Review: RADAR Festival – 02 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester – Sunday

The final day of any weekend-long festival always brings with it a bit of a dip in energy levels, but with another 10 hours of live music looming large, any sign of lethargy was soon banished once the doors at the Victoria Warehouse opened and the hardy souls started streaming in to claim their place at the barrier. Today all roads led to mainstage headliners Periphery – a busy bunch as they had also featured in RADAR’s innovative ‘Masterclass’ sessions running alongside the festival – and a weekend-closing set that will be spoken about in awe for some time to come.

Casting off any hangovers from the night before, those gathered in front of stage two were giving a proper seeing to from North-East metalcore outfit Dead Speaker who were apparently playing their first-ever gig – surely some mistake there? Such was the confidence oozing from the stage – along with some serious beatdowns – anyone walking in and catching Dead Speaker would be gobsmacked to discover that this was indeed their first foray into live music. Unreal. Flying the flag for Manchester (the real second city in England, sorry Birmingham) local metalcore quartet Where Oceans Burn knocked RADAR Festival for six. The harsh screams from Alex work in perfect unison with the super-clean vocals from Ross; the standout moment has to be a blistering version of ‘Manifest’. Total banger. ‘Midsommar Metal’ is the perfect tag for hotly-tipped UK metallers Forlorn, and with vocalist Megan Elliott blessing the stage in a ritualistic manner for a brief moment before the remaining band members join her, it all makes sense. Wearing not a full-blown flower crown ala Florence Pugh on the poster for the movie, but more of a starker crown, it certainly makes for a stunning visual prop. A stunning mixture of serene moments and moments of foot-on-throat brutality, Forlorn do not disappoint, and when they return to RADAR Festival then no doubt it will be on the main stage and later in the day rather than 2pm on Sunday afternoon.

Lake Malice attack the second stage like their lives depended on it, and in turn, proved that the hype/word-of-mouth surrounding them so early into their career is entirely warranted. One of the most explosive live acts on the alternative music scene, vocalist Alice Guala is a rising star in every sense, and along with guitarist Blake Cornwall, they make the second stage their own. Anyone who can create such an insane pit-starter as ‘Stop The Party’ will always find a willing audience. One of the highlights of the weekend. Getting into stage two for The Callous Daoboys was a task on its own as it seemed that everyone was trying to catch a glimpse of the mathcore/metalcore nutters from Atlanta on a rare excursion outside of America. For the older members of the RADAR audience, vocalist Carson Pace has a touch of Mike Patton about him (especially on ‘Violent Astrology’). Faith No More-Patton yeah, but also the insanity of Mr. Bungle-Patton. And with guitarist Maddie Caffrey constantly impressing throughout the set, as well as violinist Amber Christman, The Callous Daoboys are glorious. How can you not enjoy a “core” band that samples the keytar intro to Journey’s ‘Separate Ways’ and melds it seamlessly into a rager like ‘Star Baby’?

It’s been a long time coming, but finally, Caligula’s Horse are back in the UK. Performing one of the most fluid and easy-on-the-eyes sets of the weekend, Caligula’s Horse make it an afternoon to remember for their legions of long-suffering fans who have been looking forward to this day for five years. A masterful performance from a band that clicks on every level, Jim Grey is a vocalist who grows in stature with each album, and the ease which he controls the audience with is a lesson for all budding frontmen. With every expressive note and lick, guitarist Sam Vallan has the more studious in the audience watching every move. The only complaint would be that the set was too short and seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. After the dust clears from a stunning set from French post-hardcore mob Resolve (some frenzied pits during their 40-minute set), Liverpudlian heroes Loathe make the short journey along the East Lancs Road to close out the second stage. A varied set that promotes different sides to the popular band, Loathe do what many Scousers can only dream of and destroy Manchester. The slow build-up to ‘Rest; In Violence’ is foreboding, and can only hint at the carnage that follows it, but it is the stunning ‘Two-Way Mirror’ that takes the main prize and a great example of how Loathe have many different arrows in their quiver.

As touched on in the intro to this review, on closing day of RADAR Festival 2023, all roads led to Periphery. Judging by the amount of Periphery t-shirts on display, the entire room was here to catch the Washinton D.C. legends. While not the longest journey of the weekend perhaps, the couple next to us had driven up this morning from Brighton just for Periphery’s set. And with a set with something for everyone, such commitment was richly rewarded. The opening trilogy of ‘Muramasa’, ‘Ragnarok’, and ‘Masamune’ was chills-inducing (the crowd bouncing as one on ‘Masamune’ was a sight to behold) and it’s amazing to witness the growth in confidence in his own ability that vocalist Spencer Sotelo now has. Micha Mansoor is spellbinding to watch and it is perhaps a disservice to refer to him simply as a guitarist, perhaps “giant” would be a better description? ‘Zagreus’ and ‘Dracul Gras’ are given their live debuts and sound immense in this setting. Again it is like the floor is a living, breathing entity as it moves in a mass of bodies for nearly 20 minutes of intense progressive metal. Ending on ‘Stranger Things’, this was pretty much a masterpiece of a set that had ears ringing for weeks on end and is still talked about with huge reverence weeks later.

The organisers of RADAR Festival will no doubt have been apprehensive about moving the Festival North, but their risk handsomely paid off and the weekend was a triumph. Any niggles – no matter how small – were dealt with and resolved as soon as humanly possible, and with multiple ways to take a breather from the often-relentless onslaught of music, they created the perfect environment for those needing to recharge their batteries without missing out too much on the action.

Early bird tickets for RADAR Festival 2024 are available here.

Review: DGM review team

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