Reading Festival offers an upbeat festival experience and singalong anthems

Reading Festival 2012 review

published: Tue 28th Aug 2012

around the festival site (Friday)

Friday 24th to Sunday 26th August 2012
Little Johns Farm, Richfield Avenue, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 8EQ, England MAP
Friday or Saturday £85, Sunday day tickets and weekend tickets sold out
daily capacity: 90000
last updated: Mon 27th Aug 2012

The success of Reading lies in its reputation, not just amongst the ticket buyers who know they are going to get a weekend of acts that will allow them to interact with with, whether it's singing along at the top of your lungs, jumping up and down or clapping this is for many the last chance of the summer to get involved. It's not just the audience it's also the acts who play the event over the three days that high the event in high regard, particularly those from overseas, it's clear as you listen to them that appearing at "Reeding" (sic) means a lot to them.

around the festival site
Alongside two main stages of strong established live acts there's a day of dance acts, and two days of strong alternative more hardcore and punk acts. Add to that a surprise or two, and some comedy, spoken word, and thread in some breaking and new talent and you have the line-up across six stages each year.

Reading still delivers also as a safe urban festival, if it all gets too much there's the security and infrastructure the city offers outside the fence. This combined with its place in the calendar just after exam results are published means it's a good festival for the young and they're here each year in their droves for the right of passage which is partying with their mates. The established heritage acts also attract the older generations, and its flat site for those with mobility issues and easy access from off site accommodation means its a draw for those who don't do camping.

around the festival site (Sunday)
Those that do camp have food stalls, small stages, a fun fair, secure patrolled campsites, and this year a breakfast bap voucher, (and some drink on entry). Choices at the bars over the site are limited with lager or cider , wine and basic spirits supplemented by a small real ale bar, and the occasional pear cider or Relentless stall. Food choices seem to have much less variety this year, although the audience catered for are less selective, but I note a few missing traders this year, perhaps the economic situation has seen them bow out of the festival scene.

The queues for the loos are also less long this year, and there were better toilets available for ladies this year, and those openly urinating in public, of both sexes, is much reduced. The antisocial behaviour sometimes witnessed in the arena is virtually nonexistent, and there's a pleasant enthusiastic vibe this year, probably caused by the relief it's not raining.

around the festival site (Friday)
Even the grassy ground seemed less littered this year, with free beers on bags of recyclable rubbish, or money back plastic bottles, and beer cups making a huge difference. It would appear the burning of toilets, the black smoke, the 'bottling' of bands, and the 'riots' that are tagged to this event are actually a thing of the past.

Police and Security were friendly, even to the point of jocular, and outside the site this year was also a happier place with less undesirables seeking wristbands or tickets from those leaving, and the hard sell of street vendors replaced by the occasional lurid sign with food and drink offers, and whispers from touts plying their trade.

The only downside? The fact so many young kids fell victim to Ketamine dealers (it's a drug for farm animals) on the first couple of nights as they waited for Friday's music to start up. Far too many wasted their weekends in the campsites, or medical when they could have been enjoying the festival, and on Friday many were in very bad states on the opening night. The old festival adage to pace yourself clearly not heard by what was in the main young girls.

around the festival site (Friday)
Reading Festival reminds me what a festival is all about as far as I'm concerned - it's about the music, the celebration, and being part of the crowd, part of the festival. It's not about trying to out do each other with fancy dress, and saying look at me and my chums, it's about a less egotistical experience where everyone has a common link - the love of the beat. It may no longer be edgy, manic or scuzzy and rather socially acceptable these days but it still puts the music first, instead adding numerous arts strands and hi-brow theatrics, or fancy dress, and that's what makes it for the people.

This year saw the main stage, shirts, programmes, and the new train buildings beside the arena all get rebranded with the new chevron logo. It will also be remembered for the year Green Day rocked with a closed set to a half full field, The Cure played a mammoth set for fans, Kasabian delivered big singalong anthems, and the Foo Fighters marked 20 years since Nirvana graced the stage and packed the field before them, whilst festival favourites whipped up crowds over the weekend, and despite forecasts and predictions a weekend where wellies weren't necessary. The only real rain during the music occurring during Florence + The Machine's set.

Reading is now a well oiled festival that leaves a lasting memory on all who are there, it's part of the live music psyche now, and long may it continue. A big thanks must go to all those that work behind the scenes to make such a large event run so smoothly, and make it so enjoyable, even for veterans like me, year after year.

around the festival site (Sunday)
review by: Scott Williams

photos by: Karen Williams / Scott Williams

Friday 24th to Sunday 26th August 2012
Little Johns Farm, Richfield Avenue, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 8EQ, England MAP
Friday or Saturday £85, Sunday day tickets and weekend tickets sold out
daily capacity: 90000
last updated: Mon 27th Aug 2012


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