alternative acts shine on a Saturday full of indie landfill

Reading Festival 2008 review

By Merlin Alderslade | Published: Thu 28th Aug 2008

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Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th August 2008
Little Johns Farm, Richfield Avenue, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 8EQ, England MAP
SOLD OUT
Daily capacity: 55,000
Last updated: Wed 13th Aug 2008

On a day which arguably features the fewest blockbuster additions to the line-up, a lack of excellent alternative music is subsidised by a gloriously cloud-free morning. The good weather certainly seems to bolster an already-thriving atmosphere, though with less hype surrounding the day's billing, the market area quickly becomes packed out, and it soon becomes clear that Festival Republic's attempts to increase the capacity of the festival has resulted in endless queues and pedestrian traffic jams – something which was foreshadowed by the unbelievably long queuing times that consumed those who arrived on Thursday afternoon. In fact, with it soon becoming impossible to walk at a pace higher than three metres an hour, the sun-induced joviality soon turns to mild annoyance, and almost as if the weather has read the minds of the punters trapped in gridlock, the sky starts to cloud over.

Santogold

Despite the growing frustrations that inevitably arise from endless queuing and a claustrophobic market area, the show must go on, with the NME stage providing some of the highlights of the day's acts. The first of these is Santogold, whose subtle blend of ragga-inspired soul and r'n'b beats allows for a chilled out, sexy half hour to sit quite comfortably within the overwhelming breadth and depth of indie landfill. One of these is Oxford new boys Foals, who take to the stage soon after Santogold with a far less interesting take on their own genre of choice. Admittedly, some songs do allow for the occasional foot tap, but their set is mostly forgettable and a reminder that for every Bloc Party, there has to be a Wombats.

And speaking of Bloc Party, their time to shine for the umpteenth time at Reading is soon approaching, but not before The Raconteurs make their own return to the festival in a blaze of retro rock glory. Sacrificing their usually bursting array of cover songs in favour of a larger number of their own hit tracks, it is of course 'Steady As She Goes' that garners the largest cheers, but the general consensus is most certainly one of adulation, and it is heartening to see that a band that was not too long ago seen as little more than a side project can now be fully appreciated in its own right. Bloc Party, on the other hand, are treated like gods, and in return give a solid performance that features a few nice set touches, including a fantastic laser light show.

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Compared to Justice however, the Londoners are made to look like amateurs. Bringing the NME tent to its knees with a fine selection of rocking house numbers and a stunning light show that includes their trademark giant luminous cross, the French duo do well to live up to their reputation as the new Daft Punk. It is no surprise to find that infectious single 'We Are Your Friends' is a particular highlight, but the whole set is a triumph, and were it not for the fact that The Killers have polished their glam live shows to perfection, the headliners may well have served as an anti-climax in comparison. Instead, the Las Vegas lads create an atmosphere that would have won them the weekend were it not for the scale of the headliners that they are sandwiched between. Nonetheless, the pure decibel power of the reactions to favourites such as 'When You Were Young', 'Somebody Tell Me' and 'Mr Brightside' is astounding, and it is a more than suitable end to a day that delivered more than it promised.
review by: Merlin Alderslade

photos by: Karen Williams


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