Stuffed full of top acts
Foo Fighters - Reading Festival 2012

We’re off to a good start, probably the first Reading Festival where we haven’t arrived to inches of mud throughout, and the wellies can stay put in the tents. Typically know to be a proper “rock” festival, this year the organisers have booked something for everyone ranging from Harlem rapper Azealia Banks to beardy metalers Mastodon. Every touring band of the moment seems to be on the line up and we find ourselves hotfooting it all over the site seeing more than thirty bands over the three days.

First up, and the only band to get us up at 5am to get to Reading and into the arena for their slot before midday, is Future of the Left. Representing the heavier side of the line up, their set centred on recent album ‘The Plot Against Common Sense’ is a fitting wake up call and ending with Mclusky’s ‘Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues’ gets the first circle pit of the festival going. It’s then over to the Festival Republic tent for a few hours to see the best new bands that Reading has to offer. The elusive Palma Violets storm through a quick half hour that goes to justify some of they hype they have been recently getting, but it’s all about Californian surfer punks FIDLAR (Fuck it Dog Life’s A Risk), speeding through ten songs in about twenty minutes. Staying in the Festival Republic tent, Alt-J show how they could easily be much higher up the bill as we struggle to get in to see them.

Back over to the big stages we see The Courteeners pulling in a surprisingly big crowd and showing they’re not just all about swagger; they’ve got some brilliant tunes behind the lad rock tag often bandied around with them. The Cure remind us how many hits they have, they’re on for three hours but still manage to fit in hit after hit, we miss the second half to see The Maccabees with a well deserved headline slot on another stage.

What more could you ask for then? An 11am Green Day gig on the second day to shake off Friday’s hangover? Well that’s what we get, playing ‘Dookie’ and a handful of hits from their other albums, including a new one from the first part of their trilogy of albums. It is going to be hard to top that but Blood Red Shoes followed by Mystery Jets on the main stage are a treat in the sunshine. It’s back over to not get in the Festival Republic stage as Jake Bugg brings his Dylan-esque folk to one of the biggest crowds this tent sees all weekend, maybe he’s celebrating his A-Level results too, right? It quietens out a bit for Dog is Dead but they really do show how far they’ve come on in the last twelve months, with a gospel choir fleshing out their tunes they show how they’re ready to take the crown from Bombay Bicycle Club for shuffling indie folk with some killer harmonies.

Florence and the Machine is the only act during which the weather turns and it pours all the way through. Fittingly though the black sky makes a perfect backdrop for Flo’s voice, but we have to dash across to see The Cribs thrash their way through an hour of lo-fi punk before At the Drive-In thrash through some more! Were they as good as we were hoping for? Maybe for a bit of nostalgia but they weren’t anything to write home about.

Sunday starts with Of Monsters and Men drawing a huge crowd, though many folk are just waiting for ‘Little Talks’, which is huge and is worth the wait. Howler come on next and play a pretty mediocre set before Django Django get the packed tent bopping along to their synthy beats. Tribes then bring their take on grunge to the tent and manage to get hundreds of people on shoulders, good work!

Later we return back to the Festival Republic tent for King Charles who has the tent going off with a set focused on his debut ‘LoveBlood’ and its afrobeat tinged summer sounds. Finishing up our festival is three hours of Dave Grohl with Foo Fighters. Everybody always says it, but isn’t he a nice bloke? And doesn’t he write album after album of hard riffing festival anthems? They omit playing any Nirvana tunes, which had been rumoured before the set, but he doesn’t need to when blasting through tunes like ‘All My Life’ and ‘Monkey Wrench’. We’ve seen silly amounts of bands yet could have seen many, many more if time had permitted. Well done Reading, one of the top line ups of the summer. Now it’s time to go home, eat some proper food and get some sleep.

Words by Paul Melbourne
Photo by Andy Sturmey

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