There has been a lot of negativity towards this year’s line-up.
We really need to stop and ask why?
OK. Not so many ‘big’acts as in previous years according to some, maybe? No I think the answer lies in the type of music, its much more varied than it originally was, it was a rock festival back in the day with roots to Londons Marquee Club. Statistics go onto show that in 70’s and 80’s it was 77% rock, by the 90’s that had slipped back to 55%, and more recent years back down to around 33%. Either way it’s the poularity of the music that defines whats put on. There are fresh new bands, there are well known bands, even some rock, but add into that mix other types such of music, and you get Reading and Leeds 2018.
Friday at Reading Festival: I spent most of the day circulating the various stages, there really is something for everyone. First stop was the BBC Introducing stage for Tranqua Lite, they were pleasing to the ear, but not particularly engaging I felt. For me Leeds band Sounds Like A Storm absolutely blitzed it, from the eerie vocal introduction accompanied by bass I was captivated, one to watch for the future. Over on the main stage LA Punks, The Regrettes turned in an impressive performance and are currently getting a fair bit of air play at the moment. Playing the Festival Republic stage was a band I’d come across before, Southampton’s Wild Front played a storming set, and I thought much improved, as they took the crowd along for the ride. The one act that surprised me was Royal Republic, wow! a bunch of Swiss guys decked out in gold lame jackets playing a little Metallica, something I didn’t expect.
There’s no denying by making the festival so varied it draws huge crowds, Dua Lipa, on the main stage and it’s rammed. Up and coming acts such as Sun Arcana mentioned they were humbled to be playing the BBC Introducing stage, and drew a credible crowd. Closing Friday were Fall Out Boy, who delivered an incredible set that included older well know songs and newer ones from their recent album Mania.
Starting Saturday off were LA electro pop band, Russo, who played a concise set that the crowd loved. Guitarist Tyler Mccarthy pulling some great poses and vocalist Cailin Russo bouncing around. Over on the Radio1 stage Australian band West Thebarton introduced us to their brand of Aussie rock with a very infectious beat.
Skindred,on the main stage played an incredible set. Their frontman Benji Webbe, quite a character grabbed so much interaction from the crowd, ending with people removing their tops and spinning them around (the Newport helicopter) apparently.
Japanese rockers Man With A Mission playing ‘the pit’ stage, wowed the audience with their unusual headgear (wolf heads) that remained in place throughout, Their cover of a song played 26 years ago at Reading ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit, was amazing the whole audience were captivated. No afternoon lul as Sigrid’s ‘sweet pop’ style kept things going, and Manchester’s Pale Waves, with their indie pop style proved quite a draw, prior to today’s headliner Kendrick Lamar, were Panic! At The Disco whose set had the audience counting down to and then singing along throughout their performance. Preceeding a fantastic firework display, they covered the iconic Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody in their own un mistakable style
Onto Sunday and it’s wet! Typical Festival weather?
Considering it was wet Dinosaur Pile Up, drew a reasonable crowd unfortunately Joy Formiddable didn’t, a real shame, but then most people are catching acts in the various tents around the site, so possible a win win situation for some of the smaller acts. Canadian rockers Billy Talent drew a sizeable crowd that appeared to be loving his set.
South London post punks Shame played an incredible set and despite the weather loads were out enjoying. Vocalist Charlie Steen with what appeared to be a painted gold microphone cameout giving it loads, those that have braved the weather are dancing. Indeed, he was still crowd surfing when I ventured out. Across the field on The Pit stage were Swedish band Normandie, who put in an excellent set, jumping, moshing and even crowd surfing during the last song. But it was who was on before that caught my eye, a secret performance from Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes, had rammed the tent to capacity. The DMA’s, as someone once describe them “as 20 years too late, 90’s wanabees”, may be, but they sounded good and great music for a Sunday afternoon.
The Vaccines performed a solid set, the crowd were ‘up for them’, loads of audience participation, ensued, both singing and dancing. The Courteneersmade quite an entrance – vocalist Liam Fray appearing in a coat and scarves, overheard someone saying ‘Quite something, Paul Weller would have been proud of’ Liam commented about they were always told ‘they wouldn’t do well down south, being a northern band’, but they’d been made to feel welcome at Reading, Kings of Leon topped the bill on the main stage, while a great band they didn’t have the same draw as some of the other acts, but a great way to end the Festival.
Reading has been an interesting weekend of music, lots to see on all stages, getting to see all was never going to happen, but I felt spoilt for choice There was a huge variety of bands, whichever way you look at it, this is a winning formula, lots of variety, but does it compromise quality? The short sets, I did hear one band complain they were restricted? Either way it’s a great way to find new bands, it gets bands noticed. Overriding comments coming from the artists were ‘be you, do what you want to in life, Believe in yourself’ Travis Scott, on Friday, afternoon on the main stage mentioned he was told ‘he wouldn’t get on in the business’, he’s proved them wrong, don’t listen to what others think or say, just do it!
The capacity crowd of 200,000 was diverse, the majority were young adults, but there were families present, there are people here, that have been coming for years, indeed one guy was wearing a t shirt showing when The Meanfiddler promoted the festival, that has to be at least 20 years old.
Feature image © Sarah Bennett