Music of Cardiff

Music of Cardiff

The music of Cardiff has been dominated mainly by rock music since the early 1990s with later trends developing towards more extreme styles of the genre such as heavy metal, post-hardcore and emo music.

A number of rock music performers have begun their careers in Cardiff, from bands like Manic Street Preachers, the Super Furry Animals, Stereophonics and Feeder to bands like Lostprophets, Kids in Glass Houses and Funeral for a Friend, as well as McLusky, The Loves and Brave Captain who dominate Cardiff's music scene today.[1] In 2006 The Independent described the Cardiff music scene as "more vibrant and alive than ever", with more promoters, venues and bands than ever known, often based on the styles of the scene's more famous products such as the Stereophonics.[2]

Cardiff is home to the world's oldest record shop, Spillers Records, which was established in 1894, and was situated in The Hayes area of the city centre, now to be found in the nearby Morgan Arcade.

A study by the Performing Rights Society revealed that Cardiff is the second most musical city in the UK based upon the number of bands having their origins in each UK city.[3]



Spillers Records, the world's oldest record shop


1960s Cardiff produced Britpop group Amen Corner, one of the top pop acts of the era and the first Welsh group to have a number one hit.[4] In the 1970s and 1980s, the Cardiff music scene was dominated by hard rock and blues bands.[5] Post-punk influences spawned the three-piece Cardiff band Young Marble Giants,[6] who influenced a number of musicians. Young Marble Giants contributed two tracks to Is The War Over?, a compilation featuring unsigned bands from the Cardiff scene.[7]


In the 1990s, the Welsh capital was the centre of a vibrant music scene led by Spirit of Ecstasy, Manic Street Preachers, Super Furry Animals and Catatonia.[2]

The scene was populated by a series of smaller often short-lived outfits which made a small but notable local impact. These bands included Ectogram, Craic, Monk Dave, The Pier and The Awkward Moments.

2000s and 2010s

Rock music

Since the 1990s there has been a more steely edge to the sound of the valleys, dominated by metalcore. Most prominent are Bullet For My Valentine, Funeral For A Friend and Lostprophets, who had a number one hit in 2006 with their 3rd album Liberation Transmission on indie rock imprint Visible Noise. Pop rockers, The Automatic, grew out of this scene, playing underage gigs in Cardiff and associating themselves with screamo group Jarcrew.[2] Ragga metallers Skindred are also a prominent band on the Cardiff rock scene, known for mixing reggae and alternative rock influences with a more contemporary punk rock and metalcore sound.[citation needed]

Following the success of punk and post-punk music in Cardiff in from the late 1970s until the 1990s, its decline was noticeable in the 2000s with the demise of bands Mclusky and Jarcrew. However, former members of the two bands united to form new Cardiff alternative rock band Future of the Left.[8]

Pop-rock music

Cardiff University has produced music acts in the form of students Los Campesinos!, a pop-rock group, and Drone, alter ego of Cassidy Phillips, who is part of the area's electronica scene, tapped into by promoting venues and supporting club promoters around Cardiff such as Plug Two, which is set to put out the downbeat selection of Drone. Plug Two has benefited from the support of the Welsh Music Foundation (WMF), an organisation set up to support the country's creative industry. Its prime mover is Huw Williams, once a member of 1980s band The Pooh Sticks and former manager of Newport's 60 Ft. Dolls. Local talent is also supported by the likes of Ankst Records, which specialises in Welsh language recordings.[2]

Electronic music

Another local label is Machine Records that has an electronic preference. When the label started in 2001, there was no scene to connect with, though gradually it has built up a roster of around 25 artists that have come out of the studio and performed live at regular Cardiff showcases and in Newport, Swansea, and London. Between 2003-2006 the label also used its monthly Terminal club night to bring UK acts on Warp Records and Planet Mu to Cardiff.[2] Machine Records won 'Best Label' at the Welsh Music Awards in March 2005, and its 2008 compilation 'Machine Music! The New Dance Sound of Cardiff' was selectd by DJ Adam Walton as one of the ten best Welsh albums of the decade.

More recently a number of Cardiff acts have found favor on the Dubstep and Electronic Beat scene. Mary Anne Hobbs whilst on BBC Radio 1 included artists such as Stagga,[9] Zwolf [10] and Darkhouse Family[11] within her show, whilst other Radio 1 DJs such as Rob Da Bank and Huw Stephens have also included Monky,[12] Curtamos[13] and Ital Lion.[14] Many of these have also been played on influential stations such as Rinse FM and in 2010 BBC 1Xtra invited Chrome Kids to record a mix of Welsh Electronic Music for their 'In New 1Xtra DJs We Trust' show.[15]

Rap music

Much of the Welsh hip hop activity centres on Cardiff. It has spawned names who have broken out from Wales, touring and gaining steady press attention. Such acts are Barry-producer Metabeats, Beatbox Fozzy, Chrome Kids, Mudmowth, Ruffstylz, and Ralph Rip Shit. Also from the city, in 2009 trio Dead Residents produced Triple Crown, described as one of the most enjoyable Welsh hip-hop albums in recent memory by Cardiff-based hip hop journalist Adam Anonymous.[16]

Welsh language music

Cardiff is home to a number of bands and musicians for whom Welsh is often their language of choice. These include Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, who have now disbanded, though their former members continue to work in and around Cardiff. In 2006 Euros Childs released solo album Chops, while former sidekick Richard James embarked on a more folk 'n' country-influenced direction with The Seven Sleepers Den. They now live in the Pontcanna area of the city along with most of the Super Furries. The album was put out on Cardiff's Boobytrap Records, originally set up as a monthly singles club by Booby Baz and Huw Stephens. The latter now promotes Welsh music as a Radio One presenter joined by Dean Proctor.[2]

Music acts

Acts associated with the contemporary Cardiff music scene
Other acts from the area


The Sŵn Festival is an annual music festival curated by BBC Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens in Cardiff. The first Sŵn Festival took place on the 9–11 November 2007. Bands playing included The Cribs, Beirut, David Holmes, Edwyn Collins, Cherryghost. Art and Film are also incorporated into the festival schedule. Welsh language bands are well represented on the line-up.

The Cardiff Big Weekend has taken place annually since 1995 as part of the Cardiff Festival organised by Cardiff Council. Billed as the UK’s biggest free outdoor music festival, it offers three days of quality live music and entertainment. Alongside the live music stage runs the UK’s largest travelling funfair around Cardiff's Civic Centre. Each night comes to a close with a firework finale. There is always a line of up and coming artists, world music and established artists, and traditionally the Friday night has always had a strong presence of Welsh bands.

The Welsh Hip Hop Festival, also known as Roxe Jam, aims to brings together all elements of hip hop culture as a two day free event in one of Cardiff's largest city parks, in Grangetown, with support from The Arts Council of Wales, Cardiff Council and Communities First Trust Fund and with the help of Welsh hip hop artists.[19]

The Cardiff Multicultural Mela also known as the Cardiff Mela is an annual large-scale outdoor multicultural festival, held in the city's Roald Dahl Plass, in Cardiff Bay. It celebrates many cultural aspects of Asian life, particularly music and dance. The 2009 festival featured bhangra, Bollywood and rnb singers including H Dhami, Mumzy Stranger and Navin Kundra amongst others.[20] The 2010 event attracted over 30,000 visitors and featured a performance from Bombay Rockers.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Party in the Park was held annually in the city organised by the city's Red Dragon FM.

Cardiff has also hosted the National Eisteddfod several times that features Welsh language music acts.

Cardiff hosts the Welsh Singers Competition every two years at St. David's Hall.

The Under Construction Youth Music Festival started in 2007 and is the result of work from a group of teenagers from the Cathays Youth and Community Centre. The festival hopes to fill a gap in music provision for teens while promoting local talent. The 2010 one-day festival will take place at the Maindy Centre on 14 August, and the main stage will host bands playing music from metal to punk while a newly added acoustic stage will showcase emerging talent from young singer/songwriters. There will also be workshops and activities including a skate ramp, bmx biking, free running and an inflatable football pitch.[21]

2011 sees the launch of the Cardiff Music Festival, with concerts and recitals including an opera gala with Dennis O'Neill, Wynne Evans and Tim Rhys-Evans.


Cardiff International Arena

The Cardiff International Arena (CIA) is one of the largest concert venues in Cardiff and Wales and, has recently played host to Travis, Busted, Duran Duran, Paramore and Blondie.[1] The venue has a capacity 7,500 and is more than often one of the venues visited by the most popular touring acts. The arena is also used for exhibitions, sport and other live events.

St David’s Hall

St David's Hall has over 450 performances a year, including classical music, rock, pop, jazz, children's events, dance and comedy. Past performers include Lemar, Chris Rea and Suzanne Vega. It is situated in The Hayes.[1] St David's Hall is the National Concert Hall and Conference Centre of Wales, and hosts the annual Welsh Proms,[22] an Orchestral Series attracting renowned conductors and performers, and the biennial Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

Wales Millennium Centre

The Wales Millennium Centre is a performing arts centre in Cardiff Bay. Opened in 2004, the centre has already established its reputation as one of the world's iconic arts and cultural destinations. The centre usually hosts West End musicals, opera ballet and contemporary dance.[23]

Eric Clapton at the stadium

Millennium Stadium

With a capacity of 74,500, the Millennium Stadium, national stadium of Wales, hosts only the largest of concerts by the most famous of performers, such as U2, Oasis, Take That,[22] Kasabian, Madonna and Paul McCartney.[24] The stadium has also hosted international music concerts such as Tsunami Relief Cardiff in 2005.

Cardiff City Stadium

Opened in 2009, the Cardiff City Stadium is a 30,000 capacity stadium owned by and home of Cardiff City Football Club and is rented out to Cardiff Blues RFC. The Stereophonics will be the first group to play at the stadium in June 2010.[25]

Cardiff University

The Cardiff University Students' Union has hosted The Coral, The Polyphonic Spree, Turin Brakes, The Doves, The Darkness, The Thrills, Athlete, Star Sailor and Electric Six in the past.[1] The venue is in Cathays, north of the city centre.

The Coal Exchange

Formerly the stock exchange for coal in Wales during the 19th century, the Coal Exchange is Van Morrison’s favourite venue and previous concerts include the Eels, Jools Holland and PJ Harvey.[1] It is located in Cardiff Bay.

Smaller venues

Clwb Ifor Bach is a principally Welsh-language venue on three levels and caters for anything from hip hop to skate-punk to folk. Past guests include The Strokes, Coldplay, Roni Size and Elbow.[1] The club often hosts new bands on the Cardiff music scene, and gigs of the Sŵn festival.[26] The two venues are located near Cardiff Castle. Metro's is an underground club, popular with students. Goth, metal, grunge and rock are the main genres played here.[1] It is situated near St. Mary's Street. The Engine Rooms in Cardiff Bay equally focuses on rock and metal music.[1]

The city's principal mainstream clubs include Evolution (in the Red Dragon Centre), Oceana, Liquid, The Philharmonic, Exit Club, Bar X, and Walkabout (in the city centre).[27] Moloko's music styles vary throughout the week, from drum n’ bass, to funk and r’n’b.[1] It is situated in The Hayes. Journey's is an independent establishment in the Roath area of Cardiff and frequented by local bands and DJs performing live, from electronica to country music.[1]

The Gate Arts Centre is a live venue which often hosts parts of the Sŵn festival, and has hosted bands such as Los Campesinos! The Cardiff Arts Institute is a new venue, hosting arts events most nights, but is described by WalesOnline as "pretentious".[26] The Norwegian Church hosts live music, mainly focusing on world, folk and acoustic artists.[22]

Buffalo Bar is an independent venue with live music every night from unsigned and local showcases to larger touring bands. In the past the venue has hosted Shonen Knife, James Blake, Times New Viking, Marnie Stern, Kissy Sell Out, Ugly Duckling, Simone Felice and Jeffrey Lewis. Sister venue 10 Feet Tall holds intimate folk, acoustic, Americana shows as well as funk, jazz and hip hop, fashion shows, film & literary events. Its recently relaunched basement venue Undertone stages small live events from local bills to touring bands, reggae, ska, rock, indie and drum'n'bass clubnights.

Record labels

Amongst the record labels based in Cardiff are:

See also

  • Music of Wales
  • List of music concerts at the National Stadium, Cardiff Arms Park


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Visit Britain Cardiff: Music
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p The Independent Cardiff music scene: 'The scene is more alive than ever 30-11-2006
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i GuardianCardiff | The A to Z of Cardiff music bands
  4. ^ BBC Amen Corner
  5. ^ Perfect Sound Forever
  6. ^ Wales Arts International The rise of Welsh rock and pop
  7. ^ BBC Young Marble Giants
  8. ^ a b c NME Future of the Left
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ BBC The hip hop scene in Wales
  17. ^ BBC The Darling Buds
  18. ^ a b c BBC About dance and electronica in Wales
  19. ^ Welsh Hip Hop Festival 2008
  20. ^ Cardiff Mela
  21. ^ GuardianCardiff | Festival organised by young people hopes to fill music scene gap
  22. ^ a b c Visit Cardiff - Music
  23. ^ Wales Millennium Centre About Us
  24. ^ Millennium Stadium Paul McCartney
  25. ^ Stereophonics official website
  26. ^ a b WalesOnline | Cardiff's music venues
  27. ^ Cardiff Life Clubs in Cardiff

External links

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