The legendary three-day festival set in the heart of the Home Counties succeeded once again in drawing in big headliners and excitable teenagers to its extensive line-up. Blink 182, Arctic Monkeys, Jake Bugg, Queens of the Stone Age, The Hives, and Bombay Bicycle Club were all in attendance, joined by mainly a host of other rock and indie bands with some drum n bass and a few alternative acts thrown in for good measure.
The first band we caught were Peace, an indie quartet hailing from Worcester. Having formed five years ago with their first EP release in 2010, the band have since released a few more tracks which I recognised on Saturday such as 'Money' and 'Bloodshake'. Their performances were energetic and up-tempo, music reminiscent of the likes of Foals and Kasabian, both dancey and very catchy in melody.
Don Broco put on a high-octane display of testosterone, sweat, and some pretty impressive aerial manoeuvres. Thrashing out all manner of poppy alternative rock the band received a response from their fans almost as crazy as their on-stage antics, and it was clear to see they have a very loyal following. Front man Rob Damianidid a fine job goofing around, playing up to the crowd while guitarist Simon Delaney andbassist Tom Doyle pummelled away with heavy chords and aggressive strums despite plenty of big grins and winks. The three of them never kept still and I can’t deny were great to watch, constantly swapping positions on stage and jumping onto risers to get an even better view of their audience.
Wolf Alice rocked the Festival Republic tent and absolutely tore the place to pieces in proceedings. Arriving on stage donning matching smart white outfits, they looked the part as much as they sounded. The juxtapose between the sweet purring vocals of Ellie Rowsell and the savage roars of Joff Oddies guitar rifts is just exquisite. One minute you’re being captivated by cute Juno-type lyrics of childhood nostalgia and best friend adventures, the next you’re being swept into a moshing frenzy of complete rock bliss.Providing a powerful backbone to the bands set, charismatic drummer Joel Amey always makes me giggle peeking out with a cheeky grin or three. Wolf Alice have an infectious chemistry and it was a pleasure to see them totally letting go to closing song 'Fluffy', Ellie’s "so sweet" screams giving way to a raucous instrumental crescendo and a rapturous applause. Undoubtedly my festival highlight.
Band Of Skulls delighted all who came to see them. The majority of their audience were die-hard fans who knew the words to most of their tracks, demonstrating a lot of love for their older stuff. They’d come a long way in terms of stage presence and confidence since I last saw them a couple of years ago, bassist Emma Richardson less wooden and a lot more engaging with the fans. Although I like the latest album, I don’t think anything they’ve produced since the likes of 'Diamonds and Pearls' and 'Light of the Morning' has been quite as catchy and both tracks had the tent dancing from start to finish. Russell Marsden often moved front stage where he settled for several guitar solos, ripping down to the core with some powerful rifts. As seems to be tradition, he appeared back on stage after the set had ended to throw a few well-used plecs into the crowd.
Delivering a set that spanned their entire career, Arctic Monkeys did a top job headlining on Saturday. Decked out in a leather jacket and jeans with hair slicked back, Alex Turner entertained the masses for over 90 minutes. Despite some technical problems that made the sound seem like it had been turned down several decibels, the band played a great set complete with Elvis moves (and weird accent?) courtesy of Alex.At 90,000 capacity the layout of Reading is easy to navigate, mainly due to the fact there is nothing else going on apart from the music. Stages are all within easy reach of each other and there are plenty of loos which were kept clean and fully stocked throughout the day. If you like your rock music, don’t mind several thousand 16-year olds celebrating end of GCSE’s, and are satisfied with a festival that focuses solely on the line-up then I’d highly recommend.
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