First edition of Radar festival and here I am, planning this out of nothing one month before the event, and thanks to a Facebook ads. Which is not bad, by the way, since I am quite thrilled to see together Monuments, Agents Fresco, VOLA and Animals as Leaders, but as every new festival, you never know what it will happen. There will be band cancellations at the last moment? Roadie will put the system on fire due to an unexpected short circuit? Police will come and shut down at 8 pm? Only time will tell.
The first editions was held in Guildford, in the Surrey, at one hour by train from London. A quite place medium-size city in the countryside, with a crazy car traffic in the center and a mild nightlife. I did like it much more then London, with its fairy-corners and 16th century old houses:
The festival itself was in a very creepy place called Corner House, that looks like a striptease place. Which is something doesn’t bother me so much – I saw much worse in East Germany – except the fact that I felt in cage all the time. So, when you enter in the main stage, the space is quite large – and the bars (2) are located a little bit separated, which is nice for avoiding drunk people throwing beers on you while are trying to stand still. The problem starts when you go to the second stage, when the entrance is a narrow stair that goes into a basement almost full with the stage and the bar at the opposite side. Luckily there is also a space on the right, but instead to be a chill out place (full of couches and seats) this area is left to the merch area and the Long Branch records stand. Another thing I don’t like (but I saw it unfortunately in many indoor festivals) is to refuse re-admission to the venue after a certain. Probably a rule made by the city government, deeply hated since I get easily annoyed when there is only an active stage and the band there is not interesting at all.
Secret Act, Heart of a Coward, Monuments
Anyway, we are there in this place forgotten by God and I am on time on Friday to see the Secret Act advertised in the timetable. I was hoping to see Arch Echo, since they are about to tour with VOLA pretty soon, but I was not really disappointed to see this NNN guys. What I liked about them was how they built their show, using different tricks to engage the crowd and make a crazy party, and they did it with a music that looked for me a mix between Marylin Manson, Combrichrist and Rammstein, with some reminiscence of dirty rockabilly.
NNN with weird apocalyptic crazy guys
After the Secret Act, I did not find any interesting band until Monuments. Sumer was really boring for me, while Heart of a Coward, despite was giving tons of energy to a responsive crowd, was in my opinion a standard deathcore band (with a progressive structure of the songs, but still the style is pretty ‘core). I was also quite surprised I did not like Toska, since they are part of the instrumental prog that I use to listen a lot in this period. Maybe because I did not know the songs at all? Maybe.
Regarding Monuments: I should admit that one of the reason I went to Radar was to see Chris Barretto performing, and I was quite disappoint when I read he left the band one month before. Still, I was curious to listen his replacement, Andy Cizek, a talented Millennial that makes video on Youtube singing covers of famous songs. Well, I can tell that this guy knows how to sing. I could see that he really prepared himself for this challenge he tried to do his best to sing on vocal lines that were not made for him. I did appreciate the efforts and I believe also the public did. For me it was the best show I have seen since the one in Wacken on 2016, the one in which I felt in love with them.
After the headliner I run out of the main stage even if there was the afterparty ongoing. The reasons I did this were two: first, since I woke up at 5 am to catch my flight to go to the festival I was really tired. Second was the tremendous heat created in this hell of a nightclub, in which there was no airflow system and most of the doors were kept closed in order not to make too much noise outside. Which for me was ridiculous, since it was weekend and every pub around us was noisy. At a certain moment on Saturday, the air was so warm and smelly that I was able only to stand closed to the smoking areas, the only place where to take fresh air since it was outside.
VOLA, Agent Fresco, Modern Day Babylon and Animals as Leaders
Speaking about Saturday, I had a very nice start of the day with VOLA, which I discovered last year and I love since that moment. These guys are growing professionally and their fanbase is doing it also at the same pace. Most of the time people were singing their songs and the main stage was really packed, even if it was only 5 pm.
VOLA during a break between songs
I do not have so much to add about Car Bomb (also pretty packed), Rolo Tomassi (that I definitely removed from my personal list of band to follow, since their music doesn’t tell me anything) and other bands of the night except 3: Agent Fresco, Modern Day Babylon and Animals as Leaders.
Agent Fresco – with security guy and photographer
Finally I got to see Agent Fresco after the disappointing live I saw in Eindhoven while touring with Leprous. It was one of the last shows and the sounds was terrible, so I really appreciated the fact they gave 110% on this 40 min. Even if they said they were having technical issues, I did not notice big mistakes during playing Destrier (because they are basically doing this, over and over, and still promising to release the next album even if they said was due this summer). Also here, the public was so into the songs and involved until the end, when – as always – Arnor took his long cable for the microphone and just into the crowd singing The Autumn Red and greetings the people around him. Quite a standard gig for an aficionado as me, but still worth the price of the ticket.
At the last two bands of the night I was really tired and the heat was almost unbearable. I got to see almost all the Modern Day Babylon set, that was also extremely powerful and followed with the passion by the small public of the second stage, but when I went back to the main stage I had a moment of despair. For the last band of the night the place was completely packed of people. From my perspective there was no place available, and taking pictures of Animals as Leaders from my side was not possible. I was not even able to see the band until the last two songs – which was fine since I was waiting Physical Education, their most famous closure. Surprisingly the crowd (one of the most proactive I have ever seen) sang even this instrumental piece.
In conclusion, I must say that this was a successful first edition of the Radar festival, mainly due to two reasons: the line up and the public. It seems there is a quite active and connected scene in this area – even if small – ready to support this kind of activities. Let’s hope they will keep it up.