All 5 entries tagged Reading Festival

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August 30, 2007

Reading: Saturday and Sunday

Follow-up to Reading: Friday from Esprit de l'escalier


We started late on Saturday after a boat ride down the Thames to fetch some beer. The first band we saw were the Shins, of unsubtle plug in Garden State fame. Apparently they’ll change your life. They sounded alright but I’m not converted yet.

Young Knives were pretty good, refreshing my memory of last summer’s hits. Thanks to backpacking and not have a radio in my room, my keeping track of new music has been a bit slack the past year. I thought I would have heard more of the current big thing Pigeon Detectives before I saw them, but I only managed to recognise two songs. The rest of the crowd were certainly au fait and the atmosphere in the NME tent was great.

I think I saw some of the Tokyo Police Club but they obviously made no impression on me. Bloc Party had the tunes and were basically flawless but they didn’t really offer anything special so I got distracted by teenagers on piggyback getting stuff thrown at them by angry people behind them. And the bar.

Arcade Fire were one of the highlights of the weekend with what are now bona fide anthems and their insane percussion section. The sunset halfway through their set was a nice touch.

We Are Scientists are in many ways like Jimmy Eat World with their epic, vaguely indie rock and the fact they are well underrated. While everyone was getting to the Main Stage for the Chilis, I went up to the relatively sparse NME Tent to catch the Californian three-piece. The set was half a showcase for the last album and half a bunch of new songs, which are sounding promising. The only problem was I couldn’t hear their whimsical banter between songs.

I caught six songs of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, only one of which I’d heard before – that shit Hey Oh one. What Hits? indeed. Saw a bit of Hot Hot Heat, who were decent enough.


This is how out of the new music loop I am. I own not one album by a band who were playing on the Sunday. It was a good opportunity to flit between the Carling and NME stages to take in some random bands and see what all this New Rave fuss was about.

Pull Tiger Tail were good. Hadouken! were better. Ben, the lucky get, found some chump’s unused VIP pass lying on the ground so went to watch the band from backstage alongside folk from the Klaxons, CSS and the NME.

New Young Pony Club did exactly what it says on the tin: they were new, they were young, and they were pony. The only memorable part of the Operator Please set was when NME editor Conor McNicholas walked past me, and it turns out he’s quite short! If someone like him can get into a position of power, there’s hope for me yet.

After missing Kubichek! every time they played live when I was in Newcastle, I finally saw them and they were rather frenetic. Cold War Kids and Devendra Banhart were up next and they were probably the most impressive of the weekend’s “new” music. At first I thought CWK’s singer sounded like James Walsh out of Starsailor, but then it transpired that he was from the States, so he’s allowed to sing in that accent. Banhart wasn’t inaccessibly quirky as I’d been lead to believe though at one point he took the unusual step of bringing some “random” members of the crowd on stage to sing a song.

Former Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley was looking and sounding good. We saw about half of CSS who were enjoyable enough before heading over to see Seasick Steve, a grizzled old slide guitarist playing some swampy delta blues. Completely anachronistic at Reading, but brilliant. Everyone was chanting “Seasick! Seasick!” between songs and he said that made a nice change from “Steve-o! Steve-o!” which he got at his last gig. Of course, everyone took this as a cue to start chanting “Steve-o!” which was a bit harsh on the kindly old man, but he was a good sport.

LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy doesn’t look like he should be fronting a hip dance-rock outfit. A session drummer at best, maybe. I might buy their latest critically-acclaimed album, but I was slightly put off by their set-closer, the lyrics to which are “yeah” ad infinitum. And Daft Punk Is Playing In My House needs more cowbell.

We decided to be poncey and buy some Thai food then returned to see the NME Tent’s headliners the Klaxons. It seemed like if you didn’t have a glowstick you weren’t getting in, so we tried to listen from outside, but the strains of the Smashing Pumpkins drifting over from the Main Stage got in the way of the New Rave so we cut our losses and went to end the festival at the Silent Disco.

August 29, 2007

Reading: Friday

Follow-up to Reading 2007 from Esprit de l'escalier

This is who I saw:

First, I went to check out the Pipettes on the Main Stage. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for bubblegum pop with a 60s twist, or maybe they were just irritating.

Then it was the Sounds on the NME/Radio 1 Stage. Swedish purveyors of power pop with a stone-cold, and foul-mouthed, fox for a lead singer. I was impressed.

Back we went to the Main Stage for the Long Blondes, who offered the winning combination of cracking songs off Someone To Drive You Home and the presence of the singer Kate Jackson, whom I quite fancy. As a bonus, I had the revelation that the intro to Giddy Stratospheres sounds just like the one for the Dead 60s’ Riot Radio.

Hirsute gypsy punks Gogol Bordello were up next and they were madder than a badger in spats. Very enjoyable songs featuring such lyrics as “Have you ever been to an American wedding; where’s the vodka, where’s marinated herring?” [note: it helps if this is sung in a Ukrainian accent]

We ducked out during Start Wearing Purple to catch who I’m now told are called the Blood Red Shoes (as opposed to the Red Shoe Diaries). Yet another rock outfit fronted by a hottie, but pretty forgettable.

After that we went to the Alternative Stage for a sit down, and semi-famous comic Tim Minchin just happened to be starting. He was surprisingly good; think the campness of Eddie Izzard and the piano skills of Bill Bailey, with an Australian accent. I particularly liked his song about the failed rock star because I got the joke before the end.

The rest of the day was a no-brainer: the Main Stage had big name acts up the Ying Yang, starting with the band who kick-started the Emo craze (though I don’t hold that against them), Jimmy Eat World. They played a blinder of a set, with all the classics off Bleed American. I haven’t seen them since Leeds ’02 and frontman Jim has got a bit podgy. He reminded me of Matt Parkman out of Heroes.

Between bands the announcement by the hapless compere that Razorlight would be headlining that evening was met with boos. Wow, they’ve come a long way.

Maximo Park were a bit disappointing, playing far too many slow songs off the new album, and no Limassol or A Fortnight’s Time. Paul Smith’s wackiness got a bit too much and seemed to be trying to introduce each song in an even more baffling way than the last. He might want to learn some self-awareness. And how to devise a good set list.

I finally saw Interpol and they were little more than really, really cool. I got pretty close for the Kings of Leon who were brilliant, as expected. A few songs off the new album had the cigarette lighters out, so the crowd wasn’t as physically intense as it could have been. Still, I wouldn’t have liked to be wearing flip flops.

The boys from Tennessee departed and the chants of “fuck Razorlight” began. As you may know, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Borrell and his band. It’s like this: I know they’ve got shit, but I can’t help enjoying their second album. So I retreated far enough to avoid the true fans but remained close enough to indulge in my guilty pleasure. Five songs in, Johnny Borrell’s histrionics got too much so I went to find the others and watched a nice but dull Albert Hammond Jr. of Strokes fame in the Carling Tent. Holly, if you’re reading this, what did your text about Razorlight say again?

We avoided the mass exodus by hiding in the empty Lock-Up Stage where Jimmy Eat World had been playing again and Officer Parkman, the lovely guy that he is, was chatting to his fans. Also there we saw TV’s Rob Rouse!

Shit, I’ve written loads, and I’m only a third through. More tomorrow, hopefully.

August 28, 2007

Reading 2007

I’m too old for this shit!
- Roger Murtaugh, 1987

After skimping on festivals last year, I forked out £150 for Reading, which I got back from yesterday. The first festival I went to, Leeds in 2002, cost £75. Yes, the price of a Carling Weekend ticket has risen by an average of 15 percent each year. Inflation in that period has been running at about 2.5 percent. Go figure.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun. I went with Shall, Ben and Rick but managed to meet Ralph and Dave of My Travels fame, Holly, Mark, and Simon and Rosie. Hello to you.

Before it started there were fears that thanks to the flooding whole tracts of the site would be rendered uncampable. In the event, everything was fine, except for the tent I’d borrowed from home which turned out not to have any fucking poles. So I bought a shitty one for £20. We pitched up in the Brown campsite, which, despite the name, was green and dry, and we had loads of space. Not only that – in an unprecedented move by the weather at festival time, all three days were scorchers.

The conditions were good, but I hadn’t reckoned on feeling really old. The Reading Festival is the weekend after GCSE results for a reason. Probably. I think it’s safe to say 23 is above the median age. And it’s scary when there’s a popular music movement that you don’t get, namely new rave. It didn’t help that my feet were aching by the end of each day and I was struggling to stay keep my eyes open at 2am while kids were running by in a big mob, chanting “angry mob!”

Aah, middle class teenagers letting off steam. Bless. Unfortunately, things didn’t get as violent and rampage-y as last time. Security had been stepped right up (bizarrely, all the folk policing the campsites were Scottish) and they weren’t standing for any tomfoolery. Confiscations meant there were no epic games of Trolley Jousting we saw one lone trolley which had escaped the crackdown desperately seeking a challenger. Ben and I managed to get its unruly custodians singing Trolley Trolley, Trolley Trolley Trolley to lift their spirits. Deprived of their trolleys, the children resorted to standing in a circle, passing a hat around their heads, singing Pass The Parcel Round.

Speaking of starting chants, Bollocks has really come into its own since 2005. Get it right and everyone (well, the more immature – not me, folks) joins in, and a roar builds and spreads like a sonic Mexican Wave. Rather than being really lame like when a callow youth does it on his tod, it’s quite impressive.

The organisation of the festival has changed since last time too. Festival Republic have taken over from Mean Fiddler and it’s got really civilised. There’s gourmet food stalls like the fish and chip shop that sells minted mushy peas. They erected a barrier in the middle of the main stage audience to distribute water and there was hardly any crowd surfing. The bars have got environmentally conscious, offering a 10p refund on used beer cups (poor people spend most of the festival collecting them so it also helps redistribute wealth). There are also extra-curricular activities like a funfair (with dodgems!) and a silent disco wherein you get given headphones with two radio channels playing different things, so you can listen to one or the other or take the cans off and listen to a crowd singing a capella. That was quality.

What wasn’t quality was the mobile battery recharging facilities. There was a time when you could rock up to a big tent and hook your phone up to one of the many chargers. Now they’ve got a tiny stall where you have to queue for over an hour to hand over your battery. Twats.

Did anyone there/watching at home see that Kenyan flag? I can reveal the guys carrying it didn’t look Kenyan.

My music review tomorrow, with any luck.

August 30, 2005

Reading Festival, part the second

As everyone knows, you don't really go to a festival for the music – you go for the atmosphere. Of course, Glastonbury is your classic, with its Ageing Hippy demographic lending the proceedings a chilled-out, alternative lifestyle vibe (and none the worse-off since they stopped the penniless crusties jumping the fence). But Reading's should not be disregarded, as diametrically opposed as it is. The core demographic there is the middle class teenage boy from the home counties, whose mass presence is observed within five minutes of arrival when you hear the first demented cries of that oh-so-rebellious catchphrase, "Bollocks!".

On the first night, everyone is feeling warm regard for their fellow campers and many offer 'free hugs' and hi-fives to passing strangers. By the second night, when it's clear that no one is going to get laid, the kids' energy is transferred to more destructive recreational pursuits. Also, by this time the Bollockses have become too annoying for some and what was collective love is now mutual contempt.* When there simply aren't enough boy-band-turned-emo popsters to throw urine at, and when every first-time drinker has had their third can of Fosters, the aura of barely contained violence spills over into the campsites.

One moment, you're passing a rolled-up cigarette around the campfire, basking in the fresh memories of seeing your favourite bands play; the next, you hear a rumble of what sounds like thunder. You look up, only to see a clear night's sky. You stand up to see what in Great Odin's raven that sound, which has by now reached a crescendo, is. From one end of your campsite to the other, a legion of young rock fans marauds down the 'road', fuelled by a pubescent bloodlust. "It was like Apocalypse Now, the We Are All On Drugs video, Just William and Lord Of The Flies all at once." Then the bombing starts.

Ah, the Reading Rampage. What larks. We followed them on the Sunday night, expecting to witness all manner of plunder, pillage and rape. Unfortunately, it was just a bunch of kids letting off some steam. But it was still hilarious. We stumbled upon a game of 'Trolley', the theme song to which was the best thing I'd heard all weekend. It went: "trolley, trolley, trolley trolley trolley". Essentially, you have two teams consisting of a pusher and a passenger. Each passenger boards his/her shopping trolley and the pushers hurl their laden conveyances at the other. Hours of fun. People erected crude toll barriers at random points in the 'road', the fee being to humour their a capella performance of MC Hammer's Can't Touch This. Security people tried to coax a druggy down from a tree before he fell on his head. A live bull was ritually hacked to pieces.

The bombing? Basically, Reading attracts many petty arsonists who burn down tents on the last night and blow up camping gas canisters. I'd say that this is the defining element of the festival's atmosphere. The tension is so infectious that every time we heard a siren, I hoped it would be the fuzz, arriving to quell a burgeoning riot. Alas, it was always merely a fire engine. And England's middle-class rebels seem to draw the line at attacking those, despite their association with The Man. I dealt The Man my own resounding blow on the train home by riding first class, picking up a free Times of London. Just like old times.

*Ben and I managed to introduce the alternative "Matt Damon!", which, when shouted by a contingent of Alkaline Trio fans, really warms the heart. Thinking that we could build on our success we tried the same for "I'm Spartacus!", but to no avail.

Reading Festival, part the first

Not the Reading Festival unfortunately, but merely a reading festival, thanks to a bit of a cock-up at ebay.

Still, there happened to be some decent bands playing and thanks to them, some excellent company, fine wine and bad food, I had an awesome weekend.

This is what I made of the weekend's more memorable bands, if I could only remember it…


Do Me Bad Things, first up on the main stage, did me bad things, to my ears. Nah, they were alright. Yourcodenameis:milo taught me the important lesson of never assuming that just because the band is from where you're from they're gonna be any good. Graham Coxon put Happiness In Magazines on my YAATB* list. We Are Scientists performed a similar feat for their album. The Coral, whose first three albums I proudly possess, didn't. I finally saw Queens Of The Stone Age who didn't disappoint. Rather than pushing out of the crowd afterwards only to push back in later on, we suffered The Killers, whom I don't think are that bad, though I can see where the current backlash is coming from. Headlining were the Pixies. Like when I saw them at V last year, I still only have Doolittle, so I probably could've enjoyed their set even more than I did, which was a lot. More YAATBs.


I blessed The Cribs and Nirvana tribute act Nine Black Alps with my presence because I liked their singles. Neither are quite YAATB material though, yet. Arctic Monkeys, however, were very impressive. Having failed to heed the ravings of people like Jimmy, I was overwhelmed by how big their following already is, judging by the Carling Tent crowd going mental. The Charlatans provided good background music to mid-afternoon chilling out in the middle of a field. Westbrook's favourite, Hot Hot Hot were great. The Arcade Fire were better, but then again, I know their songs. I spent most of Kings Of Leon trying to find the others in the middle of the main stage crowd, but generally very ace. Foo Fighters were pretty much the reason for Ben, Milly and Shall to be at the festival so I was relatively unexcited. They turned out to be brilliant.


I'd been given conflicting accounts of the joke-bandness of Art Brut - famous, of course for We Formed A Band, their joke song which features little of what you'd call actual singing - so I thought I'd see for myself. They are essentially a joke band, yet good, and potential recipients of my 8.75, c/o CD WOW. Saw some of The Rakes but missed their probably-now-legendary special guest fest to see some of VHS Or Beta, so was a bit annoyed. Sons and Daughters writhed their way through an excellent half-hour of indie-rockabilly, their Scottish accents unfortunately reminding me of the Proclaimers. YAATB. If there was one band I certainly wasn't going to miss, it was Maximo Park. They, as you'd expect, were awesome. Frontman Paul Smith is a mentalist, and was a bit overhumble. I had a Bart Simpson "that's only 4 miles from my house!" moment when they played a new song, A19. Caught the last half of Iggy and the Stooges, who were a bit underwhelming. Incubus then performed Sunday's Charlatans role and were, on the whole, whelming. We then saw a bit of cabaret by a young lady called Marilyn Manson, who was dressed as a goth, which, as everybody knows, is hot. Her set comprised mainly of showtunes and covers of well-known hits from the 80s. Unfortunately for the Futureheads (whom I've seen before anyway), and Iron Maiden (whom I haven't seen before but meh), we went to see Mylo instead. I'd never been to see a live 'dance' act before, so it was quite the experience. He was very good and made another addition to the YAATB list. To round off a spiffing and, indeed, spaffing weekend in style, were The Bloc Party.

*Yet Another Album To Buy

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