Highlights– Catfish and the Bottlemen, Peace, Everything Everything, Circa Waves, All Time Low, The Wombats, Jamie T, The Maccabees, and The Libertines.
Ones to Watch– Nothing but Thieves, Mini Mansions, The Sherlocks, Sundara Karma, Rat Boy.
Reading 2015 has drawn to a close once again and I’m, again, left with a haunting sense of sadness and an overriding feeling of total fulfilment that this year’s Reading was just as phenomenal as the last. Reading and Leeds 2015 was headlined by Mumford and Sons, Metallica, and The Libertines. Foals did a secret set on the Saturday at Reading on the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage as well.
There’s something about Reading that makes it so special- I’m not sure what though. Perhaps it’s the lack of “arty-farty” attractions and stalls that makes it desirable and classically simplistic or maybe it’s purely the teen spirit and drunken friendliness that surges throughout the crowds. Or perhaps it’s the Hippy Chippy van (the best festival chips I’ve ever had)?
This year I was able to meet Catfish and the Bottlemen and they were genuinely some of the nicest lads I’ve ever met in the music industry. Van thought we’d met before as he greeted me with a “We’ve met before, right?” (Unfortunately we’d not met before).I feel like their appreciation for their fans radiates warmth which echoes in their music. Fortunately, despite being told off by the security guard, I managed to get a selfie (which would have been nice if the camera wasn’t the wrong way round at the prime photo moment) with Van McCann. They’re some of the loveliest men in the business and this, along with their classic tunes, almost guarantees success for the Llandudno lads.
Friday (28th August 2015)
Sunset Sons played the Festival Republic stage early Friday afternoon to an almost packed out tent which contrasted to their BBC Introducing set last year. The band played a short set which showcased the bands sun-kissed indie rock material and attracted new and old fans. The band got the crowd going with songs like “She Wants” and even saw people on shoulders and dancing along. Their music is truly current and exciting and has set them up nicely for their November tour supporting Imagine Dragons. Sunset Sons are a band to watch and now is the best time to get into them- before they shoot into stardom.
All Time Low never disappoint and this energetic set saw old and new fans unite in a set that was filled with old and new material, from their new album “future hearts”. Whilst All Time Low are still using the same penis related jokes (all of which I’ve heard about 7 times now) and getting up to their usual antics they manage to captivate a crowd- they’re never boring, ever. Their set sought the inclusion of the whole audience and required much participation as Gaskarth (lead singer) made the audience regularly sing phrases and mimic his sounds. They band even got a hand-picked, by Alex Gaskarth, selection of fans to sing Time Bomb on stage with them, one of which played Jack Barakat’s (guitarist) guitar with him. It’s amazing to see such excitement at a festival for a band I’m only used to seeing enclosed in venues- apart from at Slam Dunk 2013 (which I didn’t see a lot of because the man in front of me decided to wear a top hat). All Time Low dazzled the main stage and provided a gateway to a full weekend of music. During the set, the band announced that they will come back and do an arena tour next February in the UK which will not to be missed if you’re going on their Reading and Wembley arena performances. I recommend All Time Low to anyone looking for a gateway into “pop-punk” music or even just general “rock” music.
Peace took the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage by storm on Friday afternoon which followed a successful run of Reading and Leeds performances, this being their 3rd. The tent was practically packed out and the crowd danced and sang throughout. Peace played a selection of songs from their debut album (In Love) and from their latest album “Happy People”, as well as opening with part of a song by the Replacements. The audience sang along with Harrison Koisser to well known songs like “Lovesick” and “I’m a girl”. Peace has a loyal fan base which made for an energetic performance full of appreciative fans and gave off a totally different vibe to their Glastonbury performance. Their Reading performance felt as though they’d already won over the fans without even starting to play. Harry Koisser remarked that Reading is his “favourite festival in the world” and that it’s coming to the end of a decade of him attending it which made the audience feel at ease with their performance, as though it genuinely meant a lot for them band to be there. The members are entertaining, Harry Koisser was wearing a coat coated with wet enamel and stated the audience had been watching paint dry: “it’s not that boring is it” Koisser remarked before launching into their final song “World Pleasure”, an 8 minute track. This, being one of their last Summer Festival performances, leads them into their September/October UK tour and I’m very excited about the tour.
Mumford and Sons headlined the Main Stage at Reading Festival on the Friday this year. It’s their first Reading since 2010. They played many well known classics including “the Cave”, “Little Lion Man” and “I will wait” as well as songs from their new album “Wilder Mind”, for example “believe”. It was a visually stimulating set which featured an array of instruments, some of which lesser seen on the Reading and Leeds main stage, which made for an exciting set. The band’s set saw an audience of appreciative fans, however, the reception was mixed, as you could expect from the thought of a band like Mumford and Sons headlining. I felt the performance was exciting and inspiring and capped of the first day of the festival perfectly. The band are no longer all about banjos and acoustic guitars, as this set suggests, as the inclusion of electric, rockier tunes was intertwined with those classics.
Saturday 29th August 2015
Wolf Alice played the BBC Introducing Stage as a surprise act early afternoon prior to their set on the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage. Their BBC Introducing set was intimate and special. They played all their hits, including “Bros” and made the audience crave their later set. Their later set stage saw Ellie and co conquer the NME/BBC Radio 1. They played songs from their latest album “My Love is Cool” and also songs from their EP “Blush”. Wolf Alice were extremely energetic and used their indie rock laced tunes to excite the eagerly awaiting fans. The band are inspiring and it’s nice to see a female fronted band triumphantly claim sets on larger stages as there was a distinct lack of female fronted bands on the line up. Their music is a huge shift in the way we currently view female in music- especially in this area and genre. Their set cemented huge success for the band and I’m sure they’ll keep coming back.
Circa Waves played the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage on Saturday afternoon to an audience of excited teens and those who were perhaps not fans of the Metallica-esque bands gracing the main stage at the time or those who were not partial to a bit of dance music. Their set was fuelled by songs off their latest album “Young Chasers” which was a triumphant success. The audience sang along to the sun-kissed tunes (despite the changing weather outside) and some even found it heavy enough to mosh, this is disputable though. Kieran Shudall (Lead singer) even attempted to crowd surf during “T-Shirt weather”. The band’s set was one of my weekend highlights as it included fun and easy to listen to songs and oozed youthful hope and promise.
Everything Everything played the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage early Saturday evening and brought their new album “Get to Heaven” to Reading. The band played frantic, varied and perhaps even somewhat “schizophrenic” songs to an audience of fans who knew the album well. Their set was well thought out and exciting. They were able to captivate the audience with their upbeat tunes and excitingly metaphoric melodies. The set undoubtedly gripped fans and convinced fans who were maybe saving spaces for later acts. I think Everything Everything is one to watch as I think they will take their refreshingly interesting songs to the next level. The audience responded well to the set and repaid the band by singing along with the band. This leads them into their Autumn/Winter 2015 tour.
Closing the Festival Republic stage on the Saturday was the Wombats. The Wombats provided the perfect alternative for those perhaps weren’t Metallica fans. The Liverpool lads were a triumphant success and are worthy of playing larger stages at the festival, for example the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage. The band delivered, to a sea of loyal fans, a set filled with songs from each of their three albums. The set was incredibly well received and the song lyrics echoed teen anxiety and were perhaps even relatable for some of the young crowd. It even felt quite nostalgic. The atmosphere was buzzing and the dancing meant it was a particularly hot and sweaty performance. The trio provided an unforgettable performance which was feel-good and fun. The band closed with “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” which saw the whole crowd singing and dancing and many people were on shoulders. The band managed to create a set list which struck pure harmony with the audience as it created a perfect balance between new songs, from their latest album “Glitterbug”, and older hits like “Techno fan” and “Kill the Director”. Their set was incredibly fulfilling and I’d like to see them return very soon. This set launches them into their October UK tour.
Sunday 30th August 2015
Sundara Karma played the Festival Republic stage on Sunday. This is their second time playing Reading Festival and their set was full of songs off of their recent EPs including “Flame” and “Loveblood”. Their set was well received by the audience with some of the audience even moshing. Their sound is very contemporary and likeable and they present themselves very well in terms of their stage presence. This made for an exciting, albeit short; set which left the audience wanting more. Sundara Karma are supporting The Wombats on their upcoming UK tour which will be a huge platform for the band. I think they’re definitely ones to watch as their catchy hooks and excitingly current lyrics only scream success.
On Sunday afternoon, following the news of their number 1 album the previous Friday, The Maccabees played the Main Stage at Reading. Their set was laced with popular fan favourites, such as “Pelican” and “Latchmere”, and cleverly intertwined with singles (among a few other songs) from their latest album “Marks to Prove It”- in which the title track caused much excitement to a pending sea of excited fans. Their set was anything but boring and they managed to captivate the huge outcome of people. The band have played the festival countless times and it was nice to see them feel at home on the stage. The set felt comforting in a sense that the songs were easy to listen to and the songs were well known. The Maccabees are touring with their new album, “Marks to Prove It”, around the UK this winter.
Jamie T, a popular spokes person for the teens of today, followed his 2014 surprise set at Reading by returning to reclaim the Main Stage this year with a top 5 new album (Carry on the Grudge) under his belt. The crowd craved Jamie T’s angst, teenage hits and knew all the words to songs like “Sheila”, “Zombie” and “Sticks’n’Stones”. Treays dazzled the crowd with songs from his latest album, like “Don’t You Find”, “Rabbit Hole” and “Peter”, which the crowd knew all the lyrics to and could sing along to. His songs give off a sense of teenage hope and promise with a relatable melancholy that sees the world plainly. His set was refreshing and different to the usual Reading sets. He had a huge crowd which sang along with Treays in a way which only radiated positivity. His set was one of my favourites of the whole weekend. I’d definitely recommend him to anyone as I feel like his music is exciting and speaks for a generation of misguided youth.
Years and Years played on the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage just after Jamie T had finished on the Main Stage. Their set drew in a crowd which packed out the large tent perhaps because it fitted snugly in the gap between Jamie T and Kendrick Lamar on the Main Stage. Their set was full of songs from their recently released album “Communion“. They played, arguably their biggest hit, “Desire” early on in the set and a few people walked out after this. However, this left many loyal fans. The set was energetic and the crowd danced along with lead singer Olly Alexander. It was the perfect way to bring the evening to a close, before Headliners “The Libertines”.