Reading Festival – Live

August Bank Holiday 2010
www.readingfestival.com

And so Reading Festival was finally upon us. From the moment the first acts are announced early on in the year, you can’t help but be excited about it. You’ve just never heard of anyone having a shit time at Reading, have you? We certainly never have. Despite almost blowing it by getting rather out of control on the Friday night, we managed to last the distance and ended up having one of the best Reading experiences ever, helped along by a multitude of excellent bands, an endless stream of good people, power ballads, mainstream hip-hop, vodka in Capri-sun containers, a fair few pints of cider and a gallon or two of Relentless energy drink. Relentless eyes ahoy!

FRIDAY

Unfortunately, we missed Young Guns open up the main stage but by all accounts, they had a monstrous crowd and did their job of kicking off the festival very well indeed. A Day To Remember followed on in style with their enthusiastic combination of pop-punk and hardcore getting the crowd in a tizzy despite it only being 1pm. Judging by the intense reaction they got, there will be no stopping their rise in popularity any time soon. Everyone present seemed to be relishing in the great melodies mixed up with great chugs.

Two Door Cinema Club continued the theme of humungous crowds for their poptastic set over at the Radio 1 / NME tent. Despite never having consciously listened to their music, they’re one of those bands whose songs I apparently know anyway through some sort of mainstream osmosis process. The band’s set was rapturously received by the mass assembled and it’s safe to say they were the perfect choice for that stage. They probably could’ve even been billed higher. One of those cases of a band blowing up so quickly that, by the time Reading and Leeds come around, they’ve kind of outgrown their slot. Due to the Festival Republic stage running behind schedule, we managed to catch a bit of indie-pop duo Summer Camp who rattled off some dreamy ditties to a moderately enthused crowd. Pulled Apart By Horses were the next to provide the rock as they proceeded to lay waste to the tent in spectacular fashion, bounding all over the place, banging out riffs and generall just being awesome. NOFX sounded good as we traversed the main arena back to the guest area where we heard tales of Strike Anywhere’s Lock-Up stage set being sadly empty.

Biffy Clyro kicked the festival up a notch into another league with their polished yet somehow still raucous epic rock. A fair few classics from back in the day mingled in with the standard modern hits like ‘Mountains’ meant their set was enjoyed by all. Not least all the ladies present who were no doubt swooning at the three shirtless men, despite frontman Simon Neil looking kind of like Father Christmas now he’s bleached both his hair and beard. Plus pink jeans – wow. Phoenix continued the wow-factor of the weekend over on the Radio 1 / NME stage. The French act had the most amazing pulsating lights, flashing all the colours of the rainbow and hypnotizing the crowd in the process. Luckily, they also have the tunes to back up the lightshow and everyone present was dancing along to their effervescent pop hits.

SATURDAY

We failed a bit on Saturday in terms of watching bands. What can we say – got a bit too enthusiastic at the power ballads DJ set the night before and it somewhat dampened our enthusiasm for Saturday.

Paint It Black, Trash Talk and Gallows were the main casualties of our laziness though by all accounts they were every bit as rad as we knew they would be. The Gaslight Anthem kicked off our band-watching activities for the day in style though. An intense main stage experience, though it could’ve been improved upon tenfold if the soundman had turned up the volume a bit! In spite of this annoyance, the set was enjoyed by a  massive crowd as the band reeled off hits like ‘Old White Lincoln’ and ‘American Slang’ and the crowd sung their hearts out to make up for the lack of volume from the stage.

Cancer Bats rocked the Lock-Up stage to its core in a set that put them up against Dizzee Rascal’s Main Stage appearance. Still, their scuzzy riffs were clearly a draw for the rock kids at the festival. We went on to catch a bit of Dizzee, including his now-legendary Nirvana-mashing with ‘Stand Up Tall’ versus ‘Teen Spirit’. An excellent performance as ever, enjoyed by all. The Get Up Kids played to a half-full Lock-Up tent but that didn’t matter. Everyone there was a complete superfan and it was a great set of newbies and classics and also included their cover of The Cure’s ‘Close To Me’. Lovely. Passing by Arcade Fire for a song or two, it sounded pretty incredible, although it kind of looked like everyone was watching Pendulum on the NME / Radio 1 stage instead…

SUNDAY

What a day! This has to be one of the best main stage line-ups of all time. So we’ll get to that. But our day started with a bit of Lights on the Dance stage which was all very pleasant girl-fronted electro-pop. Kvelertak were slightly louder on the BBC Introducing stage and definitely did more to wake us up with their Nordic metal inclinations, fused by good old-fashioned rock’n’roll. Foxy Shazam wow those who make it to the Festival Republic tent for their set. Pure genius showmanship. And acrobatics to boot. Debut UK single ‘Oh Lord’ sounds tremendous. We nip out to catch a snippet of Thrice on the mainstage including the massively brilliant ‘Silhouette’. Next up we’re excited to see local youngsters done good You Me At Six on the Main Stage. The band do an immense job of getting the crowd involved even though the big screens have been taken down due to a freaky bit of stormy weather during All Time Low’s set. Hayley from Paramore even comes on to sing ‘Stay With Me’ with YMAS. The screens come up again during Limp Bizkit’s procession of stone cold hits. In fact, their choice of setlist is suspiciously similar to that of their set at Reading 10 years ago. Not complaining though. It was ace. And Fred Durst is definitely a legend, even when not wearing the obligatory red cap (a white cap?!) As a friend quite rightly points out, Wes Borland is dressed as a cross between a witch and a Guylian chocolate. Entertainment at its best. Well, not quite.

Weezer are up next and what they do is phenomenal. Simply put, this is probably the best Reading festival set I’ve ever seen. The sun is shining and Rivers is in the best mood ever. He also has props. A Lady Gaga wig (they cover ‘Poker Face’ mixed in with MGMT’s ‘Kids’), a cat hat, a fucking trampoline. This is the exact opposite of every other performance I’ve ever seen Weezer do. AND they play the good shit. Nothing off ‘Pinkerton’ which is definitely a shame. But we don’t even care, it’s THAT good. ‘Surf Wax America’, ‘Say It Ain’t So’, ‘The Sweater Song’ are definite highlights but even the more frivolous ‘Beverly Hills’ and ‘Troublemaker’ sound awesome. Everyone has a permanent smile on their face for the rest of the night and I’m pretty sure it’s all because of WEEZER.

We caught a little bit of Paramore. Enough to be able to tell that they’re still great at what they do and we’re going to be excited when they return to the UK for TWO o2 arena shows. Blink 182 got everyone more excited than I ever thought they would… They pulled an entertaining set out of the bag, as was to be expected, and they also proved that they’ve got better at playing their instruments in the years since they last played the festival. Not that Travis ever had anything to prove. Obviously. Hits that provided a constant stream of crowd singalongs included ‘First Date’, ‘Rock Show’ and, of course, ‘All The Small Things’. It was also great to hear the songs from further down the line in the band’s career like ‘Feeling This’. I think it’s safe to say that a good time was had by all, not least the main stage bands on this final day, all of whom clearly reveled in their participation in such a well-placed rock line-up. One that will not be forgotten in a hurry.