Elephant & Castle, London08/08/10
All-dayers, by their very nature, are rad. They’re a chance to drink, BBQ, flash tats and wear caps while seeing a whole bunch of DIY bands in one or two rooms with minimal effort. Outdoor festivals involve a lot of walking; all-dayers can be conquered on knees if required. And Radfest – hosted by massive garage fans Sexbeat – is the king dude of this relatively new phenomenon in the world of UK DIY. Last year’s venue of choice was The Victoria in Mile End – our favourite gothic boozer, festooned with the heads of stuffed beasts. Corsica Studios is somewhere near a hundred times more sinister. Most things are in Elephant and Castle. But in the window-less warehouse venue’s dark corners, dappled with various swirling projections, Radfest lives up to its name over ten hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
What we repeatedly learn today is that slackers aren’t so slack – they can and do improve. Dam Mantle once blurred the line between genius and madman, with electronic glitch-craft that was original but also plain bonkers. Now, as he throbs even if the crowd don’t, he’s twisted his 2-step into something listenable and touching, even. Cerebral Ballzy have mellowed too… kinda. Six days ago we saw them play harder and faster than Minor Threat at double speed – this afternoon, their skater hardcore still whines and thrashes but boasts a few melodies too that make them more accessible than they’d probably like to admit. Trash Talk are Radfest’s non-movers – as doomy and dangerous as ever, all somersaults into the mosh pit – while the end of Graffiti Island’s hiatus sees them return as a four-piece, playing a weightier brand of surf garage that improves tracks like the already brilliant ‘Head Hunters’ to no end.
Hold Radfest in Henry Rollins’ arse next year and we’ll still be there.
By Stuart Stubbs
Originally published in issue 20 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. August 2010