REDFEST 2014 Review

Peace and Dreads in the Surrey Countryside

The best thing about RedFest is that it is so safe and quiet. It is a social weekend which is not far from home.

It seems that many families participated in this year’s wonderful two days of festivities in the heart of the beautiful Surrey countryside.

We saw lots of locals – moms and dads  – with kids and grandparents – turning up for a day in the sun.

To lick an iced lolly, and to enjoy a jolly kick-about in the generous open spaces. Then to participate in some sweet head banging … just as the golden sun went down.

RedFest - Properly coordinated. Professionally managed.  And very safe
RedFest – Properly coordinated. Professionally managed. And very safe

It’s amazing – the power of music.

It is always a wonderful sight – the bringing together of tribes, ages, genres and even social classes – and this can only take place at very special festivals like RedFest.

Properly coordinated. Professionally managed. And very safe.

The organizers are extremely talented – and this weekend they managed to create a peerless inter-cultural mix.

Who could imagine a line-up that could include so many diverse acts?

From heavyweight metal acts like ‘The Heart of a Coward’ or ‘The Dirty Youth’ (and the incredible ‘Skindred’ show ) – to the dramatically heated passions of solo performers like Lewis Watson or Lauren Aquilina. Or the incredible extravagances of rock ‘n’ roll acts such as The Struts or Peace. It was all here to be enjoyed.

Lauren Aquilina - Shimmering heated passions
Lauren Aquilina – Shimmering heated passions

Music was served at four different stages:  The Main Stage, The Total Uprawr Stage, The Introducing Stage – plus the Head Space Tent.  Best of all (in the evenings) was the ridiculously enjoyable Silent Disco.

Music has the ability to transcend all boundaries – so at Redfest this year, we caught glimpses of Santa Claus lookalike grand-daddy’s moshing down at Total Uprawr to the crushing guitars of The One Hundred.

While, apparently, the aunt and the children were swirling around in a trance to the sunshiny vibes from Young Kato up on the Main Stage.  And where were Mum and Dad?  They were probably watching rising stars like “The Bullet Proof Bomb” over in the Introducing Tent.

Swirling around in a trance to the sunshiny vibes from Young Kato
Swirling around in a trance to the sunshiny vibes from Young Kato

Fortunately for us, after 20 minutes of tropical rain, on Friday afternoon the La Fontaines gave us a whole load of sunshine and smiles.

They explained that they had made a very long and painful drive – a  16 hour road-trip  – down from Glasgow to see us (the journey is usually ‘only’ 9 hours.)  Wow – were we glad they did it!

Their guitar-infused hip-hop was music party material.  Pure and simple. From The La Fontaines onwards – we knew (in our hearts) that this would be a very special weekend.

Of course, there were some disappointments.

Catfish and Bottlemen unexpectedly pulled out (because of some unforeseen personal circumstances.)

And on Saturday ‘A Plastic Rose’ did not really enjoy the size of crowd they deserved – punters were extremely thin on the ground.

The Struts at RedFest 2014 "Living that fantasy..."
The Struts at RedFest 2014 “Living that fantasy…”

Everyone felt drowsy and faint. So they stayed in their tents. It was possibly a combination of heat exhaustion and over-doing it in the Silent Disco (the night before) that was probably to blame.

But soon enough, after the sultry and shimmering (Lulu James/Lauren Aquilina) things became very exciting – especially when the Skints came to stage.

Although we were given a short set by one our favourite live bands  – it was inspiring and completely danceable.  A true ska-treat.

Later, Peace came out and delivered the goods … this rock quartet based in Worcester (UK) has already been described as “The future of the indie” by The Guardian … and yet this was the first time that this band had headlined a festival. How lucky were we?

Highlights of the festival?    For us were:

  • The Struts covering Lorde’s song “Royals” and the whole crowd yelping out “ Let me live that fantasy…” (They finished with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” too!)
  • A slinky Lulu James introducing her song “Falling” and a middle-aged man in the audience shouting up: “I’m falling for you baby …”
  • The extraordinary performance of The Slaves (reminding us of the wonderful John Otway)
  • The Redfest crowd – in unison – performing the ‘Newport Helicopter’ for Skindred.

Words and Pictures: @neilmach © 2014

Skindred at Redfest 2014
Skindred at Redfest 2014

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