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To say Arcane Roots have only just hit the scene would be incredibly naïve. The arrival with ‘Blood and Chemistry’ in 2013 can only be likened in senses of arrival to the impending noise of a bomb whistling above your head and crashing down near you, with the sonic boom passing over you and sending your eardrums into overload. ‘Blood and Chemistry’ has to be described as their breakthrough, but for a band who have been around since 2005, the dues have most definitely been paid by the Kingston-on-Thames hailing three-piece.
I was lucky enough to watch the band at their most raucous and raw, when they played at Liverpool Sound City 2013 at Screenadelica. Our head photographer Martin Sharman, who up to then had been enjoying the acts from a distance, jumped headfirst into the undulating, sweating masses of writhing flesh who were enjoying the heaven for head-banging that was Arcane Roots’ set.
A few months on and they’ve conquered stadiums with titans of progressive rock, Muse and now Daryl Atkins and Adam Burton find themselves face to face with me, backstage at Reading Festival, following a chaotic set on the Lock Up/Rock Stage. Frontman Andrew Groves is busy attending to other media commitments, but that doesn’t keep him away for long.
With the Sunday performance being their first-ever show at Reading Festival it was obvious that drummer Atkins had thoroughly enjoyed the experience: “We played Leeds on Friday which was alright, but with Reading it seems like we are all really happy with it.” To anyone who had the privilege to watch their set, that answer will probably be met with a big shrug and a “well duh!” Why? Well you only had to look on the math-rocking threesome to see the Cheshire Cat-style grins creeping across their faces every time a circle pit opened up.
“It’s really good when people are passionate about our music, they go crazy and they get into it. You can only tell so much when you are on stage, what things sound like. I mean, you have a sort of monitor engineer and a house engineer and we brought our own front of house engineer who mixed the album and knows it well, so it sounded great.”
Bassist Burton chipped in with his perspective on how well the set went, in the tight confines of the Lock-Up, with limbs flailing in front of him: “As long as everyone is having a good time out front and they want to go crazy with the sun out and everything, then we’re going to have fun.”
Normally when you talk to a band after a triumphant Reading Festival set, the answer you’re inevitably given is that THIS was the festival they went to. A kind of Mecca for rockers, misfits and the men and women destined to grace the stages of the future? Not Arcane Roots though. “We’ve never been to the festival, never at all and everyone seems really surprised about it. In fact, the only major festival I’ve been to is the Isle of Wight Festival.” As an islander myself, I resist the urge to gush about proper sand, island life and sheep.
After explaining to the duo of Daryl and Adam that ‘Blood and Chemistry’ has effectively been the soundtrack to the last 2 months of my life, waking me up for those harsh breakfast shifts and delivering a sucker-punch to my eye ducts to remove the sleep dust during the commute to work- we’re joined by a splendidly-dressed Andrew Groves (the nicest man in rock, sorry Dave Grohl).
Andrew is resplendent in the gear he wears for the ‘Belief video’, which if you haven’t watched it yet, is Arcane Roots at their best. We reminisce about how I chatted with Andrew in May at the Great Escape 2013 for about half an hour about how the band’s name came about, how the album came together and why fish and chips in Brighton are fucking great, we move on to more important matters. Namely the burrito pedal, which Atkins explains: “Andrew was probably smiling so much on stage because he found the burrito pedal, which is a pedal for your rack which I’ve invented. You press it and then, WHOOSH out comes a burrito.”
The discussion quickly moves to the festival food of choice, a burrito, a pulled pork baguette? Suddenly I’m explaining to the band how I was watching Green Day on Friday covered in pulled pork and absolutely loving it. Slob rock, people, it’s the future.
Two weeks on from the festival ,and Arcane Roots as promised by the band on site have delivered a succulent headline tour to whet anyone’s appetite and after the experience of playing in stadiums with Muse has galvanised their sounds, can you imagine what the band will sound like in a small club, bar or venue?
Stop imagining. See you in November.
I’ll be in the pit.
With the 5-day hangover building to its climatic crescendo on the Sunday of Reading 2013, I emerged bleary eyed and in no-way bushy tailed from my fungus-ridden excuse for a tent that I called home for the festival. My head was pounding, and the inevitability that I would be off for a stroll to the seemingly-bottomless troughs full of human shit hit me right about the face – the all too familiar scent hitting my nose and immediately frying all of the hairs that laced the inside of my nasal cavity.
With my daily pulled pork baguette (delightfully middle–classed festival truck) bought, as I entered the arena I set about a new music adventure, stumbling into the Festival Republic Tent to watch Aussie indie-pop darlings San Cisco. In direct contrast to yesterday’s new music samplings in the form of Nightworks, San Cisco were tight as a live act and had some real dynamism about their live show, plus Awkward is a tune to boot. Jordi Davieson proved to be an affable frontman, but in drummer and co-vocalist Scarlett Stevens they have a real personality behind the kit. These guys are undoubtedly ones to watch. (8/10)
The Lock-Up Stage is a haven for ear-splitting riffs and circle pits that whir with immense ferocity. So a no-frills, no bullshit rock and roll band like The Virginmarys were always going to feel at home in the tight surroundings of the tent. No light shows, no bullshit, just rock ‘n’ roll was what was contained in this 40-ish minute set. The closer ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ went down stormingly to the crowd who had slowly milled into the tent after hearing the brutal wave of sound emanating from the tent, whilst ‘Just A Ride’ was simply ferocious, head-banging gluttony. (8.5/10)
From a rock show, to a punk rock show, with Massachusetts-based noise-mongers California X in the Festival Republic Tent. On record the band sounded tight and in time with each other, unshockingly. However, in a live setting the set seemed a touch disjointed. Perhaps nerves got the better of the band, all clad in black? The wall of noise that fell upon the slowly dissipating crowd didn’t impress anyone, and while they appropriately turned it up to 11, it seemed it just wasn’t California X’s day. An opportunity missed entirely, for the fledgling punks. (5/10)
Easily one of the highlights of the weekend was this next band, Arcane Roots. Andrew Groves’ cheekiest of cheeky smiles when the drop came during ‘Energy is Never Lost, Just Redirected’ showed just how much the band were enjoying the ensuing mass of circle pits in front of them. Adam Burton’s bass cut through the sprawled crowd like thunder cracks and Daryl Atkins’ drumming was sublime. There was no mid-set lull in their performance, instead a constant roar of frets being shredded amongst an adoring roar from the crowd. To say these guys were destined to play a bigger stage and follow in the footsteps of their contemporaries, of the headliners of the day, would just be stating the bloody obvious… But I will. Main Stage openers next year. (9.5/10)
With a mad dash across the arena, I made it to the Radio 1/NME Tent, where Glastonbury conquerors Haim were setting about their next conquest: a group of around 20,000 hungover 20-somethings. What was the reaction of these gurning revellers to the band’s set? Tittering at Este Haim’s frankly ridiculous face when the bassist concentrated on playing her instrument.
People came expecting the hits that Haim had to offer and were satisfied with early play-outs of ‘Don’t Save Me’ and ‘Falling’, which meant most of the audience could filter out in the direction of Fall Out Boy. But not this reviewer; I stuck it out to the end so I could catch the frankly gorgeous Alana Haim going full rock star and thrashing about on stage. Not exactly the most ladylike of exits from Haim, but definitely befitting the festival they were playing at. However, when what sticks best in your mind about the set is one of the band’s grimaces, it was never going to have been a classic. (7/10)
I joined the pilgrimage to the Main Stage to join in on the worship of the erstwhile stars they have now become, the stars being Fall Out Boy of course. After an electric set in 2009 that had teenage girls crossing their legs in excitement and this one teenage boy screaming every lyric back, it was nostalgia that ruled this day. The hits were rolled out like a red carpet, but it wasn’t Pete Wentz strolling up to the opening of Fall Out Boy 2.0. It was their true frontman Patrick Stump, who after the hiatus has come back re-energised, more svelte and more the frontman he is meant to be, the kind of frontman that the band deserves. Single ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)’ was obviously created for the live arena, as the entire crowd became unified in a kind of hip-hop rock mash-up of arm bopping. However, while Stump looked rejuvenated, it seemed like Wentz wasn’t exactly revelling in the lack of limelight, as he wore a face like a slapped arse for the entire set, until he was released for the crescendo, ‘Saturday’. (7/10)
With a mission to avoid the psychosis-inducing catastrophe of noise that is Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails complete, the headliners Biffy Clyro were gearing up to bring the weekend to a close. The worry with a band that have climbed the echelons of the festival billing, by paying their dues and performing a total of eight times across different stages, is that their sound may not be the BIG sound of a headliner. They may not have the mass appeal of an Eminem, or the tunes and fanaticism of fans of, say, a Green Day.
Within I’d say 30 seconds all worries were dispelled, as Simon Neil announced himself as the headliner to end all headliners. The understated intro of ‘Different People’ with Neil in front of a plain backdrop had all of the hairs standing up on my neck, and as the riff kicked in and the cloth dropped to reveal the album artwork for ‘Opposites’, it was obvious that Biffy weren’t here to make up numbers. They were here to conquer.
‘That Golden Rule’ proved why moshing is fucking ace, a rare playing of ‘Folding Stars’ brought grown men to tears (I had something in my eye, alright?), ‘57’ was a nod to the past in spectacular fashion and ‘Mountains’ was the sing-along that other sing-alongs aspire to.
It used to be the argument that you were either a post-‘Puzzle’ or pre-‘Puzzle’ fan, a pretender/jonny come lately or a seasoned Biffy veteran. But at Reading 2013, Biffy Clyro cemented themselves as festival headlining staples. A headline slot at Wembley Stadium surely waits in the future. Mon the Biff. (10/10)
Is it just me or was Kendal Calling 2013‘s Saturday on the main stage “Lad’s day”? The Twang, The D.O.T., even Ash seemed to bring the inner Manc out in everybody. At least Dutch Uncles were there to bring a bit of thinking man’s rock to the party. Is it just me or do Dutch Uncles get better with every viewing? Duncan Wallis (shown below) is a frontman perfectly at ease with himself, proudly showing off his pristine, angular moves, particularly on ‘Flexxin’’, where the famous moves from the video are reproduced even more lucidly onstage. The band display a limber structure within which they explore their compositions, with a confidence only a group who have toured together for countless months can display. And they seem to have avoided becoming bored with each other or their songs, as have the audience.
The D.O.T. came widely anticipated. A joint venture between Mike Skinner, ex of The Streets, and Rob Harvey, ex of Leeds rockers The Music, promises to bring some urban smarts to indie music, to replace guitars with electronics, but still within a knowing framework that appeals to both indie kids and hip-hop heads. In reality, it all falls a bit flat. Certainly there’s nothing here to compete with the intensity of the previous night’s Public Enemy onslaught, but conversely it would be more exciting with a bit of live instrumentation. Harvey strums a guitar every now and again, but they fail to excite the crowd at all; Skinner’s deadpan sneering doesn’t help, an attitude which apparently carries through to his DJ set later in the evening. There are occasional glimpses of the urban tenderness of The Streets, but glimpses is all they are. There’s potential here, but they need to have a bit of a rethink on how to engage anyone other than diehard fans of both The Music and The Streets at the same time. How many of those can there be?
The most surprising thing about The Twang is that they’re actually still going, given a steady decline in album sales over the past decade, let alone how they’ve managed to bag a decent main stage slot at a big festival. Well, the answer’s in the laddism. They appear to have two singers, plenty of guitars and energy, and some singalong bits – who am I to argue that what they actually need is class and talent?
Tim Wheeler (pictured at top) from Ash is lacking in neither class or talent – it takes class to maintain a brand for 20 years, whilst keeping people interested and even devoted to its music; it takes talent to continue to wield a Gibson Flying V with the sort of aplomb which would make a 12-year-old boy say, “that’s cool”. Both of which are achieved within a few bars of Ash’s set commencing. Moreover, they command the rain: it pours down at the first note of their set, and would continue for 12 hours. Clearly God is a fan. Nobody has really taken Ash’s place: as survivors of the tail end of Britpop, their offer is clearly still relevant today, and not just by way of nostalgia. Their songs are evocative of teenage yearning, of big guitars, and simple, overriding emotions still capable of commanding a big festival stage. Carry on, sir.
Sweet Baboo’s delicate, witty, poignant Welsh ditties bring us back to the Calling Out tent. Such assertively sweet music from such an unassuming chap is quite the contrast. By the time the set climaxes, the horn section is parping as if Steve Cropper were in the crowd, taking notes. Which, in a spiritual way, he was. To be followed swiftly by Sons and Lovers (shown below), who tread that fine line between cliche and true excellence. In the cold light of day, their Mumford-esque sound is their downfall: inevitable thumping floor toms, incessant quiet-loud-quiet-loud arrangements, and hopelessly romantic themes do them no favours, but on this day in history, Sons and Lovers provide set worthy of headliners. Such are the complex vagaries of live music.
London Grammar remain to be assessed another day – their autumn tour should set the record straight as to whether they are simply xx wannabes, or whether they have something truly original to offer. Now… it hardly needs stating that there’s more to music festivals than stroking one’s chin at bands. So Saturday night was as good a time as any to relinquish any thought of sobriety, any notion of “reviewing”, and simply have a bit of a party. A date had been made for 10 pm to watch a delightful bunch of ladies called the Hooping Harlots perform a spectacular LED hula-hoop display, with the added bonus that they let any old punter (e.g., me) practice their dubious hula skills with some of their less precious hoops. Even though I can keep it up indefinitely (that’s what she said!) I can’t do anything more exciting than that; the talented Harlots, however, can do the lot – spinning around the wrist, neck, and unbelievably, the shoulder, and swapping between them all with a fluid ease that defies description. Add to that the LED light show within the hoops, and it’s a spectacle guaranteed to scramble already delicate festival minds.
The whole thing took place at the well-named Tipple Taxi, a London cab converted into a bijou drinking den, one of many micro-venues scattered around the site, making an evening stumble around the place into a voyage of one exciting discovery after another – from the Chai Wallah’s tent rising from the horizontal for a bit of a boogie finale, to the lucky dip of sounds that is Riot Jazz. The climax of any good Saturday night at Kendal has to be the Glow Dance Tent, however.
Which is where it should, and does, become a little hazy. There are photographs – oh, what photographs. The essence of the sublime confusion of a properly executed night in the company of dance music is expressed therein. Please take a look. Musically, Krafty Kutz expressed their unsurpassed UK hip hop beats and flow, assisted by A Skillz. Needless to say there was dubstep bass all over the house, the constant battle between vocal lines, sub bass, and 8-bit melodies proving too much to bear for some. Check out the Dirtyphonics remix of Pounding for more information, and to experience the enormous bass which sets the level for a Krafty Kutz experience. The level reaches even higher with the introduction of the mentalist blend of wound-up beats, vocals, and samples that comprises ‘Happiness’. Spotify it out.
Suffice to say by the time Maribou State took over at 2 AM, the tent was in great need of a bit of glitchy, soulful techno to rest weary limbs. But even then, the subtle electronica coalesced into an irresistible hole of bouncing heads and knowing looks as the next hour passed in a haze of exhaustion. We were to stagger, spent and silent, to a wreck of flooded, ransacked tents… but that’s a story for another day.
The second day of Reading 2013 was marked by a sudden influx of a creature I like to call the bellend. A bellend is normally attracted by loud drum n’ bass, Chase and Status and Eminem. The bellend’s natural habitat over the August Bank Holiday weekend is normally the area outside of Liverpool that hosts Creamfields. Tucked nicely into a steamy tent with a gentle supply off ketamine being drip fed into the bloodstream, they fist pump and gurn their weekend away.
With Reading and Leeds Festival looking to cater for a more varied audience than the heavy metallers/indie rockers of the past, these days the line-up choice was entirely justified and while it did lead to a far more diverse crowd, it also heightened the risk that in a mosh pit someone would, and I quote a rather lovely gentlemen in the crowd for Eminem, “twat me in the back of the ‘ead with a pen”.
As I navigated the mire of bellends, I actually managed to see some bands. The first of these, Night Works, were on the sparsely populated BBC Radio 1 Dance Stage. I’d been recommended these guys by a tweet before the festival, saying that as a hometown show for one of the band they would be pulling all the stops. If by pulling all the stops the band meant singing like a cat that was being wrung out like a sopping wet sponge, then it seemed I was in for a treat. Their lead singer wailed and moaned for about two songs before I really could take no more. The dancey beats were good fun, but that’s where any sense of joviality ended. Beer tent, please. (3/10)
After the mental trauma of Night Works, a pop-punky injection was required. Stat.
That medical procedure came courtesy of welsh sextet The Blackout, who were a booster shot of energy in a morning of lethargy. Sean Smith, with his utterly ghastly flock of reddish pink hair, started with some technical problems, which was probably caused by his insistence on flinging the microphone round. The brutal incisiveness of ‘STFUppercut’ was a great way to start a set, and the dual vocals of Sean Smith and Gavin Butler ensured that you always had something to affix your gaze to onstage. (7/10)
Speaking of looking at something on stage, the next band I caught on the BBC Radio 1/NME Stage were Deaf Havana. Frontman James Veck-Gilodi seemed intent that he didn’t want anybody to look at him on stage, sporting a eye-gougingly bright tye-died t-shirt. Their stage show has definitely evolved from the post-hardcore, grungey shows of 5 years previously, when they were touring ‘It’s Called the Easy Life’. They’ve got a backing singer who reminded me, in her sass alone of Beyoncé’s character in Austin Powers: Goldmember, Foxy Cleopatra.
They’ve grown into a really competent, soul-ish feeling band. Veck-Gilodi even managed a brooding smile throughout the set, and the roaring singlong that accompanied ‘Boston Square’ thoroughly put them in the same category as We Are The Ocean and The Gaslight Anthem. Real chest-pounding anthems for a group of twenty-something year olds to scream out while swilling cider. (8/10)
From heart-wrenching tunes, meant to uplift and inspire to a doom laden set on the Main Stage, it could only mean one thing: White Lies were back, touring their new record just released a few short weeks ago, ‘Big TV’. Harry McVeigh, Charles Cave and Jack Lawrence-Brown brought their misery-laden set to the Main Stage with ease and even the new material, namely lead single ‘There Goes Our Love Again’, were received with welcoming arms by the now extremely pissed-up Reading audience.
The sound wasn’t all it could have been to fully encapsulate Harry McVeigh’s booming vocals, but that can’t be put down to the band, who were obviously putting their all into this set. As a band who I’ve seen dominate Wembley Stadium when warming up for Muse, it did appear apparent, that with only the three of them on stage the set lacks energy and movement. But that can’t detract from the sheer booming power of the vocals on show. (7/10)
Bands growing in prowess and live ability were the theme of the weekend it seemed, and no band has come further in the last 5 years than Foals (pictured at tip). From that annoying indie band with that catchy-as-balls song ‘Cassius’ with a frontman lacking the stones to look the crowd in the eyes, flash forward a good few years from ‘Antidotes’ and we’ve got a man in Yannis Philippakis, who in his slinking hips and screeching yelps has become a complete frontman. Leading the line a la Didier Drogba in his pomp (it’s transfer deadline day and I’m all footballed up), commanding the crowd and showing the movement of a seasoned pro.
Their triumphant set at Glastonbury was a high benchmark for UK festivals this year, and in comparison, they seemed a little flat. They erred on the side of the newer material when this varied crowd craved for the poppy stylings of ‘Cassius’ and ‘Balloons’. That’s not to say that ‘Inhaler’ didn’t go down a storm, in a set which saw them sound more like a grunge band than the indie band they began as. Post-punkers, indie rockers or whatever you call them, after their set there was no doubting their credentials. Higher billing awaits. (7.5/10)
Now, the entire music journalist inside me said that I should stay for Chase and Status. Sadly, the pessimist inside me had the inside track and whisked me back to camp for a pre-Eminem beer. For the best it seemed as Festival Republic head-honcho, Melvin Benn, had to instruct the crowd to step back.
Closing the Saturday night was Eminem, a man who is best known for live shows of chainsaw hackery and well foul-mouthed outbursts galore. Luckily, if you had your young ones watching (unlikely, but it’s Reading), The Real Slim Shady’s microphone was extremely low. Whether that was a sign of Eminem’s inability to perform live or dodgy sound work, is a case to debate. My opinion is it was a 60-40 kind of mix.
Oh and he brought on DIDO. FUCKING DIDO. Remember how fucking good ‘Life For Rent’ was/is? Remember how good ‘Stan’ is? WHY DID NOBODY UNCONTROLLABLY LOSE THEIR SHIT LIKE ME. I FELT LIKE AN OCTOGENARIAN REMEMBERING THE GOOD OLD DAYS. IT’S DIDO! DIDO!
I was definitely the only one going apeshit for that, I would have gone apeshit for a rendition of ‘Purple Hills’ with D12, however Slim-Shady decided to air a set of 50% new songs, with a sprinkling of the old hits. It was satisfying, and exactly what the vast majority of the crowd wanted, appeasing their teenage dreams that they concocted when they first ‘Lost Themselves’ to Eminem. But for the world’s most successful rapper alive at the moment, you expected perhaps a bit more theatrics, maybe something more inventive. But instead we got a bog standard Eminem set. Enough to appease the dickheads I suppose. (6/10) (DIDO GETS 10/10, FOR BEING DIDO.)
Reading 2009 had me acting at my hedonistic worst, scouting the campsites for (in)eligible girls, sniffing around like some kind of deranged yet voyeuristic puppy on methamphetamines. Humping the legs of any passerby (not literally, but sometimes literally), staying up all night around the campfire making sweet harmonies to Oasis (who I found out had broken up while I was actually singing, post-festival) and getting to the front barriers, only to be disappointed by the diva-esque tantrum-age of Kings of Leon.
In 2013, I found myself holding back bile at the sheer volume of ass hanging from hot pants, avoiding moshpits until my most intoxicated state and all too often feeling like John Murtaugh from the Lethal Weapon films. I was indeed “Too old for this shit” and I’m bloody 21.
Instead of engaging in vapid hedonism then, I ensured that the bands came first and foremost.
Starting Reading 2013 with Dry the River was always going to be relaxing introduction to the vibrancy and colours that Reading Festival had to offer. The problem was that while on record, the music is melodic and toe-tappingly gorgeous, in a live arena Will Harvey’s tones squeaked like rubbing plastic on grilled halloumi cheese. The orchestral backdrop they soar along to sounded out of time, and the performance was left sounding disjointed and a bit ugly. The songs are there and when they get it all pounded down to a tee, then they’ll have a live set capable of moving grown men to tears, as they are definitely capable of the majestic. Just not on Friday… (5/10)
Flame-haired maestros of funkadelia Night Engine took to the NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage after the crowing folkers departed, and while I only caught drips and drabs of their set, they showed enough promise to live up to the NME starlet billing which they have attained with their incredible work ethic. (I also spoke to them later on about pears and other stuff.) (7/10)
Kodaline lived up to the Irish Coldplay billing our editor Mary Chang has labelled them with. I mean, ‘High Hopes’ is quite obviously Coldplay riffage, ripped straight from ‘Fix You’. They’re agreeable, of that there is little doubt and they are going to grow like a caliginous tumour or polyp on your arse. The crowd which swelled, ebbed and flowed out of the expanses of the tent was testament to how big they are going to be and with their puppet-strings tautly around the massive crowd, they manipulated the masses to mimic every word back. (6/10)
After having a screech at Kodaline, the first trek towards the Main Stage was upon my party of misfits. After a brief stop for some questionably foamy Gaymers and unreasonably priced Tuborg, we arrived at nostalgia central, population 15,000 pop-punkers who have in punk Peter Pan style have refused to grow up. New Found Glory took to the stage with an unshockingly shirtless Ian Grushka and whilst they may have a sizable back catalogue to draw from, the audience, bar the veterans of pop-punk, seemed to be largely oblivious to most tracks.
However, when the Reading stalwarts on their eighth pilgrimage to Richfield Avenue dropped the mammoth choral assault of ‘My Friends Over You’, in unison a horde of teens and steadfast fans put their legs together for a pop-punk bop to end them all. (If you don’t want to know what a pop-punk jump is, go here.) (7/10)
Bringing a different kind of movement to the Main Stage were
Bring Me the Horizon, the undisputed best metal band in Britain at the moment, following on from the titanic album ‘Sempiternal’. From the opening intro of ‘Shadow Moses’ (previous In the Post here) it was brutally obvious that Mr. Sykes had in one fell swoop gathered up the entire Reading crowd and placed them gruffly in his hand. ‘Shadow Moses’ was simply spellbinding, and the drop on the song was as ferocious as I’ve seen at Reading in my 5 years I have attended.
Whilst Chelsea Smile proved to be an anthem of epic proportions. Resplendent in the new England shirt, Ollie Sykes was the frontman who everyone at the festival was to beat, as he roared for the Reading crowd to ‘KILL EACHOTHER’. The band were full of energy, and the crowd reciprocated with some of the biggest circle pittage of the weekend. BMTH had set the marker. (9/10)
A marker in theatrical terms was about to be met, with a bit of a throwback to 1992 from Winchester’s finest wordsmith, Frank Turner (pictured at top), formerly of post-hardcore band Million Dead. As he wheeled out onto stage only after recently recovering from severe back trouble, there was a 50/50 mixture of jeers and cheers as Turner’s tribute to Kurt Cobain and their eponymous 1992 set was referenced.
Opening with probably the most fun live song Turner has produced, was the beginner of a barnstorming set that was a cornucopia of singalong-y goodness and while his most recent album ‘Tape Deck Heart’, is easily his deepest cut into Turner’s troubled psyche, every song seems to resonate with a bouncy happiness. The one disappointment of Turner’s near flawless festival set was the inability of the crowd to realise when to leap up on set closer ‘Photosynthesis’. Bar that extraordinary feat of sonic unawareness, Turner cemented himself as a staple of the British festival circuit now set to rise through the ranks, Biffy style. (9/10)
After a quick bevvie break, it was time for some proper nostalgia in the form of
System of a Down. The tunes were all there. Inevitably the band weren’t though. They belted out their propaganda laden tunes one after one in succession, and on stage, guitarist Daron Malakian may as well have just stood there with the vacant expression on his face with a big sign saying ‘cheque please’. To see SOAD in their pomp must have been truly fantastic, but with this lazy reunion, perhaps it’s better that the memories of SOAD remain simply that: memories. (6/10)
Following that were a band who there was no argument that they weren’t interested, came a band who grabbed the entire crowd by the scruff of their necks and shouted a massive “HEEEEEYYYYYOOOOOOO!” We are, of course, speaking of Green Day.
And boy did they say HEEEEEYYYYYOOOOO a lot. Like loads. Starting at just over 4 minutes over the set and continuing throughout the behemoth of a set they played which included a full play-out of their sophomore (what the fuck is a sophomore album) album ‘Dookie’. For a crowd mainly consisting of 16 to 25 year olds, anything from ‘American Idiot’ was greeted with jubilatory cheers, whilst ‘Dookie’ was greeted with a sense of confusion. Barring ‘Basketcase’ of course, this provoked a seething mass of revellers and crowd surfers. Billie Joe Armstrong has this habit of bringing befuddled youths up on stage as well, which whilst providing an unforgettable moment for on youngsters, manages to break up a song and really falls flat when the kid pretty much doesn’t know the words to the song.
Factor into the set a frankly epic rendition of ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ and HEYYYYOOOOOOOs aside, Green Day conquered Reading Festival for the second year running. Congrats boys, now go and write a half decent new record, will you? (8/10)
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 26th August 2013 at 4:00 pm
Wherever you were this bank holiday weekend, Reading or not, and maybe as long as you aren’t Trent Reznor busy throwing a hissy fit and being an ugly American, thanks to the BBC you can watch Biffy Clyro’s entire set from last night here. (As usual with BBC videos, it looks to be UK only, so apologies to anyone outside the UK.)
I haven’t actually talked to John yet but assume he’s alive and will be bringing you coverage of the sets and exclusive interviews here on TGTF shortly.