After over 6 years of bringing the finest eclection of live funk, soul, afrobeat, world, electro and more, we’re mildly melancholy at the thought that Sat March 12 is the final ever Fat City, with reliably soulful slot from Normanton Street and old school craft fun taking us from 8-4am.
There will be those of you who’ve stumbled into of their brilliant, carefully curated nights of live filled, funk tinged fun (seemingly) accidentally – just out hoping to find friendly, cultured club nights and feeling fairly confident that may happen here.
That that seems like such a well embedded idea, the natural order of things rather than a one off to seek out is one of the many, many things we can’t wait to thank Fat City for.
Of course, it’s primarily for just so many great nights – from French-Funked duo Souleance, Sounds of Harlowe, the huge brass backed hip hop of King Porter Stomp, electro slinkiness from Anushka, sultry soul from Hannah Williams and the Tastemakers and countless other unique nights, if there’s other live promoters who so consistently excite and surprise in tandem, almost as a rule of thumb, we don’t know of them.
Gwdihw certainly wouldn’t be the same without them, and that’s why we’re saying thanks (with some sweet surprises they don’t even know about) from 8-4am March 12. For now though, immerse yourself in a bit of Fat City history from Jonny and Gareth themselves.
Q: Where did the seed of the idea of Fat City start?
It really grew out of a specialist music show we were running on the student Xpress Radio. We were playing all these incredible tunes but couldn’t see people’s reactions to them so we wanted to take them to a dance floor. It was also a way to influence what live bands we could see playing in Cardiff. The craft idea was a cheeky steal from a night called Jumpers for Goalposts in Nottingham. It was an indie folk night which incorporated some off-the-cuff craft challenges, with live music and DJs. Looked like a lot of fun and a really original idea for Cardiff once we’d added our own musical twist, so we chose a few charities to raise some money, invited our uni mates and it all grew from there.
Q: Where did the name crop up from?
Fat City cropped up in a lot of things we liked at the time such as Aim’s track, the awesome record label and shop up in Manchester, the Mandrill song and the film Fat City. I think it seemed to just fit the night quite well, too, so we ran with it. We’re still waiting for the lawsuit.
Q: Most people would probably stick to one genre for their club nights – how come you guys always put such a broad spectrum of bands and tunes on?
I think the night just reflects both of our tastes; and also the fact that we’re always hunting for new stuff from all over the place. Although we both like a lot of similar stuff, we still come at music from different angles so we’re always surprising each other with new bands and discoveries. It’s fun to keep each other guessing; and also the dancefloor, too.
Q: Being at Gwdihw early in its inception, can you describe the difference in Gwdihw from then to now – both in terms of the kind of nights, the creamy decor and how Fat City worked?
Having started our nights one year after Gwdihw started up, it’s been great to be involved in the Gwdihw journey almost from the start. We’ve seen the place change through more than just decor. The venue has always evolved and changed in exciting ways and it’s felt like a home for us; both in terms of the music, people and friendships we’ve made there. Gwdihw has definitely stayed true to itself throughout the years and the choice of music at the venue and the people it attracts has always been key to that.
In terms of Fat City I think we’ve kept things pretty simple through the years. What’s been key – for me at least – is the fact that we’ve always strived to put on a live band on each month which excites us. Live music along the lines of soul, hip-hop, funk and world grooves is really important to the night and also the city in general. That’s the reason we started going to Gwdihw and the reason we’ll keep coming back for as long as there’s more to see!
Q: How has putting on live music with club nights changed generally – both at Gwdihw and generally – are people still responsive to it?
People are definitely still responsive to it and keen to explore and enjoy new live music, but I’ve definitely felt that in recent years – in Cardiff at least – there are less promoters willing to stick their arm out and put on more eclectic, leftfield selections on the live world music and soul scenes. DJs seem to be coming to the fore a hell of a lot more these days and I think it’s sad that DJs are getting away with charging the same as a live 7-piece tropical or afrobeat band.
It’s tough to bring original bands from far-afield, and there’s a lot of risk on the promoter, but when you get it right there’s nothing better than a packed out Gwdihw and a band sweating through their eyeballs in the middle of a brilliant live set. We’ve had so many bands play Fat City coming back for more time and time again and that’s definitely credit to the reception they receive in Cardiff.
Q: Like all the best Gwdi weekend nights, there a few specific Fat City hidden gems that crop up to fill the floor again and again – what are your favourites?
Joubert Singers – Stand on the Word has always been a classic hit for Fat City from the start. Rare Pleasure – Let Me Down Easy always seems to get a good response, too. There are too many to choose from but we have compiled a few of our fave tunes that have been on heavy rotation over the years.
Q: There’s no other place to end really – what’s your favourite ever Fat City night?
Ooooh! best live night we’ve had is damn tough!! Nomad Collective were brilliant, Ephemerals superb, Antelope, King Porter Stomp and The Cougar (our first live night) were all awesome, but the first time we had Souleance come over and play for us from Paris was definitely a special one! And of course the best nights DJing are always when the live music has filled the floor and we keep the dancefloor going until the lights come up. There’s nothing better!