Reading Festival 2008

Reading Festival 2008: live in Readinglive in Reading (2008)

Reviewer Rating: 5

Contributed by: chrisafichrisafi
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Dear Reader, I apologise for the length of this but cutting it down would run the risk of making it rubbish. Anyway. Reading Festival 2008. For those not in the know, Reading Festival and its sister site at Leeds is the UK's biggest 'rock' festival, with three days of musical action, spread o.

Dear Reader,

I apologise for the length of this but cutting it down would run the risk of making it rubbish.

Anyway. Reading Festival 2008. For those not in the know, Reading Festival and its sister site at Leeds is the UK's biggest 'rock' festival, with three days of musical action, spread over five stages and catering for all 'alternative' tastes. Luckily, punk music in the UK is truly blessed to have DJ Mike Davies, who puts on the Lock-up Tent for two days of the festival, showcasing all things punk. After years of building up a fearsome reputation, this year had been blessed with what on paper seemed a phenomenal lineup for a festival in a small English city. Scores out of 10 are in brackets.

First up came Anti-Flag, kicking off the festival in its entirety. They were also billed to play on the Lock-up Tent later, but knowing I would never watch it, I decided to check them out on the huge main stage. Unfortunately, it wasn't really worth the two-minute walk, as a set list leaning too much on The Bright Lights of America disappointed many whilst the bizarre guest appearance on backing vocals from a large group of girls dressed in white ("Satan's Brides," apparently) not only looked and sounded terrible but served only to distract the audience and left me wondering how a band as passionate and lively as Anti-Flag can fail to entertain a fresh crowd, even with some help from pretty ladies [4]

Next up was Blackhole, who are also known as 'the band of the brother of Frank Carter from Gallows.' Blackhole as a young and new band were relatively impressive, and I came to find if you squinted a bit and imagine the ginger hair, you might almost convince yourself you were watching Gallows. That feeling then increased further as Frank Carter actually joined his brother on stage for the finale -- an entertaining treat for the early-starters in the crowd. [7]

The Loved Ones came up next and ran onto the stage and quickly launched into "Pretty Good Year." Almost note-perfect, the small but devoted crowd immediately began to enjoy themselves. However, a few songs into the set, the Loved Ones revealed their instruments were currently somewhere between Reading and the U.S., and thus were currently playing on instruments belonging to the Unseen. I would never have even had an inkling had they not said so, as they were tight and professional in their performance that the audience ate it up, especially as an epic rendition of "Louisiana" was unleashed to finish to whole thing off. [9]

I have always found the Briggs a bit funny to listen to, with a strange mixture between straight-up no frills punk and a more intelligent and delicate sound which can often exist in the background. On the couple of recordings I have given a spun, I have never been overly captivated, but translated into a live performance things seemed very different. It may not have been the tightest or cleanest performance of the festival but it was right up there with the best for energy and electricity and if I ever get the chance to see them again I will certainly do so. [8]

Frank Turner hit the stage to an absolutely phenomenal audience, which flowed out of the tent as far as my eye could see; if this man comes back to Reading, he will be somewhere much bigger and not on in the mid-afternoon. What happened when he took to the stage (with his live band) was truly awesome; the crowd was treated to a near-perfect set with absolutely huge sing-along choruses, with the power to shake the tent as if a thrash metal band were on. With just himself, a guitar and a backing band, Frank Turner provided one of the best things I have ever seen and an atmosphere in the crowd usually reserved for international superstars. [10]

H20, Go! And so the next band began in typical fashion playing through a set of newies and oldies, starting with "1995" and ending up at "What Happened?". It was good, but having just seen four back-to-back bands, I was starting to tire, whilst H20 maybe lacked a bit of youthful endeavour and atmosphere compared to those who went before. Even so, a set hard to really fault. [7]

Very tired now and in need of nourishment, the Unseen were the casualty of the day as I gave them a big fat skip. After a dodgy and overpriced burger [3] and then paying £2 ($4) for a bottle of water [0] I returned to watch Tiger Army. Without a double bass. According to lead singer Nick 13 their hired double bass "was fucked," meaning Geoff Kresge was not only playing electric bass live for the first time since 2001 but faced with a set list of songs he had only ever played on double. Given the circumstances I find it very hard to criticise them; Kresge was superb, looking incredibly natural playing songs on a 'foreign instrument,' but I did find myself thinking Nick 13 was working at 75% for the evening. But the crowd lapped up a solid performance, spilling over left right and centre as things got rowdy from a brilliant rendition of "Incorporeal" and onwards and given their initial problems I think they deserve a bonus point. [7+1]

Goldfinger know how to play a festival. "Spokesman." "Superman." "Open Your Eyes." "99 Red Balloons." Everything the crowd wanted was there and as a result Goldfinger got what they wanted: a crowd eating out of the palm of their hand. Aging rockers these days? Maybe, but they still had it based on this performance. [8]

The evening on the lockup saw Anti-Flag (again), Pennywise and Less Than Jake hit the stage in turn. However, I was long gone, straight to the main stage to watch Queens of the Stone Age put forward a one-hour set with probably too much rocking, jamming and improvising to please many, but I was mildly impressed, which was unexpected. [6]

However, I wasn't really watching QOTSA for pleasure, but purely for the Machiavellian reason that I wanted to be at the front to experience Rage Against the Machine play on English soil for the first time in eight years. Hitting the stage to an air siren and fully dressed as Guantanamo Bay prisoners, the band played the entirety of "Bombtrack" blind, with black bags on their heads. I was impressed. Classic after classic shredded out of Tom Morello's guitar and the crowd went insane for every single second of it. The best main stage festival headliner I have ever seen, who somehow managed to make a gig to over 60,000 people as intimate and energetic as if it was 60. Superb. [10]

So in conclusion? What a day. Never have I seen so many fantastic bands on top form; legends and legends in the making. It was a day for fans, not for critics and a day of glorious punk music that I may never see matched. Brilliant. Except that burger.


People who liked this also liked:
Enter Shikari - Take to the SkiesRage Against the Machine - Rage Against the MachineFrank Turner - Love, Ire and SongThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundRolo Tomassi - HystericsNew Found Glory - Not Without a FightGallows - Grey BritainThe Ghost of a Thousand - New Hopes, New DemonstrationsBouncing Souls - How I Spent My Summer VacationThe Lawrence Arms - Apathy and Exhaustion

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
chrisafi (August 29, 2008)

Tye - that almost exact comment plus a review of Gaslight and Day Two in general is now up. Was it just me or did MrB.F. seem drunk? GIven they played at about 1 in the afternoon that would be relatively impressive if he was

necktattoo (August 29, 2008)

black bags over the head is teh punx

Tye (August 28, 2008)

Brian Fallon declared his undying love for The Killers when they played at Reading Festival because the Killers were headlining the main stage that day, but he said he didn't care what anyone thought about this. How punk rock!

Also note, B.F. Brandon Flowers, Brian Fallon. OMGZ.

I've posted this elsewhere, but feel it should be exposed as much as possible so as to provoke conversation. I'll probably mention it again. Their live performance converted me a little as well.

chrisafi (August 28, 2008)

I would have liked to see Pennywise, but why anyone would watch Pennywise OR Less than Jake over RATM I do not know. You can catch those bands again, especially LTJ, whilst Rage; probably not.

Also I know what Machiavellian means, don't even try to criticise someones intelligence without any actual basis.

"Attempting to achieve what one wants by cunning, scheming and unscrupulous methods

I cunningly and or schemingly went to watch QOTSA, so to get in a good position for Rage, even though I didn't really want to, so to get a head start on the Rage fanboys. Machiavellian is a perfectly good word to use. So there.

Archangel (August 28, 2008)

Score is for people incorrectly referencing dead philosophers in reviews.

Deadpan (August 28, 2008)

A review of Pennywise would probably go like this:

Pennywise came on in the slot everyone thought Less Than Jake would take up. Everyone got extremely angry before finding out that LTJ were headlining instead. Other people got angry again because this meant they clashed with RATM. More people still got angry when they heard the fuck-boring bro-core shit spewing from the speakers, and walked off.

Bro Hymn is one of the worst excuses for a sing along anthem type punk song I've ever heard. Awful. Less Than Jake, on the other hand, were awesome. They basically played a whole bunch of their best songs. And I don't think anything from their shocker of a last album got an airing at all.

Gaslight Anthem on the Saturday were an amazing highlight though. I was incredibly skeptical, given how over the top the praise aimed at them seems to be, but fuck. I got goosebumps. They converted me into a fan before they'd even finished their first song. Ace!

Please tell me you saw Henry Rollins on the Sunday though, reviewer, even if you won't review it. Dude was awesome. His rant against John Lydon was phenomenal.

John Lydon, by the way, is incredibly fucking thick. I thought the guy was supposed to be vaguely intelligent, but saying that jazz doesn't require talent? What an idiot.

Ignitedude (August 28, 2008)

Would love to see a review of the Pennywise set as I wasn't privileged enough to be there.

threechordsandthetruth (August 28, 2008)

Ah, right. I got confused because I think Blackhole recommended him. Or maybe it was the Loved Ones...

chrisafi (August 27, 2008)

threecords - Frank Carter is lead singer of the Gallows

Frank Turner is a singer songwriter

dktr - calm down, randomly ranting on the internet is so 2003

saladfingers (August 27, 2008)

anyone else go see Gaslight in manchester last night?????

seriously fucking awesome

dktr (August 27, 2008)

Reading is an absolute shit hole. The audiance are a bunch of cunts, the campers are worse, it's full of 14 year old mistakes. The bands play shit sets, which make the piss & shit swamps that are the toilets a fucking pleasure to go into. It's a hole, a very hateful hole: full of idiots, morons and drummers. An intensely unenjoyable corperate cock fest full of dicks and twats.

threechordsandthetruth (August 27, 2008)

I was at Leeds on Saturday, saw the same lineup as the reviewer really.

I always thought Frank Turner was the dude from Million Dead, not Gallows...?

Tiger Army were pretty poor (I'm a fan). The sound was awful, they didn't have much energy, and no Annabel Lee!

Biffy Clyro were fantastic though.

RATM didn't do the Guantanamo thing at Leeds... fuckers. Still good though, I fought my way to the front 10 rows and got destroyed. They had to stop 2 songs in to tell us to move back.

chrisafi (August 26, 2008)

I thought it was the best Reading I've ever been to musically. Day 3 was weak though (especially once Slipknot and A7x pullled out without replacements) and i wont be reviewing it as a result

damo (August 26, 2008)

good review

i thought the bands roster was quite weak this year so dint go

chrisafi (August 26, 2008)

Oh I think nearly everyone was there for the hits; but if they didnt play them they would have gone down like a stink bomb - so I'm glad they just reeled them all off for the crowd and put on the great festival show

Tye (August 26, 2008)

i think many were probably there for the "hits". never underestimate the power of tony hawk's pro skater *cough* superman cough* .. i missed just like heaven though. the new album has a few great songs on it.

chrisafi (August 26, 2008)

haha yeah a bit. I loved goldfinger, I didn't expect much from them to be honest and I expected a mediocre performance with lots of stuff off their new album but instead they put in a great performance, which would have stood out much better had the calibre not been so high. They also pulled in a pretty big crowd, which surprised me!

Tye (August 26, 2008)

cool, i look forward to it :) i agree with alot of what you said. did you think charlie from goldfinger looked really pissed off during their set? they were still great.

chrisafi (August 26, 2008)

I am writing a full review of Saturday too, finishing it tommorow, hopefully the lovely org.staff will put it up Friday

Tye (August 26, 2008)

weren't you there the next day? you didn't miss much with the unseen, i thought they were terrible, the lead singer acted like a bit of a dick.
i enjoyed anti-flag at the main stage, but the lock-up was way WAY better. they opened with a version of "i fought the law" (clash version, not dk) and then they played a setlist chosen by people who voted at pickrset.com, which included drink drank punk, die for the government and fuck police brutality.
i don't know much pennywise but they put on a good show, less than jake were typically (from what i hear about their other shows) amazing. they tried to get 2 members of the audience on stage to do a kissing scene but they ended up just skankin along to the tunes.
the lock-up that day was generally amazing. the next day was good too, hifi handgrenades, the gaslight anthem, alkaline trio, flogging molly, mxpx...

chrisafi (August 26, 2008)

To whichever .org staff member edited this I thank you very much for perservering with me. I wrote this at a point where I hadn't slept in 40 hours and submitted it on Monday as soon as I got home as I wanted to write whilst I could still remember it. It can't have been pretty; so thankyou

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