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Radstock 2013: 3 stages,10 hours, 24 bands

The Blackout Live, courtesy of Edd_Smith_Photography

The Blackout Live, courtesy of Edd_Smith_Photography

As far as inaugural festivals go, Radstock sure kicked off what could soon be one of the biggest one day events in the country with aplomb.

Staggered over three stages and encompassing ten hours of live music, the event saw 24 bands grace the Liverpool O2 Academy. Sadly, without the aid of a *Warning, NERD ALERT* time turner, it was not possible to catch every band playing due to clashes between the Monster & Hard Times stages. The 14 bands I was lucky enough to see definitely made for one hell of an experience.

The day was kicked off on the Big Deal Clothing stage by Brighton’s Gnarwolves to a unfortunately small crowd. Those who did manage to get to the venue for opening were treated to some quality pop-punk from a band who are clearly destined for big things over the coming years.

Directly afterwards, in a strange set up in which the crowd literally just had to turn around to see the main stage, Natives turned things up a notch. Blasting through songs from their upcoming album, as well as This Island from their previous release, which saw the first real burst of energy from the growing crowd.

Leeds rockers Drive by Night quickly followed, with a lead singer who looked scarily similar to Joey Barton, before confusion struck by the name of Sonic Boom Six. Now, I should point out they are not the kind of band I would usually see live or listen to so it is hard to say whether they were on form or not. That said, the crowd they attracted whilst competing directly with Carcer City over on the Hard Times stage was impressive and they got the crowd going so who am I to judge?

Sweden’s Tantrum To Blind brought their A-Game to the Big Deal Clothing balcony, with lead-singer Melanie Mohlkert diving around the tiny stage, with single Get Get Get the highlight of their 30 minute set. This was followed by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, who despite drawing one of the larger crowds of the day outside of the main headliners seemed to be lacking something. Front-man Ronnie Winter worked the crowd well but sections of the set felt like filler in comparison to the older classics, with Face Down closing the set with one of the loudest singalongs of the day.

Light You Up showed enough of themselves to hint at bigger things to come, but with few of the audience knowing their material it was left to their cover of Jimmy Eat World’s Salt Sweat Sugar to bring the house down. From the tracks they showcased on Saturday, Light You Up are definitely one to watch in the future. Yashin on the other hand had already cemented themselves deep into the hearts of most in attendance, with more of their merch being worn than any other band. A relatively stripped back version of Stand Up was enough to send goosebumps running throughout the crowd, before a cover of Linkin Park’s One Step Closer and classic track Runaway Train caused circle pits aplenty.

Bath five-piece Decade managed to follow crowd favourites Yashin, tearing through tracks from their self-titled EP to much success, managing to encourage pits to open up and crowd surfing despite playing from a balcony so high above the fans who stayed to check out what was a very accomplished set. Don Broco were a whole different kettle of fish though, as one of the biggest breakout bands of 2012 there was a real buzz about their set throughout the day, and the Bedford pop-rockers didn’t disappoint, smashing through tracks from debut album Priorities, as well as finding time to include a couple of tracks from the Big Fat Smile EP for die-hard fans. The momentum was clearly in their favour and Don Broco had the crowd in the palm of their hand for the entirety of their set. By the time they finished with Fancy Dress it was clear for those who had witnessed it, the set was one of the day’s highlights.

Blitz Kids then thad the unenviable task of following such a raucous set, and without a band rivaling them on the Hard Times stage the pressure seemed to get to them slightly, with the crowd seemingly indifferent for large parts of the set. Had the upcoming album already have hit the stores then it may have been a different story, but sadly Saturday just wasn’t Blitz Kids’ day.

The same certainly could not be said for We Are The Ocean, who were in complete control of the crowd from the moment they stepped out on stage. With the majority of the tracks coming from last year’s brilliant Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow, the crowd ate up the likes of Young Heart and The Road, whilst showing their appreciation with some of the most raucous pits of the day, which after what had already been over 8 hours of action is some good going to say the least!

Possibly the most difficult task of the day went to Straight Lines, who not only had to attempt to follow We Are The Ocean, but also had half of their set disrupted by The Blackout’s sound check on the main stage mere metres away. They didn’t let that disrupt them however, as they gave a glowing account of themselves. Even when the odds are against them, with tracks like Ring The Bells and Freaks Like Us to fall back on, Straight Lines are always able to force the crowd into a frenzy.

Radstock was brought to a close by Methyr Tydfil’s The Blackout, and there really couldn’t have been a better choice to bring the event to a close. Their set had it all and Sean Smith’s ability to play the pantomime villain – telling a largely Liverpudlian crowd that they are a “poor man’s Manchester” was inspired – added to a set chock full of hits. The always huge This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things drew arguably the largest pit of the day and the shock, although pre-planned, wedding proposal halfway through Save Our Selves (The Warning) was a heart-warming touch. After such an energy sapping day, finishing with the brutal I’m a Riot? You’re a Fucking Riot was inspired and saw Radstock 2013 saluted in style.

After what was one hell of an event, all that is left to say is Radstock has arrived and if you were lucky enough to be in attendance as I was then I’m sure you’ll agree that its return next year is a must!



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