I did a tarot reading at the beginning of the year. The first card was the Death card. Then, 2 days later, I find out that The Moon Club, the source of 90% of my most treasured memories of the past few years, is no more, and is to be replaced with a swanky jazz bar (a venue Womanby Street has clearly been crying out for). It’s not the end. The Full Moon downstairs, home of my fortnightly residency, is well and thriving, and as long as there are musicians, performers and DJs in the city, art will find a way (we’re gonna need it more than ever now that Trumpocalypse has begun). But The Moon Club was so much more than a performance space for me. It’s where I’ve gotten to know some of my closest friends. It’s the employer that I’ve felt the most loyalty to and passion for. It’s where I met my wife. So here’s a list of 10 key memories from the last few years.
10. Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer & DJ Cheeba
Though it wasn’t the first time I played at The Moon Club, it was my first gig as an official employee. This was about a month before WOMP started, and I had the honour of playing for several hours in the Loft, before closing the night after Cheeba in the main room. I got smashed and had a great time. It was amazing seeing the placed packed for a novelty act, and quickly empty out for a world-class DJ. It was a brilliant start to my relationship with the building…and the first time my future wife saw me play.
9. Hot 8 Brass Band
The sense of pride the staff exuded during this show was incredible. I don’t know how the band felt about playing on such a tiny, sweaty stage; to be honest it probably felt like a massive step back for them. But for us, it was incredible. I’ve been to many punk shows in my time, but I’ve never been to a show as sweaty as this. Everyone was dripping, and it was rowdy as fuck. This has to have been the biggest single headliner event The Moon Club ever hosted, and it’s always stuck out as a treasured memory.
8. Food Bank Gigs
In our venue, we’ve seen two different breeds of punks. There are those who will smuggle cans into the gig, and call us nazis for occasionally having a door charge. Perfectly happy to buy their booze at Tesco, and act like nasty cunts in the only venue that will actually host them. Then there are the real punks. Rather than just shouting at our door staff about austerity, bands like The Phucks, The D Teez, and Poetic Justice have been actively doing something about it the past few years, by hosting food bank shows. The donations have literally filled our entire bottom floor. The outpouring of good will from this lot blows me away every single time…and the bands are fucking awesome as well. Their next show is on Friday 3rd February. I couldn’t recommend it more.
7. Back To Basskicks
Though it’s a long time since we hosted Back To Basskicks, it was such a highlight each month. The best and baddest DJs from around the UK, from dub, jungle, electro-swing, breaks and more, my eternal gratitude goes out to Hannah Davies for inviting me to be a part of the madness. Not only did I get to warm up for each headliner, but the night also gave birth to The Tank Cat All-Stars, a brassophonical assortment of friends that brought something pretty damn unique to my sets for a good few years. Routinely a wonderful crowd, raves are rarely this cheery. Bless up everyone who ever played, decorated, flyered, or skanked their heart out.
6. Sunday Shows
The one thing I’ve always recommended to people, is a Sunday gig at The Moon. Whether it’s a folk/acoustic act, or a homecoming double-header from Hogslayer & Lacertilia, there’s a different feeling in the air on Sundays. Perhaps you could call it cliquey, but the folks that are willing to go out the night before a full week in work are those that value their music highly. There’s always a lovely bunch in this venue, but that same feeling of community increases tenfold. It was a Sunday when I proposed to Tiff, and after taking her for an overpriced steak, we headed straight for The Moon. It was the only course of action that would have made sense.
5. Working on the bar
Admittedly, I still have the perk of always getting to see a quality band before playing my residency. But this doesn’t compare to watching bands and artists from all over the musical spectrum several times a week whilst working the bar. I developed a deep love for doom and stoner metal purely through being on the bar for so many shows, and Otis Gibbs still remains in my heart as one of the most affecting, brilliant performers I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, and I’d never heard of him before the gig. I also gained a palette for rum, had fascinating conversations with people from all over the globe, and found myself part of a team where I valued the friendship of every single member.
4. Free-For-All Festival
Free-For-All festival is drawing to a close once more, after another brilliant month of shows. It really is the best example of a win-win strategy I think I’ve ever witnessed. Nobody has any money in January, so a full month without a door fee gives bands the opportunity to play to good crowds during a time when folks traditionally stay home. Last night I took my nephew down to catch Mike Dennis, MILK, and Junior Bill, and I think it blew his impressionable teenage mind. The death of The Moon Club didn’t mean the death of Free-For-All, and there’s still two days left before we leave it for another year.
3. Hub Festival
HUB Festival is truly my favourite event in the Cardiff calendar. Womanby Street has established itself as the true home of Cardiff musicians, and August Bank Holiday brings a celebration of all that we offer. With more than 10 fully programmed stages, the energy is electric, and I’ve seen some bands play their best shows in this setting. The best thing about it is how you’ll see an act absolutely smash it, then wonder straight into another heaving venue and witness another brilliant performance, and then another, and then another, all within an hour. Most festivals require a fair bit of walking, but when it’s all condensed into one tiny alleyway it’s magical. Long live HUB fest, you’re truly the greatest.
Though its been a good few years since WOMP was running, I owe everything to this residency. The guys running the venue took a huge chance on me, and invited me to share every Friday night with Kaptin. I feel it’s where I truly found my feet as a DJ, as they gave me total freedom to run the gamut of bass driven genres. Though it wasn’t always busy, it was always a pleasure, and it gave me my first foray into the horrific world of promoting shows (something I simply don’t have the stones for). Though I love playing downstairs, The Moon Club was a different beast, and WOMP was the beginning. And without it, I might not have met Tiff.
1. My Wedding
We originally planned to get married this March, on the anniversary of our first date, but during the planning stage, we got completely fed up of spiralling costs and complications, and so decided to do things our own way. And I’m so thankful we did, as it would have been too late to celebrate in the venue that brought us together. It was a wonderful day, with live sets from Featherjaw and Junior Bill, and so many close friends and brilliant nutters under one roof. Seeing my nonagenarian grandparents hanging out with all our dreadlocked kin is a memory I’ll treasure forever, and I’m thrilled that we got to show our families this crazy part of our lives. There’s nowhere else that would have made sense. This building changed my world, and I can’t believe that all it took was walking in on a week day and asking ‘Do you guys need any DJs?‘. Trust your hunches and make your own luck. I did, and things went pretty well.