The first ever Punktastic Festival ripped the heart of Cardiff a new one and left the knees of the city trembling throughout the night.
Taking place on Sunday evening, the two floors of Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach were heaving with young and excited fans. Although the three acts on the ground floor – Constructer, Falling with Style, and Vales, – sounded enticing, I spent my evening on the top floor with Concave, Prawn and Gnarwolves due to some unfortunate clashes.
From seeing Concave earlier on in the year supporting Superheaven, I already knew sort of what to expect, but that didn’t make their set any less enjoyable. The four-piece features members of hardcore mob Brutality Will Prevail and Ironclad. The band played all six tracks of their as-yet-to-be-named EP from start to finish.
Full of emo hooks and grooves, the opening instrumental “Farewell” bled into “On Your Own” with appreciative attention from the audience. Keeping casual and interacting with the crowd – even joking about their own merch – made Concave not just welcomed warmly, but enjoyed thoroughly by everyone present. At the start of their set there were hugely visible gaps in the crowd that got smaller and smaller until, at the end of last song “Daydream”, they were playing to an almost full venue.
All the way from America and fresh from a string of shows in European cities were Prawn, who took to the stage in Cardiff for the first time in over two years. Since then the band have released their latest album Kingfisher through Topshelf Records to widespread acclaim.
Songs from the release such as “Scud Running” and “Runner’s Body” were premiered with heartwarming precision, and favourites from previous albums Ships and You Can Just Leave It All, such as “Donald Domesky”, were performed with impressive integrity. Although old fans had affirmation of why they love Prawn’s music, there was a flurry of scurrying feet as newly-made fans flocked to the merch table at the end of the set.
There was barely any room to spare by the time Gnarwolves took to the stage. If the punk trio felt any trepidation towards playing any songs from the recently-released self-titled debut for the very first time in the UK, they did not show it. From the moment show-opener “Bottle to Bottle” kicked in, fans in their masses were throwing themselves off the stage and into each other.
Despite Thom (vocals/guitar) having to stop twice during the set to plug back in equipment that had been ripped out, the guys kept a cool atmosphere that was enjoyed by everyone – even the people who were hanging from the ceiling like bats were going crazy for old favourites like “No Time For Old Bones” and “Coffee”. “Hate Me” off the new record was a personal favourite, and at times Thom and Charlie (vocals/bass) could barely hear themselves singing over the crowd.
No matter what your views are on the band, it seems that Gnarwolves are in it for the long haul.