Freelance writer and festival lover Craig Jones shares his Reading 2016 experience with Pitch…
A fireball of flaming tents has a feel of an apocalyptic scene rather than a weekend of music but it’s a tradition Reading Festival-goers hold close to their hearts.
Away from the tomfoolery or fairly serious crime, depending on your perspective, there were some great acts to enjoy with headline sets from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foals, Biffy Clyro and Disclosure.
At a time when Glasto is arguably playing it a little safe, à la Kayne and Jay Z, it is refreshing to see Reading is probably as diverse as it’s ever been.
Of course, there was the festival’s staples of rock, indie and pop punk, but across the bill you could also enjoy rap, hip hop and grime in a manner which didn’t just feel like a token gesture.
On a sweltering opening day, Chvrches did their blossoming reputation no harm at all with a very promising main stage set. Lead Lauren Mayberry channeled her inner Debbie Harry and Siouxsie Sioux with a performance featuring airings of Empty Threat, Leave a Trace and The Mother We Share. The synthy outfit perfectly warmed the crowd for the evening’s bill toppers, Foals…
Four albums in and Yannis Philippakis’ band are the perfect festival headliners, delivering hits such as What Went Down and Inhaler, before slowing everything down for a mass Spanish Sahara singalong.
One of the nice perks of Reading is that it’s so near to the town centre you can pop in and out as you please (read: stock on supplies, get a cheap eat and perhaps even watch your favourite football team play down the pub…).
With the Saturday daytime bill being something of a slowburner, Reading town centre was a scene of headdresses and Hunters, as temporary escapees scrambled for crates of beer and cider.Back at the site there were a few random acts of kindness as a rather merry barman dished out the odd free drink or two ahead of Red Hot Chili Peppers. The LA troupe were everything you’d expect from a band who’ve had three decades to perfect their act.
Random spot of the weekend came when our group bumped into Arsenal and Wales footballer Aaron Ramsey in the arena urinals on the last day. Admittedly, it was a rather surreal feeling having a wee next to someone who earns more in a month than you probably will in your lifetime.The last night offered a real musical mix with our contingent splitting off to see The King Blues, Fall Out Boy, Kano and The 1975.
‘Love Me’ was the call from the latter’s frontman Matt Healey and as much as yours truly tried it was a difficult feat to pull off. With the song dedicated to Jesus Christ leaving me unable to resist using those words in a slightly different context. But many absolutely loved the band who’ve enjoyed UK and US number ones.
Despite some childish campsite antics there’s much to love about Reading. An endearing image sure to live in the memories of many was the breakfast bar rave, for those revellers who resisted going off to bed as the curtain came down on the festivities…