Hello my pretties, how are we doing this fine evening? Marvellously miserable I hope…just kidding…or am I? Guess you’ll never know.
I do hope you’re reading this either Monday evening after a proper meal and extremely thorough shower or on some weak Wi-Fi link, huddled with friends around reading this on some tiny electronic screen in the middle of swamped field some time between breaks of the amazing bands you’re seeing…because hopefully most of you are at Reading…or Leeds…but preferably Reading this weekend. Getting down and dirty with the likes of Mumford & Sons, Metallica and The Libertines. If not for various reasons, such as lack of funding, can’t get the time off work, jail sentence isn’t through yet…I’m here to bring a brief insight to the Festival.
This is my first time heading to the festival after giving to a friends nagging…it’s taken her four years to drag me down there and finally managed to scrape the money and time off of work to venture down to Reading. In fact it’s the first festival I’ve been to as a paying customer…so not including The Great Escape Festival I volunteered for a few months ago. However, I could only purchase a single day ticket as I couldn’t afford to take the whole weekend off of work…can I get an awww? Come on let me hear it…come on…there it is…hey I don’t need your sympathy! As I was only staying for the one day I also wimped out and booked a hotel…so I haven’t exactly received a full festival experience…shhh stop judging. One what’s the point of camping for one day, can you even camp for a single night? And two… I like my comforts of a bed and shower.
Moving swiftly on…let me lay down a brief…and I mean history of the festival this isn’t a history lecture after all…no ones got time to get the black boards and chalk out to draw you a pretty little timeline. Now Reading actually started as a Jazz and Blues festival called National Jazz Festival…creative I know…anyways…this started out in Richmond…in the mid 60’s bands such as The Who and Rolling Stones increased so much that it overtook the previous genre of the festival. Due to noise complaints the events department had to shift the place of which it would take place…long story short it reached Reading in 1971 and became one of the most globally acclaimed festivals, bringing £16million to Reading’s economy in 2009…£16million! In three days!
I travelled down on the Thursday so that I could settle into my hotel, scout the area and get a decent night’s sleep before facing whatever antics the festival would throw at me. Coming down on the train my carriage continuously picked up hitchhikers of all ages being weighted down by bags twice their size, tents and various Sainsbury’s’ and Tesco’s bags filled with the cheapest alcohol they could find. Speaking of alcohol…pretty sure I was the only one not drinking in this carriage, not because I don’t drink…. simply because my own bottles of wine and cider were at the bottom of my bag…unreachable. Now this carriage because so full that we were more like sardines in a tin rather than passengers heading to a mind blowing weekend.
Let’s skip to the festival itself shall we? As much as my mindless rambling is entertaining I know your sole interest is in what I have to say about the Friday line up. Ya know what they say? Give the people what they want and all that jazz.
So here it goes: Friday, August 28th
|Site Map from readingfestival.com|
One thing I was instantly aware of was how close everything was, my hotel was in the town centre, 10 minute walk from the station and only 20 from the festival itself. However, for the lazier goers out there was a Festival bus that continuously ran between Reading Festival, Reading Station and Friar Street (where my hotel was as well as Sainsbury’s that many campers were venturing to stock up on booze and baby wipes for that make shift shower). As a day ticket holder we were recommended to get to the festival for 9:30 am, and that’s exactly what my lovely friend and I did. The security is insane there, but demonstrates excellently how professional this event is. First of all we had to go through the Green Day Ticket Holder Entrance…if you’re anything like us you’ll be thinking Green Day? The band? They were playing this year? Not quite, the festival is colour coded, this section was Green and just happened to be where Day Ticketers such as myself had to go, but being huge Green Day fans this tickled our tired funny bones.
The organisation at this place was insane…we were into the waiting area in less than 15 minutes…bags checked, wristband exchange the whole shabang. Now we had 2 hours to wait until being let into the arena, so I’ll skip that time for you, we were let in at 11:30, and in that time an orderly queue had transformed into a impatient cohort of drunk (yes people start drinking early here!) yet relatively calm crowd of music lovers. To top it all some girl fainted in it…before getting into the music…hate to be her…anyway after another bag check we were finally in the sacred grounds of Reading Festival. I was immediately struck by how small the actual arena is, I mean everything…by everything I mean dozens of refreshment venders, 8 stages and merch stands… in there fits comfortably, but I’ve always been under the impression that it was gigantic! After that was how diverse the people there was, from Indie kids to metal heads…from singles to families (note to families who take their 7 year old kids to things like this…parenting…you’re doing it right!)
|Click to enlarge…if you’re interested that is…|
Now for the bit you’re all waiting for with bated breath…the bands themselves…
<– So here’s how my day panned out
After being let in at 11:30 and not having to meet a group of friends who were camping like professionals until 12:45 we had some time to kill. With this time we explored a few of the stalls, bought merch early so we would know exactly how much we’d have left for alcohol…I mean…well…think of something more responsible to fill that gap…anyways we also fleeted in and out of a few stage tents to have a curious nose about at the earlier playing bands who had the task of waking up a crowd caught between hung-over state and drinking through it.
One of the acts that particularly made a prominent mark in my mind was Andrew O’Neill (an up and coming comedian) and his History of Heavy Metal. The first thing that drew our attention was that everyone was sitting down in front of this band that looked extremely heavy metal, with the leather and studs and long hair. So we stuck around until we unfortunately had to leave due to earlier planned commitments. But I do wish I had the time to stay and watch it all. This man wasn’t just a musician, but an entertainer, a hybrid that is becoming increasingly rare now days. His method of educating his crowd in a humour, musical manner was intriguing and highly amuses. For instance he was say the genre, the bands and the time and play fragments of songs to illustrate how vocals or musical integrity differentiated. Also stating how all metal genres today derive from heavy metal of the 70’s and 80’s, which then divided into a main 5, then the 21st Century brought forth literally hundred of sub-sub genres, from Black Metal to “Whatever the f**k Cradle of Filth are doing today”. With witty, tongue-in-cheek humour and impersonations in between. However it wasn’t done in a manner that was heavy or too much for that early! Highly recommend you checking this guy out!
Next act worth mentioning was Panic! At The Disco, not only is this a band that’s been with me since my early teen years but they are also one of those must see bands if you have the opportunity to do so, whether you know 1 song or their whole repertoire. The first thing you can’t help but to notice is Brendon Urie’s golden microphone and sparkling silver jacket. This is a band made to perform, all dressed in suits they are there to entertain and give a show as well as provide absolutely amazing music! Urie’s voice is phenomenal, I never realised how incredible it truly is until this show, a highly talented vocalist, pianist and performer. His entertaining performance utilised a key aspect that defines a truly good artist and that is audience participation, something he instantly nailed. What’s more, knowing fully well that a festival audience is only full of a handful of fans he instantly won everyone else’s hearts with a cover of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, as well as mixing appropriately old songs with the new.
Set List (provided by Setlist.com):
- Vegas Lights
- Time to Dance
- The Ballad of Mona Lisa
- Ready To Do (Get Me Out of My Mind)
- Miss Jackson
- Nine in the Afternoon
- Bohemian Rhapsody
- This is Gospel
- I Write Sins Not Tragedies
Another band I was there for was All Time Low, a band I’ve been a fan of since day one. As Alex announced this is their 4th time playing Reading and Leeds Festival, this combined with their constant touring throughout the years the band are really starting to become true performers. Now when I saw them back in 2013 supporting Green Day they weren’t exactly great with the crowd, luckily there was some of their own fans there, but I personal thought that they we playing a game they weren’t ready for. But two years later it is evident they are ready for crowds of that magnitude as they managed to captivate and entertain the crowd gathered at Main Stage as 4:55 PM. Something I noticed, whether it took touring with Green Day to illustrate how vital this is, but Alex seems to take more control as a frontman now, weaving in appropriate audience participation techniques. A key moment in today set was Alex collected roughly 10 willing volunteers to help sing Time-Bomb then losing them…having to start the song as they were taking too long to come up, but luckily his new recruits turned up shortly after the song began.
Set List (provided by Setlist.com):
- Lost in the Stereo
- Missing You
- Kids in the Dark
- A Love like War
- Something’s Gotta Give
- Dear Maria, Count Me In
Who here remembers when I worked on The Great Escape Festival? And I posted a little entry about some of the bands I was introduced to whilst there? Well for all of you who have terrible memories, or who didn’t bother reading it I spoke about a band called The Jacques I was happy to see that they have progressed to playing on the BBC Introducing Stage here at Reading. Upon watching their performance it is evident that they are taking their live shows seriously, thinking a lot more about their attire (matching gold skinny trousers) and performance in general as they have improved in so many aspects. I mean they were good before, but now they are an even stronger unit, a band that I will continue to keep tabs on as they move up the popularity ladder. Their stage chemistry was unquestionable; they managed to captivate their new audience without effort, leaving them with the thirst for more. Make sure to keep an eye on this band because I guaranty they are going places.
So I had a few hours to wander around whilst I waited for my next pivotal band to emerge onto their stage, so I went to random tent stages for a little mosey around. In the NME Tent I stumbled on Peace, they had just finished playing on the BBC Introducing Stage as the Secret Act of the day…I say just finished…they played around 2ish then…but you get what I meant! Anyways, a friend of mine always bangs on about how I should listen to this band, so I gave them a quick listen and honestly didn’t think an exceptional lot about them, they were okay but nothing I was exactly jumping at the gun about. But watching them live has changed my opinion about them. Their show was remarkable. They crowd were completely immersed in what the band had to offer. It was truly thrilling, and I was highly impressed with the performance. I found myself staying for the entire set even though I didn’t plan on it; I even danced for a most of it…well…gracefully swayed…
Set List (provided by Setlist.com):
- I’m a Girl
- Perfect Skin
- Lost On Me
- Follow Baby
- Gen Strange
- California Daze
- World Pleasure
Now…the band I bought my ticket for. Simple Plan.
This band defines my adolescence. A band that bring back good memories. And how I over came some of the bad ones. I’ve been waiting to see them since I was about 12 years old, but something always came up, whether it was money or exams. Either way I can safely say that they were worth the wait. This band has been together for something like 15 years now. Never had a dramatic break up, an on and off relationship that put Ross and Rachael to shame like most bands they rose through the ranks with. Still with ALL the original line up. They chose some absolutely amazing songs to perform, ranging right across their four albums. A key song they decided to grace the crowd with was Jetlag which features Natasha Bedingfield, brilliantly Pierre got the crowd to sing her parts, immediately introducing audience participation, as well as making me extremely aware how the band utilises harmonies in their songs. Sorry the inner music nerd being unleashed there, let me just put her chain back on. Okay so where was I? Oh yeah, they played classics such as Shut Up and I’m Just a Kid (in which my friend and I looked at each other with Cheshire cat grins remembering certain parts of how the foundations of our friendship was created) to literally new songs, for instance BOOM who’s video was released at 5am that morning, and Summer Paradise (which included countless amount of giant beach balls being tossed about the crowd). An absolute breath-taking and pivotal moment for the entire audience was the final song Perfect, in which the whole tent lit up with mobile phones and lighters. Such an emotional moment brought tears to my eyes. Rekindling my love for this band. This was my favourite moment of the entire day. A band that will forever be in my heart.
Right I’ll stop before I get too emotional over this.
Here’s their set list (no particular order though unfortunately but to the best of my recollection)
- Jet Lag
- Welcome to My Life
- Shut Up
- I’d Do Anything
- The Worst Day Ever
- Can’t Keep My Hands Off You
- I’m Just A Kid
- Loser of the Year
- Summer Paradise
- Perfect (definitely last song)
I kinda have to mention the next band as they were the headliner for Friday’s festival date, and that’s Mumford & Sons. Now I’m not a great fan of this band, but they were a must see for the day. The ambiance for the entire thing was extremely chilled, people were either locked in a romantic embrace with lovers or doing their best Irish/folk dance impressions. It was clear that everyone there was having a good time…as well as being extremely drunk…but let’s be honest everyone has been drunk since Wednesday night from when the first campers arrived to the fields.
Moving swiftly on…again…overall I was amazed with the festival, from the professional mannerisms of the event to the vast selection of bands that were there. But would I go again? Hell yeah I would! But would I camp? Hmmm…I have a few months before I have to make that decision. Although there is an excellent volunteering programme that I might consider as another friend of mine (I know I have several friends what is this?!) did, which sounds like an opportunity that might be worth taking…although there is a chance I’d miss vital bands…and this is me…I’d miss every band I’d want to see…hmmm…we’ll see, we’ll see.
Here’s a little playlist I created, involving ALL the bands I saw whilst on my Reading adventures, you never know you might find your next favourite band in there so give it a gander (note their in order of appearance on the schedule at the top…OCD coming into play?).
I can see why my friend bangs on about Reading all the time…I mean as soon as she gets back it’s “Reading this…” and “Reading that….” For 12 straight months. To the extent you’d do ANYTHING to shut her up! I only went for a day and I’m already having trouble trying not to talk about it every single second. I’m gutted that I’ll be missing Baby Metal and Metallica on Saturday’s line up, but hey I guess I have to look at the brighter side of thing.
Oh and to top it all I got slightly sunburnt, everyone knows that England is infamous for its constant rain, especially the torrential seasons e.g. every single festival date. But the sun graced us with its presence today.
Now my creeps, I have to end it there, apologises for not talking about every band I saw in detail, but ya know…I do have a life…well kinda…okay not very much…but I can’t spend all my time chit chatting to you folks now can I? …Don’t answer that question!
Until next time, unpleasant dreams.