Radar Festival: Day Two

Animals as Leaders on the main stage

If you missed the day one article, click here to read it first.

After a night of rest, paracetamol, and copious amounts of water, I headed back to Guildford for day two of the festival.

I arrived just as Arcaeon were playing. Even before releasing a debut album, they had a small horde of dedicated merched up fans ready to groove. They had some excellent tapping guitar work from the two guitarists whilst the basslines pounded throughout the room. It felt good to be back.

Arcaeon grooving out

Then I moved on to the slightly more mellow Kaguu on the second stage. A trio of instrumentalists whom brought jazzier vibes to a very heavy festival all the way from Mexico. By this point my neck was so incredibly sore from all the headbanging, I was thankful to hear some more mellow music. Their melodic sequences were almost near dream like, but still showed plenty of technical prowess.

One thing I noticed about the second day was that the venue was far busier much earlier on. I presume this is due to it being a Saturday and the crowds travelling from further out had an easier time getting out to Guildford.

Radar festival logo

Back over to the main stage, and Sithu Aye played some great tunes. Lots of solos bouncing back and forth between the two guitarists that were expertly rehearsed. They managed to fill the harmonic space with no bass guitar which was particularly impressive. With a powerhouse of a drummer behind them, they finished off their set with two anime covers. Both of which I’m entirely unfamiliar with as I’ve never delved into that genre of TV, but I’m sure for fans of the shows it would have been a treat.

Next up we had Vola, a band I’d thankfully been made familiar with when they supported Haken on their UK tour earlier this year. It was my first proper mosh pit of the day, but I had a blast and got absolutely drenched in sweat. Some of it was even my own! They mostly played tracks from their latest album, ‘Applause of a Distant Crowd. The dark synth overtones coming from Martin Werner, the beautiful voice of Asger Mygind (to match his beautiful hair, obviously), as well as the pounding rhythm section made this a band really stand out in the festival. The UK are clearly ready for their headline tour in September, and if you haven’t already got tickets, you can get some here.

The cool thing about it being a small festival is you always see the same faces wherever you go. There’s a big shared community experience that you wouldn’t get at somewhere like Download or Wacken because of their insane size. You would be unlikely to bump into the same person twice. Yet at Radar Festival, I’ve been dancing terribly with the same faces at every band, striking up long conversations over the period of a day, and have made a number of unspoken friendships from inflicting pain on one another in the pit.

Next up, Car Bomb who ripped the audience up with some technical death metal. This mosh pit got a bit aggressive so I decided to sit this one out and really pay attention to the music. There were guitar squeals left right and centre, possibly Dimebag inspired, mixed in with incredibly harsh vocals which set everyone off the rails. No soul was safe from their pure melodic goodness.

Rolo Tomassi on the main stage

Rolo Tomassi came up next whom I first saw about a month ago when they were supporting Gojira. What led me into them is that the lead vocalist, Eva Spence, is quite simply fucking terrifying. The amount of power behind her voice is frightening. Being able to do death screeches as well as hit the upper register in an angelic fashion makes her an incredible force to be reckoned with. Whilst all this is going on, James Spence works on creating a magical world through the power of the synthesiser in the background. The contrasting soft and heavy sections of their songs brought the room to an emotionally conflicted standstill. I can’t wait to see what this group end up doing next!

Following this, downstairs we had No Consequence on the second stage, who it turns out is also the vocalist for Heart of a Coward who played the day before. They went so hard, the drummer had to repair the snare drum with duct tape in the middle of the set. It sounds like something out of ‘Spinal Tap’, but no really, it happened.

Agent Fresco on the main stage

Up until this point, it seemed like on day two, Radar had gotten all of their sound issues fixed up. However, when Agent Fresco took to the stage, the band seemed visibly irritated with the sound coming through. At one point Arnór (the lead vocalist) said to the audience “We’re having major technical issues”.  It seemed like Arnór’s monitoring wasn’t working properly, and at one point the guitar cut out briefly.

However, this didn’t stop them from putting on an awesome set. As Agent Fresco wove through their previous records, we got privy to their third album with a new song which sounded awesome. Keep an eye on that one for 2020… Arnór finished up by saying he was having the time of his life on this stage, and subsequently squeezed in one extra song before having to end the performance. The crowd was now excited, hyped up, and drunk. The perfect combination of emotions to start a giant mosh pit.

…And that’s exactly what happened when the headliner Animals as Leaders took to the stage. The night delved into pure moshing, crowdsurfing, anarchy. Celebrating their 10th anniversary of being a band together, Animals as Leaders played a spread of songs over their entire discography. As if they need an introduction, the trio have released four LPs in the past full thumb-dislocating djenty goodness. Tosin particularly is well known for taking playing the guitar to new heights being influenced by classical and jazz guitar. Creating an entire song just with one instrument which is something that the guitar is perfectly capable of doing in the right hands.

Full of unorthodox jazzy riffs, Tosin and Javier pounded through the venue and filled it up with incredible energy. This was the last band of the festival and as an audience, we were gonna make it count! The sheer insane levels of technical playing that the trio can put into their music, while still bringing out soaring melodic lines means they’ll always be the top of the instrumental band ladder. Sadly, they did have to end their set, and thus bring an end to the festival.

The end of Animals as Leaders’ set

The organisers briefly got together and said a big thank you to everyone for making the festival happen, and they should! Despite a few kinks along the way, they did a fantastic job of putting this all together. They also let slip that a headline act for next year will be announced “very very very soon”… I can’t wait.

I’m bruised, battered, hungover, and ready for a giant fry up. Radar, you did an insane job of pulling all of these bands together for your first ever festival. I had a kicker of a time, and cannot wait to go back next year.

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