You probably haven’t heard of Redfest but you definitely should have! Returning for its 6th year, Redfest is one of the smallest festivals around and we were lucky enough to be invited along to review this 3 night event in Redhill, Surrey. With main stage highlights such as Modestep, Young Guns, Kids in Glass Houses, Deaf Havana and Foreign Beggars it was set to be a good weekend! In addition to the main stage, a range of bands played across three different stages, as well as two dance tents with DJs playing until 3am on Friday and Saturday night, ensuring that there was something for everyone!
We arrived halfway through Friday, but with bands yet to start playing we decided to explore the site, which took all of 5 minutes! The size did, however, become one of the highlights of the festival, the size meant that you were never far from where you needed to be and couldn’t get lost, no matter what state you were in (judging by the state of many of the revellers later this was a good thing!). With so many bands across a variety of stages to see over the weekend we couldn’t possibly comment on all the bands, so here’s a round-up of our favourites!
Mallory Knox- Despite being the second band on the main stage, Mallory Knox seemed to be crowd pleasers. Although not many of the crowd knew who they were, everyone seemed to be enjoying their energetic set. They even took time out after their set for a friendly chat with us that felt like it would have carried on all night had we not been distracted by the arrival of Young Guns. Definitely a band to look out for in the future, make sure you catch them supporting Canterbury at the Soul Cellar in December!
Subsource – Subsource are an interesting band, interesting because they have an electric double bass on stage. For anyone unfamiliar with Subsource’s sound think Pendulum! A huge crowd gathered to watch these returning festival favourites; even the security asked who they are, a sure sign of their talent.
Young Guns- Young Guns were, surprisingly, second on the bill on this opening night, but throughout their set the audience participation was outstanding. The combination of a set comprised mainly of newer catchier songs and frontman Gustav’s charisma ensured that everyone enjoyed their performance.
Modestep- When Modestep came onstage it was clear from the noise of the crowd why they were headlining. Modestep are obvious crowd pleasers who are back for their second year at this festival but this time they are headlining. Modestep are a live dubstep and electronic rock band who by providing a crossover for both rockers and ravers ensured that everyone was on their feet!
Clement Marfo and The Front Line- Fourth on stage this band brings a very energetic and loud performance, exactly what the still hungover crowd needed at this time of day! They’re a genre splitting band with a grime and hip hop core, accompanied by somewhat good soul vocals. On paper it doesn’t sound like it should work, but at this festival it definitely did!
Natives- Originating from the New Forest Natives are an alternative 5 piece, who delivered a lively and likeable performance. They have greatly improved from the last time we saw them at Takedown 2012, and seem to thrive under the festival conditions! We would definitely like to see them again!
Deaf Havana- Another Takedown 2012 favourite played the best set I’ve seen them play, playing a completely new previously unheard song. They delivered a real treat of a set to this lucky crowd. And the crowd responded gratefully with a chorus of crowd vocals accompanying most songs! I would not be surprised to see this band returning to the festival higher up the bill!
Kids in Glass Houses- These Saturday headliners always put on a good show, but there was nothing special about the set on this day. Needless to say, watching them play crowd favourites as the sun set, really did put into perspective what festivals are all about, although their performance was slightly lacking on this occasion.
Brother & Bones- This band was the surprise of the festival for me; they delivered a really good live sound, a bit like a more aggressive Mumford and Sons. They also managed to attract a relatively large (and hungover) crowd considering how early on in the day they were playing. This band is definitely one to watch and judging by the queue at the signing tent, most of the crowd agrees!
Don Broco- These guys were probably the band that engaged with the crowd the best throughout the festival. Despite the hangovers and the heat, there were several mosh pits during their set, as the lead singer even joined and managed to break his ear piece in the process. We were not quite sure how everyone managed it on such a hot day. They are a fun band to watch, but their sound may not be to everyone’s taste!
The Skints – Were exactly what the festival needed at this stage in the day. After the energy of Don Broco’s set, their relaxed reggae music was great to just lie back in the sun to!
Foreign Beggars- This band were the final one of the festival. They embraced the festival spirit by raiding the fancy dress box and delivered a fun show! Despite this, it seemed odd to have such a unique, quirky act to headline the final night of the Redfest.
A few final notes on the festival; if you haven’t been to a festival but think it might be your thing then go to Redfest. Being smaller means that any of the negative aspects of larger festivals are toned down (TOILETS!), while positive aspects such as atmosphere remain strong. All in all, Redfest has enough bands you’ve heard of to sign you up, but enough great bands to send you home happy!