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When: 2nd March 2024

Where: Tramshed, Cardiff, Wales

Saturday saw the 2024 edition of Immersed! Music Festival take place, and upon arriving at the Tramshed it was clear to see just how much of a buzz around the place there was. Unfortunately, my journey to the venue had been impeded by that vintage Cardiff traffic that anyone who’s spent enough time in the city will be able to tell you about. This meant that I missed both Keys Collective, and Heresy, two acts who I’d initially pinned down to see. Nonetheless, I was able to make it in time for the next band on my schedule: Statues Of Men.

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If you’re unfamiliar, then hopefully you’re inspired to get to know after this. Statues Of Men perform with an impressive tightness for a band in such infancy, but the tightness isn’t robotic or soulless. In fact, it was a pleasure to see a band so intent of having fun on stage. Performing their first single ‘Choke‘ as well as self-defined fan favourite ‘Before I Go’ amongst a variety of unreleased tracks, it made for an excellent start to the day.

While Statues Of Men were clear-cut Welsh Rock and Roll, the next band of the day, Vivaria, turnt the loudness dial up to 11, providing a healthy-dose of Welsh Deathcore. For those who were perhaps unaware of the band’s genre, their sound would certainly be a shock to the system, but the band had plenty of fans amongst those who had gathered at the main stage. 

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As a fairly avid heavy music enjoyer, but not a fan of deathcore, Vivaria still deserve a great deal of respect. Many will point to the genre with comments of a stale sound, but it’s still a sound that is hard to do well, which seems to be something Vivaria do with absolute ease. 

After a somewhat healthy lunch consisting of an energy drink and a stone-baked pizza from one of the festivals delicious vendors (shout out to Flour’d Up!), I found myself ready for the rest of the day.

Despite initially planning on having a dedicated wander around the various stages of the festival, it became increasingly apparent that the main stage was where I was going to find myself for the rest of the day. Cardiff metalcore stalwarts Continents were the next band on, and were clearly intent on putting on one hell of a show from the very start.

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Although it was obvious that the crowd were perhaps not as energetic as they had initially hoped, with calls to move and mosh falling somewhat flat, the band still kept up their charismatic swagger as the tore their way through their set, playing songs both from their latest EP Lifeline as well as songs from deep within their back catalogue. It all ensured that they left their mark upon the stage.

Next up, hailing from Pontypridd, was Chroma, a band that many of us here at God Is In The TV have waxed lyrical about previously, and for excellent reasoning too. As it happens, it was my first-time having the pleasure of seeing them live, and from what I saw I certainly hope it isn’t the last. The messages they convey during their songs are so vitally important, and their on-stage dynamism is contagious, something which certainly helped get the increasing number of main stage attendees moving and dancing along throughout their time on stage. Their set came to an end and it’s not hard to see why they’ve been selected to be open for the Foo Fighters this summer at a select number of dates.

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Something that crossed my mind as Chroma left the stage was the immense amount of talent we’re blessed with as a country. Wales has long been lauded as the land of song, but for a country to develop and garner acts so diverse in genre and sound is a blessing that very few people take the time to appreciate. It’s part of the reason why the festival’s partnership with No Music On A Dead Planet is so important too. As an industry we need to be doing everything we can to ensure that we operate as sustainably as possible, while utilising the platforms granted to us to call on those dragging their heels on the impending climate crisis. 

This appreciation for the variety of acts and artists Wales had produced continued with the arrival to the stage of Voya. The Cardiff-based act arrived on stage in style, adorning a variety of glamorous faux-fur, PVC, and other intricate outfits.

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The flamboyance didn’t stop there though. As the band began to deliver their emotive and provocative synth-lined brand of pop I found myself transfixed by both the sight and the sound. Their set was ultimately nothing short of pure joy and it affixed a permanent smile on my face from beginning to end, so should the occasion to see Voya ever arise you should certainly make an effort to go and witness their spectacle.

The penultimate act of the evening was Grove, an unknown entity to me other than the small descriptions I had seen upon the festival announcing its line-up, so what awaited me was a complete surprise. What I didn’t expect, however, was that I was about to experience one of the most visceral music experiences I’ve had in quite some time; it was pulsating, transcendent, and addictive in every way.

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From the ragingly explicit ‘Fuck Your Landlord’, to the electrifying ‘BIG BOOTS‘, for the entire length of the 45 minute set, it was a pure rave enjoyed by those young and old unanimously. Grove’s set is proof that music as an art form can remain political while also providing escapism. Their music is a celebration of their identity as a Black, working-class, queer person, and it’s clear that they refuse to shy away from remaining vocal on issues such as the Palestinian struggle, while ensuring that their performances are nothing less than a party.

After a significant delay, and the announcement from their manager that the headliners Bob Vylan would have to play a reduced length set as a result of the technical issues they had struggled with, and the hard 11PM curfew of the venue, the duo finally took to the stage. And although it was a shame that their set suffered some cuts due to the timing issues, the show’s quality certainly doesn’t suffer. The duo blasted through their set at an impressive pace to ensure that they could still deliver something special for the Cardiff crowd.

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The set included old-time favourites like ‘We Live Here’, and ‘Northern Line’, alongside new additions to their catalogue such as ‘Dream Big’, which is set to feature on their upcoming album Humble As The Sun next month, and includes vocals from Bobby Vylan’s own daughter who was even brought onto stage to perform it, which made for an extremely wholesome moment amongst the rough and rowdy nature of the set.

With their time limited, the duo had very little time to speak between songs like they usually would, but still found the time to thank the crowd and share an important anecdote about how Cardiff was the first city they played outside of their hometown of London, as well as how their Cardiff show was also the first gig they ever got paid for.

‘Pretty Songs’, and ‘I Heard You Want Your Country Back’ also got the crowd moving from the front to the back, with the latter being dedicated to those in Palestine. The night came to an end on the duo’s huge ‘Wicked & Bad’, the crowd egged on by Bobby as the chorus’ lyrics echoed out through the venue for the final time.

This year’s Immersed! Festival helped to highlight not only some of the UK’s (and especially Wales’) incredible homegrown talents, with a huge variety of genres and backgrounds all on display, and there’s no doubt that there were likely some incredible artists on display elsewhere on the various other stages throughout the day, but with a line-up this fruitful it just really illustrates just how spoilt for choice we are when it comes to live acts here in Wales.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.