Reading Festival: The Highlights


Out of all the festivals this summer, Reading Festival is definitely the one for music lovers. It is all about the music and with the insanely amazing line-up it definitely pleased the masses. Reading is renowned as the festival the school kids go to post GCSE results, and whether they’re drowning their sorrows or celebrating success, I’m sure that they all had an amazing time nonetheless; whether they remember it or not is a separate matter. Good weather and great music meant for a very enjoyable weekend.

Friday’s line up consisted of some amazing acts from the worldly famous The Cure to new and upcoming acts such as Bastille. Scroobius Pip opened my festival as the first act I saw. The “rowdy” crowd meant the atmosphere was amazing! His live Distraction Pieces performance is always worth watching. The Festival Republic stage played host to some awesome music. The Alt-J and Bastille blew me away. Joe’s vocals during songs such as ‘Tessellate’ were flawless and the crowd’s reaction made for an amazing show. Bastille were on at 7pm, an awesome slot for such a new band. The tent was packed and they received such an amazing reaction and rightly so; their set was electric. You Me At Six and Paramore tore up the Main Stage before The Cure’s headline set. Instead of watching the veteran performers, I took a short trip to see the fantastic Foster The People and ended the night The Maccabees on the NME/Radio1 Stage. The Maccabees played an awesome set which was a fantastic combination of tracks across all three of their studio albums.

Saturday kicked off with one of the most famous punk-rock bands the world has ever seen in the form of Green Day. Producing one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen,  the mere presence of Billy Joe Armstrong was an overwhelming experience. They played for over an hour and even went over time to the crowd’s pleasure. “The best worst kept secret the UK has ever seen” was definitely worth seeing and all those lucky to have witnessed it will remember it as monumental. Pure Love and Twin Atlantic also performed on the Radio 1/NME stage both of whom performed great sets, enhanced by the Reading crowd. Torn between Dry The River and OFWGKTA, I chose to watch the latter on the Main Stage and what a crazy set it was. Tyler, The Creator and co. (minus Frank Ocean, to my disappointment) rattled through their offensive catalogue of hip-hop with a more than rowdy crowd. Mosh pits erupted throughout the crowd, especially when ‘Yonkers’ was performed. Enter Shikari were the next act I caught, also on the Main Stage and the energy in the performance exceeded any other band so far this weekend. Their comments on the society we live in are blatant through their lyrics and frontman Rou Reynolds pioneers these thoughts through his stage performance. They always impress and having not seen them since their Take To The Skies tour back in ’08 it was great to see them perform newer tracks such as ‘Ghandi Mate, Ghandi’.

I stayed on the Main Stage for The Vaccines. There set was a mix of their brilliant debut and their somewhat mediocre recent release, Come of Age. Songs like ‘Teenage Icon’ naturally received a huge crowd reaction and I can see it being a festival anthem for years to come. New track ‘Ghost Town’ also sounded awesome live, giving fans a brief preview prior to its release the following week. Moving to the Dance Tent, I briefly saw ‘212’ by Azealia Banks. Chaos is the only word to describe the atmosphere. Everyone was throwing their limbs around as she shouted ‘Ima ruin you c**t’ back at them. After a short break, I watched Florence and the Machine float around the Main Stage. Her performance was not overly impressive by her yet despite the pouring rain, she seemed to put 110% effort.

The first act on the Main Stage on Sunday were Pulled Apart By Horses. At the very least, the band managed to drag a crowd out of their tends and despite their hangovers, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy the madness. The Gaslight Anthem were next and they were fantastic. The American punk-rock band lead by Brian Fallon entertained the swarming hoards at the Main Stage. All Time Low also followed on the main stage. Having followed their career, watching the culmination of their work in this set was a very entertaining one. Rather than showcasing what’s to come on their new album later this year, the band rattled through an improvised ‘greatest hits’, while some technical difficulties resulted in a spontaneous rendition of ‘Dammit’ by Blink 182.

Bullet for My Valentine played the main stage followed by The Kaiser Chiefs. Frontman Ricky strutted around the stage flirting with the cameras which made for entertaining viewing. The Black Keys preceded Foo Fighters on the main stage. Following their headline show at Coachella this year they maintained this high level of performance with their Reading set. I watched the beginning of Foo Fighters and then shot off to watch the whole of Two Door Cinema Club’s set, which was impressively enigmatic. It was a delightful mix of their phenomenal debut album and their excellent second album Beacon. A perfect end to an unforgettable weekend.


About Author


I’m Megan Downing, an English Literature graduate from University of Southampton. I am the Music, Arts and Culture Editor for The National Student. I am the Membership and Communications Officer for the Student Publication Association, I write about music for 7BitArcade, and contribute regularly to The Culture Trip. I have a passion for live music and this is where I began in student journalism. Reviewing a gig or festival is still where my heart lies four years on. I will be starting at MTV as a News Intern in June 2015. One thing you should know about me is that I have an unhealthy obsession with Kevin Spacey.

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