Live: ALT Bay

ARRIVING in Aberystwyth just a few short months ago to begin my first year in University, I was told that no music scene existed in the town – unless you consider repeated plays of the latest “pop” hit in one of the two clubs a “music scene”. Some third years even informed me that in their whole time in University they had never even heard of a gig being put on. As alarmed and disappointed as I was by this revelation, I quickly discovered that there were people who wished to change this. For them and many others, an event like ALT Bay had the potential to be the start of something special. If last night was anything to go by, they could very well be right.

The night got off to a great start with the Cwtch (the smaller of the two room in the Union) beginning to fill up to the musical accompaniment of organiser Nick Robinson and fellow DJ Anthony Florida-James on the decks, playing a range of alternative music, from Bombay Bicycle Club to Disclosure. As more and more people filed in, attention quickly switched to the first band of the night; The Cymbelines. Although still sporting the rough-around-the-edges style of a fairly new band, they played a good set of alternative covers such as Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ and undoubtedly will only get better with more practice and extensive gigging.

The end of The Cymbelines last song signalled another DJ set from Nick and Ant. I was even asked who was DJing a few times from clearly appreciative fans who commented on the variety of music being played, obviously surprised that there are DJs in Aberystwyth who don’t play ‘Gangam Style’ every 10 minutes. While this went on, the room started to fill up in anticipation of Gypsy Wine Cartel, the headline act. After checking them out on Facebook, I knew they would be good, but didn’t expect such a following only a few months after forming and with no official gigs under their belt. However, as they started setting up and the crowd got closer to the barrier and louder in their excitement and appreciation, I expected something special.

As Gypsy Wine Cartel’s set began, I realised that no one would be let down. The charge and musicianship of the band made for an energetic and fun live show, easily stirring the crowd up into a frenzy of dancing and revelry. Large sections of the crowd sung along both loudly and accurately to many of the catchy gypsy tunes. If this reaction didn’t show the band that they have the potential to make a serious mark not just in Aberystwyth, but further afield, I don’t know what could.

As the band finished their last song and, at the request of the excitable bassist who clearly did not want to leave the stage, played their single for the second time, I think it was clear to see that a night like this was well overdue and could potentially signal a change in the stale music scene in Aber. This might not just come in the form of more nights like this, but also in the form of inspiring other people to start bands, knowing that it wouldn’t simply begin and end in someone’s bedroom, but could even result in gigging to a crowd of appreciative music lovers.

The DJs ended the night as they began it, with alternative music to remind us that the mainstream isn’t the only option. This was confirmed, as I chatted to Ant in the DJ area, by a girl coming up to the barrier and demanding to know who had DJ’d the night, as, in her words, they had played some “sick tunes”. The look on Ant’s face at this girl’s comment, and everyone who played a part in the night’s success, just goes to show that we could be witnessing the start of something extraordinary in our little University town.