Redfest Festival Report – 22nd-23rd July 2011

Now in its fifth year, Redfest is fast becoming one of the best ‘smaller’ festivals in the UK , and has built up an enviable reputation for bringing breakthrough artists to the fore- last year the headliners were Enter Shikari  and Hadouken – this year The Futures, Modestep, We Are The Ocean , The Qemists and The Skints wowed and wooed the crowds.

I cannot pile on enough praise for the organisers of this superb festival. It is intimate, relaxed and quintessentially, fun. It attracts a lively, youthful and attractive crowd. It is set in a gorgeous location at Robins Hill Farm, near Redhill Surrey. Good healthy food stalls line the event area, and friendly efficient staff / volunteers are helpful and charming. A superb chill-out zone, a great bar, a dance tent and some thrilling  ‘side-shows’ also add to the fun.  I can also confirm that the bookers for this festival are right on the money- this year’s festival sensation was Ed Sheeran – who is currently riding high in the charts – and yet was an early booking for Redfest.

The weather held up for the duration and even became balmy at times.The music and atmosphere was, as usual, perfectly sublime. The smaller venue – the red and white tent ‘introduction’ was hot and hectic … a lot of energy and fizz for all those involved. One of the standout acts at this stage were, for me, the high kicking antics of Lecarla –  tense, tight and trend-setting!

Some great DJ sets were available for the sweet and easy party-goers in the chill-out tent and these included Mike Chadwick and Matt Weeks.

Up on the main stage Modestep on Friday night blew away the reveller’s cobwebs and bounced the bones. Before them Brighton’s ‘Floors and Walls’ played a generous and vibrant set to the jubilant Surrey crowd.

Festival goers were in for more treats on Saturday as Ryan Keen stepped up to the stage- he is supporting Ed Sheeran this season and has been granted a valuable residency at Ronnie Scott’s. Ryan’s rich comortable tones helped warm and wake up the crowd.

Then ‘Hold Your Horse Is’ pounded our eardrums with their fierce yet controlled sound attack  – Redfest was one of three fests for this hugely popular band over the weekend. And milk, honey and mellow fruitfulness were provided by the delightful Pearl and the Puppets.

Qemists - Redfest 2011

Incredibly talented reggae/ska band ‘The Skints’ played a truly awesome set and got the party rolling in the green fields. The pure energy of this band was incredibly contagious as the crowd skanked and ska-voovied to the volatile vibes and those heady beats. Lead man Joshua Waters Rudge complemented the festival crowd for the most magnificent mosh-pit he had witnessed all season.

Heavy hitters Hampshire based band ‘Canterbury’ put on an incredible show, turning up the volume and turning on the audience with a thunderous kapowing, rolling performance.

Then ‘The Qemists’ created chaos in the fields with their happy vortex of musical madness-  as they charged through the kind of set that made everyone wanna boing and pronk like springboks  on the loose. Specializing in heavy chords, majestic and magnificent arrangements, and urban vibes set against a flurry of relentless crusading dance-floor beats on drum and bass. The resulting sounds were over the top- but elegantly powerful in scale and ambition nonethelesss.

All these acts created the buzz and energy necessary for the barn-storming climax of this festival, with carrot-topped  Ed Sheeran, who came onto the stage and almost immediately created a spectacle of fire and daring – and the massed audience went mad-for-it.  ‘Futures’ topped off the weekend with a triumphant and resoundingly successful show…   I literally cannot wait for next Redfest!

© Neil_Mach
July 2011

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