the Reading Report, Part 1The Reading Report
Friday 24th. Early morning. Camp Dis: Brown Camp L.
I Am Not A Music Journalist
People have been awake for hours, some haven't slept all night, there are tens of thousands of people here and with this many festival kids around there are always people awake, always people walking past, a true 24 hour party of people. From the inside of a tent it seems that they're all up all night, every single one of them
Early morning for us is 9am
"The Main Arena opens at 12 doesn't it? Good idea to get our wristbands at 10 I reckon." The voice of reason.
"The Arena opens at 10, I'm sure of it, better get there extra early" the other voice.
The Main Arena at Reading opens at 12 miday every day of the festival, it closes at 12 midnight, it always has, licencing laws demand it. Tickets have to be exchanged for wristbands before anyone can get in, so all the weekend campers and day trippers arrive outside the Arena, all waiting for it to open. At 10 it's busy, 11 it's buiser, 12 it's packed... Large shoes enhance my natural height and I can easily see over the hoards of dirty people, all wanting the festival to start than little bit early, just for them.
It's the first day and already it's getting that festival smell, takeaway food carelessly dropped and trampled under foot, damp grass and toilet chemicals, all slowly heating up under the rising temperature provided by the, at first welcome, later dispised sun.
Just after 12 a man with a megaphone begins to shout a droning sentence. People look confused, worried, did they miss something important? Is everything still on?
Minutes later the gates open, whatever was said was good, there are no bands yet playing, most of the food sellers are still warming up their cookers but the people stream in regardless, wanting their festival to begin as soon as possible, the feeling of cheating the work, cheating the boss, cheating death, being alive and excited for the weekend to come.
It's friday, it's sunny, and 50 thousand dads, sons and daughters are counting down the seconds untill they see the best live band of their lives, have the most to drink/smoke/swallow that they've ever had, make the best friends they've ever known and later, end up lost, wandering everywhere among the thickening campfire smoke and slightly threatening groups of drunken campers, still looking for a tent in Brown Camp L.
"Reading is all in the Mind" all the bands are rubbish, the sound's terrible, you always miss the bands you want to see, the toilets stink, plus you've spent (at least) £80 on a ticket, foot and travel expenses soon begin to mount up, this isn't the way to enjoy music, no, it's the way to enjoy a festival, Reading Festival.
The first band begins on the Main Stage, one of the 5 bands I want to see all weekend is The Donnas. You already know about them don't you? That's right, a girl band, ha ha. I was later told that there was another all girl band on that weekend, only one other and The Donnas were the only one on the main stage. I also later heard that PJ Harvey was good on the Main Stage, but this was to be related to me via the medium of a description of what she was wearing, rather then the insightful musical/social commentary that she provided
The Donnas provided insightful musical/social commentary: they had to they're a rock group and they're girls, in that order. The music is about sex, drugs and rock and roll, and they're girls, they write all their own material, and they're girls. Until there are more bands like them, as good as them, as normal as them, they'll still be to most people, just the band of girls
They Rocked Reading, finishing before 1pm announcing: "good night Reading" and it was, as they, for me, were both the first and the last band on the Main Stage that day. Things had to be attended to, food to be located and sun to be escaped from.
The Mexican food place hadn't started serving yet, the next-door place did veggie burgers and curried chick peas, this seemed an acceptable alternative, it was starting to get very sunny, even from the cover of sunglasses and green netting desert style headscarf, the drinks were still only £1.50, so some were purchased without a thought for later toilet cleanliness.
Must... escape... sun... The Comedy Tent loomed large, we'd somehow crossed the whole Main Arena in a sun fearing retreat, and after avoiding stilt walkers in suits we found refuge in said Comedy Tent, the acts thankfully not starting for at least an hour, mabey longer if we were lucky...
A woman was dancing around at the frount of the stage, heatstroke we agreed, trying not to fall asleep from the heat and previous nights drunken lack of rest, the last cigerette had been smoked, the chick peas all eaten/dropped. It was time to move.