Festivals aren't just about the headliners. Here's a look at some of the unmissable acts that make 6 Music Festival what it is.
This April BBC Radio 6 Music Festival returns for the first time since 2020, when it was held in Camden, London. This year the roving festival arrives in Cardiff, where headliners Little Simz, Father John Misty, Khruangbin, Pixies, IDLES, Johnny Marr and Bloc Party play some of the city’s most important cultural institutions, including St David’s Hall, Y Plas, Tramshed, and The Great Hall.
But key to 6 Music Festival’s ethos since its inception in 2014 has been new music discovery, whether that’s catching an up-and-comer on the rise or an introduction to some of the key figures leading sub-cultures you might not have experienced before. With that in mind, here’s an introduction to some of the names a little lower down the line-up that you definitely shouldn’t miss seeing live at this year’s 6 Music Festival.
Welsh brothers Tom and Ed Russell have been making moves in the club scene since the early 2010s under various guises — and even dropped their first Overmono EP Arla I in 2016 — but it’s hard to deny how important last year was for the duo, with face-melting belters like ‘So U Kno’ and ‘If U Ever’ closing many a sweltering club night or festival big top. Seeing out the opening night at the Tramshed, expect a huge, hypnotic set from these brothers in full stride.
Carwyn Ellis & Rio 18
Picture the scene. Heat waves refract off the white sands of Copacabana Beach as a breeze brings with it the cool sounds of bossa nova and the unmistakably rich smell of rarebit. Christ the Redeemer looks on with open arms from the towering Mount Snowdon. Yes, though at first thought the cultures and climes of Brazil and Wales seem worlds apart, it’s exactly this universe that Anglesey-born songwriter and Colorama frontman Carwyn Ellis builds so vibrantly in this project with Rio 18. Singing in Welsh but guided by the cadences and traditions of samba, bossa nova and cumbia, Ellis creates a global melting pot that is sure to feel liberating up close at the Tramshed on Saturday.
Stephen Umoh, AKA Obongjayar began turning heads when he was invited to join XL Recording’s main man Richard Russell on the Everything is Recorded project in 2017, and has since developed shape-shifting and eclectic artistry that effortlessly evades definition. He also lent his chilling falsetto on Little Simz’s earworm ‘Point and Kill‘, who’s also performing on Friday night, so lets hope someone books him an Uber from his set at Y Plas to join her at St David’s Hall shortly after.
A proud member of the Heavenly Recordings family since her 2015 solo debut, Gwenno is nothing short of a stalwart in both contemporary Welsh and Cornish music, and in 2019 was even made Bard of the Cornish Gorsedh. Perhaps few will understand her lyrics sung in the latter, but as they melt into her dreamy, 60s-esque chamber pop it’s as if the meaning is understood regardless. Catch Gwenno before Orlando Weeks at Y Plas on Saturday evening.
One of our Breakthrough artists for 2022, Wet Leg are seemingly already skipping their buzzy, up-and-coming status to essential must-sees, something the release of their debut LP just a week after the festival will certainly help to cement. With that in mind, we’d recommend getting down to The Great Hall a little earlier on Sunday as we expect queues and unfortunately chaise longues will not be provided.
Whether you want to call it surrealist, art-pop or “strange rock”, there’s a alternative pop sound that’s distinctly Welsh and along with the likes of Gwenno and Cate Le Bon, Huw Gwynfryn Evans (H. Hawkline) has been at the centre of it for years. Respected and well-known not only in his homeland but in the Los Angeles scene too, Evans’s gorgeously textured guitars should not be missed. Catch him on Sunday afternoon at the Tramshed.
BBC Radio 6 Music Festival takes place 01-03 April 2022 in Cardiff, Wales. Tickets are available here.