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Reading 2016: Sunday Roundup

 
By on Tuesday, 6th September 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

As so we came to the final day of Reading Festival 2016. Where those who couldn’t quite cut it have left, and those that remain are ready to see the festival out as they started; with no inhibitions and a fantastic soundtrack.

Activities on the main stage Saturday gave a preview as to the heavy-fest that Sunday would be. Bar A$AP Rocky and The Vaccines, the lineup for the day could also have been found at the heavier British festival staple that is Download. The weather decided it didn’t feel like baring it’s sunnier disposition and instead graced us with its greyer, cloudier and wetter side. As pointed out yesterday though, this is where the British thrive, and thrive they did.

Albany, New York pop punkers State Champs opened up the main stage, bringing a brief respite from the dismal weather at Reading with their take on summer anthem genre. For a Sunday morning, the crowd were particularly excitable and offered back a sincere response. Following on from this spot of sunshine were The Virginmarys, a definite band to watch in the UK rock scene, with their brutal vocals, hard-hitting guitar lines and a savageness reminiscent of early punk. Though the crowd may have mildly dispersed post-State Champs, this didn’t stop the band from Macclesfield from delivering a completely brutal set worthy of a much higher billing.

Mancunians Spring King who have had quite the quick ascent to fame, which you can read about in our interview with drummer and singer Tarek Musa back here at LeeFest 2016 in late July, gave a performance to a completely packed out tent. Though the sudden downpour may have instigated this mass collective, the band made sure to capitalise upon it. The set brought fun and tunes in equal measure, with both band and fans having a Another band who had to deal with what the weather dealt them were Coheed and Cambria who were faultless, giving a ferocious performance all the while being on the main stage and open to the elements.

As the rain continued to slowly drizzled over the Reading festival site, the crowds gave up hiding from it, revelling in the weather. Back on the Radio 1/NME Stage, Deaf Havana used their set wisely as a promotional opportunity, announcing the name and release date of their upcoming album. Appearing on stage with only a white sheet across the back of the stage, as the set went on the words “All These Countless Nights” were painted in black, followed by “21.1.17”. The set was a special moment, secured it as one for the band’s history.

What was The Pit for the past 2 days had now reverted back to its original name The Lock Up for the final day. Beach Slang, the American punk band who are bringing back the old school ethos to the genre, completely dominated the tent. Their set was summed up well in the immortal words of frontman James Alex: “We are Beach Slang, and we’re here to punch you right in the heart!” The Lock Up stage continued with its earnest punk environment with Modern Baseball. Having released their third album ‘Holy Ghost’ back in May, they’re finally on our UK shores, giving their diehard fanbase a run-through of these new offerings. Even though A$AP Rocky was ruling the main stage and causing a surge in crowd flow, The Lock Up was still over capacity for the American four-piece. The excited audience simply did not stop moving until the final chord finished, and the speed at which crowd surfers ran from the security to pit and back into the throng was astounding. Another standout set from this year’s festival.

The evening was an anticipated delight from co-headliners Fall Out Boy and Biffy Clyro. As eight pm swung around, the skies were still cloudy but the atmosphere was as electric as ever. A sea of Fall Out Boy merchandise seen around the festival over the course of the weekend was a concrete measurement in exactly how big a draw band were, and for good reason. A show that featured non-stop fireworks, pyrotechnics, choreographed fire dancers and visuals, Fall Out Boy knew they had a massive opportunity, and they ran with it. Running through a majority set that consisted of songs from the last two albums plus a few golden treats, especially finale ‘Saturday’ from 2003’s ‘Take This to Your Grave’, Fall Out Boy certainly ensured that the ravenous crowd were delivered the set they yearned for.

Finally, it was time for the final headliners of the entire weekend at Richfield Avenue. Biffy Clyro were given the honour and duty of closing out this year’s edition, giving everything they had and fully delivering. With a stage show that reflected the precision and grandeur we’ve come to expect from the Scottish trio, it was a set that will surely be remembered in the festival’s history. From opener ‘Wolves of Winter’ to closer ‘Stinging Bell’ that featured a fireworks display, they somehow managed to dwarf the explosive affair that Fall Out Boy had previously.

Using a popular Scottish battle cry, halfway through the set singer Simon Neil roared out, “Mon The Reading!”, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Biffy Clyro’s ascension through the ranks of musicdom has been made by leaps and strides, and this was the largest of them yet. A perfectly executed set that ran through a majority of newer material – plus the appearance of ’57’, a cut from 2002’s ‘Blackened Sky’ as a pleasant treat – the trio seized the moment and are now reaping the rewards. As the Reading crowd finally dispersed ar the end the festival for another year, the only question on everyone’s mind was, “how are they going to top this next year?” We’ll find out in 2017.

 

Reading 2016: Saturday Roundup

 
By on Wednesday, 31st August 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

Following on from the complete success that was Friday at Reading 2016 – and with Foals‘ pinnacle career moment headlining the main stage – Saturday had a lot to live up to. Headlining solo today were the funk giants and great dividers of opinion, Red Hot Chili Peppers, but first we had a whole day to experience.

The weather had a go at trying to dampen the spirits by giving a mid-morning downpour, but as with all UK festivals, this only fuelled the festival-going crowd’s insatiable lust for a good time. First up were Scottish three-piece Fatherson. Clearly a milestone for the band, they delivered their emotive and euphoric set with complete expert execution. It shouldn’t be too long before they climb their way through the stages and find themselves front and centre.

The Beach, a London-based singer/songwriter recently on tour with Tom Odell, brought his band for a full ensemble run through of his thoughtful and encompassing tunes. This was an easy watch that the calm crowd relished in. Over on the main stage, American hard rockers Clutch may not have had the largest crowd for the location, but they certainly didn’t let this stop them from giving a set that was filled with solos, riffs and just about every other rock staple you need. Shout out to drummer Jean-Paul Gaster for his 9:30 Club t-shirt (Washington represent!)

Continuing the heavy streak on the main stage, Skindred gave a thoroughly vicious performance with their blend of rock, reggae and metal. The crowd, after witnessing Clutch, were more than up for a good time with heavier influences. Which was good considering what was to come across the field.

The Pit was the place to be for most of the afternoon. Like most festivals, secret sets are always a guarantee, and Reading was no different. With a gap on the stage at 4 PM labelled as ‘TBC’, a spraypainted You Me At Six poster and a band photo backstage, the most subtle of secrets was suddenly revealed. But this was not before what could probably have been one of the best sets of the festival by Heck, a musical marvel who completely dominated the stage, the crowd and everything in between. Spending the majority of the set in various states in and on the crowd, including guitarist and singer Jonny Hall sat atop a flight case while playing guitar, it was an absolutely animalistic and wild sight to behold, Heck should not skip anyone’s radar, not they’d let that happen in any case. Back to the You Me At Six secret set, the closer the time came to 4 PM, the further the tent filled out. By the time the band took to the stage through a curtain of fog, the tent was a gravitational centre. With the band having just announced a large tour of the UK, it was a close and exciting glimpse into what was to hit our cities early next year.

On the main stage, Kent breakthrough punk duo Slaves, proved that they’d earned their way on to central billing by ferociously powering through their socially relevant songs. Another historic moment for a British band at a staple festival.

Back at The Pit and following on from Reading 2016’s worst kept secret came Milk Teeth. The Gloucestershire-based band showed exactly why they’re one of the UK’s brightest up-and-comers. With songs filled with personality and a ’90s rock feel, the crowd were as immersed in the music as the band playing them. It’s sets such as theirs that give Reading its best draw and atmosphere: small bands finding their audience, laying the groundwork for a return in the future to ever larger crowds.

One of the UK festival exclusives this year, Eagles of Death Metal have been present in the public eye for many reasons over the last year, both positive and negative. All of that didn’t matter today though as they joked, sang, laughed and rocked through a main stage set that will surely eclipse what has gone before. Leading man Jesse Hughes knows exactly how to engage and entertain his audience, be it dedicating ‘Zipper Down’ cut ‘Silverlake’ to a fan-made golden cape that he wore atop a Red Hot Chili Peppers shirt, or introducing us all to his father who was side of stage and beginning a chant of “dad! dad! dad!”, he’s an expert at his craft. Ending with ‘Save a Prayer’ who he dedicated to England because “when we needed you, you did not let us down”, likely a reference to the Bataclan terror attack in Paris last November.

While this riotous party was going down, newcomers VANT had the Festival Republic tent filled with young minds that they’re hoping to reach with their politically charged songs. Judging by the reception they were given during single ‘The Answer’ that references Afghanistan and UK/U.S. relations, their plan is working.

Mancunians The Courteeners burst onto the main stage taking over from where Eagles of Death Metal left off. Theirs was a rousing, anthemic set, perfect to carry the afternoon through to ready for the evening’s festivities. Imagine Dragons were the warm-up for Red Hot Chili Peppers, and by the term warm up, they certainly did. With crowd pleasers such as ‘Radioactive’ and ‘Demons’ and their larger than life sound, there was no way they could fail.

Finally, it was the turn of the big guns, Red Hot Chili Peppers. A band who simply need no introduction, over 3 decades of funk and rock, they proved at Reading they’re here to keep the reigning crown. Taking to the stage at 9:30, the incomparable Red Hot Chili Peppers were as welcomed as they would’ve been at any point in their career, with a hungry crowd and rapturous applause. Kicking straight in with ‘Can’t Stop’, it was clear they were here to only prove this point. Though the set could have felt a touch more exciting, it was a solid performance that certainly cemented Kiedis and co.’s place at top billing. Hits aplenty, from a full crowd sing along to ‘Under the Bridge’ to an encore ending with ‘Give It Away’. Saturday night closed out with the feeling of an impenetrable force proved by the enthusiastic crowd, who had grown to almost the entire festival capacity and sought any means possible to get a view. If Saturday was anything to go by, it proved Reading and Leeds is a festival that not only secures the legends but can also breed them.

 

Reading 2016: Friday Roundup

 
By on Tuesday, 30th August 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

It’s that time of year again, when British youths have their GCSE results and they all descend upon either the city of Reading, or its Northern counterpart for this weekend, Leeds. Reading and Leeds festivals are a coming of age experience for the UK’s youth, and they use this opportunity to let go. Luckily for them, Reading and Leeds always have a lineup that fits this criteria, and this year is no different.

The Friday at Reading was opened by Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls on the main stage, which is the perfect way to kick off any festival. No-one encapsulates what a festival atmosphere should sound like more so than Turner, with his acoustic blend of heartfelt tales and punk rock ethos. The shining sun only cemented this feeling and for the rest of the day.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes once again proved that festivals really are their thing. Being the first time he’d come to play the main stage at Reading, Carter made sure to make the most of this opportunity by making his way into the crowd, then leading around over 100 members of the audience on a chase around the sound desk and back again. Carter is never one to disappoint, and he did more than deliver this time.

Over on the Festival Republic stage, The Sherlocks and their soon-to-be tour mates Blaenavon both delivered fantastic sets that were met with great reception by the packed out tent, both revelling in the afternoon crowds’ welcome. At the same time, grime supergroup Boy Better Know were on the main stage proving why grime is currently one of the UK’s most promising and domineering genres. Flames included.

CHVRCHES took to the main stage as the sun began to set, and their performance could not have gone on at a more apt moment. Being the third time the band had played the festival, yet the first time on the “big boy/girl stage” as singer Lauren Mayberry put it, it was a moment that was enjoyed and surely to be remembered by both fans and band. The crowd by this point were fully into their weekend fun, so the reception CHVRCHES got was joyous and enthralled. Their early single ‘The Mother We Share’ ended the set on a particularly highest of highs.

Continuing the main stage festivities, Disclosure absolutely dominated the capacity crowd, drawing the largest crowd of the day so far. With a set filled with floor fillers and anthems, they were the perfect warm-up for what was to come from co-headliners Foals. At the same time, at The Pit tent, American rockers Thrice gave a performance that was heartfelt and connected with the modest audience like no other did during all Friday.

Being the Reading leg of the twin festivals, Foals were the final headliner on the first night. Even before they took to the stage, this was bound to be a momentous occasion for the Oxfordians, surely an act you should simply not miss out on when given the chance. It’s worth noting that Sunday’s co-headliners at Reading were Biffy Clyro, who first made their way to the upper echelons of the lineup back in 2013, proving that it’s not a feat that happens just once. Foals debut Reading headline slot not only delivered, but completely proved they’ve rightly earned their place as top billing at one of the countries most sought after slots.

From their early position as indie newcomers with their debut ‘Antidotes’ back in 2008 to now headlining Reading festival, Foals have been on a continuous meteoric rise. A set that included ‘Cassius’, a rare treat in their UK headline set after being removed from constant rotation back in 2010, along with fan favourites ‘Inhaler’ and ‘What Went Down’, it was a moment in history for the Foals timeline, and they made sure that it was remembered that way. Ending with ‘Two Steps, Twice’, for which co-headliners Disclosure also made an appearance, along with pyrotechnics, crowd surfing and fans’ complete devotion, this was Foals’ moment. They seized it, ran with it, and now the future is theirs. In the now immortalised words of frontman Yannis Phillippakis, it was “pretty fucking magic”.

 

Preview: Reading and Leeds 2016

 
By on Thursday, 4th February 2016 at 9:00 am
 

Header photo: Red Hot Chili Peppers by Ellen Von Unwerth

Along with Glastonbury and Download Festival, there is another festival, or pair of festivals rather, that are a staple of the UK festival scene. Reading and Leeds take place in the August bank holiday weekend, which this year falls on the 26th-28th of August.

Reading Festival is actually one of the UK’s oldest popular music festivals, having been around in its current format since the 1970s. It’s become one of the prime festivals in the indie/rock scene due to its ability to gather some of the biggest names in the industry, as well as the occasional controversial headliner.

This year proves to be no different. The first of the headliners announced were Red Hot Chili Peppers, who need no introduction. They’ve been around for over 30 years, had multiple successful albums and have transcended from hard to funk to rock and everything in between. As a festival exclusive, this is the only place you can see them on the festival circuit this year. Along with the Chili Peppers’ exclusive appearance, Reading / Leeds also have the poster boys of peace and rock Eagles of Death Metal, who after the horrendous events in Paris last year have powered on and united the music world more than ever. Along with ‘Eagles…’, Imagine Dragons and Two Door Cinema Club are also exclusive to Reading / Leeds.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DyziWtkfBw[/youtube]

Recently announced to join the bill with Red Hot Chili Peppers, we have a joint headline act with Foals and Disclosure, meaning one act will be the main headline at one site, and at the other site the roles will be reversed. This is particularly exciting because Foals, who have worked from house parties to festival headliner, are infamous for live shows that turn to a frenzy, with leading man Yannis Phillippakis ending up hanging from some form of metalwork or walking above the crowd. This spectacle will be paired alongside electronic brother duo Disclosure, who have had a string of hits that have created a boost of momentum in the dance/electronic movement and brought it back into the minds of the mainstream. It’s worth noting that this pairing is not under festival exclusivity, which means we may be seeing these names elsewhere.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuQQIawCqBA[/youtube]

Other notable acts for this gigantic festival are the Brit indie group The 1975, who by August will be on their second album, with their fanbase growing faster and faster. We also have The Courteeners, the Mancunian band keeping the spirit of Britpop and the attitude of Oasis alive, while also keeping it fresh. In fact, calling it Britpop would to be selling their sound short: it’s developmental and massive. They have rousing choruses and songs that can get anyone moving, it’s always a great pleasure seeing The Courteeners on a lineup, and they never disappoint.

With these latest additions, this lineup is certainly looking strong. The newly announced acts have given the festival a much more varied approach, with multiple genres being represented, including hip-hop with Fetty Wap.  Now we await the final headline announcement – the safe bet is on Biffy Clyro – and we hope Reading / Leeds keep up the quality and quantity they need to stay ahead of the game in this festival monopoly.

For more information and tickets visit http://www.readingfestival.com or http://www.leedsfestival.com.

 
 
 

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