I know that right now there is a lot of negativity towards the 1975 after they became last-minute replacements for Rage Against The Machine who have sadly cancelled all their remaining European date, including the Reading and Leeds Festivals. I am not a huge 1975 fan, but give them a break. If you only bought a day ticket to see Rage Against The Machine, go along anyway and check out some of the other great acts that will be taking to the numerous stages. As usual, there are a number of acts that I don’t want to miss and as per usual I am sure some of them will clash meaning that I will have to take the hard decision as to who to choose.
My must-see acts for Friday at Leeds (Sunday at Reading) are Pale Waves on Main Stage East (I am still not sure about that split main stage idea, it doesn’t work for me). Ashnikko and Dylan look good on the Radio 1 Dance Stage. Dylan was exceptionally good at Latitude a few weeks ago. But my headline choice for Friday is easy, Beabadoobee on the Festival Republic Stage.
On Saturday at Leeds (Friday at Reading), I will definitely not be missing Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes on the Main Stage East, the same place I will probably catch Dave’s headline set. I am still not sure about Megan Thee Stallion, but I might be tempted. Meg Ward will be banging on the Radio 1 Dance Stage and I don’t want to miss Cleopatrick, Kid Kapichi, and Fever 333 on the Festival Republic stage.
The Leeds Festival Sunday (Saturday at Reading) lineup looks fantastic. Arctic Monkeys, Wolf Alice, and Fontaines D.C. on the Main Stage East coupled with Bring Me The Horizon, Enter: Shikari and Poppy on Main Stage West. OK, I confess the twin main stages look like they will work on Sunday! On the Radio 1 Dance Stage, Police Car Collective will be very special. As will the Skinner Brothers on the Festival Republic Stage. Obviously across all three days, I will check out the BBC Introducing Stage regularly. I want to get a huge festival music fix once again. Who are you looking forward to most?
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I am really not sure how many times I have been to the Reading/ Leeds Festival over the years, but I know that I haven’t missed many since my first Reading Festival back in 1975. The last year that I missed completely was 2007. Even after all this time, it remains a festival that excites me. So on to day 1 of the 2019 Leeds Festival. It took me so long to actually get on site that I only caught the final song from Milk Teeth on the Main Stage. This band is without a doubt one of the best punk outfits in the UK right now. They currently have the mightily talented Em Foster from Nervus in their ranks. Having spoken to a number of punters in the crowd around me as Milk Teeth left the stage it appears that I missed an awesome set from a great band.
To console myself I wandered across to the BBC Introducing Stage for an excellent set from Leeds band Talkboy. I sensed a bit of Heart, Arcade Fire and alt.country and simply fabulous pop-rock tunes. It was clear to me that Talkboy were really enjoying themselves and that joy easily infected the early afternoon audience, all of whom were smiling at the end. I made a run back to the Main Stage for SWMRS and like with Milk Teeth earlier I only caught their final song, which I believe was “Lose Lose Lose”. It certainly left me wanting to hear more, oh well maybe next year! AE Mak was haunting on the Festival Republic Stage with a set and a show that was refreshingly different to almost anything that I have seen recently (Later in the weekend Poppy made me rethink that!). AE Mak is like a friendly android formed from parts of Bjork and Héloïse Adelaïde Letissier a.k.a. Christine, of Christine and the Queens fame. Mak’s often robotic style of dancing was unmissable in a truly expressive dance like nobody is watching moment. AE Mak is one hell of a pop-dance act.
Aussie band the Faim drew me to the BBC Radio 1 Stage next. I had seen the Faim once before when they supported Lower Than Atlantis at Fibbers, York in May 2018. They were very good then, but in the 15 months since they have improved in the kind of leaps and bounds that only the Hulk would find easy. They are becoming a really tight and highly polished unit. There is DNA from the likes of INXS and U2 in their performance, attitude and stage presence. This band has the potential to become a great stadium band. I managed to lose more than an hour next after I noticed that I had been given a Friday wrist band rather than one for the weekend. This meant that I had to trek all the way back to the wristband exchange tent. While it took a bit of time to sort it out the team resolved it perfectly. I want to use this moment to give a big shout out to all the folks who work at the festival. Ticket staff, wristband issuers, Security, stage crew, litter pickers, medics, food and drink vendors, the Samaritans and anyone else I have missed. Without all of you, events like this could not happen. You might not consider yourself headliners but you are all bloody superstars. Thank you.
When I got back to the arena I headed straight for the Main Stage for the never anything but awesome Enter Shikari, a band that I have seen at Reading/ Leeds many times and even one small gig in Brooklyn recently too. They never disappoint and as usual, my favourite tune “Juggernaut” was immense. The crowd formed a couple of huge circle pits, although I didn’t spot many crowd surfers. Enter Shikari remains one of my favourite bands and I was excited to learn that this would not be the only time that I encountered them today. I returned to the Festival Republic Stage to catch the Himalayas, who despite what their exotic name suggests, actually come from Cardiff. They offer punky melodic rock that at times is cinematic in its scope. The dual vocal approach takes their sound to another level entirely. Great stage presence too and I must mention the guitarist who looks like he could be the ghost of Joey Ramone. The Main Stage hosted the long-awaited return of the Distillers who reformed last year after a 12-year hiatus. Leader and all-round Distillers head honcho Brody Dalle still has the edgy punk style and it was a stunning set from a much loved and much-missed band, I am so glad that they are back together. Their explosive 11 song set never let up for a moment. Particular highlights for me were “Die On A Rope” and “Coral Fang”. The Distillers had the crowd eating out of their sweaty punk hands.
Remaining at the Main Stage I witnessed girls-only crowd surfing and a girls-only mosh circle. What could this mean? Well, obviously that festival favourites and all-round great band the magnificent Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes were performing. Frank and his erstwhile musical partner Deano both ventured into the crowd for some surfing. Frank, as usual, gave a big shout out to all the support staff and rightly so. The band opened with an extended and stunning romp through “Tyrant Lizard King”. Every song was a highlight, particularly “Devil Inside Me” and a fiery take on “I Hate You” which Frank dedicated to Boris Johnson. That dedication received a massive cheer from the crowd and rightly so. I was pleased to see so many ‘Fuck Boris’ (and variants with a similar sentiment) T-Shirts and badges on display throughout the weekend too. Back to the BBC Radio 1 Stage next for Georgia-based rapper Gunna. I am a fan of quality rap music like Jay Z and Eminem, but Gunna? Seriously? When did rap become so bland, predictable, derivative and frankly, shite? Tupac and Biggie will be crying in their graves at this travesty. Gunna, better than Vanilla Ice, but only just! Next, I needed something to pick me up and make me feel positive again, so it was off to the Festival Republic Stage for Bakar. He draws on a huge range of British influences; the Specials (and maybe Two Tone in general), Mike Skinner of the Streets, Grime and classic R & B. This dude is a bloody good performer, so good that he has even walked the catwalk at a Louis Vuitton show. He is picking up lots of airplay right now and on this performance that is well deserved.
Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes
My first visit to the Pit/ Lock Up Stage this weekend was for another set from St Albans finest, Enter Shikari. Rou and the boys delivered an even more blistering set than the earlier one on the Main Stage. The flame throwers and confetti cannons were spectacular as was Rou’s climbing the rigging antics. This ten-song set was full of bangers and highlights. “Live Outside” which also featured in their earlier appearance on the Main Stage was special. They performed “Tribalism” live for possibly the first time ever. But for me “Take My Country Back” blew the roof off. I believe I would miss anyone at a Festival if Enter Shikari were playing. I understand that they played three sets at Reading so the southern crowd were even luckier than us in the north. Finally, it was time for the Foo Fighters as Main Stage headliners. I have always felt that this festival was built around Reading which means that in Leeds we get the Reading final day on Friday. But I will go and experience the Foo Fighters on any day. The big rumour of the day was that we would be ‘Rick Rolled’ and Dave would bring out Rick Astley to do “Never Gonna Give You Up” with the band. However, that didn’t materialise, although Reading got that on Sunday. we were treated to Dave Grohl duetting with his daughter Violet Grohl on “My Hero”, now these things can often be a little crass, but in my opinion, Violet has a great voice. Foo Fighters opened the show with a soaring stomp through “The Pretender” and most of the bands biggest songs were given a great airing; “Times Like These”, “Monkey Wrench”, “Best Of You”, “This Is A Call” and a mountainous “Everlong” to close the show accompanied by some amazing fireworks. In between all that we had a rather impressive drum solo from Taylor Hawkins. While Taylor was doing a bit of a Freddie Mercury vocal work out, Dave spotted someone, who we later learned was called Ryan, in the crowd dressed as Freddie Mercury. So obviously they had the crowd pass him over their heads to the stage. Now Ryan couldn’t sing but his performance miming to Taylor Hawkins vocals on a great version of the Queen and David Bowie hit “Under Pressure” was great fun. The band also played a storming cover of AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock”. In my opinion, if you end a festival day with the Foo Fighters you will always go home or back to your tent a happy bunny and I was certainly that! It set me up feeling great for Day 2, more of that to follow!
Mr Grohl and the band get buzzed by a real Foo Fighter!
All the photos apart from the Festival Line Up poster were taken on my cheap android phone. The videos were all found on YouTube, if one of them is yours and you would like a credit or for me to remove it please let me know.
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After this blog’s first taste of a gig outside the UK late last year I felt that it might be time for another. So while I found myself in New York for a business trip I thought I would lighten the tedium of work and get myself over to Brooklyn to see one of my favourite bands, the magnificent Enter Shikari. The Music Hall of Williamsburg is a 550 capacity venue so this was probably the smallest crowd I have seen Enter Shikari play to. I think this is probably the eighth or ninth time that I have seen them since catching them at Download in 2006 (at least I think it was then!). They are a band that seem to have bags of energy and I was really excited to see this displayed on a smaller stage to a smaller crowd. But before I tell you about Enter Shikari let me tell you about the two rather fabulous support bands.
First up were Milk Teeth all the way from Stroud in Gloucestershire in the UK. If you like your rock punky, grungey and hard-hitting then look no further than this tight and talented four piece. Becky Blomfield has the potential to become one of the finest female vocalists of her generation and Oli Holbrook is an outstanding drummer. The layered guitar attack of axemen Chris Webb and Billy Hutton underpins British punk at its finest. Then of course there are the songs, any band that can mention cats and swear jars in their lyrics gets an extra vote from me.
The second support act were the Single Mothers from Ontario in Canada. If you like the Talking Heads, Jonathan Richman, the Stranglers and the Pixies then you will definitely find something to love in this band. They began a mosh circle mania and a spate of crowd surfing that became even more manic once Enter Shikari took the stage. Singer Andrew Thomson never stops moving and is highly skilled at interacting with the crowd. Thomson formed the band in 2008 and then left for a few years in 2011 to go and prospect for gold in a Ontario town called Swastika, who knew?
The stage lights are dimmed and for five minutes or so we are treated to ‘The Spark’ from the current album of the same name. This is skillfully interspersed with sound samples from what sounds like a British World War two film, this all drives the anticipation upwards and the excitement of the audience was so palpable you could almost touch it. After that it was the full on Enter Shikari juggernaut hitting the crowd full on, albeit with “Juggernaut” not actually getting and airing on the night. Particular highlights for me were the three songs in a row starting with “Anything Can Happen in the Next Half Hour…”, moving on to “Take My Country Back” followed by “The Last Garrison”. Then later “Anaesthetist” totally blew the crowd away. By this time there was a virtual sea of kids crowd surfing to the stage to stand by Rou and the boys before diving back into the audience. Rou left the stage twice to serenade the crowd, once from the raised balcony at the side of the stage and later from the upper balcony facing the stage. The encore was stunning, with a particularly stunning version of “Live Outside”. The night ended with a short solo rendition from Rou of the Beatles “All You Need is Love”. I left the venue with a smile on my face as I always doing after seeing Enter Shikari, who I believe are one of the greatest British bands around at the moment.
Public service announcement; the pictures of Milk Teeth and Single Mothers were taken with my phone. Pictures of Enter Shikari are sourced via Google and all videos were found on YouTube.
Usually you get three review posts from me for each day of the festival. But this year I am taking the lazy route. I will just be doing a single review of the whole shebang. Also it will be somewhat different from usual, this is born out of necessity as I just immersed myself in the music and the vibe and didn’t really bother to take notes. What follows is a departure from the norm for me and a bit of fun too. There is a list of the acts I saw and next to each there will be marks out of ten and one word to reflect my memory of that set. Some of these words may be obvious and others will be cryptic, if you want to know more about them please feel free to ask in the comments.
Day 1 – Friday 22nd August Crossfaith 7/10 pretty Red Fang 7/10 dervish
Rufus 8/10 nuts
Shambles In A Husk 6/10 shouty Phil Nichol (comedian) 9/10 Eskimo
Deaf Havana 6/10 hair
Fat White Family 7/10 hype Jimmy Eat World 8/10 veterans Enter Shikari 9/10 banging
Vampire Weekend 9/10 headliners?
Jamie T 9/10 surprise
Bipolar Sunshine 7/10 happy
Metronomy 9/10 synchronised Queens Of The Stone Age 9/10 party
To sign off I have a message for the festival organisers. It’s great that you switched the screens on the Main Stage to portrait view from their original landscape setting. However you need to fix the tech so that we can actually see interesting stuff on them. There were far too many shots of a singers ear, a guitarists arse or just a drum kit with no drummer in the picture. Also please move the fun fair back out of the main arena, it really doesn’t need to be there. All that aside this was one of the most enjoyable Reading Festivals that myself and my good friend Nick Horslen have been to. We have been attending them together for around 13 years and I went to my first in 1975. I’d love to hear what you folks thought of Reading and Leeds this year. Who do you think will headline next year? How about Iron Maiden or AC/ DC? I reckon Muse will headline. I’d like to see PIL on the bill too.
Here we are again, time for my annual pilgrimage to the Reading Festival with my good friend Nick Horslen. Collectively we are the Zimmer Twins a.k.a Bald Guy and Silver Dude. So what is on the agenda for us this year? well there are plenty of bands that we have seen many times before, particularly on the Main Stage. Friday on that stage looks very appealing, particularly Deaf Havana, Jimmy Eat World, Enter Shikari and Vampire Weekend all of whom we have seen before but entertaining none the less. There is a joint headline thing going on that day with Paramore and Queens Of The Stone Age. I’m not too sure about the joint headline thing but both are very good bands who I have seen quite a few times. Friday on the NME/ Radio 1 Stage has a couple of acts that I’d like to see. Notably Warpaint, Metronomy and Gerard Way.I really don’t want to miss Aluna George on the Radio 1 Dance Stage either. I can see some big clashes cropping up for us that afternoon! As for the Lock Up Stage I really want to see Brody Dalle. I am never going to be able to see everyone I want to on that day. Some tough choices need to be faced clearly. I haven’t even considered any of the other stages yet either! As usual I would appreciate any recommendations from you folks reading this, especially if it makes our hard choices a bit easier.
Saturday’s Main Stage line up also looks good and once again it features many acts that I have seen before; including Pulled Apart By Horses, The Hives, Foster The People, Imagine Dragons, Jake Bugg and the Arctic Monkeys. But I have to see DZ Deathrays on the Radio 1 Stage first thing on Saturday. I saw them at the Woolpack in York a couple of weeks back and they were awesome. Also on that stage on my to see list are Royal Blood, Cage The Elephant, Die Antwoord, Chvrches and Bombay Bicycle Club. Then maybe Architects on the Pit stage. Band Of Skulls and We Are Scientists on the Festival Republic Stage. I also want to pay a visit to the Alternative Stage for some comedy. Does anyone have the ability to clone me so that I can attend every stage? Please send me the details, what do you need? A DNA sample, blood, sweat, tears, a stool sample? just let me know because as you are all well aware; you’re never alone with a clone!
Sunday’s closing night on the Main stage is good, but at the moment I prefer the other days. Although missing Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Blink 182 would be disappointing. However Disclosure headline the NME/ Radio 1 Stage that night and I don’t want to miss them either. On that same stage on Sunday I also fancy Clean Bandit, the Horrors and the 1975. Blimey this doesn’t get any easier does it? Then of course there is the Klaxons on the Radio 1 Dance Stage. The Lock Up stage is headlined by the magnificent Gogol Bordello with support from the Frankly (Turner) un-missable Mongol Horde.
OK clearly I will enjoy loads of acts but I will also be disappointed at having to miss so many. I await your recommendations dear reader, along with your plans for cloning me. The Zimmer Twins will see you there!
If you squint you can just about spot the Zimmer Twins in that crowd!
We’ve made it to day 2 once again and so has the rain. But it wasn’t too bad when we arrived and we have never let the weather dampen our spirits before so we won’t this weekend either. We had earlier decided to spend most of the day in the NME/ Radio 1 tent; not because of the weather though. It was what looked like a great line up that drew us in. Was it a great line up in reality? Well you’re going to have to read on to find out aren’t you.
Sadly we missed Childhood (that’s the band and not our formative years). But we arrived in plenty of time to see the very fresh and very funky Theme Park. If you owned a giant blender that blended music you would need to add Talking Heads, Haircut 100, Fine Young Canibals and a dash of x factor to create this excellent band. I mean the true x factor, not the shit peddled by ITV in the disguise of a talent show. I can feel a Theme Park download or two coming on when I get home.
Then from New York we had the very original Darwin Deez. From their boy band/ Motown formation funky dancing routine interludes to their gutsy, funky, dirty rock sound they were tremendous. The crowd, including me and my good friend Nick loved them. If you have not heard them yet then you really should check them out because deez boyz are good. (Sorry I couldn’t resist that). Deaf Havana were the next band to arrive and oh boy did they arrive with a bang. Their lead singer told us at one point that they made honest music, i.e. without backing tracks. So for today these are my first does what it says on the tin act. They have energy, funk (we have seen a lot of that this year so far), style, great songs and a really tight band. Their album comes out next month and I for one will be downloading it. Deaf Havana; not deaf, not from Havana, but for being such a great live band they deserve the finest cigars Cuba can offer.
Were Deaf Havana referring to Modestep when they talked about honest music and not using backing tracks? Possibly not but Modestep did use a lot of preprogrammed backing and samples. But let me clear this is not a band into lip synching. They had the deepest bass sound of the festival so far. It was so deep you could feel your internal organs start to melt. They were also incredibly loud. They really used the full power of smoke and pyrotechnic flame bursts too. For me they ought to be in the Guinness Book of Records for the most mentions of Reading in their interaction with the crowd. If I had to describe their sound I would say it suggest the kind of noise you might hear if the Prodigy had a bum sex orgy with Enter Shikari while being filmed by Lemmy Kilminster. Incidentally they seem to have a fanatically loyal following and the tent was packed very tight. Especially when the circle pits broke out. They were very good, but not the sort of band I would listen to outside the confines of a festival. But they probably had the most energetic crowd of the day too. Interestingly like many bands appearing in recent years they used to come to this festival as punters.
The Palma Violets were lively and punky and were clearly up for a good time and they gave us all a great time. Similar to Modestep these guys were festival goers who in fact met here four years ago at camp site Yellow 7. Is there anyone there this year who will be on stage in a few years? If they are this good then let’s hope so. You would n,t see this bunch as a blues band but I was interested to see that one of their vocalists was sporting a B B King t-shirt. You don’t get many of those at Reading do you? I would advise you to check out the Palma Violets, you won’t be disappointed. Can I ask who is Harry Violet please?
One of the acts I had been looking forward to this year was Johnny Marr, or according to a t-shirt I saw Johnny Fucking Marr. This was does what it says on the tin moment number 2 for me today. Although Johnny has a much bigger tin to draw from than many others. His new solo stuff sounds pretty fresh and vibrant. He also played a great cover of “I Fought The Law”. But of course this crowd was by far the most middle-aged of the day and there were mass outbreaks of Morrissey-like Dad dancing throughout the set especially when Johnny played a few songs from a band he once was in. You might have heard of them, they were called the Smiths! He played a number of Smiths songs including “Stop Me If You Heard This One Before”, “Big Mouth Strikes Again”, “How Soon Is Now”, “This Charming Man” and the set closer was a really heartfelt version of the delectable “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”. This had us all singing along at the top of our lungs. On the count of three now, ‘if a double-decker bus crashes into us…….’
How had the Imagine Dragons had passed me by up to now I do not know. But I am glad I have found them now. They could be the most percussive band on the planet right now. There are elements of Arcade Fire and the Killers in their sound. They are in fact from Las Vegas just like the Killers. Their songs are powerful, catchy and memorable. I may just have to download their album as well. I would definitely pay to see these guys again as you should! What can I say about Tame Impala? They certainly seemed to channel Pink Floyd with a blend of dance music. Their psychedelic screen shows were brilliant. Their lighting almost suggests that they don’t really want to be seen. Their sound is based around extended psychedelic wig-outs wer excellent but it does make you wonder how the hell they rehearse their stuff. A fab band though.
Someone else I was looking forward to seeing, having seen him in York earlier this year was Jake Bugg. He did not disappoint he played a great selection from his first album and a couple of new songs that will probably form a part of his second. His acoustic version of “Broken” was emotional and incredible. Was there anyone who was not singing along? I doubt it. He also played a storming cover of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey My My”. Which magnificently made up for Neil cancelling on me last weekend. I am looking forward even more to Jake’s second album even more now. If you have never heard Jake Bugg, then where the bloody hell have you been?
Just after Jake Nick and I were joined by a woman who we believe was very much under the influence of something; more likely substance than alcohol. Her name was Amy and she decided that Nick and I were her new best mates. Her 14-year-old daughter and her niece were also at the festival but she seemed to have no idea where and no idea as to how to contact them. Nick was going to stay to watch Alt-J (and incidentally he tells me they were fantastic, really energetic and the crowd loved them) and I was going to the main stage for Eminem. Amy wasn’t going anywhere on her own and I drew the short straw as she accompanied me to see Mr Mathers. In fact she stayed with us until we left the arena; we left her at the taxi rank. Amy we hope that you got home ok. Anyway back to the music. I missed the first part of Eminem’s set as it clashed with Mr Bugg. But what I did see was fantastic. When I saw him here in 2002 I was a little disappointed and I felt that he could have been better. He was so much better this year. All the hits were there; including a great version of “Stan” with an appearance from Dido to reprise her previously sampled vocal live. The pinnacle of Marshall’s performance though was the encore and closer “Lose Yourself”. How good is that song? So we’re now two-thirds of the way through the 2013 festival and it has been superb so far. Bring on day 3.
Well it’s that time of year again; time for me to spend three days standing in a field in Berkshire with thousands of other people. There will be shouting, mud (possibly), booze and drugs (for some), food stuffs thrown (usually scotch eggs) and oodles of great music. Yes the Reading Festival is here again and as has been the tradition for a several years now I will be attending with my good friend and fellow Zimmer Twin Nick. We are two fiftysomething music fans and between us we have seen all the great bands from Led Zep to the Foos and from Bowie to Suede. To be fair we have also seen our share of crap bands too.
Anyway who am I looking forward to most this year? I think the three headliners are a good choice. I saw Green Day back in 2005 at the Milton Keynes Bowl, that was a great show. I have seen Biffy Clyro at Reading a few times and after the release of their current album ‘Opposites’ earlier this year I think that they will make excellent headliners. I am looking forward to Eminem and I think he will be superb. However back in 2001 I thought his set, which included extensive collaboration with D12 was a little subdued.
Other acts I am quite excited about seeing are; Kate Nash (who I saw in York earlier this year), will the Tuts join her on stage? Let’s hope so! Then there is the supremely talented Jake Bugg, Chvrches, Johnny Marr, Savages, Palma Violets, Fallout Boy, Spector, Haim, Villagers, Jagwar Ma, the Bronx, the 1975 and the Fuck Buttons. Sadly I’m sure that some of these acts may be on at the same time on different stages. But whatever happens I intend to be there for the return of Enter Shikari and I will definitely not be missing Christchurch’s finest son Frank Turner and Nine Inch Nails. Fingers crossed that Trent Reznor is joined by his friend David Bowie, somehow I don’t think so though.
As for the BBC Introducing Stage we also take a look at a few of the up and coming bands. Sometimes we pick who we want to see based on their names. So this year we will be looking out for We Are Knuckle Draggers, As Elephants Are and Catfish and the Bottlemen. Who are you most looking forward to this year at Reading and Leeds? Don’t forget if you should bump into us Zimmer Twins feel free to say hello. I will make sure that you get a mention in this blog!
We arrived a bit late for the secret set from Green Day which began at 11 o’clock, but by all accounts it was blisteringly good. So day 2 kicked off for us with a song from Los Campesinos. An excellent band and even the sun came out to enjoy them! Theme Park were very fresh and funky with a singer that looks like Mr Cole a.k.a Cashley. They sound like David Byrne on ecstasy and was that Prince Harry on guitar? Probably not as he had his kit on! We saw Citizens next. They have been produced by Alex Kapranos and seem to be channeling Edwyn Collins. A very good band.
The usual visit to the comedy stage gave us Jimmy McGhie and Reginald D Hunter. Both were very funny, especially McGhie’s mugging story about Ewoks in hoodies! Grimes was next and she gave us some wonderful ethereal trance tunes and a topless blonde dancer too…. he was quite good! We made it to the NME/ Radio 1 stage for Dry The River. They have a very chilled US west coast sound with added psychedelic wig outs and up until that point the weather was Californian too.
Santigold was pure class but what the hell had she made the band wear? Her set had everything; the audience on stage, costume change and a pantomime horse (probably the first time I’ve ever seen one of those on stage at Reading)! We went back to the Main Stage for late afternoon and the Shins were the perfect choice! After the Shins it was the mercurial Enter Shikari. It’s now 4 years in a row at Reading for the Shikari boys who in my opinion are one of the finest bands to grace the main stage. They owned the place!
Some vaccines cure but the Vaccines rock! They are future headliners I think. Florence & the Machine best so far by mile and she did it in heavy rain. Heavy is an understatement, it was pissing down! Not only talented but a trouper too. Ms Welch has a heavenly voice. I am sure that she will be back to headline in the next few years. We watched the first two songs from Kasabian. I think they are far better live than on record but I would still describe them as Leaden Zeppelin. We caught just one song from the bouncy Katy B before a mini tour of the remaining headliners; At The Drive-In were on supreme form and it’s good to see them back, Metronomy provided us with some laid back late night dance grooves and finally we caught a bit of the DJ set from Bassnectar. For that all we were missing were a couple of tabs of E and some glow sticks. And so ended a relatively chilled and slightly damp day 2.
After what seemed ages the Reading Festival is here again and as usual I made the annual pilgrimage with my good friend Nick Horslen. The first band that we saw on day 1 was the Cancer Bats. I would describe them as hardcore heavy screamers from Canada and they were bloody good too! Dead to Me were on the Lock Up stage and they were rather good and certainly not dead to anyone! I wasn’t sire about the jaunty angled baseball cap though. Coheed & Cambria were on the main stage I found them a bit Biffy Clyro-like but not as good! I suppose you might describe them as 21st century prog rock.
Friends sounded good but sadly we missed most of their set. Spector came next with the first mobot of the day, spookily just after I said to Nick I wonder when we’ll see one from the stage. I like these guys a lot, they have some really anthemic songs especially “Never Fade Away”. Are the Hives the ultimate festival party band? Definitely! They have it all; top hats and tails, attitude, great songs and even a ninja stage crew! We saw the Blackout next, hmmmm seems to be a Shikari influence in there. But I would send the red-haired bloke back to Wales he adds nothing to them in my opinion!
I love Scroobius Pip but I thought that the sound mix for him was terrible. Wow the BBC Introducing stage has a mosh circle and the Attention Thieves worked it well. Very hard and very heavy. Next we were at the NME tent for Passion Pit from Boston. They do what it says on the tin; but with loads more passion than you can fit in a tin and far from the pits! A truly great band. But even after that things went up a notch or two with the great Graham Coxon, what a truly awesome guitarist he is. A little less stage presence than Damon but tons more than Liam Gallagher. A brilliant set and he even has a drummer that looked like a bewigged Mel Smith. We passed by Paramore on the Main stage to see the rather spiffing Bastille who closed with a great 90s dance cover.
The BBC introduced us to the Proxies; I think they’ll be back. The Courteeners were a bit identikit indie pop. I’m sure that if you’re a big fan of them you were in ecstasy watching them. For me they were pretty good but not the most exciting band I have ever seen. Then it was off to the Main Stage to round the day off with Bob Smith’s combo, the Cure. They last appeared at the festival in 1979 and I had never seen them before so the prospects were good. Whilst they are clearly a very tight band, featuring Reeves Gabrels on guitar I think, I don’t think I’d see them again. I am glad I had the opportunity this time though. I felt that the first hour was somewhat soporific but the second part really livened up. So that was the end of the first day and the rain held off too.
We are now just over two weeks away from the start of the 2012 Reading Festival. Since I moved north to York in 2007 this has become my annual pilgrimage back south where I meet up with my good friend and festival buddy extraordinaire Mr nick Horslen. Undoubtedly soon to qualify as the oldest rockers in a field in Reading (our combined age is definitely over one hundred!) we have attended the world’s number one rock festival for many years. Although I live nearer to the Leeds end of it I won’t be going there until I can only move by Zimmer frame as I have always seen Leeds as the snotty young brother of Reading.
I have mixed feelings about some of the headliners this year. The Foo Fighters are always awesome an I doubt that will change this year. The Cure, who headline the main stage on the Friday night haven’t played the Reading Festival since 1979 so I’d like to think they’ll have something special up their sleeves for this year. It’s Kasabian that really concern me, I find them a little predictable and almost Spinal Tapesque, like someone said today I’m going to invent a rock band. I may be convinced otherwise but for me they come across as Leaden Zeppelin, Slightly Dark Sabbath or Shallow Purple. I am sure that there are plenty of you out there that disagree with that opinion, so feel free to comment.
There are some great acts lower down the bill on the Main Stage that for me are ‘must see’ performers. Those are; Florence and the Machine, Paramore, Eagles Of Death Metal, Cancer Bats and the truly stupendous Enter Shikari. The Kaiser Chiefs are third on the Main Stage bill on the Sunday, which I find a bit surprising. They have been lacklustre at best lately in my opinion, what do you think?
I am disappointed that I will probably miss Justice in the NME/ Radio tent as they are on the same time as the Foo Fighters. But there are a number of other bands and artists that I want to see on the NME/ Radio 1 stage; notably the Horrors, the Joy Formidable, Hadouken, the Hives, At The Drive In (who are on at the same time as Kasabian) and most of all Graham Coxon.
On the other stages I will do my best to watch Less Than Jake, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Azealia Banks and Grimes. But of course I can’t ignore the often excellent BBC Introducing stage where Nick and I often pick a band with the wackiest name to see, but we are also open to recommendations too! So I’m currently considering Wet Nuns, Fish Tank, Dingus Khan and Attention Thieves.
Nick and I often meet some really interesting people at the festival and last year was no exception. In fact last year we met a great bunch of people, mostly South African, but with a smattering of Brits. One of the South Africans was a hilarious bloke called Jason Steyn. (Jason if you’re reading this let me know if you’ll be there this year). They shared their booze, we shared our food and supplied me with a Prince Charles mask! if those guys are back again this year and indeed if you want to meet me and Nick we will be just to the left of the front of the lighting/ mixing tower as you face the main stage, although obviously not if we’re at one of the other stages. You can’t miss us, Nick is very tll and grey haired and his festival nickname is Silver Dude. I am somewhat shorter, slightly older and have hardly any hair, my festival nickname is Billy Baldust. (Actually I just made that one up, but there will be a prize for anyone who comes up with a better one!
Anyway that’s enough wittering on from me. I would love to hear your comments on this post or indeed on any of my posts. I would also love to meet you at Reading and would be more than happy to give you a name check on my posts from the festival! Whetehr I see you or not I hope you enjoy yourself!