Hackney Downs Studios | 19th August
Nudie Jeans & Sexbeat’s annual all dayer Radfest took place on the hottest day of the year, but the music lovers flocked to the warehouses that make up Hackney Downs Studios regardless to dance, mosh and get seriously sweaty.
With fifteen bands on the programme, three stages, a food hall and a record store that hosted the likes of Kristina Records, this was undoubtedly the biggest Radfest so far. First on our agenda was Brighton based four piece Fear of Men whose sweet, mirthful indie never ceases to brighten our day. The band’s frontwoman Jess Weiss was an enthralling presence with her ever pitch-perfect vocals and bleach blonde hair. They played a solid set to an eager crowd that included fan favourite Ritual Confession, breakthrough tune Doldrums and set-closer Green Sea.
Next up was Maria Minerva, who apparently was none too impressed with the dark warehouse surroundings, “It’s a bit depressing in here isn’t it?”, she complained. Dressed like she was departing for boarding school, her smart but spooky space hymns lulled the crowd in to submission. She swayed and wailed through her set with vocals reminiscent of The Knife’s Fever Ray.
We then hit Room 3 to check out ex Lovvers frontman Shaun Hencher’s new band Virals in front of a curtain back drop which presented the band like a scene from a David Lynch flick. If the sun wasn’t already beating now, Virals’ upbeat, melodic 60s style pop could have brought it out of hiding. Single Magic Happens is much harder and faster than on record and their lush number Coming up With the Sun made us want to pack and leave for San Francisco.
Over at the main stage we went, where the excitement and temperature was palpable for Diiv. This was the Brooklyn dream-poppers first European gig and they absolutely lived up to the hype, kicking off with an instrumental jam before launching into tunes we couldn’t help but bop to. We get the sense that they’re set to go far.
The next couple of hours got royally raucous with punk outfits Ceremony, Fidlar and Jacuzzi Boys back to back. Californians Ceremony thrashed through their hardcore punk with intense energy. Band members and audience alike fist punched and howlied as frontman Ross Farrar clambered atop up an 8ft high speaker for some old-fashioned danger singing.
LA’s Fidlar inspired the biggest mosh pit of the day. Their high-hung guitars and high-speed tracks came as a smack in the face to just about everybody. “This song is about rehab. Y’all don’t have rehab here. You just stay fucked up,” they announced before launching into a tune that was met with as much aggression as it was delivered.
We had to wait a while to get into fully packed out room two to see awesome garage punks Jacuzzi Boys, one of the highlights of the day. The band bounced through tracks from their 2011 LP Glazin’ before frontman Gabriel Alcala flung himself into the crowd at the end of their set.
Headliners Veronica Falls finished off our day on a somewhat calmer but in no way less heated note. With the main stage packed out for their haunting harmonies, they performed now classic tracks Beachy Head and Found Love in a Graveyard. We’re not sure how the folks at Radfest HQ could top this next year, but we look forward to seeing them try.
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Keep up to date with Sexbeat shows at http://sexbeatlondon.com
Words: Lucie Grace
Photos: Sean Carpenter