With Veronica Falls, Trash Talk, Ceremony and loads more
Ceremony - Radfest 2012

The weatherman tells you it's (almost) the hottest day of the year and the sweat on your back makes you question the “almost” part. What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon then, than in a very urban gig complex – think concrete and car parks and you have Hackney Downs Studios – with another thousand perspiring bodies, drinking beer and listening to the sweet, sweet sounds of Sexbeat's stereo? Once we'd gotten over Saturday night's hangover, not much else came to mind. So it was that Clash joined the likes of Kate Nash (in full lo-fi florals) and Tender Age's Toby Bull (separately, we should add), at Radfest's new East London residence.

Something of an upgrade from their former homes of the Bussey Building in Peckham and Elephant & Castle's Corsica Studios – in capacity at least – the new arena counted three stages, two bars, a food court with generous offerings, vinyl and fanzine selling stalls and plenty of space to park your behind in-between bands. Radfest 2012 was indeed a totally radical festival, dude; not in that it offered anything new (do we all remember Yes Way?), but for the current East London scene inevitably something different from another night on Kingsland Road.

Easing us into proceedings were DIIV, sitting pretty on the main stage's six o'clock slot and led by founding member Zachary Cole Smith, the shoe gaze tinged band performed tracks from the June released LP, 'Oshin'. A mix of soft sounds and repetitive thoughts, the set was accompanied by lights causing majestic shadows and unnatural thoughts. Leeds laying band Eagulls were next up, keeping us entertained on stage two with punk intentions and five minute long tracks. There's something in the way lead singer George Mitchell moves that echoes The Drums' Jonathan Pierce; this is not a bad thing.

Having missed the first half of Gabriel Bruce's set for a quick toilet break downstairs, we were entertained simply by some banter and a bizarre chorus of 'Happy Birthday' as an amp broke halfway through: "If we're all really quiet we can just play if off the laptop, it's got built in speakers," Bruce chimed. With backing singers dressed up in strapless fringe creations and the man himself obviously ready to entertain, it seemed a damn shame he couldn't be moved to another stage to finish up. Onwards and upwards with Ceremony on the main stage! Maintaining Eagulls' punk sentiment – then tearing it up completely – the band hail from San Francisco and came into being way back in 2005. This show saw stage invaders galore, bluesy tones and hardcore heads. Returning to stage three for some sixties garage courtesy of Miami three piece Jacuzzi Boys, the heat once again rose and the only way to endure it was to embrace it, which meant dancing. Lots of dancing. Easily done with their surfy sounds, as much of the crowd agreed.

The main stage headliners were Veronica Falls, of proper indie success fame. With a stage doused in flowers – which were later thrown into the audience and turned out to be real – there was a mood set and couples suddenly all around. Delivering the evening's most reserved set, such is the four piece’s smooth and often morbid sound, songs such as 'Found Love in the Graveyard' saw fans clamber onto each other’s shoulders and a wave of affection enveloped the crowd.

The festival's finale couldn't have been more different, with Radfest regulars Trash Talk taking to stage two. The crowd completely in the palm of his hand, Lee Spielman interrupted the gnarly set only to politely ask for the sound to be turned up before thrashing around the stage some more. Fans climbed on stage, dived off speakers and had a whole lot of charged up fun in the process. Grateful for the opportunity to play a show dedicated solely to good music, Spielman spat out "support the fucking city."

As the ceiling looked unsteady security put a stop to the show and we were ushered out onto the pavement, making our way back onto Kingsland Road wondering what could have been.

Words by Zoe Whitfield
Photo by Sean Carpenter

Click here for a photo gallery of the festival.

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