Wednesday, 29 August 2007

The Big Reading Review

Be warned Bloggers (or should that be bloggee?? Feel free to discuss), this Reading round up has the potential to be rather lengthy, taking as it does, the form of a diary. Whilst it’s content is more Bridget Jones than Anne Frank, it’s length is more akin to Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time”.

So with the warning out of the way, here goes.


06:30 – Wake up and set off in car with the aim of arriving in a village on the outskirts of Reading in which to park free of charge, with rail access to Reading town centre and near the motorway. Yes this place does exist, naturally, it shall remain nameless.

10:00 – Following the always tedious first walk from the station down to site, we queue…and queue and queue. It does seem surprising that even at the height of arrival/departures, the organisers don’t implement a 2 door policy (one entrance and one exit) as I’m sure this would speed things up dramatically.

11:00 – Two out of three of us lose shoes in the search of somewhere to camp. Most of the site looks like the Dead Marshes, I’m half expecting to see Gollum at any time.

12:30 – Finally secure a spot in Orange (which was supposed to be a car park and as such was full of cow pats). After chatting with our neighbours about the state of the site, we depart in search of the wristband exchange and drink and shoes

12:45 – Discover that the queue for the wristbands is about 100ms long, give up and leave site for the town centre shoes

13:30 – Find shoes and head for the pub (Pavlov’s Dog), pleasant day in the beer garden, all is well apart from the old man (Fred) who sits next to me in the only empty bit of bench and proceeds to tell me his life story.

15:30 – Get bored of drinking and shoot of to the cinema for something to do

18:00 – Stumble upon the fabled Zero Degrees (one of only 3 pubs fronting Meantime micro-brewery, the others being The Union in Greenwich and Zero Degrees in Blackheath, us South East Londoners were overjoyed at this).

19:45 – Full to the hilt of 7% raspberry lager we hunt down food on the way back to site, the Toby Carvery at £5 a plate seems like the best option.

21:00 – Banter round the tents before another attempt to get wristbands, queue is still huge but give it a shot anyway. 20 minutes later we’re locked and loaded, only mine is too tight.

22:30 – Off to bed, we’re all knackered.

Food costs: £5 Toby Carvery.


09:30 – Earlyish start and brave the toilets, bad idea. I’m not one for complaining at festival toilets, in fact the Reading ones are probably the best but they were hosing them down at half-nine in the ruddy morning! The queues were HUGE. When I did make it in there I almost suffered a fate worse than death. As the cubicles back onto each other I hadn’t contemplated the prospect of the power hose cleaning. Without going into to much detail, let’s just say I was about 5 seconds away from a face full of shit!

11:00 – Meet up with others and warn them of the dangers of the toilet only to discover they’ve brought their own port-a-loo.

11:30 – Join the milling crowd by the entrance and grab a bacon roll. Chat with some lassies that have the worst tent location on site. Right by the main entrance to the campsite behind an ice-cream van and in front of a burger van.

11:55 – Finally the gates open and in we go just in time for The Pipettes on the Main Stage who are charmingly listenable, it’s a lovely serene start to the weekend.

12:45 – Ripchord in the Carling are nice also, somewhere between Shed Seven and Oasis. Very retro but not at all bad, certainly an improvement on some of the line-up’s other indie-popsters.

13:15 – Wander over to the Evening Session Tent (sorry, the NME/Radio 1 Tent) and catch the end of the Sounds who are a bit dull especially when they’re followed dramatically by Sparta who for me, are the first real draw of the festival. Just as in 2002, they do not disappoint….At the Drive WHO????

13:45 – Lunch and a meander through the market, try on a Mexican wrestling mask.

15:00 – Go to see Blood Red Shoes (indifferent), it’s packed, have a sudden feeling that everyone will be busying themselves with the small acts in the hope of catching this/next year’s Klaxons/Arctic Monkeys.

15:35 – Get a seat in the Alternative (nee. Comedy) Tent and see half an hour of Tim Minchin who is excellent fun.

16:00 – Walk over to the Lock-up Tent and in the process see the big mass of flesh wobbling over the stage whilst hearing this vile warbling, could only be Gossip.

16:05 – Plain White Ts. The girlfriend’s choice. They are actually pretty competent, tunes are nice enough, bit of the Get-up Kids to them which is never a bad thing. “Hey There Delilah” proves to be the first (and one of the loudest) sing-alongs of the weekend unfortunately the 4 girls behind us were violently out of tune.

16:55 – A nice sit down by the main stage to hear some Jimmy Eat World (I knew more than I thought) “Blood Sweat Sugar” still fondly remembered as a flat favourite in university.

17:15 – Remembering the Blood Red Shoes busyness, we arrive in good time for 1990s who are charming and appear to enjoy every minute of their half hour set. They’re good but I leave still not sure whether I’ll buy the record or not.

18:05 – Fight our way into the NME Tent for Get Cape Wear Cape Fly who seem blown away by the 15,000 strong crowd. Sam Duckworth asks “Who saw us in the Carling Tent last year?” pretty much everyone cheers. Liars, we actually did see him last year from our fold-away stools outside a half-empty Carling Tent. He was good then, he was exquisite today.

18:55 – Scrum to get out of the tent made worse by the neon army arriving for Enter Shikari, I start a rumour at they are “only for gays” some take this in good spirit, some look pissed off, others look embarrassed, have I inadvertently outed them???

19:05 – Interpol on the Main Stage do exactly what they say on the tin. Proficient and short on interaction, they trounce through nearly an hour on first class post-Joy Division minimalism split almost evenly from the 3 albums including (most-pleasingly) “PDA” from “….Bright Lights”. No “Stella is a Diver…” would be my only complaint.

20:00 – We head to the Carling (with beer and curly fries) to camp down for a few hours. It’s time for South London to take over! Jack Penate who dances like a spaz and sings like an angel is followed by Patrick Wolf who is spell-binding and is by far one of the stand out performances of the Festival and takes the EGNTS Best of the Day award.

22:30 – Albert Hammond or Ash? Albert Hammond or Ash? That was the dilemma of the day. After plumping for Ash, I can’t believe it was in doubt, this was my ninth, that’s right NINTH time seeing Ash and they were ace! Nothing from Nu-clear Sounds, only one from Free All Angels, Charlotte Hatherley might as well be dead. The set was hot and fiery although the crowd was not exactly packed. Opening with Lose Control was a stroke of raw genius and the title-track from new album “Twilight of the Innocents” proves an excellent set closer. The encore is brief consisting solely of “Jack Names the Planets” which Tim declares proudly as the last track of their first Reading in 1995. Anything from “Trailer” is greeted with joy by me and crazy I go, fist pumping the lot!

23:30 – Head over to the Alternative Stage to catch some of the Dirty Sanchez live show. I see a man put his knob in a guitar and 2 other guys stick drumsticks up their bums. We last 10 minutes before leaving to explore the desolate site. Due to the campfires there’s a strange mist decending on the arena and the 500 or so folk trudging around the site looks like something out of Night of the Living Dead. Much coolness.

00:20 – Get into the Lock-Up tent which now takes the form of the cinema tent in preparation for "Borat". Beforehand there’s a bunch of short films one about a guy getting raped, one about the Epping Forest murders. Something for everyone then?!

02:00 After a chucklesome time with "Borat" we decide against watching the UK exclusive of Daywatch (the 2nd part of the Russian “Watch” trilogy) 6 weeks ahead of general release and fire off to bed.

Food Costs: £4 Bacon Roll, £8 Highland Cattle Cheeseburger w/bacon, £4 Curly Fries


10:00 – I wake up and got to the toilets, this time I'm 1000 times more cautious than on Friday.

11:30 attempt to get into the carvery’s all you can eat for £5 breakfast, needless to say, the queue is massive and we give up and walk down by the Thames and along into Caversham where we find a filling full breakfast in an air-conditioned cafĂ© overlooking the rowing club.

12:00 - We head in for the Alternative Stage where we have been promised a Q&A with the NME. SO MANY QUESTIONS! Finally, McNicholas faces his angry disillusioned public....although, he doesn't. Nobody does. Some faceless arse from the mag turns up to host a Q&A with We Are Scientists instead. WNME wusses out. In spite of this, WAS are very funny answering a range of questions from "What's you're favourite biscuit?" to "What's up with the cats on the album sleeve?". It passes half an hour.

12:45 – Head in and watch Breaks who rock like bastards and make me regret the fact that neither British Sea Power (albeit Eamon-less), The Tenderfoot nor Electric Soft Parade were asked to play on this day of shitty headliners.

13:30 It is HOT. We find shelter in the Lock-up which continues to act as the festival’s Room of Requirement and changes form today into the Dance Stage where we watch some (in fact my only slice of) New Rave in the form of Does It Offend, Yeah? Who are just a bit dull despite being quite energetic.

14:!5 Girlfriend drags me to Good Shoes, I leave after 2 songs as it’s God-awful and return to the Dance Tent for Scroobius Pip vs. Dan Le Sac. Busy due to the internet success of “Thou Shalt Always Kill”. A solid show is well received, the aforementioned track brings the house down just as we exit for The Shins.

15:05 Main Stage with The Shins is fun. They’re pleasant, full of joy and go down well in front of a crowd far too large for the intimacy of the records. In spite of this, they cope admirably. I concoct an Arabic Keffiyeh out of my bucket hat and a counterfeit tshirt. It works well.

16:10 With nothing better to do, I stick around for Angels and Airwaves…yawn. This is the worst thing I see all weekend. Tom DeLonge as clearly lost it and produces 45 minutes of sub-U2 solos and bland chat. He gets royally bottled and spends the last 5 minutes justifying why he shouldn't be bottled and how this is his life now, not Blink 182. Who fucking cares??

17:05 – Gap. Head to the Alternative Stage as it’s the only shaded area left. We sit for an hour and chill.

18:10 – Head off to Bloc Party. Having watched them in 2004 opening the NME Tent, I was feeling rather emotional as we awaited their arrival. I was not disappointed. They gave everything. The large crowd (although tepid) enjoyed it massively and set closer “Helicopter” gets everyone moving. Kele and Russell met at Reading and as he said “If it wasn’t for Reading there would be no Bloc Party”. Personally, the way this year was going I was starting to feel that if it wasn’t for Bloc Party, there’d be no Reading.

19:45 – Early start for the 2nd last act due to RHCP demanding a 2 hour headline slot, cunts. This doesn’t bother Arcade Fire who destroy all in their path, strolling with ease to the fictitious Band of the Day award. Performing perfectly in the same set as their Neon Bible tour, they render all other music obsolete. “Antichrist Television Blues” is sickeningly breathless and leaves Win Butler panting like an animal, “Rebellion/lies” renders me close to tears with it’s prophetic and angst-ridden glory and “Wake up” leaves us all hoarse. There are no headliners worth watching, who cares

21:00 – My memory (and timetable) remind me that due to RHCP being baby-raping wank-rags, I can catch pretty much all of the !!! set. They are great, I think, although after Arcade Fire, they seem like a poor choice, Nic Offer looks and dances like Napoleon Dynamite and gets an ample crowd dancing like maniacs. Credit to them, they make music to dance to. You just can’t help yourself!

22:00 – I catch the last 10 minutes of We Are Scientists who from earlier seem like nice guys who I really want to like but I just find immensely dull. Shame.

22:35 – With no headliner as such, we retire to the Alternative Stage which now hosts an Audio-Visual show care of Transgressive Records, having missed Absentee (who we saw at Field Day 2 weeks back) and Battle (who clashed with Arcade Fire) we arrive perfectly in time to see Jeremy Warmsley. He’s a nice chap and a small crowd enjoy the live visual of a girl flower arranging on stage and a couple playing suicide chess. Engaging show, soulful tune age. I retire head back to the camp site a happy man.

23:15 – I contemplate the Silent Disco until I realise I’d look like a twat and instead share some vodka and chat with the lads in the tend next to us. Fun.

Food Costs: £6 Cooked Brekky, £5 Chicken Mushroom and Swiss Cheese Pie, £5 Cheeseburger.


08:00 – Early rise again! This time to disassemble the tents and get packed away. This is done remarkably swiftly.

10:00 – Arrive at Reading station and partake in a Subway mega breakfast roll. Tasty.

10:30 Arrive at secret parking location where a local resident commended our ingenuity. We drop off the tent and bags and return to Reading.

11:30 Arrive back at site where the gate are already open…as they should be!

12:00 – Gym Class Heroes by the main stage are alright. They do the hits. By which I mean “Take a Look at my Girlfriend” which I’m familiar with more from its use on Sky’s Soccer AM than I am from knowledge of rap. Still it’s a chilled start to they day.

12:45 – Dilemma #1: Pull Tiger Tail (EGNTS’s friends of friends) or I was a Cub Scout, the dreamlike electro-acoustic pairing. I plump for Pull Tiger Tail out of blind loyalty. They rock ass and rip through a meteoric set. The last time I saw them live, they were in a venue half the size of the NME Stage they were inhabiting today. Deep!

13:20 – I meet up with the girlfriend who had gone for Cub Scout. They had sound problems and we’re diluted by the noise from the Main Stage which had been plaguing the Carling Stage’s new location all weekend. The noise at this time was coming from Hello/Goodbye, who competently execute an extended set (due to +44’s absence). I get the feeling that this would go over a lot better in the States and their album's #13 in the Billboard 200 Chart suggests that this may in fact be true.

13:35 – We now have shit-all to do until The Maccabees at 4pm. We get some lunch and head for the back of NME Stage where we get shade from the sun and an earful of New Young Pony Club. They are poor. Unfortunately, what started life an quite an interesting project has hurtled through the record industry mill into some seedy underage sex show. The band all seem uncomfortable and this plying of sex as opposed to music but still Tahita Bulmer continues to demand that the crowd “all get off with the person next to them”. Classy.

15:00 – With nothing better to do we stand around and imbue milkshakes and Strongbow and have a natter for an hour. Sunday was needing something to kick it into shape otherwise today was bordering on becoming a damp-squib.

16:05 – YEAH! Damp squib averted. A healthy crowd are in attendance for The Maccabees. Having been dragged to see them in the Carling last year, I was far more willing to go this time. They get the whole place jumping, youthful faces seem overjoyed as they tear through almost all of their excellent debut album “Colour It In” culminating in an impassioned rendition of “Lego”.

16:50 – After one good showing in the NME Tent, another follows it immediately in the form of Cold War Kids. Another 2007 breakthrough act popular with all at EGNTS Towers, they open bravely with “We Used to Vacation” which is hardly a get-up-and-go track it manages to captivate the entire audience. Vocally, Nathan Willet’s range is as good (if not better) than on record, he leads his band through the album and brings things perfectly to the boil as he screams “Hang Me Up to Dry” through gritted teeth. This has been special and we leave keen to acquire tickets to the Bush Empire show in November.

17:30 – We head to the Carling Tent where we see the bulk of the Maps set. This is electronica at its most tentative and humble. The majority of crowd are uninterested, they are awaiting Kate Nash. Those of us that do appreciate the intricacies of beautifully crafted dots and loop sequences are mesmerised as James Chapman performs his still embryonic live show.

18:30 – Kate Nash takes to the stage 10 minutes late. The tent is rammed. Most people in there are 18 at most and are screaming of Ms. Nash to justify their existence and quantify how they feel about boys and stuff. Her debut record “Made of Bricks” is quite lovely, her live show is blandness personified. She opens well enough with certain single “Mariella” before announcing her intentions to play “Birds”, her mic is far too quiet and the restless, excitable crowd seem to throw her. Fans start climbing the supports to get a better view. Of course, bottles are thrown in an attempt to dislodge the plucky scramblers. Nash looks helplessly at stage right and someone comes out and demands that everyone gets down. To be honest, this was the highlight of the set. “Birds” much like “Foundations” much like “Merry Happy” go down well but really shouldn’t have. Tedious. What is worse, despite having a full album and other bits and bobs in her arsenal, she still finishes early. She is on stage for 17 minutes out of the 35 she has been allotted. Total shambles, to think I missed Devendra Banhart for this.

19:00 – We then join the masses who cross from Carling and Nash to NME and Jamie T. He plays to the biggest crowd of the weekend in the festivals second stage. Full, competent and unashamedly brash he skiffles his way through an hour long set enjoyed by all.

20:00 – I prepare to exit for a final wander and a trip to see Gallows, this is put on hold as the 15,000+ crowd all attempt to exit. There’s a huge crush at which the feckless wanker stewards at Oxfam do nothing (in fact, they have done nothing about anything all weekend). A steel fence being a burger van starts to collapse and is smacking off a propane tank. The owner of the burger van is trying valiantly to avert potential disaster. Oxfam stewards still do nothing. I retire to the safety of the tent where we await CSS. They are just a bit “meh”.

20:30 – After 10 minutes of bland Brazilian dance-pop, I leave and run for the Lock-up and for Gallows. This is the best decision of my life. Watching Gallows is like watching the end of days unfold in front of you. Franks Carter is angry, he’s upset and he’s downright mental! 5 minutes after I get in, he announces that this show is such a benchmark for the band he’s going to get a tattoo on stage. He does! Chad from New Found Glory who Frank announces “have looked after us all summer” (on the Warped Tour) proceeds to ink Carter in front of the most passionate and rabid crowd of the weekend. Musically on record, Gallows are not really my cup of tea, bit too scream and shout. Live they are somehow different, they are heavy beyond metal. They sound like the angry bastard children of The Dead Kennedys and Max Cavalera. Carter proceeds to join the audience during the blood-curdling concluder “Orchestra of Wolves”. He then climbs the central rigging in the middle of the crowd and gets maybe 15-20 metres up before joining in the final chorus. He has no mic yet is still audible over the thumping band. He jumps….there’s a gasp and then he emerges, carried forward to the stage. This is how all bands should be. I leave a shaking wreck. I have no idea what I’ve just seen. Was this the greatest thing I’ve seen this weekend or was this the greatest thing I’ve seen my entire life. Band of the Day without the tiniest doubt in my mind.

21:30 – We catch about 20 minutes of Peter John and Bjorn over in the Carling who sound as charmingly Swedish as always. Bless them. I fear for the sound in there once the Smashing Pumpkins kick in.

22:05 – Later, Billy Corgan and gang take to the stage and a stylised fantasia exposes itself in front of a large crowd. The new material goes down reasonably well but it’s not until the third song of the night when the opening riff of “Today” sends the crowd into raptures. Corgan, looking rather like Lord Voldemort remains quite whilst his smoking hot new bassist pouts for the entire set. All the hits come out including little acoustic rendition of “1979”. 3 before the close, he launches into “Tonight Tonight”. This is a moment I have been waiting 8 years for. At last, this chapter can close.

23:30 – I leave happy with “That’s The Way” ringing in the background. ON the way out of the site I hear “Cherub Rock” fire up as Corgan salutes Reading Council with a big Fuck You to the curfew.

03:00 – After a short train ride and a speedy trip round the M25, we arrive back home. I’m beaten, I need sleep, a shower and about 2 hours on my laptop to write up the festival.

Food Costs: £6 Highland Burger, £9.50 Shitty Cheeseburger and Curly Fires.

And so ends my Reading 2007. Congratulations if you made it to the end! I promise my next post will be shorter!

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