Redfest- Friday 26th July
Review by: Lucy Overs
Redfest was lucky in that it seemed to be the last weekend of our month-long summer. Which of course, for the UK is one of the longest summers we’ve ever seen. People seemed to appreciate this and the festival had such a calm, relaxed atmosphere, maybe this was because of the size; although Redfest is getting progressively bigger every year it’s still like a tiny version of one of your big weekend festivals, Reading & Leeds or Download for example. Everything is within a few minutes walk, I didn’t see a single queue all day and we ended up chatting to loads of friendly festival goers stood around by the bar. This relaxed atmosphere was coupled with a diverse range of rock music set across three stages.
Iris- Blackstar Amplification Stage
Palm Reader- The Hype Stage
I was really looking forward to seeing the next band. Palm reader recently released their album, Bad Weather which is just brilliant. They were playing in the Hype tent which was adorned with signs saying “This tent has one rule: Don’t be a dick.” A pretty fair rule. Palm Reader didn’t disappoint, playing their usual melodic rock with loads of energy, an intense show and it was clear their fans in the crowd were loving every song. 8/10
Gnarwolves- The Hype Stage
Next up was Gnarwolves, a Brighton based trio playing fast-paced punk rock. Having seen them a few times before I knew what to expect, they’re one of those bands that get better every time you see them, they seem confident having worked hard and earned their slot on the Hype stage. The songs were brilliant, playing tracks off their recent release Funemployed with energetic intensity. Gnarwolves never disappoint. 8/10
Subsource- The Hype Stage
Subsource are a band I’ve never paid much attention to before as it’s not the kind of music I usually enjoy, but I was with friends who were keen to see them so I hung around to see what the fuss was about. They played an absolutely brilliant remix of Slipknots ‘Duality’ which you can find on YouTube if you haven’t heard already and the crowd went absolutely crazy, it was the first wall of death I’d seen this weekend and the entire show just had a great atmosphere. I surprisingly really enjoyed it, despite not knowing a single word and highly recommend seeing them if there’s a show near you. 7/10
Brother and Bones- The Blackstar Amplification Stage
Brother and bones were the surprise of the day. Again, I’d never really heard of them before but a girl I was with was beyond excited as they were setting up on the main stage, as was a high proportion of the large crowd that had gathered. The band were on just before sunset which turned out to be the perfect setting for their beautiful, relaxing vibe. If you’re into the folkly, evocative style of music, they’re definitely a band worth checking out, the singer’s voice was just gorgeous and as I became another one of the captivated crowd, I could easily see what all the fuss was about. 9/10
Dry The River- The Blackstar Amplification Stage
Last but not least, headliners Dry The River played as the sun went down and I, along with a large proportion of the festival had been looking forward to their set the most. They are absolutely brilliant performers and make a main stage at a festival feel like the atmosphere of an intimate venue. There were some brilliant sing along moments and my personal favourite, No Rest was beautiful. The band showed they really do have what it takes to play big stages despite not having loud fast paced tracks that sort of stage would be used to, the perfect end to the first day. 8/10
Redfest- Saturday 27th July
Review by: Julia Powney
Now in it’s sixth year of fun and frolics, Redfest have definitely nailed the independent festival circuit. Nestled in the grassy countryside just outside Reigate and Redhill, you’re close enough to civilisation for a party, and deep enough into greenland to, well…have an absolute blast. With previous headlining acts including Enter Shikari, Ed Sheeran and Newton Faulkner, Redfest have established themselves at the forefront of introducing the biggest acts at the most exciting points of their career, and 2013 shows no sign of slowing their reign.
Of the three stages that make up Redfest, the Boileroom stage is undoubtably THE place to be for rising talent. Based on Guildford’s gig venue of the same name, many of the artists to take to the Boileroom stage have risen through the tough, musical ranks to stake their claim on the festival excitement and prove their hard earned status – Red Kites anyone?!
Red Kites- Boileroom Stage
No strangers to the touring scene, Red Kites injected the Boileroom stage with an upbeat and guitar driven energy, entwined with the strong vocals and soulful lyrics of their 2nd EP, New Life Ignites. Frontman Moteh’s confidence on-stage and crowd persuasion got everyone in the tent singing along to ‘Lizzy Jane’ and eagerly awaiting the infectious chorus. As warming as a skilled chord strummer and an open fire on a cool autumn evening, Red Kites’ set was the fuel to the chilled Redfest vibe. Their ability to write poetic lyrics untainted by overpowering personality establishes a maturity within the band – both in musical and personality terms. By the time their set came to a premature end, the lively crowd had cheered and clapped into a joyful spirit, so what more inspiring than the guys immersing themselves down on the floor and chilling with the fans. Expect big things, and an even bigger stage from Red Kites. 8/10
The Crookes- The Blackstar Amplification Stage
In true festival spirit, the good weather couldn’t hold off for long as the clouds opened up over the Blackstar stage, but that didn’t dampen the excitement for The Crookes’ set. Having kept a quiet profile after promoting their 2012 album, Hold Fast, they reminded us why exactly you can’t forget them, not to mention their underground following, ‘The Bright Young Things’ lining the barriers to sing along to their every lyric. Revving the festival with hits such as ‘Backstreet Lovers‘ and ‘Dance In Colour’, if you weren’t excited for their upcoming release, you ought to be now. There’s no denying The Crookes were back on fighting form, but i’m assuming I wasn’t alone in my surprise that besides their loyal fan-base, the crowd wasn’t as brimming as it ought to be. Nonetheless, once in full swing, frontman George Waite’s enigmatic presence and vocals bursting with true feeling caught the intrigue of bystanders, bringing them in closer to the performance. A short but sweet set, they’ve left crowds desperate for more, but is the excitement purely an effort to revive the memories? The album will surely prove not, they’re back in business! 7/10
Lucy Rose- The Blackstar Amplification Stage
Having announced a 2 month headlining tour of the US from September onwards, Lucy Rose is as hardworking as she is talented, and judging from her bubbly presence and brimming confidence, she’s pretty darn excited for her American venture. There’s no stereotyping Lucy’s crowd among the eclectic combination of beardy older gents, clean cut lads and mums with excitable daughters singing along to her gentle voice and melancholic lines. Hitting the set off with ‘Lines’, the crowd is atmospheric and engaged with the chorus – even the bassist is shaking his long dreads with the energy of her songs. Having seen Lucy at Guildford Boileroom, she couldn’t adapt more skilfully from low-key gigs to festival spaces to project her soft voice and meek demeanour into a powerful performance for the bustling crowd. Between the swift changes of guitars, Lucy kept the crowds up-beat and engaged with teasing chords and tempting intros to hits such as ‘Bikes’ and ‘Middle Of The Bed’ – with the crowd giving back as good as they’re getting, they’re not shy to show their support for her in screams of admiration. With a personality as authentic as her silky voice, Lucy doesn’t need to run laps around the stage to capture audiences’ attention, she holds captivation seated on a stool centre-stage wearing a casual combination of loose shirt and jeans. As she announces the end of her set and rests her guitar, we’re left enjoying what could be the last small gig for Lucy as she embarks to broader horizons. She was simply perfect. 9/10
As Lucy unfortunately departs and the crowds stir from their breezy, relaxed state, there’s gentle uproar for an encore as she returns to the stage. Alas, she’s only helping clear away the set and pack away the instruments. Seriously Lucy, stop being so adorable – you’re making us extremely jealous. So as the lights go down and the rain falls thicker, the mood darkens in anticipation for Bastille. 10:05 and the atmosphere is electric, the crowd chants ‘Pompeii’ and senses are alert for any flicker of life. As the string musicians perch patiently on the sidelines, the stage is plunged into darkness and the Bastille boys emerge. This is it.
Bastille- The Blackstar Amplification Stage
Quite literally storming into ‘Bad Blood’, the crowds go wild singing along and pummelling fists into the air. A minute or so in encounters a minor hiccup for singer Dan Smith, who’s vocals are lost somewhere in the output levels, but in a swift and subtle exchange the problem is rectified without a second thought. Blasting hits from their debut album and bounding around the stage playing any instrument in his path – with reason of course. With the crowd charged up for the powerful anthem of ‘Things We Lost In The Fire’, to look around and see the large expanse of fans so dedicated to the music is a sight. Taking a softer tone for ‘Overjoyed’ and the tinker of the keyboard is a gentle transition for the set and a breather for the intense crowd.
4 songs in and Bastille spice up the mix with a rendition of hip-hop trio City High’s version of ‘What Would You Do?’ Performed to a festival crowd and given a rock-y twist, you wouldn’t be blamed for expecting the song to have lost it’s moral context and feeling, but Dan’s husky tone and subdued melancholy only achieves a heightened sense of power for the ballad – and at one point he seem’s to have lost himself too. Perfectly flowing into ‘Weight Of Living II’ gives another opportunity for a mass sing-along and synchronous timing of blunted drum beating and sharp light flashes.
Described as a charismatic frontman, perhaps Dan was playing coy as he concentrated on hiding/playing a multitude instruments before sneakily venturing onto the scaffolding closer to the crowds. After belting out ‘Laura Palmer’, Bastille went old school for their cover of the 90′s Corona hit, ‘Rhythm Of The Night’. As everyone literally went wild for the retro rendition, Bastille requested the entire crowd crouched down, only to spring up in laughable madness for the jumping chorus resulting in sliding legs in the mud and rain soaked splatters. Such an atmosphere.
Just as we began to worry Bastille had forgotten to play ‘Pompeii’, they bring friends and fellow band To Kill A King on to the stage. Decked out with tambourines and the odd beer, the ensemble begin the opening chant to their number 1 hit, and the crowd follows suit with explosive energy. As the final note resounds and the band modestly thank everyone and anyone for turning out, the realisation that Redfest 2013 is dawns with slightly overwhelmed feeling. While it’s a low-key festival, and by no means guaranteed the same status as Glastonbury or Reading/Leeds, knowing you’ve got more than a decent dollar for your buck and seen a multitude of talented and, dare I say it, refreshing collection of bands in intimate proximity, I’ll be back in a heartbeat for RedFest 2014. 9/10
Hurray for independent festivals!