Strap on your braces, tie up your laces, it’s time to put smiles on those faces.
The final day of Reading Festival 2016 is upon us, and here were our favourite bits.
Being confident when you’re taking stage in front of thousands of people who already love you and know your raps is one thing, doing it when you’re one guy with a mic and a laser-focussed desire to capture a passing crowd is something else. Watching Sonny Green there’s humour, there’s aggression, and there’s a fire that's totally fearless. There wasn’t a moment during his set where he stopped for breath, or let his energy slip (in drastic contrast to A$AP Rocky’s disappointingly stop-start set on the main stage minutes later).
A mix-up with set times means that Sonny is cut short before he can fully play his recent underground hit ‘Bars’. Insisting on trying to play the track anyway, his sound and mic cuts out and the previously displayed intensity turns to anger as he chucks his mic to the floor and tips a stage monitor out to the floor. Seconds later he walks out the backstage area and into the crowd. One of the stage hands shakes her head, and says something along the lines of “we’re not having him back” to a few of the people down the front
Do we condone that? Not really, but it was entertaining to watch as a tired punter on the third day. If it was sharply dressed rock band from Surrey chucking stuff out of a hotel room, they’d have a documentary made about them. It would be chalked off to Rock & Roll behaviour as marketing execs at the label rub their hands greedily at the Stones comparisons and PR coverage. We can’t act like this is something different just because it’s a grime MC from Essex.
Sonny Green makes the list largely because of his unwavering passion for what he does, and partly due to him providing a rare moment of genuine shock at a major festival.
The Vaccines are the kind of band a lot of people don’t really think of themselves as fans of, but find themselves enjoying 80% of their tracks without much effort. Even lesser-known cuts were still getting belting singalongs going a fair way past the sound tower, with ‘Wetsuit’ being an early highlight. In a way, they’re a bit like Ramones. Most of their songs get straight to the point, and don’t waste time. Way more often than not, it works. They’re at their best when they put heads down to bomb through a four-chord tale of no regrets in under 2 minutes. They’ll keep going, building up an ever larger catalogue of stuff to yell along to at opportune moments such as this.
The Lock-Up Stage doesn’t bother with “no crowdsurfing” signs, like many of the other stages do. In this case it’s good, because there were people crowdsurfing, and if you do that when signs tell you not to, you will get arrested 100% of the time and you will have a criminal record for life (and even death). In fact, one of the Dads of the boys even chucks out about 10 inflatable body-boards, so that today’s crowdsurfers can traverse the ocean of skulls in luxury. Thanks Chris, or Gordon, whichever the real name was. Of course, there was more on show than inflatables, there was also Eastbourne’s finest old-school punk sound thrown in, with a marinade of sunshine and Tony Hawks soundtrack hinting at the boys’ potential influences.
SuperGlu are the kind of band you walk past at a festival, prick up your ears, and leave 30 minutes later with a new favourite band. They were our find of the weekend. Debut single ‘Diving Bell’ is offensively catchy and achieves the rare feat of being lodged in your head after one listen. Their guitarist was a natural showman, the camera loved him darling as he tore around the stage with unmitigated glee. It was a smash n’ grab performance that hopefully bagged some surprised converts, we’re happy to call ourselves one of them.
Undoubtedly the finest voice we heard all weekend, BØRNS has a smokiness to his vocals while retaining a shimmering clarity. The Lana Del Rey approved ‘American Money’ was raw, sepia-tinted evidence of this but was not the only high point. Backed by band that gave him a luxurious canvas of soulful pop to effortlessly dance across, BØRNS scored a major victory by pulling a substantially loyal crowd despite many big guns being on the other stages at the same time.
Enough of this noise, we’re going home. But tell us something we missed, and we’ll put it on in the office stereo while thinking of nothing but your unquestionable taste.