The idea of a two day festival in South Wales was born many months ago and everyone at Big Day Productions worked really hard to make it a huge success. The Muni has the potential to be a top venue in Wales despite being a little way out of Cardiff. It has good transport links, plenty of parking and staff that work hard to ensure everyone has a good time. The bar is well stocked, well run, and has reasonable prices.
Anyway - to the music…. The 14 bands had been locked in months before, but two late drop outs led to a couple of late changes. The first of these was the festival opener - The Rocket Dolls. They won a public vote to fill the vacant slot and were played to an audience that was surprisingly large for such an early slot. The three guys from Brighton gave a passionate performance of their grunge rock to a small crowd, many of whom had not seen the band before. It was pretty obvious that they went away from the festival with many new fans.
The power trio theme continued with local band Haxan. They were fresh off a series of gigs in Australia and the experience showed just how good these girls are. With a set of their own music - some new, some we’ve heard at previous gigs. Their set of heavy rock littered with riffs and strong vocals, was an early showing of just how good the music was going to be this weekend.
Baleful Creed had crossed the Irish Sea to be here, picking up a gig as a warm up on the way. They gave a meaty slab of heavy rock, with Fin Finlay’s throaty vocals waking up the expanding audience.
Another local favourite, Psycho Kiss, were up next. Fronted by Helen Ceri Clarke, this four piece rock band gave another great set of heavy riffs rock, underpinned by heavy riffs and hooks. Penfold on drums holding it all together as the audience enjoyed one of their own.
It seemed that many ticket holders timed their arrival for the next set. Those Damn Crows appeared to rapturous applause and held the audience in the palm of their hands from the opening notes of their single ‘Don’t Give a Damn’ until they left the stage having reminded us all that ‘Rock and Roll Ain’t Dead’. They get better every time we see them. The backing vocals give a depth to the music and the heavy drums keep them all in check. The Crows are one of our bands that we believe will hit the big time.
They are always going to be a hard act to follow, and Midnite City had that unenviable slot. Their melodic rock and vibrant show was, however, more than enough to get the demanding crowds attention. This 5-piece from Nottingham have just released their new album, and we were treated to a selection of AOR that any festival could be proud of as they filled the ‘Special Guest’ slot.
The Saturday headliner was Bigfoot, who had stepped in following the unfortunate withdrawal of Zodiac Mindwarp, due to illness. If you haven’t managed to catch this band, then you should. They are incredible to watch and entertain a crowd with their heavy sound. Sean Seabrook (vocals) is an exciting and engaging frontman supported by the sometimes twin guitars of Sam Millar and Mick McCullogh who deliver riff after riff and screaming solos like theres no tomorrow. The rhythm section of Tom Aspinal (Drums) and Matt Avery (bass) is one of the best in the business. They give the first day of ComMUNIon a grand finale with tracks from their self-titled album which has the packed venue joining in, enjoying every minute. All too soon, the main set is over, but, as they did in their recent tour, Mick and Sam return to show us that they can play any guitar, giving us a ‘duelling kitty’s’ for an encore. The band absolutely give it their all. They are obviously enjoying what they do, and they do it very well.
Pearler have the unenviable task of waking up the early arrivals with a meaty slab of rock. As their streamline says..’You know when you’ve had one’ and we certainly did know that we’d had a great set from the local four piece who stepped in at the last minute.
Showing us that it is clear that Rock is alive and we’ll in the South Wales valleys, Everyday Heroes appeared on stage to huge cheers. They are a well loved blues rock band that really should be playing bigger venues than they are. With a gravelly voice, Luke Phillips manages to give us a hint of Black Stone Cherry as they draw the audience into their set, finishing with Delilah, as they so often do.
A brief lull in the proceedings came to an abrupt halt as Fahran blasted their way onto the stage. They gave us a good 30 minutes of hard, hot, heavy rock. their musical enthusiasm matched by their headbanging moves on stage. Their energy matched by the fast beat of their music as they ploughed their way through riff after riff and screaming solos, hard heavy drums and emotive vocals.
They were going to be a hard act to follow, but Deever managed it. The North Eastern 4 piece delivered a fantastic set of their own music from their album which is due to be released early in 2019. If the glimpse we had at ComMUNIon is anything to go by, it will be a worthy addition to any rock fans collection.
Buffalo Summer are a familiar sight in South Wales and are another band worthy of bigger things. They have a couple of albums out, and another in the pipeline which is due for release ‘soon’. The sooner the better, I think! The band never fail to entertain with their rock riffs and bluesy melodies and easygoing stage presence.
As Buffalo Summer’s set draws to a close, the anticipation in the hall is palpable. The Special Guest band - Massive Wagons - are next on the bill. For many people, they were the ‘must see’ band of the weekend. This is a band that never fail to entertain, Baz (vocals) is active and uses the entire stage as he dances, prances and contorts himself in his quest to make sure every person is captivated by the show. We are treated to songs with a message, social media, politics and even influential rock bands are the inspiration for the lyrical tirade and musical assault. The band are one of the most entertaining group of musicians and are the support of choice for many more established rock bands.
The final band of the weekend was Wayward Sons. Named so by Toby Jepson as a nod to a song from his days fronting Little Angels. Wayward Sons like to be heard, and will push the sound desk to its limits. Although the band was formed just 18 months ago, they give a show that is polished and a joy to watch. Toby (vocals) has a voice that seems to have improved over the years and Sam Wood (Guitar) delivers riff after riff that many guitarists dream of being able to do. The band hold your attention as they work through a storming set of 14 searing tracks finishing off with the traditional Young Gods, stitched with Bohemian Rhapsody. the beaming smiles of the whole band said it all. They had enjoyed performing almost as much as the crowd had loved being part of it. They finally left the stage to the loudest cheers of the weekend, an absolutely brilliant performance.
The Muni Arts Centre - a humble ex-church in a small South Wales town - hosted a hugely successful weekend. The staff did everything they could to make the festival work. The sound and lights were excellent, giving the audience the best that the bands could deliver. The dates for next years’ ComMUNIon festival have already been announced. I, for one, can’t wait to see the line up.
ComMUNIon of Rock Festival 2019
Tickets are NOW ON SALE from Derricks Swansea
Weekend ticket link - http://www.derricksmusic.co.uk/Tickets.html?event=5714
Saturday only - http://www.derricksmusic.co.uk/Tickets.html?event=5715
Sunday only - http://www.derricksmusic.co.uk/Tickets.html?event=5716
Big Day Productions.