After another fantastic instalment of Reading & Leeds we have a sit down to look back over the festival sets I managed to catch over the weekend.
Judas – Main Stage
The band that kicked off my festival. Judas were unbeknown to me, they knew not many in the crowd knew who they were, something the band were actively aware of – they even made a few jokes about it. They did, however, use their main stage appointment as a platform to be remembered and certainly left a long-lasting impression on me.
Despite being one of the smaller bands to grace the main stage over the weekend, they looked comfortable, showing it doesn’t faze them – a fantastic attribute and a reason why I predict them to go on to be a big name. My only bugbear with their set was the lack of people singing along (including myself); there just weren’t enough people who knew who they were for a main stage act.
Declan McKenna – NME Stage
I was more aware of who Declan McKenna was than I was Judas, but I would say before going to the set I was still unsure of much of his music. This continued past the set, there was not one song which left a real long-lasting impression on me. A shame in reflection, as I thought I would want to return to after the festival to listen to again.
This being said, the crowd certainly was more there for the artist than the first set I saw on the day; which falls upon the festival atmosphere I have experienced and become accustomed to in recent years.
Circa Waves – Main Stage
Circa Waves is a band that I do know, with their sophomoric album being the first album I reviewed on WaveByte. This was, however, my first time seeing them perform live and despite them not disappointing, they didn’t quite overwhelm.
There were a few standout moments of their set; one being Alex Trimble, the Two Door Cinema Club front man, accompanying them on stage and the other being, of course, them performing T-Shirt Weather.
Two Door Cinema Club – Main Stage
The last opportunity I had to witness a Two Door live performance was at last year’s Reading Festival, an opportunity I surpassed to see Red Hot Chilli Peppers set, something that I ultimately regretted. Two Door offered to us set which got the crowd going – the day was finally beginning to feel like a proper opening day to one of the UK’s biggest festivals; the vibe was good; the crowd was on board and the sun was beating down; what more could you want.
Two Door Cinema Club are just the kind of band to leave you with a smile on your face, this added to the flawless weather conditions we were faced, ending a perfect opening day.
Bastille – Main Stage
I was nervous when it came to Bastille; I have been a fan since their debut album’s release, however, never taking up the opportunity to see them live. The people I do know who have seen them live have given a very mixed reception of how they performed. Some adamant they are one of the best bands they have seen live, and others, simply saying they were bang average. So, in my eyes this festival was crunch time – I was finally going to experience them first hand.
When the time came, my god, they did not disappoint. A politically fuelled set, filled with imagery of an obvious, but not explicit, representation of Theresa May holding a ‘Strong and Stable’ booklet up as the backdrop for many of the songs. This coupled with the insane voice of the frontman, Dan Smith, really made for a memorable show and arguably the best of the festival.
Kasabian – Main Stage
I decided to stick by and see Kasabian’s set (despite the whole day claiming I wouldn’t), this being because of the desirable position in the crowd that I had taken ownership of. Now, there was a lot of hype for Kasabian, the crowd were extremely excited (something which confused, bearing in mind much of the crowd looking like they collected their GCSE’s the day previous – but who am I to judge) and, I must admit, I was very underwhelmed by their performance in whole.
The standout of the set, what I’m sure many expect, was their arguably most famous song, ‘Fire’ which sure was amazing – the rest of the set just didn’t do it for me. I kinda wish I relived my 13-year-old days and ventured over to You Me at Six over in the NME Stage, diminishing any judgment from my peers.
Wolf Alice – Festival Republic Stage
Fresh off the back of their interview with us at WaveByte the day previous at The Boileroom, Wolf Alice embarked on the first of their two secret sets at Reading and Leeds. Wolf Alice were scheduled to commence their act at midday, a perfect start to kick off the music for the day. The hype surrounding a secret set always see’s an influx in attention around the act, purely based on the nature of it being extra to the lineup. Due to this, the tent was completely full, something which I’m sure is pretty alien at this time of the day.
Wolf Alice then went on to put on a high tempo performance getting the whole crowd engaged and really set the day up on the right foot. It was an extremely worthy set and I’d hope to see Wolf Alice at more festivals – they really seemed to fit in with the vibe.
Moose Blood – Main Stage
Moose Blood has a devoted fan base and this was clear to see on this early afternoon, a lot of the crowd in front of the main stage repping their Moose Blood merch – a vital aspect in supporting the band in every way they can. This was my first time seeing them live after only hearing good things about their music. The vibe of their music was perfect for the time of day and as predicted, the crowd was certainly on board with the band.
My issue with this set would have to be the fact frontman, Eddy Brewerton didn’t really get involved with the crowd too much. It seemed as if he was extremely nervous up there – which of course is extremely understandable but I would have loved to see him engage the crowd a little more.
Alma – Dance Stage
Right, many of you who know me are probably thinking ‘what the hell was he doing in the dance stage watching Alma of all people’ – well I kinda just stumbled in waiting for LANY’s set and decided to wait it out.
My review for this simply put is; it was a bunch of ‘ket heads’ jumping around together to a catchy beat, but you know what – everyone was seemingly having an extremely good time and that vibe was clear to see and very contagious. Unfortunately, for the most part, Alma’s music is not for me, I did, however, recognise one song and got very excited about it.
LANY – Dance Stage
Last years Reading Fest it was The Japanese House this year LANY, another strange addition to the dance tents line up. I certainly wasn’t complaining but seen as three-quarters of the tent left before their set I think it’s safe to say not everyone was happy with it.
This being said LANY smashed it as I expected them too, and those who did decide to stay in the tent integrated with those who made the journey to the tent to see LANY definitely enjoyed it too, this was certainly the happiest I saw a crowd during an act, but LANY really are just fantastic at what they do.
The Japanese House – Festival Republic Stage
The Japanese House’s perfectly mellow vibes were not what the doctor ordered on this occasion. This was my third time seeing The Japanese House and was my least favorite of all the occasions. The reason for this was not the fact that they just weren’t as good, because they were, I think it’s simply when there set fell, middle of the day on the middle day of the festival, their vibe was just not what I needed at that point of the day I needed something a bit more up-tempo.
Sundara Karma – NME Stage
Sundara Karma must love playing Reading Festival, it is where the band is from so the meaning behind the festival must mean so much more to them all. The NME tent was pretty packed out come the time Sundara Karma were due on stage and they certainly did not disappoint.
The tent was very enthusiastic to sing along with Oscar Pollocks and it was the exact atmosphere I was missing when I last saw the band early in the year due to being seated rather than standing, there wasn’t much more I could ask from Sundara Karma after their set. I’d love to see them be given the chance to be on main stage on this extremely meaningful festival to them.
Major Lazer – Main Stage
A hot evening in a field in Reading surrounded by a bunch of people off their nut jumping around to a DJ set waiting for Eminem to come on stage, could you want anything more?
But no in all seriousness Major Lazers set was actually a lot of fun, it was nonstop music for just over an hour in which the crowd were fantastic. Granted had I not of been waiting for Eminem’s set I would not have been there but regardless I did enjoy it, but I do not envy the people who were right up in front of stage inevitably getting squashed to fuck.
Eminem – Main Stage
Main Stage 10 pm comes around and it was happening, finally the headliner I was waiting for, Eminem. Honestly, the set didn’t even have to be good and I’m pretty sure I would have liked it. This, however, was not the case, all of a sudden I was surrounded by people in various Eminem T-shirts and everyone was suddenly a massive Eminem fan and I tell you what, it was great.
Banger after banger, Eminem’s set was nothing short of this and the fact that it wasn’t being streamed makes it even more special, I feel as though in that field I experienced a true once in a lifetime experience.
The set did have some highlights, which would be described as being slightly different. One of which is the man who decided to climb one of the sound towers mid way through the set and then proceed to dab for the next 40 minutes up there.
The Man, The Myth, The Dabbing Legend (Excuse the bad quality)
The encore being a big highlight of the whole festival for me, it was none over then Lose Yourself, a track which brought everyone in unison, I mean with such iconic lyrics as “mom’s spaghetti” what more could you expect. The set was pretty much perfect and only left me wondering one thing, what happened to our dabbing menace?
Fickle Friends – NME Stage
The Sunday of Reading Fest can be known as the day that women ruled. The NME was one stage, which really embodied women empowerment with a lot of the main acts featuring on the stage being in the forefront of women power within the music industry. This was no different with Fickle Friends, (despite the band consisting of four men) they went on to give a performance of a high standard and one I am growing to expect from them the more I see them.
The set was perfectly topped off by a speech given by Natassja Shiner, pleading girls with musical talent to pick up their instruments and try and break into the industry because it’s what the industry needs right now.
The Hunna – BBC Introducing Stage
This was a secret set I don’t think anyone was really expecting, The Hunna were due to close the Festival Republic stage later on the night but yet they had a secret set on the smallest stage of the festival a few hours prior. It certainly wasn’t an issue with me.
I must have seen The Hunna around 10 times live now, one of which including their first ever headline show which was something crazy like a 100 person sell out, so I’m no stranger to seeing them grace a smaller stage. This, however, was different. There certainly was not only 100 people there, and due to the huge crowd for this tiny stage the speakers really struggled and made it quite hard for the set to be as enjoyable as it should have been. But from what I did hear The Hunna went on to smash their set on the Festival Republic stage later that night which is a good thing to hear.
Don Broco – The Pit
My favorite of the secret sets, Don Broco graced Leeds fest on Friday, so from day one I was left in high anticipation about seeing them. I’ve been a fan of Don Broco’s for a few years now yet never seen them so I knew I couldn’t miss this opportunity to see what they had to offer live.
I arrived a few minutes before their set began and the tent was legit completely full, I couldn’t even make my way in so I had to settle for the outer rims. Boy part of me is glad I didn’t make my way in because it kicked off, the crowd loved every minute of it, I don’t think Reading were ready for what Don Broco had to give, they certainly showed why The Pit has its name.
Don Broco played a big selection of their stuff old and new and I think definitely converted some people to fans, the people I had with me who had no idea who they were, were left with a smile on their face, so job well done to Don Broco, absolutely smashed it.
Halsey – NME Stage
Halsey live, something I’ve wanted to see for a very long time was finally about to happen. I was familiar with all the songs on the set list and ready for what I hoped to be a good performance. Then on rolled the backdrop for this performance, a big white wall with flowers running down it, like something out of a video for a song of Haley’s second album and the excitement only grew more.
Then she entered the stage and the set began. The set was amazing the aesthetics on stage, the use of the smoke and fire cannons accompanied with Halsey’s sublime voice made for some extremely special viewing. The whole thing made me think of watching The 1975 just a female version, which for me really was perfect and I could have asked for nothing better. Halsey’s vocals really did blow me away, she was 10 times better than I thought she would be live.
HAIM – NME Stage
The end of Reading Fest, with the two acts I saw previous to HAIM I was really expecting something killer to top off the festival. I may not have been as familiar with all of HAIM’s songs as much as some of the other acts I saw, but regardless of this, I couldn’t let my opportunity to see them go amiss.
I have never been so glad to at an act in all my life; I was front and center of the stage and it really was a magical experience. With the other headliners on other stages being extremely good to it meant that everyone who accompanied me in the NME stage were people who really wanted to be there, and that showed with the astounding support they showed throughout the show.
The set was then topped off with a confetti cannon which completely drowned me in the sparkly paper, and that topped off an amazing final trilogy of acts on the last day and a really special festival, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Granted this years Reading and Leeds Fest was not their strongest lineup, it was still one I thoroughly enjoyed, I do however expect next years to be one of their best lineups, especially due to there being no Glastonbury in 2018.