Reading and Leeds 2012: Top 10 Performances

Arguably 2012 was Reading & Leeds strongest line up of recent years. Not only were did the legendary The Cure take to the main stage, there was a whole variety of acts that put in stellar performances from all sorts of different genres. We’ve picked our top ten from the weekend, some punk bands, some new, some old and one very pop. Check it out below:

ENTER SHIKARI

Enter Shikari and Reading & Leeds go hand in hand. Their performance on the main stage saw punters running over from the dance stage -drawn in by dubstep mix ups- to mosh along with older ‘Take To The Skies’ fans. Tracks from ‘A Flash of Colour’ go down a treat as does ‘Juggernaughts’ which is now somewhat of a Reading classic, again seeing a stupid amounts of crowd surfing. One day soon these humble lads will headline this great stage. Perfection.

RANDOM HAND

Random Hand’s high tempo mix of metal, punk and ska is uplifting. The sheer energy pouring from the band on stage certainly kicked things off in the Lock Up tent after a slow start to the day. Funnily enough, the most impressive part of the whole performance has to be the sheer capacity of Robin Leitch’s lungs! His effortless alternations between trombone, screamed vocals and dancing like a lunatic was a joy to behold.

HAWK EYES

Headlining the BBC Introducing stage was Leeds’ most unassuming rock behemoths Hawk Eyes. Playing a fast and furious set, primarily of tracks from this year’s ‘Ideas’, Hawk Eyes managed to make the outdoor stage feel like a sweaty basement, with the standard troupe of lanky lads starting a (admittedly rather tame) mosh pit. Having previously played the stage under their previous incarnation, let’s pray this signals the last time the boys are on one of the smaller stages at Reading and Leeds.

CEREMONY

When there are an abundance of acts are taking themselves too seriously on stage and swanning around the guest area like they are gods, you need a bit of Ceremony to remind you what punk is all about. Having a fucking good time. And this is exactly what Ceremony do. Vocalist Ross Farrar just goes nuts, spinning around with his t-shirt over his head and microphone dangling around his neck, musically they aren’t that tight, but really no one cares. That’s not what this set is about, it’s just a great laugh.

AT THE DRIVE-IN

Having declared their break-up in 2001 after the release of their seminal album ‘Relationship of Command’, the announcement of reunion dates were a dream come true for many a fan. With mixed reviews emerging from performances at Coachella, it was difficult to know what to expect from their headline set on the BBC Radio 1/NME stage. Opening with the explosive ‘Arcarsenal’, it was hard for a smile not to appear on the face of anyone who holds a special place in their heart for the band.

Given that this was the first time that the majority of the audience got to see the band in the flesh, it was especially pleasing to hear tracks played across their whole back-catalogue of releases, with singer Cedric Bixlar-Zavalar trying his best to recreate those explosive sets from over a decade ago.

The same joy didn’t extend to all members – it was hard not feel disheartened at the sight of Omar motionlessly standing facing his amp for the majority of the set, looking as though he’d rather be elsewhere. This wasn’t the At The Drive-In that left us all those years ago, and perhaps it is too much to expect that.

GALLOWS

The band’s first Reading Festival sans-Frank went off without a hitch in true, unadulterated Gallows fashion. Vivacious circle pits, crowd surfing and an onslaught of punk rock from the stage that never let up, this is a band that is every bit as good, if not better, as version 2.0. The crowd was totally sold by the end of the set. Interestingly it was the band’s new tracks that came across best, leaving everyone wanting more fresh material ASAP.

THE BOUNCING SOULS

Who doesn’t love the Bouncing Souls? Their inspiring punk appeals across the board in the Lock Up tent. Old classics such as ‘Sing Along Forever’ get the dedicated fans jumping whilst newer , softer and more melodic material like ‘Coin Toss Girl’ is a hit with members of the crowd previously unaware of the band. Their set is a resounding success.

ALT-J

The compacted punters inside and swarms of fans outside the Festival Republic Tent show that although fairly new on the radar, Alt-J are already a firm festival favourite. Despite their annoying- hipster-type fan base, Alt-J’s unique and slightly obscure brand of indie is certainly something to take note of with hit single ‘Breezeblocks’ becoming one of the anthems of the weekend.

SANTIGOLD

You may be thinking this is a bit of a bizarre choice if you are familiar with Crossfire’s usual content, but the thing is we can still recognize a good pop artist when we see one! Mixing electronica, hip hop and a healthy dose of mainstream pop, Santigold has a collection of great songs including ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Creator’. Santigold gets the festival party vibe going.

ATTENTION THIEVES

As we caught these local guys in their own territory of Reading, they might have had a slight home advantage. But it appears that it is Attention Thieves’s energy thats key to drawing in a huge crowd around the tiny BBC introducing stage. Attention Thieves have been gaining a lot of attention from the press lately and it seems it’s well deserved as their radio-friendly Rise Against inspired punk rock goes down a treat.

Words: Emma Wallace except Gallows (Sarah Maynard), At The Drive-In, Hawk Eyes (Joe Parry)

Hevy Festival 2012 Highlights

Its fair to say that Hevy Festival was a resounding success this year. Plenty of ‘partying hard’ was had and the sun shone throughout! With three stages of awesome music, we though we’d bring you the highlights, the bands who really stood out, so that you can be sure to check them out at any future shows or events…

FRIDAY 3rd AUGUST

Deaf Havana

Described by some critics as ‘McFly with tattoos’, Deaf Havana are a little out of place here, especially coming on as headliners after Deez Nuts. Leaving their original southern hardcore influences behind and filling their set with pop-rock genius, Deaf Havana impress the critics and cynics a like. Old school fans will be a little disappointed that tracks from ‘Fools And Worthless Liars’ dominated, but when James Veck-Gilodi has the balls to perform a beautiful solo rendition of `Friends Like These’, a vulnerable yet triumphant highlight of the festival is being witnessed for all to see.

Trapped Under Ice

With a hench front man and chugging bass lines, basically, you don’t fuck with TUI. The kids are in their element during Trapped Under Ice’s set, these guys know how to do hardcore, everyone is moving, this is the real deal, a blistering combination of punishing punk and a whole lot of fun. Perfect.

Bleed From Within

After a small amount of heckling from the crowd due their strong Scottish accents, Bleed From Within launch into a powerful performance, a master class in modern metal. Front man Scott Kennedy doesn’t stay still for more than a second and gives the set some real guts. Riffs in the vein of As I Lay Dying blow away any remaining hangovers. After a dominating set here and having recently signed to Raw Power Management and Century Media, expect these guys to become metal titans with their next release.

Last Witness

Hevy’s line up is full of hardcore bands. Some bad ones, some average ones and some real treats. Last Witness are right up there with the best. Adrian Cecil goes absolutely nuts on bass whilst the crowd go a even more insane. The bizarre competition to ride an inflatable dolphin on top of the crowd isn’t needed, everyone is two-stepping and surfing over the barrier as it is. The bouncers certainly earned their money during Last Witness’s set.

SATURDAY 4th AUGUST

Seahaven

Seahaven’s emotive post-punk is blissful in the summer sun. ‘It’s Over’ is a calming yet tormenting track that highlights their set. Their melodies are unmatched throughout the whole weekend and fully deserve the recognition they receive from the Hevy crowd.

Bury Tomorrow

These guys had a rough deal at Hevy. First off the sound cuts out just as front man Dani Winter Bates launches into his first scream. But ever the charismatic front man, it doesn’t faze him; he interacts with the crowd at ease whilst the techies get to work. Once everything is sorted the set is victorious, Mehdi Vismara performs exquisite solos with the crowd lapping up every note with glee. Catastrophically for the band, the plug is pulled as the set over runs during the time of highest momentum. The last song is cut short and the crowd are left in disgruntled. Bury Tomorrow deserved more than just a 20 minute set, however the cheers that resound long after the band leave the stage emphasizes that Bury Tomorrow are the next big thing in British metalcore.

Glassjaw

Despite creating two genre defining albums, recent live outings from Daryl Palumbo and co. have, at best, been mixed. Fortunately, the band delivered a bursting performance of chaotic tracks taken from their back-catalogue, including ‘Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence‘ and highlight ‘Siberian Kiss‘.

Andrew WK

Finishing the night, we were treated to a masterclass in partying from the king of not giving a shit, Mr Andrew WK. Opening with ‘It’s Time To Party‘, followed by ‘Party Hard‘ and ramming the theme down our collective throats with ‘Party Til’ You Puke‘, we got exactly what we were hoping for from the set. Chaotic, ridiculous but ultimately a insane amount of fun, the night drew to a close as a sea of sweat and smiles.

SUNDAY 6th AUGUST

Hawkeyes

Despite this being the third festival the band had played this weekend, Leeds bruisers Hawkeyes played one of the most compelling sets of the Hevy. Setting up his microphone in the middle of the audience, singer and guitarist Paul Astick encouraged the crowd to get as close as possible, creating a raucous basement show feel in the middle of the English countryside.

Listener

On paper, an experimental spoken-word act stands out on the Hevy line-up, but with the crowed pouring in to witness them at the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage proves they were an inspired booking for the festival. Rousing, affecting and impossible to take your eyes off, Listener are a band to be genuinely excited about.

Hundred Reasons

Although they have put out four albums in their career, Hundred Reasons are destined to be remembered for just one. Fortunately, said album ‘Ideas Above Our Station‘ was one of the finest pieces of British post-hardcore of the noughties. Realistic enough to know that they’ll never recapture that time, yet smart enough to give fans what they want, Hundred Reasons played IAOS in full to incredible effect. Despite the waves of nostalgia, the 12 songs still sounded as fresh as the first time they were played and were delivered with boundless energy, with the excitement of the band only matched by that of the crowd.

Vinnie Caruana

Vinne Caruana, the I Am The Avalanche and former Movielife frontman loves to tell a story. So much so that he only managed to play around six songs in the entire set, whilst treating us to tales of New Jersey and his ex-wife. Despite complaining that he’d ruined his voice, the songs he played still held up, with Movielife anthems including ‘Walking On Glass‘ proving a real treat.

Descendents

After a disappointing return last year, it was great to see the Descendents on incredible form. The Californian legends most definitely deserved to play to more people than they did (sadly, this was a true for a lot of the bands over the weekend), but hearing tracks like ‘Everything Sux‘, ‘Hope‘ and of course ‘I’m The One‘ live will be a memory that anyone who still holds a torch for the band will never forget.

WORDS: Emma Wallace & Joe Parry
PHOTOS: Cat McKenzie