It’s Friday, it’s Reading Festival 2016, it’s hot as balls. Do we really need an introduction to this review? Let’s skip the formalities and dive into the highlights of the first day.
Written by Andy Vale.
Opening up the festival with his 10th appearance in a row (a record btw), Frank is less of a musician and more of a manic preacher at the altar of the main stage emphatically evangelising about a belief in rock & roll under a clear blue August sky. Having clocked up just under 2000 shows, Frank has some stories to tell, which he does in boisterously joyous fashion. None more so than his ode to the bottom-rung, ‘The Ballad Of Me And My Friends’. Diving into the crowd, shirt & tie drenched in sweat, he closes the set with ‘Four Simple Words’ that whip up movement, romance, and a festival that Frank was born to conquer.
Boy Better Know
JME is the first of the grime collective to take the stage, his confidence only matched by the freshness of the grapes he walks out chomping on. A bard of the streets who knows the value of nutritional snacking. Stick that on your posters boys. Skepta steps out to join his brother for ‘That’s Not Me’ and the bodies start flying. By the time Solo 45 joins them for ‘Feed Them To The Lions’ the entire stage is torn to bits.
There was a time when the thought of seeing credible British MCs on the main stage at this festival was a laughable concept, now they’re getting bigger mosh pits than 80% of the guitar bands. The energy is relentless, and it’s reciprocated by a feverous crowd that aren’t here to arse about. If we held rappers to the same standards as rock bands, they’d be headlining.
There’s a Tommy Cooper feel in places, an element of the ramshackle that seems to work and you suspect that was the plan all along. The dancing, the endless smiling, and the dreamy indie that has scuzzy undertones, all create something broadly satisfying that is hard to put a precise finger on. They’re a gang you want to be part of, and the best thing is that you get the feeling they’d let you. Would this upbeat foursome from Madrid still work on a cold Tuesday night in Stoke? Don’t care, it’s a hot Friday afternoon in Reading and it works here.
HINDS WERE AMAZING AT READING TODAY pic.twitter.com/ky7cESgwl6— s u m m e r (@summjacks) August 26, 2016
Fresh from their 2 week stint at the top of the album charts, Blossoms refused to forget where they came from as they made a surprise appearance at the BBC Introducing stage. The hooks fly out shamelessly, and a tribute to their former tour buddies Viola Beach is met with genuine affection. It was only a relatively short sojourn, but it lays down a marker for what we can expect when they play a bigger stage on Saturday.
It’s an early hour on a Friday, and The Pit is ready to open. Raucous choruses from the Oakland four-piece allow the happy campers to unleash pent-up merry hell. It’s pop-punk with a snarl, it’s solid enough to enjoy for yourself, but it’s catchy enough that your Mum might prick up her ears and begin her next rebellious phase. (Lock-up your bad bad mothers.)
The boys are touring the UK until their final date in London on September 8th, we suggest you get along if you’re around. You won’t be disappointed.
BONUS: During Disclosure I heard a couple arguing about whether the girl slept with one of the guys at Uni or not. I assume they were a couple. Apparently taking your sort-of boyfriend to watch an act you allegedly didn't bone, but he thinks you did, is a weird thing to do. I honestly don't know what the protocol is in that situation, for anyone. Anyway, Disclosure were decent too.
Life is a road full of choices, we drive it with Rolls-Royces.
So, those were our highlights, but we can’t be on every stage at all times, as much as we try. What was your favourite thing?