Affectionately known as "the rock day" (devil horn hands optional), day 3 of Reading Festival (Day 1 of Leeds) perhaps offers the least excitement of the weekend band-wise. With news filtering through of Slipknot's cancellation, the most anticipated bands are now glitch-punks Crystal Castles and Pennine crossing revivalists The Last Shadow Puppets.
Arriving too late for the now lovely looking Yeasayer, Adam Green, Cajun Dance Party triple header, we are treated instead to Dev Hynes ten millionth festival set under his Lightspeed Champion guise. Clocking up his eighth appearance for this reviewer in less than 12 months, I am nearly as bored by the set as Hynes himself looks. It’s a shame ‘Falling Off The Lavender Bridge’ has been toured into the ground as songs like ‘Dry Lips’ and the epic ‘Midnight Surprise’ still charm and delight in equal measures.
Far worse however are Hadouken! Whilst under no illusions as to Hadouken's musical and intellectual limitations, the affected turd of a set they turn in still manages to shock. With a mass of neon-clad half-wits to play to and only a handful of recognisable tunes, the energy levels and fun factor should be considerably higher than what James Smith and co. manage to deliver.
Slipping through the mud towards the dance tent - helpfully moved from its position of many years - we head towards the dark lights of Crystal Castles. Wading salmon-like through a dearth of Lethal Bizzle fans all emerging sweaty from another round of Skins approved middle-class hip hop is a challenge, with the ground a swampy brown mess. As Bizzle finishes with an energetic "Pow!" one crowd of teenagers is replaced with another. Crystal Castles take to the stage amidst a smog of dry ice and screams. Their sound will be familiar by now but it is no less abrasive and powerful 18 months into a touring schedule. If anything they have improved their live show immeasurably, coming off as loud and shiny as anyone gracing the main stage this afternoon. Starting with a remix of ‘Atlantis To Interzone’ the Castles M.O is soon established; Ethan Kath sulks in the background hunched over a black box of tricks while Alice Glass rips and pierces the barriers with her shrieks and shouts. The beats rain down fast and hard, seriously hard and the crowd gets more and more hyped. By now Glass had climbed every drum riser, amplifier, and barrier available, with light in hand and vocoder aplenty ‘Crimewave’ is a weekend highlight. Finishing the set in the crowd Glass leaves those gathered today under no illusions- they just saw the most punk dance act out there.
The Last Shadow Puppets really couldn’t lose this one. All Alex Turner and his best mate Miles Kane had to do was come on stage, start the infamous ‘Yorkshire’ chant and leave. However they have a number one, Mercury nominated album to play and that they do with mixed results. It’s somewhat the elephant in the room but let's face it, LSP are Alex Turner's vanity project and Kane is a very lucky coat tail rider. However Alex Turner has a certain magic about him and is a fine song writer so half of tonight’s set, like the ‘Age Of The Understatement’ album whistles and fizzes along nicely. Backed by James Ford on drums and a 16-piece orchestra, the atmosphere is lifted to ‘event’ status. Decked out in their full 60’s Sunday best they both cut a cool shadow - Turner in his first suit and Kane in a turtle neck. However, the single version of ‘Age Of The Understatement’ is perhaps thrown away too early, as the set rarely reaches the highs showcased in it's galloping rhythms. By the end we are left wanting a bit more, six good songs does not a good festival band make.
The Kills however have a bulging back catalogue to dip into for headline sets like this. With the metal heads watching Metallica getting balder by the second, pilled up kids watching CSS and the lairy lager lads hugging each other to The Cribs a small few gather for The Kills. The media furore over Jamie Hince's girlfriend has overshadowed 2008 for The Kills, as they have released one of the years best LP’s in ‘Midnight Boom’.‘U.R A. Fever’, ‘Last Day Of Magic’ and the delightful ‘Cheap and Cheerful’ get an airing tonight, however we are also reminded just how many other good songs The Kills have. The slutty riffs of ‘Fried My Little Brains’ clash perfectly with the hyped up ‘No Wow’ which in turn purrs tenderly at ‘Pull A U’. Playing a greatest hits set, Alison Mosshart and Hince lap up the crowds applause and get more and more intense as the night progresses. As the set ends we walk downfield for fireworks courtesy of Hetfield, Ulrich and Hammett having just witnessed all the real explosions in the festivals smallest tent.