This weekend is the one that most people (mainly aged from around 16 – 24) will have circled in their diary. The type of people who hold no prisoners when it comes to their band t-shirts and openly appreciate “real music” as they like to call it. Yes, it’s Reading – the titan of all indie / alternative festivals out there. And lord above, this year looks pretty special. Harley Cassidy previews the event.
If you’re an indie kid then unless you’re bed-ridden, overly prudish about sanitary issues or as broke as a crackhead on the second day of the month you’ll be making your annual visit to Reading Festival. Not as heavy as Download nor as mainstream as V or as elephantine as Glasto, Reading has been the shrine for alternative purists since its progressive rock formula in the mid-’70s.
As far as line ups go, Reading is the one. Let’s be honest, any band that would declare themselves a heavyweight in their genre find themselves playing Reading at some point and this year is no exception. Green Day who with Billie Joe’s somewhat puzzling enigma and fistfuls of three chord pop punk bangers declaring domination on this year’s fest whilst they play alongside rap titan Eminem, you wonder if Scotland’s Biffy Clyro can ever possibly play up to such levels of grandeur. Some people want to hear Dookie in full and others just want to see Billie Joe go nuts but let’s be honest, no one really wants anything off Uno! Dos! Tres! Same with anything from Eminem circa 2009 onwards.
Set in Little John’s Farm, Reading has many entries in festival folklore. Filed somewhere between “Free Burger And Beer” and “Secret Sets” you can find “Bottle Throwing”. Some will find it barbaric, others will find it hilarious but either way if a Reading crowd aren’t toying with a certain band, bottles will fly. Previous crowds held no prisoners when watching the likes of Bonnie Tyler, Daphne & Celeste (still to this day, we don’t know), Good Charlotte and 50 Cent, deciding to instead participate in a collective unison of judgement. All in the name of good fun, right? A slightly more friendly affiliation with Reading and Leeds respectively is the smattering of burgeoning acts that burst from its seams. Little Jake Bugg may have packed out his BBC Introducing set last year but the Nottingham troubadour has moved onto bigger and better things by practically headlining the NME stage this year, being beaten only somewhat strangely by glitch poppers Alt-J.
Reading wavers with its headliners and whilst 2013’s is surely eclectic, many have agreed it’s not a patch on last year’s trio of rock titans. So whilst we leave thousands of white “homeboys” pretending they too are from 8 Mile Mobile Court or watch in disdain as a 40 something stretches into skinny jeans and a checkered tie (and I’m not just talking about Billie) you may want to go forth and venture into what Reading produces best: the slick cream of the crop of new acts. Here’s a lowdown on who the hell you should go and see:
Tame Impala – This one’s a bit of a given considering how much hype/word of mouth/general over-excitement Perth’s Picasso’s have generated but in all seriousness, you’d be an absolute wally to miss Tame Impala. With two of the decades greatest records already sealed tightly in their anthology, Tame will play clever, pysch washed walls of sound, sing like Lennon in a way Liam Gallagher can only wish he could and craft the art of anticipation. Mind bending compositions including Endors Toi, stomping warped out numbers like Be Above It and more commercial, glam rock offerings like Elephant ensure Kevin Parker and co will be playing to a very large scale crowd indeed. You deserve a slap if you miss them.
Haim – If not for the triad of sister’s talent then purely for Este’s bass face because Haim are looking set for pretty big things. They played Glasto: no scrap that; they devoured Glasto. They have matching haircuts that will have legions of girls wafting replicas in hairdresser’s faces asking for “The Haim”. They made girlbands cool again. The list is pretty endless much like the talent, so it’s a no brainer on whether to see them really. Or again, like I said, the bass face is always there for a good giggle.
Jagwar Ma – Australia is doing something right at the moment. I’m not sure whether it’s just now I’ve noticed this or I’ve been totally ignorant to everything a country that gave us Steve Irwin has to offer but my oh my, Jagwar Ma are wet your pants exciting if you dig acid house, Madchester and anything that will leave you dancing like Bez or/and wearing a bucket hat. Beautifully drawn out, feel good anthems encapsulated by Gabriel Winterfield’s falsetto and Jono Ma’s skilful mixes. NICE ONE BRUVA.
System Of A Down – It’s OK if you can’t take System seriously because in all honestly, you don’t have to. You just have to punch people to Chop Suey or dance violently until you’re sick. That’s all.
Johnny Marr – He’s so much more than “the guitarist from The Smiths”. Johnny Marr is the guitarist of a generation. You’re welcome to write this down on a banner and hold it aloft as one of Manc’s finest (and there is a few) performs the opening goosebump intro to How Soon Is Now?
Foals – They headlined Latitude, they’re fucking smug because of it and will no doubt give us a cracking good show because of it. Turn up and make Yannis smile knowing that he may have well been right about those washed up nostalgia acts causing a buzz.
Disclosure – Dance music is heading in a very exciting if not dominant direction right now and the only people you could want to be at the forefront of it are Disclosure. Two brothers to rule them all, Two Brothers to find them, Two Brothers to bring them all and in the darkness make them go absolutely crazy to chart floaters and oh so tasty hook loops. Yeah.
Swim Deep – If you can dodge the fangirls lusting over Zach’s hair and Higgy’s Nirvana tee, Swim Deep are steadily creeping into the difficult yet profitable world of commercial indie. The one that separates it from the other struggling to keep afloat, niche kinda indie. Is it their hair? Is it their Brummie accents? Or is it their ability to craft together a summery, positive, vibey debut that shapeshifts like there’s no tomorrow?
Bauuer – You’ll be surrounded by twats but the Harlem Shake live could have the potential to be either cataclysmically mind blowing or vomit inducing. You decide.
Reading Festival is now sold out but there still are tickets available for Leeds – check the website for details.
All words by Harley Cassidy. Read more from Harley on LTW here.