Radar Love: marking six years of key city music night

Radar Love is one of the longest running new music nights in Derby and this month will mark its sixth birthday. Focused on bringing the best touring bands and local bands together we talk to promoter Brett James about the night’s success.

Radar Love First Show Poster

When the first band set to headline your new music night, somewhat ironically named Modern Superstitions, doesn’t show up you might take it as a sign of things to come and throw in the towel, but not Radar Love.

“The format of Radar Love is a live music event with the simple aim to be the place you want to come and just hang out, have a cheap drink – £2 Pints and house vodka – and discover new music in the process,” says promoter Brett James who also books bands at The Venue, for 2Q, Y-Not Festival and Bearded Theory. “The event has always stuck to a cheap entry deal for customers whereby it’s only £3 or £2 with NUS and you can see a mixture of local artists and acts that are out on tour up and down the UK. The first show was on 27 Oct 2011 with The Hudson Super Six, Joys of Madness and David Lacey. The headline act, Modern Superstitions, were a no show!”

Despite that first no show headliner since opening up in October 2011 the night has seen somewhere in the region of 900 bands pass across its stage in the last six years, making it one of the longest running night’s in Derby. It’s seen bands including Max Raptor, Amber Run, The Crookes, and Cattle and Cane play and James lists off some of the other touring bands the night has brought to Derby, “Catfish And the Bottlemen have played the night, so to have The Struts, Nothing But Thieves, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Darlia, Beans on Toast, Genghar, Cabbage, Inheaven – all bands that are doing great things and that have had reasonably good success.”

‘Reasonably good success’ is in fact quite a modest appraisal in the case of some of the bands who have gone from playing the 150-400 capacity Radar Love to headlining Derby Arena – as Catfish And The Bottlemen did in last year – and opening for the Rolling Stones and touring with Mötley Crüe as Derby band The Struts have. Asked about his favourite performance though and James has to think, small wonder with hundreds of bands to choose from, “Very tough question! It’d have to be a choice between Cabbage, October Drift and Kassassin Street. In fact as October Drift are back on 12 October and may be reading this then it’s definitely them!” 

Aside from the talent the night offers a showcase to James puts the success of the night down to the atmosphere and a settled team behind it all, “It’s fun, the same team that started the nights are still around and advising on acts every now and then. Mark Carver has mixed the sound for pretty much all the bands that have played the night and it’s a good way for the music agents to see that something does happen in a secondary city; that we are creating a cool creative night for everyone.”

Getting Derby on the music map is a never-ending but rewarding task – it’s a myth that nothing happens here but true that it can be a difficult proposition for promoters, venues, and local bands. James feels Radar Love offers something to those looking for home turf gigs, whether to gain experience playing or exposure to new audiences in for the touring bands. He says, “We offer a platform to local bands to play and promote what they do and audiences a safe, friendly space to watch new artists and socialise. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, we provide a great PA, a nice big stage with backline and help bands with as much or as little promotion they want to do.”

With six years and 900 bands under its belt what does the future hold for Radar Love? James is pragmatic but positive, “I’ll keep my ear and eyes out for the next breakthrough acts and hopefully build strong local line-ups around them – the way it’s always been really.”

Radar Love is a fortnightly new music night held at The Venue, Abbey Street and in October 2017 you can see:

  • 5 October – Sløtface, Myoke, and Ashfieldsdetails here
  • 12 October – October Drift, Spleenless Jack and The Creeps, and Primaldetails here
  • 26 October – TRASH, The Honeymoon Suite, and Keysdetails here.

Find Radar Love:

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