|Another August Bank Holiday Weekend...another Reading Festival List...sorry|
I haven't done anything on this site in a looong time...I REALLY got out of the habit of reviewing and I whole-heartedly plan on getting back into it in the very near future so I thought that maybe getting my thoughts down on this years Reading Festival would help ease me back in.
9/10 Awe-inspiring. Majestic. Euphoric. Beautiful. I didn't previously consider myself a fan, but after THAT I really need to check this band out properly. An absolutely flawless, engaging set marked by interesting instrumentation, brilliant songs and an entirely jubilant mood. Brilliant
|2|| ||Trash Talk|
Eyes & Nines
9/10 Brilliant, but for completely different reasons. This was pure unadulterated chaos/aggression bordering on violence. In a good way, you understand. 40 minutes - approximately 25/30 songs; huge pits, water bins thrown into the crowd, head stomping, massive shout-alongs - especially to 'Manifest Destination'. Not many festival sets end with the stage gulfed by 300 audience members who rushed past security, members of the band 20 ft above the stage and TV cameras in pieces. Fuck.
The Greatest Songs Ever Written (By Us)
9/10 Playing the first of two sets on the Main Stage NOFX showed why they have attained such a legendary status. In spite of seeming apathetic (the first thing Fat Mike said was "I don't feel like playing today") they blasted out hit after hit, and told joke after joke. I don't think that everyone quite understood/appreciated them (I think that may have something to do with the changing demographic of Reading attendee - 15/16 year olds, drunk for the first time and wearing too much fake tan) but those who did fucking loved it.
|4||Queens Of The Stone Age|
8/10 If there was any justice one of these days QOTSA will headline Reading because they were just so good, so effortlessly. It would seem that 'cool' somes naturally to Josh Homme, as does the ability to send a festival crowd ballistic. The band played flawlessly, all the while making their songs sound even bigger - especially on set closer 'A Song For The Dead'.
The Blue Album
8/10 Rivers Cuomo may be one of the nerdiest looking guys on the planet but that man can sure dance. Badly. Watching Weezer you very quickly realise the sheer ammount of brilliant pop songs they have at their disposal, they may have gone downhill in recent years but when a field full of people is howling along to 'Buddy Holly' you can happily overlook that. Josh Freese played drums on a number of songs, and sounded amazing doing so
8/10 If Rolo Tomassi are indeed the future of British hardcore then the future will be far more schizophrenic, stranger and sexier and it is one I will look forward to. However, I will not look forward to circles of guys 'moshing', looking like they're having seizures/taking the piss. Even still, being involved in a wall of death approximately 100ft wide is just ridiculously fun/terrifying.
Somewhere In The Between
8/10 There are very few things in life you can be certain of, but one thing you can be certain of is that when you see a Streetlight Manifesto gig, you're going to have a good time. The band played at a furious pace, yet the crowd somehow managed to keep up with Tomas 'motor-mouth' Kalnoky. All in all, a very fun, happy, sweaty set. As always.
|8|| ||Cypress Hill|
8/10 "Do you wanna get high?!" Judging by the strong smell and the fact that you could hardly turn around without eyeing a massive joint, most people did indeed want to get high with the Hill. In the Sunday afternoon sunshine/smoke haze it was the upbeat latino-themed songs such as 'Armada Latina' and well known choruses such as 'How I Could Just Kill A Man' which went down best.that high
8/10 I had heard many good things about HEALTH's live sets and I was glad I caught them having missed them a couple of months prior to their early afternoon slot on Sunday. They were loud. Fucking loud. Honestly, I'm surprised that their drummer didn't break through any skins durng their set. They managed to pull off their brand of danceable noise-rock flawlessly and the vocals (as well as the aforementioned drums) were particulalry impressive, especially on set highlight 'We Are Water'.
8/10 Caribou played to a packed out Festival Republic tent and delivered a lush set with beautiful electronics, and almost-whispered vocals deftly backed up by a tight rhythm section. Theirs was a stunning set, both visually and aurally.
Good News For People Who Love Bad News
8/10 Indie legends Modest Mouse were way out of their depth on the main stage - a venue usually reserved for bands with far more mainstream appeal, yet in the face of audience apathy they battled valiantly and played a set composed of songs throughout their entire career. However, it was the extended outro of 'The Whale Song' which was the real highlight. Still, you couldn't help but feel their set would have been far better suited to a tent.
8/10 Playing at 12:45 to a crowd consisting of somewhere between 50 and 100 punters in the rain probably shouldn't be that much fun, but no one seemed to tell Kvelertak, who clearly thoroughly enjoyed themselves as they blasted out their ballsy hardcore to a tired, hungover but quietly enthusiastic audience. I didn't catch any song names as they're all in Norwegian, but I'm pretty sure the singer said something about Odin which got a lot of cheers.
8/10 While not much to look at, as the band were inert for the entire set, the real intrigue of Gallops headline set on the BBC stage was the musicisianship as the Welsh quartet fused the futuristic math-rock of Battles with bassy synths, anchored by one hell of a drummer. Keep an eye out for these guys!
|14|| ||Fools Gold|
8/10 Happy, happy, happy. Fools Gold delivered one of the most upbeat performances of the weekend over in the Festival Republic tent as they blasted out their smart afro-pop prompting much dancing and merriment among a captive audience. With South-African, Ethiopian, Eritrean and god knows what other influences, these guys have a very interesting sound and are definitely worth checking out.
7/10 It really says a lot about the quality and extent of a band's back catalogue when they can play two sets without repeating any material, yet still make them both brilliant. Unfortunately the SoCal Punks' 2nd set of the weekend suffered (only very slightly, mind) from a dodgy PA, so was only slightly weaker than their mainstage slot the previous day. Still, seeing 'The Decline' was incredible.
|16|| ||Limp Bizkit|
Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavoured Water
7/10 Ah, pre-pubescence...Honestly, considering that this is a band that most people stopped listening to YEARS AGO, the reaction affored to Limp Bizkit is nothing short of remarkable. Several big pits open up, I 'Take A Look Around' and suddenly 'My Generation' is 'Rollin'' back to the year 2000 where it was cool to say "fuck" 46 times in the space of one song. Surprisingly, they put in a very solid performance which turned out to be very enjoyable.
|17||The Get Up Kids|
Something To Write Home About
7/10 The return of the emo legends was met by a comparatively small audience, but probably one of the most passionate crowds of the weekend. Having not listened to them previously I can't comment on the setlist but at their best, their set was intense and vital, although the keys were slightly too low in the mix to really kick the set into fifth gear
Romance Is Boring
7/10 Me and my mate only saw Los Campesinos because we wanted to be in a tent while there was a monsoon outside and needed a dry place to roll, but we were both pleasantly surprised. The band put in a very upbeat - ecstatic, almost - set, which was only let down by one of the singer's 'mockney' accent which sounded forced. Nevertheless, this is now a band that I have to check out
7/10 Cancer Bats never seem to disappoint live, but they've definitely played better sets. The sound was a bit muddy and that was the main thing that pulled down them with 'Lucifer's Rocking Chair' not achieving its usual headbanging brilliance. Nevertheless, this was still a great set, with a very energetic crowd and band - and the cover of 'Sabotage' was just superb.
7/10 I've never really been a fan of Gogol Bordello, I've always thought of them as a poor man's Flogging Molly, just more ethnically diverse, but live they're certainly a lot of fun - even if they are incredibly repetitive and don't really have the actual songs to truly back up their live show. Regardless, the crowd all danced, I danced and there will probably be a lot more people wearing purple from now on.
This Is Merely A Distraction From The Inevitable
...Um, I honestly don't know what to say other than this was weird. That's weird with a capital fucking W.E.I.R.D. A 20/25 piece choir (some could sing, others really, really couldn't) backed by ominous, bassy beats is certianly an unusual sight to be confronted with as your first 'band' of the festival, especially when it's primarily a 'rock' festival. And especially when you have a spectacular hangover sponsored by Jagermeister. Nevertheless, I enjoyed them. At least I think i did.
Live, Breathe, Build, Believe
6/10 With a half-decent sound system this could have been an outstanding set as the London ska/punk/reggae quartet clearly played flawlessly, with their frontwoman switiching from melodica to sax to flute with impressive dexterity. However, the bass was far too strong (even for a reggae band) and the vocals were simply non-existent. Just another victim of poor sound quality.
|23||The Gaslight Anthem|
Sink Or Swim
6/10 Another band seemingly on the wrong stage. There was nothing wrong with their performance, either in terms of musicianship or crowd interaction as Brian Fallon clearly has the charisma to fill the cavernous main stage, however they sounded a little lost and would, again, have been better in a tent. Nevertheless, there's nothing wrong with hearing songs as great as 'Here's Looking At You, Kid' and 'The Backseat' on a nice summer's day. Good, but not great
|24|| ||Biffy Clyro|
6/10 This was Biffy's eighth time at Reading apparently and since debuting they have undergone a dramatic change musically. While they do play some old material (just 'Glitter And Trauma' and '...Jaggy Snake'), which many would argue is better, their set revolves around 'Only Revelations' and 'Puzzle' and also seems like an anti-climax when compared to previous Reading sets. Not their best performance by any stretch of the imagination, but not bad by any means either.
Total Life Forever
6/10 The Radio 1 rent was rammed for Foals. Rammed. They certainly had an impressive light show, and they played well but there was just something missing. Their dancier moments off of 'Antidotes' seemed a little jaded and the more epic songs off of 'Total Life Forever' sounded slightly muddy. Maybe I was just tired. Hmmm...
6/10 I saw them in a small (tiny) club in London two nights before and it was much better, in spite of a far more reserved audience. At Reading however, Surfer Blood were just, well, a little boring. Apart from during 'Take It Easy' when the singer went all Freddy Mercury on us (prompting a couple of blokes behind us to shout out a lot of borderline-homophobic remarks) they were largely uninteresting to watch, and while they played an immaculate set, it seemed somewhat flat - which for a band like Surfer Blood is very disappointing.
5/10 This was such a pity. I've seen ALK3 a few times before and have found them to be a pretty hit-and-miss live band. Their headline set in the Lock Up tent (3rd stage) would have been brilliant under normal conditions - fanatastic setlist, tight, but still energetic performance. However, the soundman should be shot. Despite frequent chants of "turn it up" the guitars ramined muddy and quiet while the vocal mics may as well have not even been turned on. Such a shame.
Take Off Your Pants And Jacket
4/10 I approached Blink's headline set with great trepidation after seeing many botched live videos of them before, but for half an hour or so they seemed to be proving their detractors wrong - albeit somewhat half-heartedly. For all their impertinence, however, they seemed to be almost afraid to make mistakes, and so the set seemed quite damp - until Tom decided to start singing purposefully out of tune and then it just became cringeworthy and juvenile. They weren't as bad as I feared that they might be, but that's not saying very much.