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REVIEW | Reading Festival 2017 | 24 – 27 August

REVIEW | Reading Festival 2017 | 24 - 27 August
3.9Overall Score

Reading and Leeds Festival was everything we expected and more. With phenomenal headline performances from Muse and Kasabian, smaller gems like Get Inuit and Superfood proved they’re more than just indie bands. However, once again, both festival sites had a lack of female headliners taking to the Main Stage.

But with the cider flowing, glittered faces, and other great female acts taking to the smaller stages; Reading Festival delivered the highest quality of unknown artists, certainly making up for the rather irritating absences on the larger stages.

Friday

12:00pm – Tent up and glitter on, we entered the arena to the faint melodies of JUDAS on the Main Stage and the euphoric sound they were producing. It was clear they were no strangers to a festival crowd; oozing with confidence as they flawlessly merged intricate Guitar melodies with a powerful rhythm section during ‘Youth of the Young Age’. Prose were next on our agenda, and having seen them at Trespass we had already experienced their live sound in an intimate setting, but never this big. Known for their soulful vocals and intense, meaningful lyrics, we were not disappointed. The Festival Republic stage was filled with cheers, dancing and lots of beer as the Manchester-based trio delivered a compelling and upbeat set, especially during ‘Home of the Brave’.

As we made our way to the Jack Rocks Stage to see The Assist, we caught a glimpse of The Magic Gang’s electric performance. We were met with jangly guitars, quirky vocals, and tight drums as ‘How Can I Compete’ protruded out from the NME/BBC Radio One stage. Arriving at the Jack Rocks stage, with a refreshing Jack Daniels in hand, we geared up for the riveting experience that was The Assist. With all four members donned in adidas from head-to-toe, this alternative Band created a raucous with their upbeat drums, raw vocals, and melodious guitar in the small tent.

3:20pm Basking in the sunlight, we trudged past the Main Stage to catch a glimpse of RAT BOY. Met with his idiosyncratic voice ringing across the crowd merging with electronic synths and distinctive melodies, it was a lovely transition into the electric afternoon we had in store.

Declan McKenna at Reading Festival | Photo by Amy Butcher

Declan McKenna at Reading Festival | Photo by Amy Butcher

3:35pm It was time for one of our highly anticipated acts from the weekend, Declan McKenna, who took the NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage by storm. With the tent brimming with excited festival goers chanting ‘Declan’, the opening to ‘Isombard’ resounded throughout the audience. Dressed in a khaki dress and glitter under his eyes, McKenna had already gripped the crowd before uttering a single word. With the recent release of his debut album ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’ and having already played Glastonbury twice, McKenna has gained a magnificent following in a short space of time. Fusing melodic synths, ambient guitar and fast-paced drums — it was a vivacious performance, and as the end of ‘Brazil’ rung out in the tent, it was safe to say Declan McKenna’s set had been the highlight so far.

Making our way back to the Jack Rocks stage, we stumbled upon The Shimmer Band — a psychedelic rock band from Bristol — emitting loud, thrashing sounds merged with eccentric vocals; we knew we were in for a treat. Wearing an array of sunglasses and swaggering across the stage, The Shimmer Band delivered a high energy, entertaining experience for the audience, especially during their newest single ‘What Is Mine?’.

Of Empires followed on the Jack Rocks stage, and after their performance at Isle Of Wight Festival earlier this summer, thier impressive guitar riffs and powerful vocals soaring above catchy melodies left no scope for disappointment.

Topping off the fantastic display of music we had already seen, headliners Kasabian were met with a rowdy, loud crowd belting the lyrics to ‘You’re In Love with a Psycho’. For a band like Kasabian who have breached their 20 year career, it was impressive to see the Leicester rabble grip and engage their audience. With the appearance of Noel Fielding for ‘Vlad The Impaler’, the audience grew even more energetic and entranced in the whole experience, culminating in ‘Fire’ which saw everyone giving it their all into the brisk night air.

Saturday

12:45pm Nursing our hangovers with a bacon butty and a refreshing cider, we were awakened by the amazingly enthusiastic and energetic Get Inuit. Delivering jangly guitars, an extortionate amount of energy, and a sanguine stage presence, especially during ‘All My Friends’, we were soothed through the hangover by the positive energy they oozed on stage. On route to see Superfood tear up the Festival Republic stage, we managed to catch a glimpse of the rugged, raunchy performance coming from the Main Stage from rock band The Pretty Reckless. Titillating guitar riffs, husky vocals from Taylor Momsen, and hardcore drum beats blasted from the speakers as the ‘Take Me Down’ was playing, and the energy was contagious.

Leaving The Pretty Reckless’ set early to see indie wizards Superfood turned out to be the best decision we made the whole weekend. Starting with ‘You Can Believe’; the funky guitar melodies, arose vocals, and chilled vibe they were exuding into the crowd was certainly eased us into the afternoon delightfully. With the release of their sophomore album ‘Bambino’ just around the corner, Superfood have had a drastic development in their style and sound (evident during ‘I Can’t See’) however, the relaxed yet exhilarating energy was still present. It was obvious that the amount of people so invested and singing along to every word was a shock to this humble band, and they are one to watch over the next year.

Superfood at Reading Festival | Photo by Amy Butcher

Superfood at Reading Festival | Photo by Amy Butcher

It was a nice surprise when Fickle Friends were announced to play a secret set over on the BBC Introducing stage; perfect soundtrack to the renewed summer vibes brought on by the appearance of the sun itself. Melodic synths, soft vocals, and high tempo beats created an amazing dance haven for the festival mood. Blitzing through classics such as ‘Cry Baby’ and ‘Hello’ as the sun blared down on us, it was a fantastic treat for festival-goers to watch or pass by.

6:20pm Korn took to the Main Stage and boy did they make an impact. Harsh, discordant vocals fused with the salacious guitar solos created a frenzy of chanting and dancing as the music resounded around the arena. As the opening to ‘Freak on A Leash’ began the atmosphere changed, roars and mosh pits started to form as the momentum built throughout the crowd.

Eminem ended the day beautifully creating a nostalgic euphoria for his full 90 minute set. It was a wonderful sight to see a crowd of all ages singing along to every word of  his vast discography from ‘Lose Yourself’ to ‘Love The Way You Lie’, although the set took a turn for the worst when a scraggly teenager climbed the five storey speakers and danced on top throughout the whole set; sadly, distracting us from the phenomenal show Eminem was putting on. But, he proved throughout the performance he deserved to be a headliner. With a career spanning over 25 years and a string of iconic awards to his name, it is typically expected that a 40-something rapper wouldn’t still be able to rap every single word to ‘Rap God’. Well you’d be wrong. The way the lyrics were coming so naturally to him and the deep routed passion in the words he spoke, it was clear why Eminem deserved to be on that stage, and we felt as though we were all up there with him.

Sunday

1:05pm With a sore head and aching limbs, we traipsed to the arena to see Saint PHNX on the Festival Republic Stage. This Glaswegian duo will be giving Imagine Dragons a run for their money; the power and noise these two produced in ‘King’ filled the entire tent, coercing more and more people to delve into their enticing melodies along with us.

We rushed back to the Main Stage to witness the finesse of London based band VANT. With lead singer Mattie Vant, wearing his leather jacket reading ‘White Men Are Evil’, it was safe to say they had grabbed our attention. Launching into the brash ‘Fly-By Alien’, an honest commentary on the state of our planet, we were mesmerised by the passion and intensity the band put into their performance: and as this was their biggest festival performance, you could tell they cared. It was a shame there wasn’t much more passion in the crowd, as ‘mosh pits’ were formed throughout the set, however this did not deter away from the extortionate amount of talent we could see in the four band members.

4:35pm Bolton-based lads The Sherlocks took to the NME/BBC Radio One stage with their indie rock musings. Beginning with ‘Last Night’, it was evident who the audience were there to see as the chants, cheers, and hollers enveloped the tent alongside the flawless guitar riffs, tight upbeat drums, and rugged vocals echoing around the packed tent.

But this was cut short, as we made our way to the Main Stage, highly anticipating the man himself Liam Gallagher, but sadly, we were disappointed. Starting with ‘Rock and Roll Star’, the crowd descended into a loud chorus, reciting the iconic lyrics back. With the nostalgia of the classics, and the Gallagher flair of the new music, it was a shame all we could hear was the backing singers rather than the 90’s icon himself blaring through the speakers.

Muse at Reading Festival | Photo by Amy Butcher

It was now time for the final headliner of the weekend, Muse, and the next 90 minutes were full of a mind-blowing light show, never-ending guitar solos, and frontman Matt Bellamy’s phenomenal stage presence. Having been voted best live band, released seven studio albums, and with a career spanning over 20 years we were expecting a lot, and oh did they deliver. The sheer presence and visuals they displayed put all the other bands to shame, whether this was due to their invaluable experience or honest passion for their music – we were impressed. A highlight came when the riffs for ‘Back in Black’ by AC/DC rung out and Brian Johnson sauntered onto the stage and was met with colossal of screams. With giant orbs bouncing among the crowd during ‘Starlight’ and confetti falling down on us as ‘Knights of Cydonia’ boomed over the festival-goers, the skill and expertise observed in Muse’s set was profound. It was the best and only way we ever have imagined ending our Reading Festival 2017 experience.

Reading Festival was an excellent representation of the vast array of talent present today in the music scene, with bands such as Saint PHNX and VANT proving smaller bands do have the power to make an impact at a popular festival such as this one. However, the sound issues at the Main Stage and lack of female headliners were somewhat rectified by the spectrum of musical stylings heard over the weekend and the humbling demonstration of unity throughout the festivities.

Reading and Leeds Festival 2018 takes place August next year. Weekend tickets are already available, buy them here.



This post first appeared on Never Enough Notes – For The Best Music You've N, please read the originial post: here

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REVIEW | Reading Festival 2017 | 24 – 27 August

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