It’s a warm Saturday night and we are on our way to an independent micro-brewery in the heart of the famous Mumbles strip. There is a tremendous buzz in the air as this small venue has today played host to ‘The Mumbles Day Out’, a completely free all-day event that has featured musicians (King Goon, Eleri Angharad) and poetry (Patrick Jones, Susie Wild), this is the official start to the ‘The Swansea Fringe Festival’.
The Swansea Fringe Festival is a four day festival across several venues that showcase some of the best in art, music, comedy, spoken word and more that Swansea has to offer. This year it returns after the global pandemic bigger and better, and this day event headlined by the mighty Obey Cobra certainly points towards some great performances ahead.
Ok, the venue is on the small side and is essentially a micro-brewery. The ‘stage’ area is pretty non-existent with punters and band members melding into one. The atmosphere is incredible as would be expected after recent global events, so the size of venue may have been an under-estimation of exactly how many people would be out tonight, desperate for live music once again. It’s rammed.
Anyway, venue aside (it’s a lovely bar by the way!), there is a great PA set up and I bet the sound inside the venue is great. But alas we can’t get in and have to watch/listen from outside. We go there to catch Obey Cobra, but things are running late so we catch a band called CITIES who are really tight and play progressive rock/psychedelia instrumentals that has the venue bouncing. Keep an eye out for this lot!
It’s approaching 10pm and Obey Cobra start to set up and the atmosphere is both electric and rowdy. Obey Cobra mix experimental noise, ethereal psychedelia, post-punk jitter and electronic glitch. Described as Buzz Magazine’s 2020 ‘Ones To Watch’, over the past three years the band’s reputation as a formidable live force has grown following gigs with the likes of Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Hey Colossus and Acid Mothers Temple amongst many more. Having recently signed to Box Records (Matt Baty of Pigsx7’s label) for their critically acclaimed LP Oblong, the band are starting the process of getting the record out to the listening public, starting tonight. This is their first gig in 18 months.
Opening with ‘Tokyo’, the band tentatively start to build up the sonic layers for this unsuspecting audience. ‘Ok Ultra’ is another slow builder that highlights the bands special mix of beautiful ethereal vocals and sonic pummelling. This band is fucking LOUD!
Follow ups ‘GAZ’ and ‘Orchid’ are yet more lessons in unfettered noise making, pounding beats, rumbling basslines and electronic blasts. The gentle guitar, bass and drum build-up of penultimate song ‘Sunflowers’ is suitably sublime, and is for me, the highlight of the set. The sonic intensity is felt both inside and outside the venue and really is not for the feint hearted.
Final song ‘Heaven Metal’ is again noisy as fuck and has no filter when it comes to the racket and ear splitting abuse Obey Cobra deliver. And with that, the band is spent.
It may not have been the best venue to showcase some of the best bands Swansea/South Wales has to offer at the moment, but for this evening’s noise making shenanigans, this writer (and the 10s spilling out onto the pavement) is particularly impressed and satisfied. It’s been way too long and this is just what the doctored ordered.
This evening has more than shown that Obey Cobra are a force to be reckoned with and have loads more to offer, both live and on record. The follow up to ‘Oblong’ is currently underway and there is a palpable need for the sonic intensity that the band simply revels in. They return to Swansea in November to support Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs in Swansea’s Sin City club. I suggest you turn up early to experience the full expansive experience of Obey Cobra.
The Swansea Fringe continues throughout October – full details on their official website
Review by Ioan Humphries: Twitter