I've been to co-headline tours in the past, but never in my life had I heard of a triple headline tour, so this show was a magnificent thing. Three bands, three hour long sets. one hell of a good time.
Considering the fact that Alien Ant Farm have been a band for twenty years, I think it must have been pretty nerve-wracking to be an opening act, especially for a tour as big as this, but they did a brilliant job of crafting a setlist that managed to keep the crowd interested throughout. The first two songs, 'Wish' and 'Forgive & Forget', didn't get much of a reaction, but placing 'Movies' so early on in the set hooked the crowd for the rest of it. If you don't remember 'Movies' I'll be very surprised - it's one of those songs that everyone knows, and that was evident from the screaming singalong it invoked. With vocalist Dryden Mitchell performing nearly the entire song stood out in the crowd, it was a great moment of fun and demonstrated exactly what to expect from the rest of the evening.
My personal highlight of Alien Ant Farm's set was definitely 'Let Em Know', a song from their latest album 'Always and Forever'. I knew Alien Ant Farm's 'ANThology' album, but I'd never listened to songs from any of their others, so it was great to experience them for the first time in a live environment. 'Let Em Know' stood out the most and I think I liked it more than most of Alien Ant Farm's earlier stuff, so I'm looking forward to hearing a bit more of the album soon.
The rest of the set was pretty solid - lots of singalongs and participation from the crowd, and a strong sense of nostalgia as the band focussed upon playing their older material. Dryden dedicated 'Attitude' to his mother, telling the crowd that it was her favourite Alien Ant Farm song, and he wanted to apologise for everything he's said to her over the past week, a very touching anecdote. A story that wasn't so touching was him recollecting the time a stripper stole his money after he tried to convince her to give him some cocaine, so he stole her phone, stating "I'm all sad, I've got one fucking shoe on, and my life sucks." There were some boos from the crowd (whether directed at Dryden's story or the stripper, I'm still not sure) and it didn't really seem as though there was a point to his rambling, but it quickly gained direction when he started playing 'Simpatico' through the phone and the band flawlessly transitioned into playing it live. It was definitely one of the more unique starts to a song that I've seen live, but it's also one that will stick in my mind.
Finishing with 'Smooth Criminal' was always going to be the way, and the crowd went crazy once more for Alien Ant Farm, proving that - even though their most popular songs were released over a decade ago - this band still have a loyal and passionate fanbase. Walking off stage to a shout of "See you next year at Reading Fest, hopefully" makes me hope that we'll see them there too.
Forgive & Forget
Let Em Know
What I Feel Is Mine
Sticks and Stones
Next up were P.O.D and, similarly to Alien Ant Farm, I only knew of one of their songs which had reached super popular status - 'Alive'. This meant that I was surprised with the visceral reaction they received from the crowd, the energy of which didn't let up until long after they stepped off stage. Hoobastank's name might have been top of the bill, but most of the room were definitely here for P.O.D.
Opening with 'Murdered Love', singer Sonny Sandoval was throwing everything into the performance and I was surprised he could keep it up through the entire set, which was relentlessly fast and furious. Playing the entire second half of 'Boom' on top of the crowd he didn't have to stop for even a second, and it was highly commendable.
With a new album on its way in August, they played a couple of the newer songs, and the band definitely seem more invigorated by the newer material, with all of them having big smiles plastered over their faces throughout, looking pleased by the brilliant reaction the new material received. 'Revolucion' also had a great reaction, and with the knowledge that there's going to be an appearance from Sick Of It All on that song when the album releases, it's just going to get bigger.
The older songs also had great reactions: 'Youth of the Nation' had one of the loudest singalongs I've ever heard, as did 'Satellite', and when they closed the set with it, 'Alive'. I didn't fall in love with P.O.D, because they did sound quite similar to Limp Bizkit with the nu-metal and the rapping, but they're definitely a band I'm going to need to listen to more in the future, if only because I want to experience another of their frenetic live shows.
Lost In Forever
This Goes Out To You
Set It Off
Babylon the Murderer
Youth of the Nation
I was most excited about Hoobastank's set, as one of my closest friends is a huge fan of theirs so he's been making me listen to them for years. Starting off with 'Crawling In The Dark' and 'Inside of You' was a stroke of genius, because - despite the fact that a lot of the crowd did leave after P.O.D's set - it invigorated the people that were left and got them singing and dancing along from the start.
However, their set was riddled with sound problems which left me feeling a little disappointed. Doug Robb has an extremely unique vocal sound, but the distortion of the microphone left it almost impossible to distinguish any lyrics at multiple points throughout the set, but most notably on 'Just One'. Musically, they were completely on point and it was a flawless performance, but the vocal distortion was very irritating throughout.
Despite the sound problems, their set was still one of the best I've seen. With twenty years experience comes an ease to performing that really works for a crowd like this - Doug looked utterly confident and was fine with joking around, even though the crowd seemed less receptive towards the close of the evening. The fact that it's been nine years since Hoobastank last played in Reading, or in the UK extensively, was not evident. Due to the fact that they've been touring practically non-stop in America, this is not a band that is letting their skill slip with time, and they really are honing their craft.
With a promise of new music soon, it will be exciting to see what comes: it's been three years since their last album, and it will be good to see how they've developed in that time. When a band have as many albums as Hoobastank the music can often get stale, but based on their set last night that is not what's happening - they managed to fill their set with a variety of songs, and it was nice to get a couple of slow moments after the velocity that packed both Alien Ant Farm and P.O.D's sets.
The announcement of "let's do the song!" preceded 'The Reason', which it isn't arguable is Hoobastank's most well known song. The crowd were all singing and swaying along, even the people who hadn't been involving themselves in the earlier songs, and it was nice to see the power of music in such an obvious way - everyone calmed down and cheered along, enjoying it wholly. Final song 'Out Of Control' picked the pace back up, giving everyone one last chance to put all of their energy into dancing, and it was a fantastic way to close a brilliant set.
I sincerely hope Hoobastank don't leave it this long until they come back again, because this is something I could definitely get used to.
Crawling In The Dark
Inside Of You
Born To Lead
No Win Situation
The First of Me
Out Of Control