Music of Cardiff

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Music of Cardiff, Wales
Welsh: Cerddoriaeth Caerdydd Cymru
Nickname: Music City[1]
Spillers Records, 27 Morgan Arcade, Cardiff.jpg
Spillers Records, the world's oldest record shop
LocationCardiff, Wales
Genre(s)Including rock, metal, Welsh-language music, metalcore and pop music

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 and metalcore music. It, along with the nearby music scene in Newport, has brought a number of musicians to perform or begin their careers in South Wales.

Famous Cardiff bands include those from the Cool Cymru era including Manic Street Preachers, Super Furry Animals, and Stereophonics, as well as Feeder, Kids in Glass Houses and Funeral for a Friend, McLusky, The Loves, Los Campesinos!, The School, We're No Heroes, and Brave Captain who dominate Cardiff's music scene today.[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 before relocating to the nearby Morgan Arcade in 2010.[3]

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.[4]


Spillers Records, the world's oldest record shop


1960s Cardiff produced Amen Corner, one of the top pop acts of the era and the first Welsh group to have a number one hit.[5] Also from the 1960s was Love Sculpture who had a minor hit with Sabre Dance. Love Sculpture featured Dave Edmunds who also had chart hits in the 1960s and 1970s in his own right. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Cardiff music scene was dominated by hard rock and blues bands, and included heavy metal pioneers Budgie.[6] Budgie released a string of hit albums in the 1970s including the gold-certified Bandolier. Budgie's influence reached bands such as Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, and Van Halen, all of which have covered Budgie's songs at one point or another. Post-punk influences spawned the three-piece Cardiff band Young Marble Giants,[7] 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.[8]


In the 1990s, the Welsh capital was the centre of a vibrant music scene led by Manic Street Preachers, Super Furry Animals and Catatonia[9] and many acts had connections nearby Newport during this time which also had an emerging alt rock and indie venue community fuelled by the likes of TJ's.

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, Crac, Monk Dave, The Pier and The Awkward Moments.

2000s and 2020s[edit]

In 2006 The Independent described the Cardiff music scene as "more vibrant and alive than ever", with more promoters, venues, and bands than ever before, often based on the styles of the scene's more famous products such as Stereophonics.[9]

Rock music[edit]

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 punk group Jarcrew.[9] 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.[10]

Pop-rock music[edit]

Musical alumni of Cardiff University include pop-rock group Los Campesinos! and Drone, alter ego of Cassidy Phillips, who is part of the area's electronica scene. Acts have been supported by 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.[9]

Electronic music[edit]

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 and 2006 the label also used its monthly Terminal club night to bring UK acts on Warp Records and Planet Mu to Cardiff.[9] 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 selected by DJ Adam Walton as one of the ten best Welsh albums of the decade.

More recently a number of Cardiff acts have found favour on the Dubstep and Electronic Beat scene. Mary Anne Hobbs whilst on BBC Radio 1 included artists such as STAGGA, described by many as one of the most underrated, yet influential producers of electronica, dubstep, and Hip Hop and who died in 2020[11] Zwolf[12] and Darkhouse Family[13] within her show, whilst other Radio 1 DJs such as Rob Da Bank and Huw Stephens have also included Monky,[14] Curtamos[15] and Ital Lion.[16] 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.[17]

Rap music[edit]

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-based producer Metabeats, rap group Astroid Boys, Beatbox Fozzy, Chrome Kids, Squid Ninjaz, Mudmowth, Y-DUB, Ruffstylz, Blue City 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.[18]

Welsh language music[edit]

Cardiff is home to a number of bands and musicians for whom Welsh is often their language of choice. Currently Fade files is an active electronic Welsh language band based in Cardiff on the dnldr label and is often featured on Rhys Mwyn's show on Radio Cymru. Others 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 Super Furry Animals. 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.[9]

Music acts[edit]

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


Cardiff Big Weekend[edit]

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.

Welsh Language Music Day[edit]

Welsh Language Music Day is an annual showcase of music performed in the language of Welsh which takes place across venues throughout Wales. Cardiff is a particular centre for events, with performances taking place at venues on Womanby Street throughout the day.[22] Local businesses often participate in the city including John Lewis, The Co-operative, EE, Cardiff Airport, Brains, Lush, Waitrose and Principality Building Society.[23]

Other events[edit]

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.[24]

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.[25] 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.[26]

In 2011 the inaugural Cardiff Music Festival was launched by Only Men Aloud! member and Cardiff local David Mahoney,[27] with concerts and recitals including an opera gala with Dennis O'Neill, Wynne Evans and Only Men Aloud! director Tim Rhys-Evans.

In 2018 Gwdihw hosted Pwer Fest, a small indy and pop-punk festival. Pwer Fest was started up by Stereobrain Records and has hosted a multitude of different bands from Dream state to False Advertising. Pwer fest was scheduled to be held at Gwdihw again in 2019 but due to the shutting down of the bar it was moved to Club Ifor bach. With two very successful years we should Hopefully see Pwer fest back on the scene in 2021.


Cardiff International Arena[edit]

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.[2] 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[edit]

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.[2] St David's Hall is the National Concert Hall and Conference Centre of Wales, and hosts the annual Welsh Proms,[28] an Orchestral Series attracting renowned conductors and performers, and the biennial Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

Wales Millennium Centre[edit]

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.[29]

Eric Clapton at the stadium

Millennium Stadium[edit]

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,[28] Kasabian, Madonna and Paul McCartney.[30] The stadium has also hosted international music concerts such as Tsunami Relief Cardiff in 2005.

Cardiff City Stadium[edit]

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.[31]

Cardiff University[edit]

The Cardiff University Students' Union contains a number of large and small venues, and its main stage in The Great Hall has previously hosted acts including The Clash, The Jam, The Smiths, INXS, Oasis, Coldplay, The Killers, The Coral, The Polyphonic Spree, Turin Brakes, The Doves, The Darkness, The Thrills, Athlete, Star Sailor, Ben Howard, Foals, Twin Atlantic, and Electric Six in the past.[2] The venue is located on Park Place/Senghenydd Road in Cathays, north of the city centre.

The Coal Exchange[edit]

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.[2] It is located in Cardiff Bay.

Smaller venues[edit]

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.[2] The club often hosts new bands on the Cardiff music scene, and gigs of the Sŵn festival.[32] 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.[2] It is situated near St. Mary's Street. The Engine Rooms in Cardiff Bay equally focuses on rock and metal music.[2]

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).[33] Moloko's music styles vary throughout the week, from drum n’ bass, to funk and r’n’b.[2] 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.[2]

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".[32] The Norwegian Church hosts live music, mainly focusing on world, folk and acoustic artists.[28]

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, Jets to zurich, 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.

The Full Moon, Gassy Jacks, Vulcan Lounge, O'Neils, Pen n Wig, Gwdihw, The North Star are some of the small places that promote and host acoustic nights.

Record labels[edit]

Amongst the record labels based in Cardiff are:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cardiff to become 'Music City' to protect and grow venues". BBC News. 14 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "VisitBritain". 8 October 2015. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  3. ^ "Oldest record shop ready for move". 25 June 2010. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  4. ^ Thomas, Marc (19 July 2010). "The A to Z of Cardiff music bands". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  5. ^ "BBC Wales - Music - Amen Corner - Biography". Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  6. ^ "Perfect Sound Forever: Young Marble Giants". Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 October 2006. Retrieved 13 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "BBC Wales - Music - Young Marble Giants - Biography". Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 November 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ a b c "Future Of The Left - NME". NME. 21 September 2007. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Stagga". Fat Fridge. 22 December 2020. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  12. ^ "The Power Of Zwolf | Chrome Kids". 5 June 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "BBC Radio 1 - Rob da Bank, Chilly Gonzales in session". 12 February 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  15. ^ "CURTAMOS, Saturday Skank". Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  16. ^ "Events on Tonight - Summer of Lovestep - LINTON BROWN + ITAL LION + WASCAL". Archived from the original on 18 March 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  17. ^ "BBC Radio 1Xtra - In New 1Xtra DJs We Trust, Twin B presents". 15 February 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  18. ^ "BBC Wales - Music - Rap and hip hop - The hip hop scene in Wales". Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  19. ^ "BBC - Wales - Music - Darling Buds". Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  20. ^ "BBC Wales - Music - Dance and electronica - About dance and electronica in Wales". Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  21. ^ Un. "Winter & Williams Band | Gratis muziek, tourneedata, foto's, video's". Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  22. ^ "Welsh Language Music Day". GOV.WALES. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  23. ^ "Welsh Language Music Day for businesses". GOV.WALES. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  24. ^ "roxe jam". Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  25. ^ "BBC - Cardiff Multicultural Mela 2012 details". Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  26. ^ Waldram, Hannah (29 July 2010). "Festival organised by young people hopes to fill music scene gap". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  27. ^ "David Mahoney outlines his plans for the first Cardiff Music Festival". Western Mail. 9 September 2011.
  28. ^ a b c "Visit Cardiff - Music". Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  29. ^ "Wales Millennium Centre - About Us". 16 February 2009. Archived from the original on 16 February 2009. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  30. ^ "Millennium Stadium : Events : Music : Paul McCartney". 8 June 2011. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  31. ^ "Stereophonics - Official Website". Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  32. ^ a b "Cardiff: Latest news, sport and events in the Welsh capital from WalesOnline". Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  33. ^ "Clubs in Cardiff". 11 February 2010. Archived from the original on 11 February 2010. Retrieved 6 July 2018.

External links[edit]