The Reading Report part 3
Saturday 25th. Mid morning. Camp Dis: Brown Camp L.
Today there is very little on, people have been here for 2 days already and in 2 days time they'll be making their way home again, wondering why their bus driver thinks that this was the first Reading Festival and why there wasn't more news coverage of it: Didn't they all know how important this one event was to us?
No, they don't, and by the looks of most of the campers, neither did they. Going to plastic box toilets was no longer the novelty it had been the previous day, food that seemed such a good idea to buy 2 days ago was running out or going off and it was still sunny, burns victims staggered around, sunstroke setting in for the second day, there are no bands to see until after 2pm, hide in tents, the sun is the enemy.
Too much time and effort have gone into being at this festival, the elements will not defeat me. Most of the camp are either hiding, or have disapeared at some early hour (later discovered to have departed to pick up Probemusic papers to hand out to "girls with nice tops" I must make an effort to get to the Main Arena, there are only 2 bands to see today, but I will see more, I must seee more
Oh no, why did I have to pick Dirty Harry as the band to get out of bed for? It's not that they're bad, there are bad bands on today, all worse by far, no it's more a case that Dirty Harry are, less bad, more not good. Having escaped my attention until bus to Reading readings of interviews with the band, oh, sorry, I meant with the lead singer, because she's a girl, and the band name has 'dirty' in it, girl power yey etc
They could have been good, if they didn't look like every other girl singer and a few ugly men playing the instruments type band, and if she didn't speak to the crowd... Talking to the crowd can be very good, it can be very bad, Dirty Harry fall on the wrong side of that line today, I think the novelty of being asked if I was having a good time, and then being told that I was loved (all while being addressed as "Reading!!!")wore off a few days earlier, that's right, before I was here...
There was someone on after Dirty Harry in the Carling tent, I can't quite remember who they were, but like a nightmare I remember only that I had to leave before they were on, some kind of lurking evil I'm of no doubt. Food was searched for.
After the sucess of the previous day's Mexican lunch, or rather not having one and eating some veggie stuff instead, I decided to finaly get around to Mexican for this lunch, so the first objective of Friday was to get something Mexican to eat, I remembered it being great from the previous 2 years, so it would be again this year...
It was. Again it was vegetarian, so my closness to jumping the species barrier towards the sub-human group known only as 'Hippies' was close, but still, it tasted great. 2 bean burgers later and the large Reb Bull sponsered half pipe was spotted next to the Concrete Jungle Tent (the Dance Tent from friday) people were skating and BMXing on it, impressive stunts were being pulled.
Worst introduction of the Festival: OPM by steve Lamacq
"I saw a guy walking to the Evening Session tent wearing a boiler suit earlier, or boiling suit I should say. Not my idea of heaven. Here's a band who have an idea of what heaven's like, OPM!!!" Yes, it really was that bad, I don't know how he manages it, how he had the confidence to tell such a pointless story in order to introduce a one song radio airplay band who spent the whole performance having fun at the realisiation that they could swear, and that, like, people, could, like you know, not tell them to stop, yeah!
Yes they played 'Heaven is a Half Pipe', yes I was watching people skating on a large corperate sponsered half pipe, I couldn't have planned it better if I'd tried, which I wouldn't have, I mean wanting to see OPM.. "this one goes out to those guys busting moves on the half pipe over there" came the amplified call from behind me "Oh god, they're still on, why don't they get it over with and put Texas on next.." came the responce from a skater kid next to me.
OPM, liked by mothers, not by skaters.
Much wandering was partaken upon, all the food places were stored in mind and the search for cool t-shirts was again fruitless, the kebab server was almost troubled for my buisness before I noticed the 2 meals I'd already had that day, and the heat, drinks were needed, at this point 'ice cold' drinks were all £2, when the heat was seen to be set the previous afternoon, some kind of price fixing was agreed upon and all sellers raised by 50p, adverts were again playing on the 30 foot screens, it seemed fair enough
"Trail on dead, Trail of Dead" went up the chant, few noticed various members of the band doing their own soundcheck, having moved to the Main Stage after last year's packed evening Session tent turnout, ..And You Will Know Them By The Trail Of Dead were the first band of the day to see.
Then a circle pit opened up, just as I was trying to take a photo, all other group members having been lost during the day I took it upon myself to document the show, so at that point someone started running in a big circle next to me, thanks. Oh, and then there was the water, paper pints of water being passed, then just thrown into the crowd to attempt to stop dehydrating, and to provide a spectacle, oh, and to get me wet.
The Kids loved it, 2 albums worth of material being played, all the songs you know and love but for the first time only, in the wide open space, just what the OPM crowd thought of it I don't know, I was too busy trying to hold the camera while not beign crushed by hords of moshing thin children, I failed, it was fun.
I liked them better last year, out of the tent most of the sound blead away, leached out by the people not really intrested in watching them, they reached a wider audience, tens of tousands more than they ever could in a tent, but while doing that the effect per person was less, even compred to the great show but too quite sound of last year
I wanted them to be a great first band of the day, they were really the 3rd band I'd seen, but they were the first great one, that was good enough.
Somewhat battered from my run in with a circle pit, somewhat over eaten of prime Mexican food, and somewhat fried by the, even after midday, sun, I decided it was time to head back to camp, see if anyone else was around... note was taken that The Strokes had dropped off a box of t-shirts at one of the merchandising stalls, fangirls would be informed when they were found.
I was back in the tent, Frank Black was on the Main Stage, playing, to my ear at least, mostly Pixies songs "is that frank Black and the Catholics?" "nah, just Frank Black, I think he must have eaten them or something, he's a big lad..."
The next few hours went by in a haze of half heard Main Stage goings on, including Feeder, who after the true horror of Greenday the previous afternoon, again heard from the camp site, were nothing in comparison, not a single time did I announce my intention to snipe down the band, or even launch a morter strike on them...
In some circles that could be taken as a compliment.
Rocket From the Crypt, the headliners to my saturday. I'd been spending the previous few days informing all concerned that they would be one of the best things on all weekend, like Arab Strap the previous day, they would be the true headliners of the day. Trail of Dead "my mum thinks they're a goth band, because they've got 'dead' in their name" finished around 7 hours before RFTC were on, the anticipation made the time somehow evaperate, that and the hour or two trip back to the Main Arena for the purpose of Strokes shirt purchasing, and a '69' RFTC shirt I spotted with jedi mind tricks being utilitaised "we only have XL" "no you don't, you've got large aswell" "yes, yes we do £18 please"
It was dark, good spots were needed for Rocket From the Crypt, they headlined the Concrete Jungle tent, a whole day of rubbish punk/skate/ska type bands, all from California, or something. Reel Big Fish were still playing, I'm sure they announced and played the last song at least 3 times, hoping for some kind of end of gig surge in popularity, the tent was full to overflow and hope of a good spot for RFTC was looking bleak, even with my enhanced height I couldn't see well, probably due to my lack of glasses due to make up "let me put makeup on you... oh, you look like you're dead, it's great"
They finished, the crowd dispersed and locations were chosen for good views, yet far enough away as not to be soaked by water, picture taking was needed, this would be the best band of the festival, pictures had to be taken.
Best Band of the festival: Rocket From the Crypt
It was everything we could have hoped for, everything and more
The sound check went on for ever, chants of "Speedo" started, stoped, then started again, the side of the stage was filling with watchers, and then they arrived. Matching clothes, black shirts and trousers with red glitter cuffs, red glitter sleave stripes, red glitter strips in all the right places
"I was born in '69"
Rocket From The Crypt are a band who recorded a song for a tank battalion in the US Army to play as they drove into Iraq. Rocket From The Crypt are a band who would only sell albums to fans with RFTC tattoos. Rocket From The Crypt are a band who have a song called Dick On A Dog
It doesn't matter, nothing does, only that they are here, so are we. No other bands have ever taken to a stage to play music, no other bands ever will, it's all about now, here, them, and us, in the end it's all the same thing. Songs are played from all eras of the band's 10 year history, large chunks of Group Sounds, one of the albums of the year, despite it's quiet release, old crowd favorites are played, On A Rope is played "I'd like to see you all doing that new dance, the pogo dance, during this next song, and I hope all you crowd surfers know, you look really cool" they play for almost an hour, it still seems like only 10 minutes. The final song is played like it's their last minuite on earth, the stage is vacated and the crowd cheer for more.
It's a festival, you don't do encores at festivals, no one ever does... "they might"
The crowd begins to chant, as if some pagan tribe attempting to invoke a much needed god, but nothing happens, no one knows that they've just given their last hour to rock and roll, to Rocket From The Crypt, it couldn't have been an hour, but it was, in the last words of Speedo "you have been saved. Thankyou"
Post festival record buying will include many Rocket From The Crypt albums this year, headlining in a tent is the best thing most bands can do here. The audience is limited, put after the preaching of Speedo, Arch-Deacon of Rock, none of these people will be the same again.
Crowd surfing associates informed me that The Manic Street Preachers were good, I slept in my new Rocket From The Crypt shirt all night.