Guitar music dead? Not based on this weekend at Reading Festival, with a host of up and coming acts playing plus some more established acts showing they can still put on one hell of a show!
Kicking off the weekend at BBC Introducing are a firm favourite of Northern Exposure, and it seems NE are not alone. A huge crowd gathers at midday to see Himalayas, who are best known for the song ‘Thank God I’m Not You’ which has propelled them into the streaming limelight with over 5 million plays. They show there is plenty more to come with a set full of great indie rock anthems. Judging by the crowd size and reaction they should be back on a bigger stage soon.
Next up over on the Festival Republic stage are Seattle rock band ‘Thunderpussy’ giving us an explosive set full of 90’s LA strip style rock with a mesmerising performance from lead singer Molly Sides. Easy to see why they are supporting The Struts on their Autumn tour back in the States.
Over at Radio 1 extra, ‘Bring Me the Horizon’ (not so) secret set was rammed. Opening with brand new single ‘Mantra’ and giving their army of fans a host of favourites including ‘Drown‘ ‘Happy Song’ and ‘Can You Feel My Heart’. With a new album out soon and tour to follow could next year see them headline?
Brighton’s Yonaka are on the cusp of breaking through to the mainstream, they mix up a host of genres but ultimately, they are a great rock band. Lead singer Theresa brings masses of energy and confidence, owning the stage while belting out their latest single ‘Teach me to Fight’ whilst ‘Bubblegum’ and the anthemic ‘FWTB‘ are both highlights.
Back over to BBC Introducing to see Beach Riot with their infectious blend of fuzzy pop rock, and Leeds rock band Fizzy Blood. Both are exciting young bands and deserve to be checked out.
Onto the main event. After selling out dates in London & Manchester recently it’s no surprise to see The Blinders headline the introducing stage. The trio from Doncaster are quickly gaining new fans from all ages and with their album ‘Columbia’ soon to be released the future might not be the dystopian disaster predicted in their latest single ‘Brave New World’. Despite the driving rain there’s a good-sized crowd braving the elements who are rewarded with an epic set which includes ‘Et Tu Brutas’ and ‘Hate Song’. Who are the future headliners? Well you might want to keep an eye on The Blinders.
Finishing the day are emo pop punks, Fall Out Boy, although not everyone’s cup of tea they certainly know how to headline a festival, with a huge back catalogue and a new album out they finished day one with an explosive set including ‘Sugar, We’re Goin Down’, ‘This Ain’t a Scene‘, ‘It’s an Arms Race’ and ‘Thnks fr th Mmrs’.
A rain free Saturday starts on BBC Introducing with Russo, an energetic LA band with a punk pop sound fronted by Cailin Russo. Very reminiscent of No Doubt and certainly have plenty to build on. Next up are The Snuts from Scotland, playing a whole host of great indie anthems, they are already selling out shows over the border with ease and should certainly be on your list of bands to catch live.
Back over to the Festival Republic stage to catch Sunflower Bean, a New York 3 piece who are full of riffs and energy, Julia Cumming’s vocals range from subtle tones to a rasping rage. It’s a magnificent blend with influences from Fleetwood Mac, Led Zep and The Smiths.
Due to clashes I only catch the first couple from HMLTD who are on next, but they are, once again, utterly mesmerising.
Over at the pit stage the metal/rap/rock of SHVPES brings a high octane show with frontman Griffin Dickinson screaming lyrics into the Reading crowd to a thunderous wall of sound. No wonder they’ve supported both BMTH and Trivium in the past, and with masses of air play on Radio 1 and support from Kerrang! Bigger stages and crowds look assured.
Having released their debut album ‘OK’ last year it was great to see Otherkin once again. The Dublin garage punk rock band always put on a great show and once again delivered with a non-stop set, ending with Luke Reilly at the top of the crowd for ‘REACT’.
LA band Starcrawler follow, bringing massive riffs, super slick solos and the coolest of stage presence, reminiscent of the greatest rock bands. The blend of glam metal, and grungy punk is effortlessly played out with Arrow de Wilde spellbinding performance captivating everyone, the saviours of the US rock scene for sure.
Kendrick Lamar gets missed as I head back to the pit which is completely overflowing for headliners Papa Roach. Best known for their debut hit Last Resort back in 2000 they show no signs of ageing, with a full-on dynamic performance which never seems to take breath. Shaddix has the whole crowd in the palm of his hand from the start and after the first few songs I start to wonder why they aren’t on a bigger stage. When they cover ‘Song 2’ by Blur the reaction is off the scale, then they follow it with ‘Last Resort‘, just fantastic! It’s an excellent set and a fitting end to the Saturday.
Sunday is a jam-packed schedule and first up are Lady Bird. Signed to Slaves new label, their punk rock sound is filled with urban tales on a similar style to The Streets, although Lady Bird come with a ferocious attitude and music to match. The captivating lyrics are displayed on ‘Social Potions’ an EP which should be listened to at your earliest convenience.
Braving the elements once more, to see part of both the Saltwater Sun and October Drift sets on the BBC Introducing stage. In-between them though (in the vain hope of staying dry) it’s over to BBC Radio 1 see Twisted Wheel, 2009 saw them on the brink of being huge and after a hiatus for various reason they’re back and sounding top of their game playing new songs from the EP ‘Jonny Guitar‘ and previous hits including ‘You Stole the Sun’.
Extra security is drafted in for the secret set over on the pit, and the reason becomes clear as Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes take to the stage, let the crowd surfing and mosh pits begin. The punk band are on stunning form, I mean who else can get a circle pit going around the outside of the tent! Or indeed has a lead singer who decides to abandon the stage and join them, it is glorious mayhem which flies by. Ending proceedings with I Hate You, which is roared back at them and the crowd surfing, of course, continues.
Calming things down for a few minutes with the DMA’s set, the Australian band are really special and seem to have no limits on what they can achieve.
Then it’s back for more from BBC Introducing, which is possibly the strongest line up on this stage for a good few year, with The Scruff playing a charming mix of indie and rock which flits between banging anthems to the subtler, but equally wonderful, ‘Her’. It’s a recipe for success from these 4 Bedford lads.
I catch sets from Black Foxxes and a little bit of The Vaccines before I stumble upon Hinds, a four-piece Spanish all girl group who triumphantly display the message ‘Hi we’re Hinds and we came here to Rock’ and they certainly do, it’s pop rock which is delivered brilliantly. They’re having a whole lot of fun, so are the crowd, and to be honest so am I!
It’s almost over, but not quite, an hour of Kings of Leon is enough though as Tom Grennan is calling. With his debut album charting in the top 5, a host of festivals, masses of radio plays and TV appearances plus a theme song for the Sky show ‘Bullet’ its no surprise to see a full house for him headline the Festival Republic stage. Straight from the start its obvious his album is owned by the whole audience, as they join in ‘Praying’ ‘Make ‘em Like You’ ‘Sober’ and ‘Found what I’ve been Looking for’ in fact all of them. It’s great to see a new generation find some anthems of their own and as Tom ends the set by saying ‘Main stage, that’s next!’ I truly believe him.
A glorious end to an amazing weekend, till next time Reading.