26 -28 August 2016
A weekend at Reading can leave you reading from the scale and quality of the acts on offer but fear not Alan Ewart rounds up his favourites from the emerging talent on show and picks out his personal highlights.
This years Reading Festival was simply the best I have seen and enjoyed the best lineup of the 15 festivals I have taken in this year. Of course with so much on offer it is impossible to catch all of your favourite bands. To me Reading offers a great opportunity to discover bands that are either under the radar or just peaking above the horizon. For a music writer this is where the gold is hidden. Sometimes you catch a buzz from the kids on site, at other times you catch a band that you have been meaning to see for a while, occasionally you catch a newcomer that simply blows you away. Over this past weekend I enjoyed a little of each and caught some amazing breaking acts.
I could wax lyrical all day about the great bands I caught but in an effort to spare you from that the following represents a snapshot of a handful of bands who really caught my imagination.
Greywind are centered around siblings Paul and Steph O’Sullivan from Killarney in Ireland. Make no mistake these guys are the real deal. Snapped up by Universal and Raw Power management after releasing their debut single on YouTube Greywind can certainly be categorised as an “overnight” success. Admittedly they definitely had a stroke of luck but they have made their luck through sheer talent. To understand this band you have to see them live, the sheer intensity and power of their performance is a joy to behold. As a band they have only played a handful of shows since recruiting a full lineup. Steph is simply spellbinding as a performance, her stage presence nothing short of mercurial.
As she cavorts around the stage, backed by an excellent band, the energy pulses from her, she is spellbinding. Greywind deliver edgy pop-punk with aplomb. Well written songs held together by the driving guitar and thumping bass typical of the genre are the staple but there is plenty of tenderness in the sound too. It is hard to believe that these guys are in their infancy as a band. Greywind issue their debut album “afterthoughts” on October 21st, you can be assured I will be first in the queue. Put simply Greywind are the most exciting new band I have seen for years.
Muncie Girls are a three piece punk outfit from Exeter. Fronted by bassist and vocalist Lande Hekt, Muncie Girls songs are full of understated social commentary. The PR blurb will tell you that Muncie Girls are “fuelled by discontent and anxiety, they eloquently address issues of modern living as a self-aware young adult. The result is an ambitious and poignant rebellion against social norms that touches on everything from politics to interpersonal relationships.”
The funny thing is that that blurb sums up their musical approach perfectly. The BBC introducing stage at Reading is situated at the entrance to the main stage field and as such often attracts an audience that sticks around for a few minutes and then wanders off to see someone else. This was certainly not the case with Muncie Girls, those who were there at the beginning stayed until the end and the crowd swelled considerably as their set progressed. It’s not hard to see why. When Muncie Girls start to play you know its going to be a great set but the songs have a way of slowly seeping into your psyche, even when they are totally new to you. In my book that shows a talent that should lead to a strong career.
Muncie Girls debut album “From Caplan To Belsize” was released back in March and is available from the usual outlets.
I caught Trash Boat a few weeks ago at Southampton’s Joiners music venue. As you can see here I was impressed. That said their performance at Reading was in a totally different league. A larger stage, a bigger crowd, the energy in the crowd and onstage all served to elevate this performance to a cut above the norm.
It’s fair to say that Trash Boat singer Tobi Duncan’s vocals in places tends towards the “dirty” end of the vocal range so a bit of exposure to their music between Southampton and Reading bred more familiarity with their songs and hence I enjoyed the set more. One of the outstanding elements of Trash Boat’s performance is their sheer exuberance onstage and the connection they have with their fans. For fans with even a passing interest in the punk and pop-punk scene Trash Boat are well worth your attention, both live and on disc. An excellent band with an ever growing army of fans.
Trash Boats debut album “Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Trough” was released back in June on Hopeless Records. The album has been produced by The Wonder Years‘ Dan “Soupy” Campbell, who also features on the song ‘Strangers’.
Roam are another pop-punk outfit who hail from Eastbourne and make no mistake they are nothing short of a powerhouse. It sometime seemed that lead vocalist Alex Costello spent more time in the crowd than her did on stage. He was crowd surfing, he was at the centre of an insane circle pit and a frequent visitor to the top of the safety barrier.
There is a real connection with the crowd who simply lapped up the energy and the onstage antics. There is no doubt that fans identify with Roam’s songs, you can feel the angst in the room as they stormed through their set. They may hail from darkest Sussex but Roam very much reminded me of the American pop-punk outfits like All Time Low and Fall Out Boy, they play punk but to me, at least on first listen, they have that sort of “West Coast” feel to their music and it adds to their appeal in many ways.
After dropping a brace of self-released EP’s Roam have signed to Hopeless Records and released a third EP “Viewpoint” and in January released their debut album “Backbone.” They are out on tour in November and are another band well worth seeing live. Check them out.
Black Foxxes have been around for a couple of years now. They have played the smaller stages at both Reading and Download but their growing popularity saw them open the enormous NME/Radio 1 stage on Sunday. Anyone who saw their performance would surely agree that Black Foxxes looked like they were born to the bigger stage. They may be a three-piece but like Motorhead in their pomp they seem to fill the stage.
Black Foxxes are renowned as a band who like to play it loud but the first couple of songs were actually pretty gentle by their standards, it was a ruse to keep us guessing. As the set progressed they became more intense before reaching an almost ear-splitting crescendo for the last few songs. It was a mighty polished performance from a band who are gaining a huge and growing number of fans.
Black Foxxes are now on Spinefarm Records and they released their debut album on August 19th. It is available from all the usual outlets and is a great listen.
We keep hearing that the music industry in the UK is dying, no one wants to go out to see gigs and that music with guitars has gone out of fashion. Reading exposed this for the crock of bullshit that it is. There are dozens, if not hundreds of top class, hungry young British bands emerging who need the support of the record buying public. They are there and they are not hard to find with a few clicks of your mouse.
The one thing that is apparent from seeing these young bands is that, just like in the mid 70’s kids are pissed off. They are pissed off by politics and pissed off with being fed a diet of banality by leeches like Simon Cowell. Just like the mid 70’s the kids are revolting and they are turning to bands like those above who are prepared to speak out and to speak for them. they almost made me feel like I too was 16 or 17-years-old again.