Local rivalries are a funny thing. Today, Cardiff has been split down the middle by the annual ‘Welsh Varsity’, which pits Cardiff and Swansea universities’ various sports teams against each other in a fierce battle forged by an arbitrary forty-mile separation. A similar geographical split is mirrored in tonight’s support bill, which features two of Wales’ brightest prospects, though under a slightly more amorous setting.
Llanelli’s Cut Ribbons peddle a spacey, bouncy indie-pop straight out of your favourite indie movie montage. Fronted by an impressive two-part vocal harmony, they are far slicker than an opener has any right to be, but ultimately fall a little flat, with even token 'slow' number ‘Sinking Ships’ failing to really change pace at all. Kutosis suffer no such trouble. Changing pace is now sewn into the fabric of the Cardiff trio’s being, with upcoming sophomore album a surf-laden departure from the barbed, psychedelic assault of 2011’s ‘Fanatical Love’. Their six months off the live circuit melt away as soon as they hit the stage, a wave of reverb saturating the ensuing half hour. Last year’s free single ‘Fear of Flying’ and upcoming follow-up ‘Crystal Beach’ comprise the crux of this new era of Kutosis, and they are delivered tonight with a dreamy sway that will surely soon see them breaking free of their locality.
“It’s just a normal weeknight – none of that ‘red or green’!” announces Sky Larkin drummer Nestor Matthews, the out-of-towners instantly dispelling the air of disagreement that has flooded Cardiff’s Varsity-ridden streets all day. With rivalries put to bed, it swiftly becomes apparent that the band now exude a confidence which former iterations somewhat lacked. With the opening remarks of the set a playful jab at Nestor’s diminutive new “drum shorts”, they continue to riff off each other the whole evening, the occasional synchronised shimmy a marker of how tightly knit the still freshly-reshuffled trio have quickly become.
Last year’s ‘Motto’ houses the highlights of the set, with the one-two of ‘Newsworthy’ and ‘Treasury’ in particular harnessing a wonderfully playful dynamic range, which nestles comfortably alongside the classically cacophonous riffing Sky Larkin have built their name on. Even managing to squeeze in a cover of X-Ray Spex’s ‘The Day The World Turned Day-Glo’, Sky Larkin echo their influences in a way that deftly avoids the almost parodical pitfalls of the current 90s-revivalist du jour.
After another brief nod to the approaching masses of red and green, the Leeds lot end in a swathe of feedback and broadly spread grins. While a couple of hundred metres down the road, a few thousand people cheer on the maelstrom of university rugby, tonight Sky Larkin prove that though it may have been a while since they graduated from the UK underground’s school of hard knocks, they’re still fit to take home the trophy.
The former Sky Larkin member is heading in a totally different direction with her new solo venture.