Brian May makes guest appearance with Reading headliners MCR

Reading Festival 2011 review

published: Mon 29th Aug 2011

My Chemical Romance

Friday 26th to Sunday 28th August 2011
Little Johns Farm, Richfield Avenue, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 8EQ, England MAP
£192.50 for a weekend ticket - SOLD OUT, £82.50 - Friday or Saturday
daily capacity: 90000
last updated: Thu 25th Aug 2011

The streets of Reading are almost deserted, it seems many festival goers have taken advantage of early entry Thursday, and it's under a leaden sky that we join the queues to get in as the rain falls from the sky. From the amount of rain it's quite quickly apparent that it will be muddy underfoot today, and boots are a necessity.

around the festival site (2)
Facilities on site were good this year, the toilets are in reasonably good knick, and there's very few queues over the weekend for ladies of gents. The food on offer is all familiar and the usual fare, there's a few more interesting options, alongside the burgers, chicken, fish and chips. There's nowhere doing a proper cup of coffee that I can find, and I tend to stick the unusual - Thai, ostrich, and rare rare breed offerings. Food is quite expensive, but then we are near London, with pints priced around £4.20 and food on average around £7. The cup return scheme keeps the rubbish down, although in some areas even with bins nearby there's a sea of waste. The programme is a jaw dropping £10, and so it's often word of mouth, or follow the crowds elsewhere.

There's something about Reading Festival that has kept me coming back year after year, regardless of the line-up, and I'm unable to identify exactly what it is. Perhaps it's the accumulation of various amazing performances over the years, or the fact the site is compact, flat and easy to get around with a determined step I was able to sample 70 acts in one weekend, a feat that's hard to replicate at any other festival this summer.

I think perhaps it's the people it attracts, the crowd are always lively but not unfriendly, and prone to do some crazy things. Be it walking about in crazy costumes (although this festival is not fancy dress), or trying to build mammoth human pyramids in the crowd, they are always entertaining.

around the festival site (2)
The site this year has changed very little within the arena, apart from the upgrade of the NME/Radio 1 tent to the biggest tent in Europe housing around 19,000 people. It's an amazing spectacle but at times it dwarfs the crowds making them seem less than they actually are at less popular bands. Frankie And The Heartstrings are clearly popular as they draw a big crowd that fills much of the new tent.

The Bronze Medal
Before returning to see Miles Kane, and Mona deliver crowd pleasing sets, I make a visit to the BBC Introducing Stage to catch an impressive set by Bristol's The Bronze Medal, then Clock Opera, and Kirk Spencer prove to be the highlights of the stage's acts with both , Don Broco, and headliners General Fiasco delivering their usual quality sets. The latter pull in a decent crowd with a set that includes 'We Are The Foolish', 'Waves', and '(This Is The Age That You Start Losing) Friends'.

On the Main Stage there's a line-up of rock friendly acts including The Blackout, New Found Glory, Bring Me The Horizon, Rise Against, Deftones, and The Offspring draw in busy crowds. As do Foster the People on Festival Republic, who are followed by the musical excellent music noise of The Antlers which is lost on most of the crowd.

Over in the Dance Tent there's a line-up of DJs and live acts to keep the up for it crowds entertained. Nero especially brings in a massive crowd.

Patrick Wolf
Back inside the mammoth tent Patrick Wolf also pleases the crowds, and Mercury Music nominees Metronomy deliver a set that doesn't quite match the sparkle of 'The English Riviera' on record. Other Mercury nominees Anna Calvi, and Elbow also put in sets over the weekend.

The Vaccines, and Noah and the Whale follow and both create the opportunities for the crowds to join in. The biggest crowd of the day assembles in front of Jared Leto's Thirty Seconds To Mars who have brought costumes and a proper stage set. They also invite their fans up on stage, and Leto strips to dress in a Primark tiger suit. They're also one of the many bands who ask the crowd to sit down, and then jump up - it's the new trendy thing to do apparently! It's a case of girls in the crowd dragging their blokes along, and it doesn't matter what music they make, you can hardly hear it over the shrill screams.

My Chemical Romance
The screams get even louder for My Chemical Romance. Lead singer Gerad Way is captivatingly camp and must have just dyed his hair as pink rivulets slip down his neck. The band play a well balanced set, and the crowd join in with openers 'Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)' 'I'm Not Okay (I Promise)' and 'Planetary Go'. The set loses some for a while but the visuals and antics on stage keep the crowd interested until 'Teenagers' sparks the whole crowd back into life. We get a new song 'S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W' and the set peters out.

My Chemical Romance (crowd)
Suddenly 'We Will Rock You' sparks up badly with Gerad reading the lyrics and "Brian Fuckin' May" playing a badly tuned guitar, that quickly re-tunes before sticking around for anthemic closer 'Welcome To The Black Parade', and it's proved a lightweight but satisfying headline performance.

Beady Eye are headlining the other stage, and whilst they're a decent enough band, it's a woeful performance, not that the rabid fans of Liam and/or Oasis care.

These days there's a few late night options in the Silent Disco, and cinema, but after an earlier drenching it's feeling cold and so we make our way back to our beds.
review by: Scott Williams

photos by: Karen Williams / Zelah Williams

Friday 26th to Sunday 28th August 2011
Little Johns Farm, Richfield Avenue, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 8EQ, England MAP
£192.50 for a weekend ticket - SOLD OUT, £82.50 - Friday or Saturday
daily capacity: 90000
last updated: Thu 25th Aug 2011


latest on this festival

Reading Festival 2018
festival details
last updated: Mon 20th Nov 2017
Reading Festival 2018
line-ups & rumours
last updated: Mon 20th Nov 2017
Reading Festival
festival home page
last updated: Thu 7th Sep 2017