LIVE: Radstock Festival @ O2 Academy 2, Liverpool (29/03/2014)

Date: March 29th, 2014
Venue: O2 Academy 2, Liverpool


Coming back for a second year after a successful debut last March, Radstock was originally set to span another 30 acts across three stages again this year, only this time taking it over to a second home in Newcastle, as well as Liverpool. Though the two locations have remained, sadly due to several bands being forced to pull out, Radstock is instead the form of a weekend of two all-dayers, with a batch of bands on one stage. Though the line-up may not be as weighty as originally planned, that doesn’t mean those bands still onboard will disappoint.

Onto day one in Liverpool, and openers Cytota (***) are handed the task of kicking off this year’s Radstock. The Birmingham lads are still relatively new on the scene, having formed about two years ago, but are certainly worth watching. It takes a couple of songs for them to finally get into their stride, and intermittent microphone issues throughout the set doesn’t help matters, but once they do, they provide a melodic post-hardcore product that surely has brought new fans to the fold today.

Taking to the stage for what will be their final time ever in Liverpool, after announcing their plans to part ways later this year, hardcore upstarts Heights (***) are definitely fun ones to watch. Bringing cuts from both of their records, including ‘The Noble Lie’ and ‘Dead Ends’, they’re still as riotous as ever, even despite the lack of atmosphere in return from the crowd, with frontman Alex Monty and one point dangling from a ceiling pipe before riding the shoulders of their current tour bassist. It’s the crushing closer ‘The Lost And Alone’ though that cements them as a UK act who will truly be missed.

Now going into a whole lot heavier regions of music, perhaps the heaviest band on the whole bill, Heart Of A Coward (****) really do know what it’s all about. It is now that we truly get not just a gig, but a festival vibe from the crowd who begin pitting along to ‘Nightmare’ and ‘We Stand As One’. Jamie Graham is an absolute beast of a vocalist, delivering screams and roars with ease and could stand atop some of metal’s biggest players. However, it’s ‘Deadweight’ that takes the highlight of their set, with the crowd screaming back “I don’t give a fuck” from the top of their lungs.

Climbing higher and higher up the food chain, despite only having one EP and a few other tracks to their name, Hacktivist (*****) are most definitely worth the hype. The Milton Keynes based genre fusers mix elements of hip-hop and djent-esque metal carrying political lyrics and, put simply, it sounds incredible live. Frontmen J Hurley and Ben Marvin are clearly appreciative of their position and know how to whip the crowd up. Their cover of ‘Niggas In Paris’ gets everyone involved, and with the help of 8-string axe weilder Timfy James and bass extraordinare Josh Gurner, they make it sound bulkier and meatier than Jay-Z and Kanye West ever could.

Album number three, ‘The Sorrow And The Sound’, is only a few months away from hitting our ears, and Feed The Rhino (*****), though great on record, really come into their own live. Vocalist Lee Tobin is almost everywhere throughout their set, whether that be screaming in the faces of the front row whilst standing on the barrier, or standing on either side-stage speaker and whipping the crowd into a frenzy. He even opens up a wall of death and gets right into the middle of the void before the two sides clash together. The likes of ‘Mr. Red Eye’, ‘Nothing Lost’ and a cut from their new album, ‘Give Up’, cement Feed The Rhino as one of the UK’s most exciting exports.

Holding the title of the band with the most extensive career on the whole of Radstock‘s line-up this year, and as such are rightfully given the task to close it off, Welsh post-hardcore veterans Funeral For A Friend (****) scream nostalgia, literally. Opening up with some classics from their first two records, such as ‘Bullet Theory’ and ‘Escape Artists Never Die’, instantly the crowd is bouncing, and frontman Matt Davies is screaming most of the words as opposed to singing. At times, his vocals don’t come across as great as they normally do, but this is a minor setback.

Though some of their newer tracks make their appearance, such as ‘Conduit’ and ‘Sixteen’, it really is the older songs that make the best connection and, put simply, translate better live. ‘The End Of Nothing’, though almost 10 years old now, holds a breakdown better than most you’ll hear today, ‘Juneau’ is a post-hardcore anthem for all the right reasons, and the huge chorus sang from everyone across the room for ‘History’ is enough to raise goosebumps for everyone. A sensational end to Liverpool’s first day.

Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)

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