As a whole, Saturday’s line-up fairs much better. So eager to make full use of their twenty minute slot are Saturday’s Carling Stage openers, The Race, that when finishing their set two minutes early, they play half a song to take them up to their allotted limit. They had this time left over despite singer Dan Buchanan’s scaffold-climbing action. They go a long way to showing the organisers that Reading deserved an unsigned stage just as much as Leeds.
With similar enthusiasm, Aiden, the horror goth sandwich filling of this weekend, opened up the Main Stage. The uninitiated have had fear for the overweight emo squealing and hollering over a barking backdrop of his uncontrollable flatulence but the sad truth is that this is the next big thing. But talking of arse…
It's official, Annie Hardy is a dirty bitch. Under normal circumstances, you'd have to pay to hear this kind of stuff, but as we're watching Giant Drag do their excellent, post-grunge thing on the Radio 1 Stage we get her lewd stage banter for free. Hymens? Anal hymens?! We sincerely hope there's no kids in here.
The baby-faced Orlando Weeks played Leeds yesterday, apparently; but this doesn’t stop The Maccabees from sounding as fresh as he looks. Songs are dispensed with a smile and enthusiasm neatly at odds with the Englishness of a stand-out set. Really, the sheer charm and chemistry of it all.
It’s a shame the same cannot be said for Serena Maneesh, who disappear in the midst of their own snowstorm; the dizzy swagger of their self-titled album lost to the thickness of a muddy PA. Robbed of the subtlety afforded to them by warm studio walls their noise-rock is, as one acquaintance puts it, "just ridiculously stupid".
Having been told by all and sundry that they're just a poor man's Led Zep, which doesn't suggest they're that bad, when you think about it, we were beginning to doubt Wolfmother. How foolish. What they do might not be original but my god it rocks. Their worn-in brand of heavy metal on is ideal afternoon Main Stage fodder.
Most surreal experience of the festival? Scaramanga Six's closing number which sees four auxiliary sticksmen pounding the life out of makeshift drums at the side of the stage? Not that the rest of their set is normal: think Queen covering Metallica, if you can.
|The Bled: yelpy|
The Bled are tight enough as a band but those yelpy hardcore vocals can, will and indeed does get awfully annoying but I guess most of the kids in the Lockup Stage are used to everything either sounding the same or being thoroughly annoyed by an emo. Someone call the Daily Mail.
Another who that newspaper might not fully appreciate is Plan B. His ‘so true’ acoustic raps are widely valued in the packed Tiscali Tent as he mulls over the dangers of Harvey Nicks and the problems with the kids of today using stark imagery and gentle riffs that are already all too familiar.
Though their last couple of singles have been murdered by big-money no-clues production, we're delighted to find that Milburn still know how to put on a live show. Lots of energy, lots of tunes and an army of smiling, sweaty devotees remind us they're not just riding the Monkeys' coattails.
The Futureheads: tight
as a gnat's arse
After The Cribs are completely swallowed by the enormity of the Main Stage, The Futureheads dazzle the crowds with cuts largely from their trailblazing debut album. One man was caught proudly noting several times that the four-piece were “tighter than a gnat’s arse”. It’s true.
Jet are also a tight band. Sadly they’re also shit. Because the Tiscali Sessions were being filmed you could only leave between songs. That means when one slightly traumatised DiS reviewer decided he wanted out after 15 seconds he had to endure another three minutes. Some scars will never heal.
be your own PET, truth be told, only have a handful of really memorable songs and here, they don’t match up to their recorded counterparts, even if their wickedly brattish holler is louder when they strut it in front of you.
Goodbooks are really bloody good. They have an immediately very likeable sound, a fashion of very punchy bass, complementary keys and a very high, clean vocal. Enhanced by their polished manner and fantastic melodies these are the sort of songs that upon a second hearing you would just know that you’ve heard them somewhere before.
|Dirty, Pretty, Broken Things|
Dirty Pretty Things’ attempt to strut their stuff fails as Carl Barat’s injury leaves The Paddingtons’ Josh Hubbard filling in his guitar parts, but their fifty minute set is cut cruelly short after just thirty-five when they seem to run out of decent material and walk off. A large question mark still hangs above the quality of the songs though. It will remain unanswered if rumours of The Libertines reforming are as true as everyone hopes.
How often does this happen? You look forward to seeing a band for bloody ages, tell all your mates about how great they are and when it comes to the crunch... they let you down. The Spinto Band are good, but this isn't the immaculate Carling Stage performance we were hoping for.
Alexisonfire: get a
bucket of sand
A surprise festival highlight is brought in the form of Napoleon IIIrd. Enhanced by a ten-piece backing band a crowd of fifty grows more than tenfold as Napoleon entices those milling around the Unsigned stage with their catchy mix of pop, folk and ska. Saccharine chant-along euphoria with balls of brass.
Time for some, well needed, therapy-style word association:
Turgid emo shit? Alexisonfire.
Pre-pubescent musical cancer? Alexisonfire.
Horrible, overrated crap with a horrible aftertaste? Carling. I mean, Alexisonfire.
Like anyone with self-respect, DiS stayed well away from Hawthorne Heights’ forty minute set. However, somewhere in the distance the sound of thousands of 14-year-old girls’ hymens ripping could be heard as, too young to realise what was wrong, they were unknowingly fucked over.
Sometimes it seems people take comedy a little too seriously. After a Canadian Bill Hicks clone receives a standing ovation, Rob Deering plays to a silence only broken by a single “fuck you”. Sure he may not be the edgiest comedian, but his light-hearted mocking of music and religion is so cringeworthingly bad its actually superb.
not for grebos
It’s a depressing site; a half-full venue witnessing one of todays most thrilling live acts after one of the most overhyped (The View) pack it to the brim, but TV On The Radio show no signs of disappointment, launching the biting disco-rock of ‘Wolf Like Me’. Everyone’s dreams need to be this fuzzed up with the hiss of feedback swirling atop bourbon-soul like some kinda Sonic Youth with afro-beards. 'Staring at the Sun' should have been your anthem for your roadtrip back to your bedroom bohemia.
“Do you trust me Reading? I need you to trust me! Go Low! Go Low!” What reason has anyone got to trust Mike Skinner? Especially if you’re a teenage grebo who’s only here because Muse are on later? One friend of mine defies Skinner and is promptly pelted with ‘food’ and other detritus before he is cowed into joining in with what Skinner reckons is a ‘beautiful thing’. The Streets go rock! No.
It’s Arctic Monkeys’ last gig of the year and in Leeds its something of a homecoming, making this an even bigger pull than the headliners. Winning over the main stage was never going to be difficult though and their hit-packed set sees not just the largest crowd of the weekend but also the most vocal. Where can they go from here? Give it six months and nobody will care about the unflashiest flash in the pan we’ve ever seen.
DiS is persuaded to see Anti-Flag and is immediately back in 2002 when ‘Die For Your Government’ soundtracked a riotous weekend. AF close with this song as punters stage-dive from the central pillar, before security reclaim said pillar and are bottled by mohawked bombardiers. Cue bald Glaswegian scumbags failing to see the funny side.
High octane versions of album tracks kick things off before an inspired crop of covers brings the house down. The Raconteurs are as tight as we'd hoped, as good as we expected, and a far more exciting live proposition than the 'Stripes.
Not many bands can turn a gumbo of eastern-influenced acid folk, electronica and tribal chanting into a sing-along, but Animal Collective aren’t many bands. They’re Animal Collective, and in ‘Purple Bottle’, amongst others, somewhere under the bucketloads of bass and transmogrifying time-changes the (collective) brain of a genius is frying.
Matt Bellamy sure does
love his rock poses
Elsewhere... “This isn't Animal Collective,” is the first thought that springs to one DiS writer's disoriented mind after they sit their weary selves down at the back of what they believe to be the Carling Stage. Before too long, they realise two more things: 1) they're definitely in the wrong tent; 2) Archie Bronson Outfit are rocking so hard they don't want to move.
So they don’t. When the kitten got the milk they were never meant to get a white russian sprinkled with nutmeg but in 'TNGIAM' we're treated to a piece of rock history. Once again Youthmovies with their heavier-than-Slayer stop-starts and Turkish Delight-filled moments in the Cabaret Tent proves a highlight and an abyssful escape from the overcrowding and meh-tal.
You’d have thought Muse would make the stage on time. Perhaps an ultra-dull Feeder set sent them into a coma. There may not have been a lightning storm when the Devonshire trio finally take to the stage fifteen minutes late but instead they blow Reading apart with their space-prog super-rock. Mad professor Matt Bellamy fills the stage by simply being there and loving his drop-D riffs and rock star poses more than his own mother.
During a set perfectly balanced between songs old and new, the set’s highlight is the jelly-legging, ear-fucking of 'Showbiz' which hits like a beautiful heart attack of a cake that just keeps on rising. For many, this is merely the start of the weekend.
Photos courtesy of Chris Harris, Ben Jones and Gary Wolstenholme.