Live Review of Reading Festival 2013

Day one at Reading Festival, the sun was shining and most looked excited to be leaving the confines of their tents to go and catch some actual music. Who better to kick the weekend off than Bondax in the Radio 1 Dance Tent. With stomping remixes of Duke Dumont, Kendrick Lamar and AlunaGeorge, the young duo whipped up the crowd at 2pm, as if it were 10pm. Refreshing with an ice cold Gaymers - always Pear - it was time to catch Peace in the NME/Radio 1 tent. Donning a furry leopard print jacket, Harrison Kossier and Co took to the stage giving the crowd tracks from their debut album, 'In Love', including 'Lovesick', 'Follow Baby' and 'Wraith' before a welcomed surprise cover of Disclosure's 'White Noise'. Not the last time we'll be hearing that track this weekend. 

Reading Festival

Another festival means another opportunity for Bastille to draw ridiculous amounts of people. Just like their set at Glastonbury's John Peel Stage, the tent was rammed with people just itching to lay some atmospheric chants over 'Pompeii'. Their covers of City High's 'What Would You Do?' and dance floor classic 'Rhythm of the Night' also sent the crowd wild. Well, the ones still hanging on in there, the amount of people coming over the tent's middle barrier was the highest number I saw all weekend. Bonkers scenes. 

Next up, Sub Focus brings his set to the Radio 1 Dance Set to headline the first night. Naturally, it needed a light show as Reading began to descend into darkness. The London producer had it covered as he stood inside the large colour changing disks, banging out a host of favourite tracks - hands were pointing to the sky, elevating the Friday night spirit. 

A water gun, T-shirt gun and a contraption that fires toilet paper were all Billie Joe Armstrong really needed to entertain the raring crowd during Green Day's massive headline set. The band are no strangers to Reading; last headlining in 2004, they also played a surprise set at last year's event. Ploughing through 1994 album 'Dookie' in its entirety and throwing in some classics like 'American Idiot' and 'Minority' for good measure, it was a set that covered all bases. Ending with a solo rendition of 'Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)', Armstrong conjured a feeling of warm, fuzzy content to round off day one. 

Reading Festival Main StageReading Festival Main Stage

Struggling down to the arena early in the rain was worth it on Saturday morning. Okay, it wasn't that early. Dan Croll took to the Festival Republic stage around midday with tracks like new single 'In/Out', uncovering lots of potential. Backed with a full band, it sounds like Bastille have started a side project with Foster The People. Theme Park brought some calypso tones as the rain leaked through the roof of the NME/Radio 1 stage, showering those standing in the wrong places, like some kind of ritual. No one seemed to be running away though as 'Wax', 'Jamaica' and 'Two Hours' proved to be the highlights. 

The Blackout rocked the main stage headed up by a pink-haired Sean Smith, who spent the first few songs screaming to himself, as any sound from his mic was non-existent. With the issue solved, they trooped on with hip-hop medley including Jay-Z, Kanye West and The Beastie Boys to get everyone hyped for Eminem. Continuing the loud theme, Drenge smashed their set on the Festival Republic Stage, playing to an inquisitive crowd. With their name being thrown about recently, thanks to MP Tom Watson, the crowd seemed to want to find out what all this buzz was about. As most stood wearing blank expressions, it was hard to tell whether people were won over as the Sheffield brothers jammed, creating an uncontrollable shield of sound. 

Over on the BBC Introducing stage, newcomer Saint Raymond used his Ed Sheeran meets Two Door Cinema Club charms to pull a sizeable crowd. Following suit, local band Sundara Karma showed a whole lot of promise, greeted by a gaggle of seemingly hardcore fans. The Britpop-inspired band looked cool with clothing items varying from patterned trousers to a dangly earring. 'Freshbloom' is a tune.

Palma Violets, woah. A band with so much passion, who are celebrating the fact they met at Reading Festival four years ago. Bassist and singer Chilli Jesson threw himself across the crowd after playing the brilliant 'Best of Friends'. As the tent rippled with the lyrics, "I wanna be your best friend, I don't want you to be my girl", it was quite clear that they'd won over some fresh faces. 

Drink To The Stage At Reading FestivalDrink To The Light

As dark clouds grew indecisive on their direction and plans, a Gaymers proved to be the ultimate festival refreshment and the ideal accompaniment for Foals' main stage set. After headlining this year's Latitude festival, it was obvious the Oxford band now belong on a main stage. They made a fierce impact with the fiery 'Providence' and 'Inhaler' teamed with the sultry 'Late Night' and bobbing classic 'Two Steps Twice'. Yannis Philippakis played his guitar over the crowded barrier, bearing his very likeable persona and sense of style. 

"Tra la la", the patters of Alt-J's 'Fitzpleasure' are felt right through the NME/Radio 1 tent as they headline a spectacular show. Yeah, so I sacked off Eminem and Dido. But Alt-J wowed, riding high on an awesome, awesome wave of album treasures and ending with snow-like foam descending on the dazed crowd, we're reminded that summer is coming to an end - thanks Alt-J. A magical finale anyhow. 

Reading Festival Main StageReading Festival Main Stage

As happy campers rose from their probably wrecked tents, AlunaGeorge were present with some sexy sounds to help get everyone revitalised. Channelling Gwen Stefani with super chic plaits, Aluna Francis was ready to propel her sweet vocals over the tent. With the infectious 'You Know You Like It' and a cover of Montell Jordan's 'This Is How We Do It', sealing the set with some swag, it's 'White Noise' that the crowd really freak out over, that song seems to have powers. Alex Clare has one of the best voices around and his debut album, 'The Lateness of The Hour', deserves so much more credit, I mean, he does kinda cover Prince's 'When Doves Cry' on it. 'Too Close' is the song everyone gets on the nearest available shoulders for, thanks to its Microsoft Ad fame. Less-known offerings like 'Relax My Beloved', 'Up All Night' and 'Treading Water' seem to engage though. 

Now, if you could be part of a cool musical family who would you choose?  The Followills so you could yell along to 'Sex On Fire' in a garage or something? How about the Smith crew, locking in with Will, Jayden and Willow? Or, my choice, being in the Haim family? The Cali band are welcomed to the stage by a packed tent, waiting to hear tracks like 'Falling', 'The Wire' and 'Forever'. Este asks who wants to be their tour guides for their first time to Reading before saying she wants a pizza with no cheese and some beer, think we can sort that. Her bass face becomes unleashed again, especially dominant as the sisters jammed with some screaming at its appearance on the screens. 

Catching only the first few Fall Out Boy tracks, it was long enough to confirm that they've returned. As thousands re-live their younger years shouting along to 'This Ain't A Scene', they look so comfortable to be playing Reading again. Having checked out of the FOB main stage crowd, it was time to cram into tighter surroundings for Disclosure's epic set. The brothers sound slick as ever as they open with 'F For You' followed by 'When A Fire Starts To Burn.' Of course, there are some special guests to woo over. Friendly Fires' Ed Macfarlane reprises his famous hip-swinging moves for a guest vocal, as does Aluna Francis. Yeah, you guessed it, White Noise again getting an even more major reception. Ending with 'Latch', Sam Smith and his beautiful vocal take to the stage as the Disclosure face logo wobbles in the background. Amazing. 

Over in the Festival Republic tent, Spector have gained a dedicated following as they play a mix of old and brand new tracks to their energetic headline set. Fred Macpherson is ready with the chitchat as security battle with fans surfing on a lilo. As "Chevy Thunder, Chevy Chevy thunder" booms across the crowd hang on the eccentric singer's every single word.

Back at the main stage to catch the end half of Biffy Clyro, the crowd look like their enjoying it as much as Biffy do on stage, as they bravely headline Reading. No big deal. 'The Captain',  'Many of Horror', 'Black Chandelier' rocks the field before a shirtless Simon Neil took a flare and ignited his guitar onstage before an encore including 'Mountains' ended the festival with fireworks. So, what have we learnt from the weekend? Basically, Bastille need to start playing main stages next year to save any possible injuries, setting your guitar on fire is the ultimate rock star moment, and if any act wants to get the crowd extra pumped, play 'White Noise' and they'll erupt into a new life. 

Haley Fox

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