Sam Hoy’s triple threat shtick continues to pay dividends to to the Cardiff gig circuit in the form of his annual, eponymous weekender, HOYfest.
The promoter, curator and bassist has vehemently supported both grassroots acts and venues across South Wales for the past few years and such dedication has culminated in his very own festival. If you often find yourself in the vicinity of Womanby Street, chances are that you have seen the man himself – a veteran of the scene, his fervour for backing local talent has been continuous. Via his label, Luckyman Records, he has given some artists the platform to play their biggest shows to date; prime point in case being young ‘uns The Pitchforks, who played a headline show at Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach back in July. The very same venue will also play host to this year’s HOYfest, unlike its predecessors; the festival had resided in The Gates Art Centre for the last two events. Formerly a one-day affair, HOYfest is now spread across an entire weekend, making it less laborious, perhaps. That’s not to say that the festival is an ordeal in the slightest, nay, this year’s bill is practically a plethora of promising bands and it will surely whet any punter’s appetite for a weekend of gnarly, gritty guitar acts.
Bound by the his niche for popularising developing artists, Sam Hoy has seldom shaped a lineup that doesn’t include the finest of the future and HOYFest 2018 is evidently no exception of that rule. Hometown heroes, Himalayas, are set to take on the Saturday headline spot as 2018 marks their third consecutive HOYFest. Over the past twelve months, Himalayas have deservedly become a boisterous, burgeoning force to be reckoned with as their bass heavy bangers have hit the big leagues – Thank God I’m Not You has racked up nigh on 7.5 million streams on Spotify alone. However, rollicking guitar licks are sure to reverberate around the room even before Himalayas hit their home turf as sub-headliners, Blackwaters, sing from the same hymn sheet. The Guildford post-punkers are the latest to join the conga line of bonafide punk acts that is currently snaking its way into popular territory, capturing the attention and puncturing the playlists of even the most resigned listeners. Their snarling social commentary falls into the same vein as their contemporaries – think Shame, Hotel Lux et al – but their live sets can be summed up quite simply; a cacophonous concoction of gruelling guitar lines, grit and tongue-in-cheek wit.
It’s not all about raucous rock, though. Pop seemingly isn’t a dirty word at HOYfest and rightfully so; Sunday’s headliners Anteros and No Hot Ashes are both gleaming examples of what indie pop should be – sounds that induce a sugar rush of wide-eyed, woozy word-smithery interlaced with authentic pop ambition and adrenaline. Blink for a second and you would mistake the lead singer of Anteros, Laura Hayden for Blondie’s Debbie Harry, as she emulates shades of both Harry’s eclectic style and new wave pop with razor sharp precision. Oh, and the bleach blonde bob doesn’t go amiss, obviously.
HOYfest runs between 29th to 30th September at Clwb For Bach, Cardiff. Tickets are available here.
The HOYfest Pre-Festival Party, in aid of CALM, takes place on 28th September at The Moon Club, Cardiff.
Words by Sophie Williams