I HAVE RETURNED from the wonderful drunken land of Reading Festival. What a weekend! The music was amazing, the people were great, the beer was extortionate and the weather was wonderful. So before I waffle on about drunken adventures and 'were-arctic-monkeys-really-that-good' I shall get straight down to reviewing this corker of a weekend, starting with the Friday.
Friday was definitely my day. The very first act I saw once I had made the (what seemed like) 20 mile walk from our tent to the arena, was one Mr Gerard Way. I was in two minds about seeing him because although the promise of him possibly playing anything by MCR was almost too good to miss, I'm not the biggest fan of his new music. However, he put on a brilliant show and absolutely packed out the Radio 1/NME tent full of old and new fans. Even though he didn't finish with the mighty anthem that is 'Welcome To The Black Parade' no matter how many times I screamed everytime I heard a keyboard .. All in all, Gerard Way was an ace way to kick off my first experience of Reading Fest.
Next came the almighty two-piece, Drenge. Having seen these live before, I had very high expectations, and they were 100% met. After finally fighting my way to the front barrier and hanging there, (no joke, I was literally hanging off of the barrier, it was that packed) Eoin and Rory took to the stage sporting some "fashionable" dresses which contrasted highly with the major frenzy the audience were thrown into as the opening riff of Gun Crazy began. The rest of the setlist contained some 'fan-favourites' like Bloodsports and I Want To Break You In Half as well as showcasing some new tracks which sounded amazing. Finishing with Fuckabout and Let Pretend spawned a massive tent-wide singalong, as the crowd wailed the words 'I don't give a fuck/about people in love' back to the scantily clad dressed boys. One of my favourite sets of the weekend by a mile, glad to see that Drenge are getting the recognition they so deserve.
At about 4 ish, I wandered to the Festival Republic stage to go see the Orwells, before realising that the lineup for the rest of the day at said stage was utterly phenomenal, so then decided to stay in the place I took on the barrier until the end of the headline set. Good decision as the bands that I saw were top notch.
The ever-so-hammered Orwells took to the stage at 4.35 and opening with Dirty Sheets, it was clear this was going to be as rowdy as expected. Mario Cuomo was beautifully out of it, but still managed to guide the hyped up crowd through their high energy set before climbing a lighting tower and thrusting at a strobe light until it fell off .. what an experience that was! Dedicating their penultimate song Who Needs You to the NME ("because who needs the f*cking NME?") induced a mass of cheers from the crowd before finally being escorted off stage at the end of final track Southern Comfort. Incredibly glad I witnessed the madness, and would recommend to anyone to go see this band.
Next came the almighty, Catfish and the Bottlemen. Massive fan favourites, the crowd was huge. They played fantastically as they always do, and the audiences response shows just how far they have come in such a short space of time. Front man Van repeatedly thanked the audience of this, giving the whole gig such a feel-good-vibe. Whether you like this band, or not, or regardless of stupid stuff they have said in the past, you cannot deny that they are bloody talented and they don't half work hard. The set was great, the songs were even better, and the crowd just topped it all off. Well done to the Bottlemen, another killer show.
Next was an old favourite of mine. King Charles, the dreadlocked singer who looks and dresses a whole lot like Jesus is known for his funky-folk songs which get everyone up and dancing. One of my favourite artists in early 2013, I knew just how good he was live and he has definitely improved. King Charles, you've still got it, and the crowd agreed. Playing the classics mixed in with a couple of new tracks, the setlist was spot on. Glad I got to see him live again.
Childhood played next, and I was massively looking forward to their set after the release of their debut album Lacuna. This was my third time seeing this surfy quartet and they just keep getting better and better. Opening with Blue Velvet and playing some new album tracks before finishing with my personal favourite, Solemn Skies, their set showed off just how good this band really are. Cannot wait to see them again when they tour in October.
THE SPECIAL GUEST.
After the painfully misguided speculations about the special guest with suggestions being The Libertines or Foo Fighters, it turned out to be London rapper, Jamie T. Now I was not a huge fan before he performed, (I only knew about three or four songs) I can say that I have been well and truly converted. The energy that he performed with and how much he fed off of the crowd was a massive part of how good it was. Of course, dancing along with Sam and Chilli from Palma Violets was also a huge part, but still, Jamie T was amazing. If you can get tickets, then definitely go see him on his new tour.
Bipolar Sunshine followed Jamie T which certainly brought the energy down, but not in a bad way, it just meant I could actually breathe during their set. Despite not being a big fan, I knew enough songs to enjoy myself, and they actually played fantastically. Absolutely worth a listen, uber chilled and uber talented.
It was finally time for the act I had been waiting all day for. Palma F*cking Violets. My favourite gig (in a small venue) of all time, and my favourite album of last year, Palma Violets are up their with my all time favourite bands. They perform with so much enthusiasm and involve the crowd no matter what. The songs they played are catchy, energised and just bloody brilliant. The chemistry between frontmen Sam Fryer and Chilli Jesson is one that emulates similarities to Pete & Carl of the Libertines in the sense that you can just tell they love each other and what they do. So much talent in such a young band. The set began with a 'cover' (which they have revealed is their way of saying a new song without causing a fuss) before the crowd went wild for anthem Rattlesnake Highway. Nothing beats the experience of a Palma's mosh, because no matter how rough it gets, the audience members are always spurred on by the band to help people around them, meaning that if you fall, you are always helped up. I was hanging off the barrier for this entire gig and although my lung capacity was reduced to almost 0% due to being crushed so hard against the metal poles, it still stands as my favourite set of the entire weekend. The set contained three new songs, again disguised as covers, and judging by the sound of those, album number two is going to be as good as, if not even better than the incredible 180 which was released last year. Screaming along to Best Of Friends and We Found Love were definite highlights, but the best song had to be set closer, 14. It's a mind-blowingly good song which shows off everything that Palma Violets are good at, and just how bloody good they really are. The set ended to rapturous applause and screams of 'WE WANT MORE' but unfortunately they weren't allowed to play anymore. So in true Palma's fashion, Sam and Chilli came back on stage and leapt into the crowd causing mass crushes before crowd surfing around the tent. This pretty much gave the security guards (who hated anyone who crowd surfed) a heart attack, but for all those audience members who were injured by a body part of the two lads, it was a golden moment. (I'd like to thank Sam for giving me a nose bleed through hitting me in the face with his thigh?) As the boys returned from the crowd, I got a second to high five and hug Chilli and thank him for an amazing set, in which he returned the gratitude to myself and the surrounding audience. Absolutely incredible. Nothing beat this set at all, and I would have happily seen it as a headline slot every single night of Reading over anyone and everyone.
(Written by Poppy Marriott)
PART TWO COMING TOMORROW...