Radar Festival: Day One
Radar is a brand new festival hosted in the depths of Guildford. Guildford is an already buzzing music hub ,home to Andertons music store, and the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM). Many of the bands throughout the day originated from ACM. It was great to get to see smaller bands which I would have never come across if it wasn’t for this festival, coming from a local institution.
The first of the smaller bands I saw were The Deadlights who performed on the second stage. They had a great use of guitar duality, crunchy riffage, mixed in with some mellow playing too. Some excellent variety in their melodic choices. With one LP out, they are certainly a band to keep an eye on. A good start to the day.
The next band I want to talk about are Shattered Skies. Again, this isn’t a band that I was familiar with before today, but I’m incredibly glad they were on the lineup. They started by playing a bit of Slayer while waiting for the soundcheck to finish before starting the set and moving on to their own material. The guitar player was a tapping slapping god. The audience were encapsulated by the technical skill of this band. The last song featured their lead singer jumping into the audience to show us how to headbang, and how to properly get into the zone.
Surprisingly this small indoor festival managed to squeeze two food stalls into the venue. They were not great, but not terrible. However, they served a purpose by protecting my stomach from the copious amounts of lager I would have to endure throughout the day.
As the we went on, rushing from stage to stage to catch the next act, we came to Unprocessed. I’ve never heard of the band before, but they lit the entire room up with their tight riffs, excellent stage presence, and chunky chords. Watch out Tosin Absai, someone else can dislocate their thumb and djent the fuck out. The energy was insane, the crowd surfing was so high up, someone had climbed up a pole and hit their head on the ceiling. Unprocessed also have a new album in a weeks time which I would highly recommend checking out. They played a sneak preview during the set and it was awesome. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on this lot, and you should too.
I noticed a couple of issues walking through the venue whilst checking out the merch stands. The downstairs bar didn’t have any gas for the beer on tap, and there were to air con units that were leaking all over the floor which I was told was due to the heat. The venue, ‘Casino’, is usually home to a slightly sticky looking student nightclub and didn’t seem set up to deal with the scale of this festival.
At this point, more and more people arrived, possibly after work as it was a Friday. The place did seem a bit empty earlier in the day, which huge gaps in the audience where three or four people would mosh in the main stage area. However, the place was packed just in time for Uneven Structure to start.
I came across Uneven Structure at Camden’s Underworld in 2017. Their latest record ‘La Partition’ blew me away, as did their live performance today. Even with their bass player unable to make it due to “unforeseen circumstances”, the remaining trio still gave it their all.
Then, we had the secret act. Who could it be? The main stage audience were tightly packed together like a tin of sardines, waiting to see who this mystery guest could be. There were curtains drawn at the soundcheck so you would have no inkling of who would be playing. Unfortunately though, the issue is the mystery still remains to me. I have no idea who they are because I didn’t catch the bands name when they introduced themselves. After one song, most of the audience seemed suddenly uninterested. Subsequently the food area ended up being busier than the main stage. I personally found it pretty underwhelming even if their stage presence was off the rails with strangers masked in biohazard suits. The not so great vocals ended up being very off-putting for me and I went out to get some more food…
An ongoing issue throughout the day seemed to be sound issues. Feedback was prevalent at almost every performance I went to, with strange mixing levels to the point the backing vocalist was louder than the lead vocals in the case of Shattered Skies. Soundchecks meant almost every band was running late after about 4pm. Heart of a Coward had a set stopping issue, which meant they had to cut the music for a good few minutes in the middle of their set. Although I wasn’t in the room that long to see exactly what the issue was as I was eager to get back to the second stage to get a good spot to see Toska.
Toska headlined the second stage at Radar. Originally music students at ACM, they’re finally back playing in familiar turf. As mentioned by Rabea (the lead guitarist), one of the bands first gigs was on the very same stage in 2007. Since graduating, Toska have gone on to release a superb EP, “Ode to the Author”, and subsequently an LP last year, ‘Fire by the Silos’ The three instrumentalists blew the audience away by playing songs exclusively from their LP, full of pure crunchy riffage in ‘When Genghis Wakes’ and ‘Prayermonger’, they left the audience wanting more.
Unfortunately though during their set, Toska were facing similar issues in the sound department. The sound check went 15 minutes past their start time and when you’ve only got a 50 minute set, those 15 minutes count a lot. The sound department seemed to have little idea as to what they were doing, turning off Rabea’s (lead guitarist for Toska) microphone at points when he was trying to talk to the audience to introduce their songs.
The main stage finished the day with Monuments, who recently headlined Techfest here in the UK. Annoyingly due to the late running of the second stage, I couldn’t get anywhere near the mosh pit so I ended up watching from the side bar. The place was packed, and with good reason. Monuments have some killer songs, and know exactly how to work an audience. They put on a great show!
Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the end of their set as I had a train to catch. Despite the sound issues, I’m looking forward to coming back for day 2!