Reading Festival Highlights
GOLDIE LOOKIN’ CHAIN
Speaking of which, ‘Wacky’ Welsh townie-cum-rappers Goldie Lookin’ Chain look like a bunch of remedial kids imprisoned for an eternity at JJB Sports. Urban, illiterate indie hip hop, all NWA meets Brass Eye as done by the Newport Blazin’ Squad. They provide a suitably chaotic wake-up call to the festival’s early birds. Opening up the main stage billing, the bizarre medley of characters shoot through songs such as their recent single ‘Guns Don’t Kill People Rappers Do’, proving only too well that underneath the tacky gold chains, baggy tracksuits and comedy lyrics their songs aren’t actually that bad.Anon
TAKING BACK SUNDAY
Breakfast never sounded so ‘mo... Taking Back Sunday. It’s like the sweet sound of stateside success sailing amplifiers against the noise created by an in-tune ATD-i. The wiry frontman versus gruff beard guitarist routine makes the new album, ‘Where You Want To Be’ sit comfortably with the chorus based punk-age of ‘Tell All Your Friends’. The sound smells good and the Sunday make with the act that Thursday always should have been. No one has been bottled off yet. - Peter White
Hundred Reasons burn. Like an unsigned band waiting for their bus back to Surrey. The speakers sound like they’re sinking and the stylists forgot the hair gel. Band most likely not to sell as many records as Lostprophets. - Peter White JURASSIC 5
LA hip-hoppers Jurassic 5 turn up one of the most engaging performances of the day, affirming their reputation as one of the most talented and creative acts in the world of hip hop today. Slicing up their smooth beats and soul-shaking tunes with a mesmerising display of beat-scratching rhythms, beatmasters Cut Chemist and DJ Nu Mark literally had every DJ in the arena floored with their improvisatory talents. - Anon J5 aren't known for their ball breaking live performances but surprisingly, on the enormity of the Main Stage, their amiable hip-hop goes down a treat. It doesn't stick in the mind but it keeps the crowd buoyant mid-afternoon. - Gen Williams
The Distillers’ Brody Dalle is the Courtney who turns up. No longer the skaghead punk, Homme-loving obviously agrees with the girl. Skateboards have been replaced by
rock star shades and a new found suitability for main stage slots. There’s no disputing the power in her songs and voice this afternoon and overlooking the crowd with her cool-as-ice composure she acts every bit the rock icon her last album ‘Coral Fang’ has made her. For her 30 minutes onstage most found it extremely difficult to tear their eyes away from her. - Peter White
The good old urdi-gurdi Hives put on a good old reliable show; all sharp suits, high kicks and raging egotism. It's well done and it's undeniably fun but......well....we kinda saw it all two years ago. It's a minor criticism of an undeniably great performance but unless they want to become the Foo Fighters of the festival circuit they need to pull out some new tricks soon. Maybe having punch-ups with members from Ash will suffice. Don't worry, they ended up best mates, which was certainly in the fat Swede's interests.Anon
Ash are on fire. Still young, still rocking and still near the top of the Main Stage thrashing out classics like it's 1996 all over again. Coming on stage with his Flying-V in flames, this is Ash having more fun than they’ve ever had. Riotous ‘Meltdown’, bullock-stomping ‘Clones’ and the blurry-eyed serenade of ‘Starcross’d’ makes for the start of many a swamp-born Reading romance.Anon
Despite harbouring an unenviable kiddie-punk reputation thanks to the annoyingly poppy chart-hogging hits of their last two albums, whether you like it or not The Offspring are still responsible for some of modern punk’s most treasured anthems. As the exuberance of tracks like ‘Come Out And Play’ and ‘Keep ‘Em Separated’ fills the arena you sense a legion of ex-fans welcoming them back in their lives once more, if only for the duration of their set. Anon THE DARKNESS
While they may have made the deal with the festival devil last year to headline the rock day at Reading, The Darkness are by rights expansive, extravagant and huge. While waiting until they’d actually written a second album might have made sense to other bands, there’s no point waiting and, even if new track 'Hazel Eyes' sounds a little malpractised here, it's obvious the novelty that is Justin 'Gawkin' Hawkins and co will be around a lot longer than maybe first thought - whether you like it or not. Songs sung like an evening’s sunshine dance meet new pop not yet been through the hit-making car wash. But there are fireworks. And giant stacks. And Radiohead's 'Street Spirit' (again). We all robotically chant 'fuck' and 'cunt' like we're naughty pre-pubescent school kids, instructed by headmaster Hawkins, the words illuminated on giant screeens. It was great. Of course it was.Anon RADIO ONE STAGE
We could have sworn that Ikara Colt had been forever banned from Reading & Leeds after their Leeds Festival stage invasion incident in 2002. Ho-hum. Their smash-n-grab electro-guitar action shaves the surface of ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead's cultish, frenzied Sonic Youth worship, but they lack Trail Of Dead's flair or fever. Their set throbs with fervent self-belief but is little more than a jumble of their favourite bits of other people's songs, at one point squalling Siouxsie Sioux's "You want it, you take it!" with cheerful aplomb. It's distracting but unconvincing. - Gen Williams
Hmm. That was ten minutes of my life I could’ve better spent eating a sandwich. Not meaning to get all Germaine Grear on y’all but what was the point in this? Two women dance at the back of the stage with dildos attached to their pants. Without my glasses I wonder for a while why two men are on stage with strap on’s, then it dawns on me that this is sexual liberation and really women have come on a long way. Yay us. Go girls! - Sara Lovejoy
Blah. I wanted this to be great, but sadly it wasn’t to be. - Sara Lovejoy
They were kinda of like ok, but like I totally coulda like joined the q for the bathroom at this point and like totally done my hair and like asked that cute guy out on a date, ya know like instead of watching them. - Sara Lovejoy
Oh, how this DiSser wanted you to be good. Forget 'Turn 21', it was with last album 'Spend The Night' that The Donnas really came of age, brandishing cock-rock guitars and lairy songs about booze and backseat encounters. It should be fucking superb live, but they totally fail to connect. At points, DiS isn't even sure the girls onstage are actually making the music - they look like a cheerful but uncertain karaoke act covering someone else's songs. Massively disappointing. - Gen Williams
PRETTY GIRLS MAKE GRAVES
Last year, my stereo was hijacked by the New Romance. Its jacko basslines, prozac fighting angular punk ripped my ears a new zipper. Live they're nothing short of spectacular today, hidden away in the new bands tent when they should really be converting the muddied masses beneath the gigantic sponsorship banners. A classic festival set. - Sean Adams
The Departure have been dismissed by many as Interpol Lite. It's a fair point, as their staccato, NY-influenced sound presents absolutely nothing we haven't heard done better already. They're competent and probably have enough charm to score a sizeable fanbase of their own, but there remains the problem that, for now at least, they're just not very interesting. - Gen Williams
BOOM BOOM SATELLITES
In a state of vast confusion, DiS stumbles out of the trenches into what she mistakenly assumes is the Evening Session tent, expecting indie-rock action, and is swiftly spazzed awake by an icy adrenaline shot of electricity. Boom Boom Satellites exist somewhere in the mythical no-man's land between At The Drive-In, Roni Size and the International Noise Conspiracy. Assaulted viciously from all sides by a mathematical tangle of sounds and a bass circle saw, your impressed and DiSorientated correspondent is left with little choice but to watch and absorb every last vibration with a growing sense of glee. - Gen Williams
One of the biggest highlights of this year’s fest for me. If you could rewrite history and reinvent the Beach Boys as an all girl trio from Japan, they would be the 5,6,7,8s. Awesome and unique in their delivery of some of the pop world's classics (as in the Beatles, not Britney), with their sparkly silver dresses and great shoes, these chicks bring some much needed glamour to the main stage. - Sara Lovejoy
Should just be a one-hit wonder novelty band who're on an advert or a soundtrack of some sort. They shouldn't be so darn entertaining, in a Elvis inpersonator, copy-of-a-copy, cultured inflected, post-modern kinda way. You could try and be clever and dissect it but they're just feelgood summer songs with 50s cool and the benefit of global Americanization. Quaint. - Sean Adams
DiS fears the =emo=. While the prospect of standing through half an hour of woeful, teary-eyed anthems to angst is daunting to say the least, Thursday belie all expectations and present an engaging racket, twinning impassioned vocals with infectious guitars. DiS no longer remembers what they sound like but definitely recalls enjoying them. Forgettable but likeable - there are worse things to be. - Gen Williams
Cor blimey guv’na, who are these cheeky chancers prancing around on stage like they own it? But for this moment they do own it and they make full use of their time. Don’t go back to Dalston… I hear ya. Throwing flowers into the assembled masses like poets brushing off stars, this lot are really quite irresistible. But Johnny’s lack of a bottom is really scary. EAT SOME PIES MAN!! - Sara Lovejoy
Would be the band of the weekend if it wasn't for the wind. They bring out the sun and the put the decadence back into British indie. Endearing moments melt the frowns, ripping it up and riding buses and entering Johnny's world of discontent, muddled with dreams of a new romance. He says love is the law. He says don't go back to Dalston. He runs around like a (midgety) rock loon. And as they start throwing flowers into the sea of smiles, British rock seems to have new saviours. - Sean Adams
Razorlight are gloriously, divinely... average. On one level they're a great pop band, chockful of jaunty hooks, but if they were in any other business they'd probably have been had for handling stolen goods by now. Like Bloc Party, they were tagged with the vastly overused "new Strokes" label, but unlike Bloc Party they fail to reach beyond the lazy descriptions that fanfared their emergence. They're a wise choice for a mid-afternoon slot, bringing an eager crowd to the Main Stage in the sunshine, but they absolutely lack charisma and identity. - Gen Williams
Anyone would have thought this rock festival was a racist boys club institution. You'd think 'urban' would be met with bottles of disdain/piss. But then the Roots aren't hip-hop, soul, 'urban' (whatever that means) or a rock band. They're a collision of worlds and cultures with ideas stuck in their teeth and afros. Possibly the greatest sense of musicality and lyrical wizardry to be found all week. My band of the weekend. Feet're moving, head is nodding and my body's a slave to the riff/beat. - Sean Adams
RADIO ONE STAGE
Little did DiS expect, walking into the Sesh Tent for Bloc Party, to emerge beaming and glowing and swelling with glee. Bloc Party have been gathering momentum for a year or so now. Today at approximately 1200 hours, they became the best band of the festival, and arguably one of the best young bands in Britain. A year ago, they were a messy young band with seemingly little in the way of charm or substance. This cynic predicted generous swathes of mediocre nothingness for them; today she heartily eats her words with a nice chianti. They're gorgeous but never self-indulgent; sexy yet not vacuous; jerky and smart and snappy in all their Cure and Gang Of Four-influenced glory, and possessed of the kind of pop savoire-faire that explains why the Session Tent is full to overflow at lunchtime. This band will be fucking HUGE, and deservedly so. - Gen Williams
HAR MAR SUPERSTAR
This guy looks like my dad. So to see a dude possibly only wearing pants (I couldn’t really see) dancing around on stage sounding a little like Prince, while all the while you keep picturing your dad up there, is disturbing. - Sara Lovejoy
Fire on the dance floor. Well at least in this tent. The MC5 are probably the oldest band here (aside from the New York Dolls) yet they can still raise the roof and kick stones at all the try-hards wearing their skinny jeans and fashionable hair. This band aren’t about fashion, they are about getting everyone to Kick Out The Jams (whatever that means) and having a fantastic time doing it. Without a shadow of doubt the best band here this weekend. I even clapped in time. - Sara Lovejoy
What would Lester do? Where would Mister Bangs stand, shaking his ass to this primal boogie-woogie-boogaloo? Lucy from the Bellrays' voice sweeps through the riffs like a falling cathedral tower and when they finally kick out the jams the whole tent could be burning, but there ain't stopping the dancing, singing and air punching. Band of the Weekend? Maybe. Band of the century, quite possibly. - Sean Adams
Dizzee Rascal is the sharpest dude in the world right now. Hip-hop can often be disappointing live indoors, let alone in a field, as knife-edged production is replaced by hamfisted, muddy sound. Not so for Dizzee - his stylised, tongue-twisting vocals sit crystal clear atop a sparse but snappy array of precise beats. Reading audiences can be uncharitable towards acts that stray beyond their usual stratosphere (consider the admittedly odious 50 Cent's bottle-laden reception at Reading this weekend) but Dizzee Rascal has the crowd munching greedily from his palm from start to finish. Much of this has to do with his confidence; not shy of the spotlight, when he discards the beat to carry the show with one solo vocal, he loses none of his pace or style. This boy's a fucking whirlwind. - Gen Williams
DO ME BAD THINGS
Never heard this lot before, but am instantly sucked into their glam pop rock world of doo wop singers, a soul diva and a dashing young gent in a trilby and sequins. And they have tunes too. - Sara Lovejoy
This band oozes cock. Even the doo-wop girls boobs make me think of cock. But cock-rock is where it's at in the Noughties. As they burn effigies of Robbie Williams and spit at the self-imposed bastions of lifeless indiedom, there's a true translucent playground queer glow spinning from the stage. Next stop mainstage, doing a cover of Loveshack, probably. - Sean Adams
REVIEWED BY MATT HOCKING
It’s no secret how bad the melodic tech-metal scene has got over the past year, as it gradually becomes awash with plagiarists searching for a slice of the lucrative teen-angst pie, and in turn making it about as stale and worthless as nu-metal before it. Unfortunately Alexisonfire aren’t exactly making much of an effort to claw themselves out of this bracket, the band coming across about as shallow and talentless as their name suggests.
Allister were pulled no punches, scraping up the remnants of whatever’s been left at the bottom of the emo-pop barrel.
Flogging Molly stir up a passable blend of dance-worthy bagpipe-fuelled punk that owes much to Dropkick Murphy’s similarly rabble-rousing stromp. That said, material previewed from their new album ‘Within A Mile From Home’ does suggest there’s perhaps a little more to this band yet.
The temperature is raised considerably for Avenged Sevenfold. Owing as much to Guns ‘n Roses’ overblown stadium rock prowess as the goth-punk of AFI, these Orange County natives unleash a ferociously tuneful barrage of hits from their ‘Waking The Fallen’ and ‘Sounding The Seventh Trumpet’ albums that encourages a deafening sing-a-long response from the Concrete Jungle crowd, no doubt tempting a much higher billing next time.
COHEED AND CAMBRIA
Coheed And Cambria’s popularity in the underground punk scene is more than evident as the tent remains packed for their searing emo-tinged rock. However, frizzy-haired frontman (and Buzz Osbourne look-a-like) Claudio Sanchez‘s whiny vocals proved a little too annoying for this reviewer, the lure of festival noodles proving a worryingly more enticing proposition.
THE STARTING LINE
Fresh-faced emo kids The Starting Line unfortunately prove just as uninspirational as their earlier Drive Thru labelmates Allister, delivering a breezy, vapid strain of pop-rock with about as much character as the noodles I’d just consumed.
THE BOUNCING SOULS
The Bouncing Souls draw from an impressive fist-pumping arsenal of tunes such as ‘Kate is Great’ and ‘Hopeless Romantic’ that couldn’t fail to have the crowd singing along.
DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN
Taking things to much heavier territory The Dillinger Escape Plan draw the biggest crowd of the day and together with the level of hysteria building up over their latest opus ‘Miss Machine’ they must surely have been one of the most anticipated bands of the weekend – out to prove wrong the jaded cynics who’ve passed them off as a Mike Patton-worshipping tribute act and reaffirm the faith of hardened fans who (rightfully) view them as heavy metal revolutionaries. And although the sound admittedly wasn’t too great there’s no denying the searing power of a song such as ‘Highway Robbery’ or ’43% Burnt’ as the band hurtle through the set with unbelievable intensity.
Rounding the evening off with their chunky stage-storming grooves, A finally prove to the Concrete Jungle throng that when it comes to classic punk rock tunes America doesn’t necessarily rule the stage. Appearing much more comfortable on the smaller stage th'A trailblaze through their set like the homegrown heroes that they are, older numbers such as ‘Foghorn’ literally erupting with a fresh, explosive dynamism that has you wondering where they’ve been for the past year. The crowd respond with a suitably rapturous response and ensure the day is ended on a particularly proud high. Fuckin' A.
It's a mystery how this band manage to sound like an entirely different entity everytime they play. Last time DiS caught Minus, they sounded (and looked) like Iggy Pop fronting White Zombie. Today their stoner riffs are beefed and scuzzed up to the max, but they more resemble Guns 'N' Roses, as they administer a swift balls-out wake-up call to the bleary crowd clustered around the Main Stage this Sunday lunchtime. On the strength of this pedal-to-the-metal, breakneck performance it can only be a matter of time before the rest of the world wakes up to the allure of this noisy lot. - Gen Williams
RADIO ONE STAGE
A year or so ago, the Futureheads sounded like no-hopers, floundering beneath a vast and fundamental lack of identity. Today... can it be that they've gotten worse? Perhaps not. But they've not improved much. There's nothing appealing about their squawky, affectedly disjointed squall. One gets the impression that they feel terribly clever; sadly their self-image and their music seem destined never to meet. - Gen Williams
Despite peaking too early and making it easy for people to bugger off half way through their set, this lot were gorgeous, and made prettier by the holes in the roof of the tent that made the sunshine look like stars. - Sara Lovejoy
The sound man is doing an appalling job. The bass is drowning out the vocals, then the vocals are drowning out the drums. The beautiful plucking guitars are lost somewhere in the breeze, yet the muddle hits me and my heart goes gooey and I'm singing along, and "comets swarm like fireflies, outside your window" and I'm there. Put me in a barrel and shoot me into space. I'm done. I'm spent. And then 'Still In Love Song' (which is about to get re-released) breaks my heart into a trillion pieces and reforms like mercury, like flubber, like worms growing a new tail. The Canadians leave stage right with a tent-full of hearts in their pale hands. - Sean Adams
How easy it is to hate this band. Their artless boasting about their drug habits, singer Dom Masters' affected Cockerneeee drawl, their indisidious desperation to cling to the fallout of the Libertines' success and drama. Yet it would be churlish, not to mention stupid, to ignore one basic fact; they may not sound much like them (thank God), but this band are the closest thing to the Sex Pistols in years. Their sneering arrogance is mirrored by an arsenal of hungry, demanding songs that shake you by the scruff of the neck and mock you with their simplicity. Controversy and bad behaviour seem to be natural bedfellows for them. Most importantly, they've hit upon the ever-elusive x-factor that their young fanbase are seeking. Something in this band is inspirational; behind the noxious facade is a mountain of unshakeable self-belief and true accessibility. This band are the Pied Pipers of London's new breed of rock and roll; when they offer the crowd a brazen challenge to take the stage - "there's two hundred of you, and ten security guards...", their calls are answered by a tide of young bodies that crash, tsunami-like, upon the stage. For every two kids that are brought down by the unsmiling yellow-shirted sentry, there's one that makes it victoriously onstage, standing shoulder to shoulder with their new heroes. Think what you like about The Others; if they can continue to make this kind of impact, it looks like they'll be around for a while. - Gen Williams
The only time I am ever going to venture into the dance tent. Buck 65 brought his casual cowboy rapping genius to this small town, and put a smile back on everyone’s faces. His lambasting of the NME was also extremely amusing. - Sara Lovejoy
A poet and a saint. A pariah, an outcast, an inbetweener, a genius without anyone to give him a diploma. His 'hick-hop' has more warmth than a trillion fart-pop songs, more emotion than every generic chubby haircut so-hot-right-now faker on the scene, is more right than the BNP, and the tent goes bananas. He slanders the NME and we're transported into a new millenia of honesty and art. The crowd won't let him leave. And we're treated to his 'Sex, Cinema, Politics' pastiche of Peaches or Marilyn Manson or some clone of a clone of a fallen icon. And he leaves and the whole festival 'thing' makes sense, but he's a gent amongst thieves, or maybe, as much like Robin Hood, Ché and Marx, as he is Waits, Dylan and Chuck D. - Sean Adams
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