, their anti-pop songs were gratefully gobbled up.
Next it was the turn of agro-shoegazers Chain of Flowers to grab the audience’s attention; an ambition taken almost literally by their vocalist. Combining MBV’s textural loveliness and The Cure’s atmospherics, with the fury of Iceage, they were ripe with aggressive charisma; leaving the audience feeling as though they’d run a marathon and ended by crashing into a concrete wall.
There quarters of Martha’s members hail from Durham town Pity Me. However it wasn’t geographical nomenclature, that arrowed them straight into the heart of the crowds affection; their longing pop-punk did the job for them. Melding the songwriting prowess of Pete Shelley to the lyrical wit of Los Campesinos! and an approach that saw the four members swapping vocal duties, they were utterly infectious.
Next to move on stage was Cowtown. With their synth laden indie-rock, they took Devo’s new wave art-pop kicking and careening into the noughties. Comprising members of pysch-hardcore act Hookworms, there was a kick to their pop songs that recalled the excellent Abe Vigoda, leaving the ears brilliantly rough round the edges.
Seattle86 darlings Joanna Gruesome then saw the crowd swell into the rafters. With a set that took in the gems of their outstanding debut Weird Sister, they threw the force of Rites Of Spring against the mournful melody of Galaxie 500 and let Heavenly pick up the pieces. 2013 secured their reputation as one of the most exciting guitar bands around and with more performances like this, 2014 will see them pushing towards true greatness.
Not every story has a happy ending though and Saturday’s Kids closed not just the evening but the door on the bands life. Mixing post-hardcore and grunge in equal measures, theirs was a performance of explosive verve, one that left no time to be mournful. Those fortunate enough to be present witnessed a climax that was fitting not just to a superb band, but an exceptional evening; one that everyone could dig.
Words by Damien Girling. Photography by Kait Mordey