Live Reviews

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Radar Festival 2023 – Friday

Photo Credit: Moshmallows (Photo 1)

Photo Credit: Charlie Bluck (Photo 2)

Photo Credit: Rubén Navarro Martín (Photos 3,5 and 8)

Photo Credit: Eleanor Hazel (Photos 4 and 9)

Photo Credit: Lauren Robey (Photos 6 and 7)

“We are not seeing enough of these types of festivals for the prog and metal scene, which is something that is not mainstream at all. So to be in an environment like that is amazing, and Radar brings that like no other festival” starts Monuments’ Werner Erkelens during our chat with the band backstage on the first day at Radar Festival  2023 and he isn’t wrong. Whilst the UK has fellow prog rock and metal compradores in ArcTangent, Damnation and Tech Fest to name a few, no one puts on a prog and metal masterclass quite like Radar does. Relocating from its two year home down south in Guildford to the northern industrial quarters of Manchester’s o2 Victoria Warehouse, a new venue, a new city and the most iconically stacked line-up Radar has ever committed to across three colossally packed days from Sleep Token to Igorrr and Periphery, Radar is a prog music fans paradise. From world class masterclasses to music markets and performances from some of the scene’s most stellar talent, Radar Festival brought a community spirit and killer line up for every djent head to die for this year. 

First day of Radar and first band up is a brand new discovery in The Five Hundred on the second stage. Whether it be the piercing death menacing glare from frontman John Woods-Eley, who launches himself into the crowd on several occasions staring at crowd members right in the pupils of their eyes while screaming out the lyrics to some of their songs such as hit Smoke And Mirrors. There is an intimidating likeability to The Five Hundred that makes your desire to delve deeper than the surface of their “Meshuggah with Killswitch choruses” label they have picked up since their inception, The Five Hundred are a totally individual beast within their own right. 8/10

Firm Radar Festival favourites, having performed at every edition of the festival since Radar started in 2019, German instrumental gods Unprocessed’s main stage set at Radar Festival for a third time proved that this band belong in the higher echelons of their prog rock peers in Polyphia or TesseracT. “Radar Festival, who is ready to have a huge party?” radiates vocalist Manuel Gardner Fernandez before starting the bands set off with the scintillating Orange Grove, its seductive riffs and sexy screams transforming you to more exotic environments other than Manchester’s beautifully battered Victoria Warehouse for the band’s eight song carnival that let the Latin inspired instruments do all the dancing. 9/10

Much like Unprocessed, Monuments have been firm favourites at Radar Festival. Having headlined back in 2019, Monuments were back to set Radar ablaze for a second headlining slot, this time on the second stage. “This place feels like home to me” says vocalist Andy Cizek, the singer practically the walking embodiment of Radar Festival the entire weekend, spotted around every nook and cranny of Victoria Warehouse, one minute crowd surfing to Heart Of A Coward and Periphery, the next throwing down side of stage to Volumes. However, at this very minute in this very moment, Cizek and co were commanding the Monuments crowd that lay before the band, from not encouraging to encouraging walls of death during Degenerate to demanding a sea of jumping bodies around the unbeatable groove that Leviathan unleashes. It’s a well known fact by now that Andy Cizek is a secret Spider-Man in disguise, swinging from the low hanging industrial infrastructure that inhabits the o2 Victoria Warehouse, but it was Monuments’ crowd who had other ideas, one fan latching onto the roof, before dropping his body down and crowd surfing his way over the barrier. Monuments’ returning set to Radar was nothing short of monstrous, and if Radar don’t book them to make it a triple return next year high on the bill of the main stage, a lot of people might be bitterly disappointed. 10/10

Around the confines of Radar Festival, there has been a lingering feeling of anticipation in the wake of Sleep Token’s headlining slot on the main stage. Being the first single day to fully sell out, judging by the amount of bodies adorning Sleep Token merch in all its entities, some people going as far as to dress up as leading masked entity Vessel, it’s clear to see the culmination of the Sleep Token cult can’t stop multiplying. As the background to the bands latest LP Take Me Back To Eden lingers in the shadows, as you cast your head back to the congregation that is gathered at the ritual in front of the main stage, you can’t see spare space across the floor of the Warehouse. The dawn of Sleep Token was about to eclipse like a beautiful full moon in a long hot summer evening. As soon as the eerie chiming introduction to opener Chokehold kicks in, ear deafening screams are directed at the gowned figures that have now appeared magically onstage, head honcho Vessel moving around like a mad man on steroids to the songs chugging breakdown, a mirror image of his brethren beneath him. Where Take Me Back To Eden’s material builds an unreal atmosphere, tension and suspense, This Place Will Become Your Tomb tracks explode enough to wake the dead from their graves. Hypnosis crashes head first into hypnotic breakdowns, however heavy can come in many forms and delicate piano ballad Atlantic hits everyone’s emotions like a stab to the heart. By the time Sleep Token climax with closer The Offering, if you was one of the 3,000 worshippers present at the Radar ritual of Sleep Token, consider yourself lucky because as the band prepare to gather once more at a 10,000 sold out Wembley Arena show later this year, Sleep Tokens ascent into god tier forces of genre melting metal isn’t going to stop there. Worship. 10/10

Written By: Katie Conway-Flood

Katie Conway-Flood
🎵 Music Journo @bringthenoiseuk @gigwise @newnoisemagazine 🖤 Brewdog Crew @brewdogshepbush 🎵 Bands obsessed 🖤 Vegan