Before I rant, I would like to say that I had an amazing time at Reading and saw so many great acts over the weekend and I have already bought my ticket for next year. However, I have some complaints…
CAMPING – we camped in yellow A right near the arena entrance. It’s a good location, next to arena, bogs, co-op, etc. we camped there in 2019 and it was great, and our neighbours were fine. But this year it seemed the whole camp was just full of nob heads. Throwing cans of beer, apples and all sorts around. My tent was covered in beer, and it was trampled on a few times. On the Thursday some people camped behind my tent set up a small flimsy fire beacon and placed it right next to my tent. It would inevitably fall over at some point and set my tent alight, so I had no option but to move my tent. As soon as I started moving my tent, this group moved their tents into the unoccupied spot to expand their camp and then moved the fire stick away. CU**S. Walking around other camps like orange, green and purple, it seemed the same everywhere. People chanting offensive stuff, everyone throwing things that could hurt people, teenagers off their tits being dickheads. It just seemed like a really hostile environment everywhere. People say that R/L is one of the best festivals because of the people and the atmosphere, but this has changed dramatically even since 2019.
CROWDS – a lot of sets by rock/indie bands were ruined by nob heads who were just there to start mosh pits and didn’t know or care about the band playing. Some examples were NBT and wombats. Also, many newbies think mosh pits should be aggressive. I was in the front portion for the Hunna and as soon as they finished, the security let in all the ksi fans and I thought I was going to be crushed. It was crazy. I think in general rap crowds are more hostile than metal crowds.
STALLS – the quality and price of the food doesn’t bother me. You’re not at a festival to eat nice food. But the queues in the evenings for places like mac and cheese burger were ridiculous. I waited 45 minutes to be told that there was no mac and cheese left. They need more food stalls in the arena.
2 MAIN STAGES – I liked it as a one off because it allowed me to see over 30 acts, but I don’t think this should be a permanent thing. You would have to miss a few songs of each set to catch the next band and the chaos of thousands of people storming across the arena doesn’t bode well. The radio 1 tent offered a good alternative to the main stage and it has a better atmosphere for smaller bands that can’t pull a large crowd to a main stage. I also didn’t like how sets were shorter to fit more bands in. Also, the sound was too quiet on MSW for most acts.
ENTRY – white car park entrance on Wednesday was anarchy. When the gates opened at 2pm everyone stood up and charged to the gate. There was just a huge clump of people that I was stuck in for 2 hours. After arriving at 10:30, I didn’t expect to be reaching camp at 16:30.
It seems like the demographic of this festival has changed dramatically in just the last few years and it has become a rite of passage for 16–18-year-olds to survive the weekend while taking as many drugs as possible. I will be going next year, but at just 21, I already feel too old for this festival and will be looking at ‘older’ festivals next year. Biffy Clyro, a huge rock band headlining a major festival, the crowd was tiny. The festival is getting a less rocky crowd every year.
On a positive note, I thought the security and safety procedures were as good as they could be this year. Security managing crowds and helping crowd surfers were generally good. The app gave plenty of warnings about alcohol and drugs. Most staff were very friendly and happy to help. Most artists were happy to be there and engage with the crowd. The majority of people were lovely, you just notice the dickheads more. The positives largely outweigh the negatives for me, and I had a great time with my group, but I thought I would share my thoughts on what could be improved. Sorry for the essay. Thought I would put it all in one.