Riding the wave of good live music, the Full Moon has already established itself as one of the favourite spots for Cardiff music lovers community since it opened in October of 2011 the place of Y Fuwch Goch, another legendary venue in the Castle Quarter.
Recent years haven’t been good for pubs and clubs in Wales, with the impact of the beer duty escalater an the rise of wine and spirits taxes adding to the already hard competition with supermarket low prices and VAT.
Steve Barnes, 47, one of the five owners of the Full Moon dismisses any pessimism of the Cardiff nigh scene, “ its the healthiest I’ve seen in 25 years. Live music in Cardiff at the moment is exploding.”
He and five friends weren’t new to the bar and club business, openin and debeloping venues in places like Manchester, Glasgow, Reading and Portsmouth, “after work we would always know the places to go for a few beers like the Northern pub in Manchester and then comeback to Cardiff and we could never decide I a place where we all wanted to go. We wanted to do a bar that we like so it came to a point where we just decided to open that place that we’d like to go.”
They did so in Womanby street, turning a venue with the Clwb if Bach used to promote events in welsh language, into a spot combining live alternative music with good drink and spirits.
“I’ve always liked Womanby Street since it was the perfect spot for us, sort of a back alley feeling suited our alternative goal,” Steve says proudly.
He underlines how since their opeing, quality music and free entrance were one of the guidelines of the Full Moon, “Literally the five we were sitting together and thought ‘what do we like in a bar? Free entrance’ I can understand if a place has entertainment going on, but you shouldn’t be charged like some places do just to walk in.”
A policy he defends even when facing the competition of drink off-traders like Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s, “The whole thing about the supermarkets is that at the moment have greater buying power than our suppliers and whole sellers, so no matter what happens they can buy it cheaper than the people we buy it from.”
He explains how by selling beer at a loss “in order to sell bread”, supermarkets change the perception people have on drinking.
“They know that if they can make you go to the supermarket to buy a can at low prices you may end up buying food where they’re getting high profit margins on. That’s how they balance the books.”
Nevertheless the Full Moon has thrived thanks to a good range of local and British quality bands.
Tommy Ingram, a blonde Rastafari 28-year-old barman, has lost track on all the bands that played here, “I loved Mr. Woodnote, Jolly Cage, Mr B, Dj Sheeba. I’ve been here about a year and a half now, one month after the full moon opened and It was the best decision of my life. Every day is different and we’ve built quite a nice family here in Cardiff.”
Steve is proud of that diversity of on-goers, “The only thing most people that come here have in common is that they love music. We try to play as many different genres of music as possible, since everyone likes a bit of everything nowadays.”
Although in the Full Moon they bring predominantly south wales band they try to bring bands from other cities, and they had quite a few famous names already, “We had Wonderstuff who headlined the Reading festival once and did a solo show here, we had Honky with Jeff Pinkus the bassist from the Butthole Surfers. They were wicked, probably one of my favourite gigs here.
“Per example this Saturday we’re going to have a brilliant band from Bristol. A little bit hip-hop with brass,” he points out.
That last band is called Three High Kings and Joe Eden, lead singer, explained how even though they never played the venue across the “water” they heard of his reputation of free quality gigs, even though with some reservations about the concept.
“You have to take things into consideration such as whether the venue has a good location and whether the promoter organising the bands actually does their homework and books bands they think will be good. When we first started we played a venue that was free entry and it was obvious the ‘promoter’ just had a list of bands that were in the area and he chanced it by booking as many as possible for as little as possible.
There are enough decent venues out there that will put great bands on for free entry because they know the bands will draw a crowd! It’s a double edged sword really,” he believes.
The Moon Club
As well a the Full Moon bar, the venue also has a sister room, the Moon Club. It hosts live gigs with a ticket price depending of who plays, ranging from a couple of pounds to around £18. The Moon Club has a nightclub that closes at 3 but the full moon closes at 4 on the weekends