9 Apr 2014

RADSTOCK at O2 Academy, Newcastle on 30th March 2014 (Day 2/2)

As we arrive for Radstock action on Day Two it's a somewhat leisurely stroll through the centre of Newcastle. The venue is located perfectly adjacent to both Central Station and Eldon Square Bus Station so there is no excuse for fans to spend their Sunday anywhere else. But the venue is slightly devoid of life and the assembled crowd of ten or so fans present as doors open creates a somewhat inhospitable atmosphere.

Inside the venue, things aren't much better, as we're given the news that Hacktivist have cancelled their performance from someone at the merchandise stand. The band have informed fans of this via Twitter and it's due to a sick band mate. On the subject of merch, stands are rather dull and devoid, with even less merchandise on show than yesterday and the headline act offering extraordinarily little in the way of shirts because, as their official vendor tells me, they're on tour in May and haven't really produced anything new.

Due to a lack of communication from the promoters on the official Twitter and Facebook pages – in that virtually nothing has been said of any consequence – hearsay and rumour have allowed us to believe the event is being held, on the second day, in the larger of the two academy venues, providing a more adequate space to a band of Funeral for a Friend (tonight's headline) calibre. Unfortunately this has turned out to be just that (rumour) and all the action is, once again, taking part in the smaller upstairs arena.

Kicking things off tonight is Cytota who perform a credible set, showing they're a band of merit deserving to be taken seriously, but with sound problems and feedback plaguing their performance alongside a very dismal audience and little to no crowd interaction. The bands can't be blamed, naturally, but the lacklustre attendance – obviously more than satisfied with the performers the night before – have yet to arrive in their numbers, with the bulk of that audience appearing just as Heights ring out their opening chords. Their material could certainly liked to Biohazard and while post hardcore has never been my personal favourite sub genre I will give immense credit to any band who releases a song like 'Eleven Eyes'

The night is getting progressively heavier as Heart of a Coward make an otherwise mediocre evening something to get seriously excited about. These guys are hot, on fire, and worth paying attention too – you can't go wrong with a group of men who look like bouncers come bailiffs and have opened for the likes of Raging Speedhorn. 'Deadweight' and 'Nauseam' both prove that if you're not a fan of this band then there might be something wrong with you. And I don't mind saying that!

Feed The Rhino also produce an excellent set, a band I have been eager to see for a while and glad to have managed the appearance, with a number of audience members arriving late and the atmosphere really beginning to build for tonight's headlines. Of course as Funeral for a Friend take to the stage in order to close tonight's proceedings – and this festival – you'd be forgiven for thinking it was 2003, so dedicated are the band to playing hit after hit from their d├ębut album 'Casually Dressed and Deep In Conversation'

It's proof, if proof were needed, that tonight is a bit of fun for FFAF and one for the fans and the casual listeners alike. That being said, it does have to be said that this weekend has been subject to delays, mis management, mistakes and a serious amount of problems tantamount to more than just “teething” problems. 

While I would welcome the event in Newcastle again, especially at the same time of year, I would expect a massive improvement in line with more acts, a better stage, a return to a one day event and some actual Radstock festival bannering!

Words: Wayne Madden
Photo (HOAC): Brian Nicholson

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