Thursday, 3 September 2015

Reading Festival 28-29-30/08/2015

Phew! It only feels like last week that I went to Reading 2014, and wrote a mammoth review that took me days and days to finish. This time around I've had a day to recover, and now I'm diving into this review - wish me luck!

I'm only going to be writing thorough reviews on bands that I saw a few songs of - there will be a list of the bands I saw on each day if you want to ask what I thought of anyone else!


Taking the award for most fun set of the entire weekend were main stage openers Mariachi El Bronx. I've missed The Bronx's mariachi counterpart a couple of times, but I've never thought it was a great loss - I just assumed they would sound like generic mariachi music. I couldn't have anticipated they would blow me away as much as they did. 
I missed the very beginning of their set, but from the opening notes of 'Cell Mates' I was hooked. Speeding through '48 Roses' and 'Wildfires', you could tell the crowd was loving every second - for such a different style of music, the amount of people dancing along was fabulous to see. It was also a funny set - with vocalist Matt Caughthran announcing "I forgot to brush my teeth this morning but other than that I'm having a good time!" and repeatedly getting the crowd to scream out for both Mariachi El Bronx and "The fuckin' Bronx!". 
My favourite song from the set was definitely 'Revolution Girls', which is still stuck in my head at this moment. I'd never listened to Mariachi El Bronx before, but I'm definitely going to listen to them more! If you haven't heard them yet, go and listen to them right now - they're not going to be what you expect: they'll be so much better.

Right Between The Eyes (*)
Cell Mates
48 Roses
High Tide
Norteno Lights
Revolution Girls

(*) according to

Special mention: Running over to the NME tent, I managed to catch the last half a song of The Struts set - with the vocals being compared to Freddie Mercury, and having the flamboyant stage personality to match, it wasn't something I wanted to completely miss. For a band this early on in the day the reaction was also great - the sit down/stand up with the crowd had a large majority of the tent involved. I didn't see as much of The Struts as I'd been intending, but I'm keeping an eye out for these guys. 

Back to main stage, for my third time seeing Neck Deep this year. If you haven't heard (and if you haven't, where have you been?) Neck Deep had a line-up change last week, with guitarist Lloyd Roberts leaving after three years in the band. It was the first personnel change Neck Deep had been through, so I was interested to see how - or rather, if - it would change their onstage dynamic. 
Surprisingly, you couldn't tell the difference. Following the release of sophomore album 'Life's Not Out To Get You', Neck Deep were already at the top of their game, and this performance catapulted them even higher into the stratosphere.
Previously, I haven't connected with Neck Deep. The more I've seen them, the more bored I've seemed to get - they've played the same songs in slightly different orders, and I haven't known any of them all that well (apart from 'A Part Of Me', which was one of my favourite songs last summer). But something was different this time, and I was completely sucked in. It might be because they have nothing left to lose, it might be because their new material is superior to their older songs, but the band feel more confident and their performance benefits from it unmistakably. Before 'Gold Steps', vocalist Ben Barlow joked "bounce along like a fucking hip hop show - we think we're Eminem but we're not!" and it certainly got the crowd moving - where their established material is appreciated, the new songs are getting such a better reaction from the crowd. As well as 'Gold Steps', 'Can't Kick Up The Roots' had more singing and dancing along than the rest of the set put together, with countless people on shoulders and crowd surfing. With drummer Dani Washington breaking his snare during the middle of the set, it was just another sign of how much effort the band were putting into winning the crowd round at this main stage debut.
But as well as being an entirely brilliant set, there were also a couple of poignant moment: lyrically, especially. With 'Gold Steps' saying "sometimes things will bend you, but trust me you'll be fine [...] life's not out to get you, despite the things you've been through" and 'What Did You Expect?' finishing with the emotional "I guess I'll be fine", it does feel strangely appropriate to hear these songs live at such a time in the bands existence. Following 'What Did You Expect?', Ben Barlow said "you will be fine you fucking asshole!" before quickly mentioning the fact that it was a blink-182 quote - either way it's hard not to imagine that it was aimed at Lloyd, especially when you consider the fact that 'What Did You Expect?' was a song that Ben and Lloyd wrote together as a duo.
Yes, this show could have been even more successful. Without the shadow of the allegations hanging over them, I wonder how much larger their crowd could have been, but it doesn't detract from the audience that they pulled - for the second band on on main stage the hype surrounding their set was palpable. Following the announcement that they're main support for Bring Me The Horizon's biggest tour to date, it'll be brilliant to see how far Neck Deep can go from here - these four lads seriously deserve their success.

Losing Teeth
Tables Turned
Growing Pains
Gold Steps
What Did You Expect?
Damsel In Distress
Can't Kick Up The Roots
A Part of Me
Over and Over

With their UK festival debut, Echosmith were another surprise for me. In what turned out to be my favourite set of the weekend, their beautifully written indie rock was the perfect chilled-out sound for a hot summer day. Vocalist Sydney Sierota really brought the sunshine to the festival, kitted out in a yellow ensemble that brightened up everyone's day, but it wasn't just their look that was delightful - the sound was brilliantly fun too. 
If you haven't heard of Echosmith, you'll probably recognise their song 'Cool Kids'. Like most of the people in the tent, this was one of the only Echosmith songs that I knew off by heart (the other being 'Bright'), so I was pleased that the crowd were being respectful and dancing along to all of the songs. Too often, if a band only has one popular song the audience will talk through all the rest of them, but this show wasn't like that at all. 
Starting off the set by announcing "thank you so much for coming out to watch us at our first time here at Reading! We're so happy you guys have joined us, are you ready to have some fun?" Sydney grabbed everyone's attention and kept the audience rapt. Even if the crowd weren't ready to have fun at the beginning, they couldn't help it by the end. Sydney's extremely charismatic and charming, and it's inspirational to see such a hands on frontwoman: playing both the tambourine and drums throughout multiple songs.
The standout moment of this set for me was probably the end of 'Bright', in which Sydney and guitarists Noah and Jamie performed a harmonising acapella vocal on the final chorus. I don't know if it was the fact that they were all so talented, or the easygoing and simplistic chemistry inherent in a sibling band, but it was a breathtaking moment. 
Of course, 'Cool Kids' was brilliant. The singalong was so much fun, and the band encouraged the crowd to sing the final line back to them, so that the crowd actually finished their set for them - something that helped it stick in my head and definitely made for a unique closer for a debut festival appearance. Sydney recorded most of the song on her phone, and you could tell how utterly ecstatic she was - this band have been working hard for six years, and everything is finally paying off. 
There are always the obvious comparisons made between Echosmith and Paramore or We Are The In Crowd, because of Sydney's powerful vocal, but musically the band are most definitely unique and are doing their own thing - and doing it brilliantly, may I add. 

Let's Love
Talking Dreams
Come Together
Come With Me
Up To You
Cool Kids

The first, and last, time I saw Panic! At The Disco was back in 2011, before the release of 'Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die' and the departure of original drummer Spencer Smith, so I was highly anticipating finally seeing this incarnation of Panic! at a live show. 
Luckily for me, this set was filled with newer material, with over half of the songs being ones that I hadn't heard live before (including their mind-blowingly good 'Bohemian Rhapsody' cover). This meant that I highly enjoyed their show - in fact, much more than I'd been expecting to! Recent single 'Hallelujah' was not my cup of tea when it first released, but in a live environment it sounded much better - instead of overproduced and ineffectual, it sounded triumphant, much closer to what I'd been expecting from the band.
Alas, 'Vegas Lights' had a backing track that was a bit too loud and over the top, but when the set really got into full swing it seemed much more relaxed and effortless. Brendon Urie's vocal tricks were jaw-dropping, with the end of 'The Ballad of Mona Lisa' featuring a held note that could have shattered glass, and they continued throughout. 
After their legendary bottling at Reading festival back in 2006, it was very brave of the band to even attempt tackling a song as legendary as 'Bohemian Rhapsody', but it's a sign of the changing times that it was the most successful song of their entire set. The whole crowd were chanting along and swaying, and despite the fact that Panic! are no where near at the standard of Queen, it was great to have such a song brought to life in a brilliant victory for the band. The song is perfect for the band to cover, because it really shows off the skills of all of the members - Dallon Weekes and Kenny Harris's backing vocals, and Kenny's note-perfect guitar solo being the best aspects of a flawless performance.
I enjoyed every second of Panic! At The Disco's set, and with their new song, 'Death of a Bachelor' released mere hours ago, it'll be amazing to see where they are this time next year. Album five is going to be a good one, I promise you. 

Vegas Lights
Time To Dance
The Ballad of Mona Lisa
Ready To Go (Get Me Out Of My Mind)
Miss Jackson
Nine In The Afternoon
Bohemian Rhapsody cover
This Is Gospel
I Write Sins Not Tragedies

I'm still not sure how I felt about Don Broco's set. Yes, I had a lot of fun. But on the other hand I'm still floundering in confusion about whether or not I like 'Automatic' as an album. When I listened to it for review I was a bit over-excited and enjoyed it much more than I should have, but it's only two weeks later and I'm already feeling less sure (only actively listening to three songs). 
Considering this, and then consider the fact that Don Broco played a nine song set - and seven of the songs were on 'Automatic'. This meant it was a bit of a strange set for me, because I'd been expecting some new songs but not such an influx. I was still singing along to nearly every word, and 'Nerve' blew me away with vocalist Rob Damiani hitting every inconceivable note, but I didn't feel as hooked or as enamoured as I do normally. 
I like 'Automatic'. I'm starting to like 'Fire'. I think 'Superlove' is okay. But other than 'Nerve' the rest of the songs leave me with a general feeling of "meh". I'm glad they still played 'Priorities', but where were 'Hold On', 'Yeah Man' and 'Whole Truth'? I know the band needed to play a lot of new material to market the album, but minimising the inclusions from 'Priorities' to just one song made me feel deflated. 
The only moment that really excited me - and I mean, had me jumping up and down from excitement - was the tease intro of 'Whole Truth' going into 'Thug Workout'. With Rob announcing they were playing an earlier song and starting off 'Whole Truth' I did feel a bit confused - it really isn't one of their earliest releases - but to play the entire intro and then throw themselves into the thrashing, heavier 'Thug Workout' was a genius move. 
Sadly, that was the only moment that really excited me. For one of my favourite bands, and for this being the eighth time I've seen them live, I shouldn't be feeling disappointed following one of their sets - I'm just still feeling very nonchalant about the whole performance. I mean, it was kind of funny when Rob shouted out Oxfam with a "big up Oxfam!", and it was sweet when he shared the fact that the band actually started six years ago at Reading, but even these little moments couldn't redeem their show for me completely. I'm still considering going to see the band headline Brixton O2 Academy in December, but it's looking a whole lot less likely now. 

Money Power Fame
What You Do To Me
Whole Truth intro/Thug Workout
You Wanna Know

I chose to see Don Broco's entire set instead of All Time Low's because I think 'Automatic' is a superior album to 'Future Hearts', but I still managed to catch the last four songs of the latter performance. If you've been to an All Time Low show, you'll know the drill - fans on stage for 'Time Bomb', closing with 'Dear Maria, Count Me In'. I've seen the setlist since Reading and it turns out they actually played some new songs earlier on in the set, but because I didn't care about the new album that much I'm not too sad about missing them. 
But for the end of a set, it was predictable and boring. I might feel different if I'd seen more, but it was standard All Time Low - Jack Barakat making inappropriate jokes, Alex Gaskarth attempting to control him but failing, Zack Merrick and Rian Dawson not really doing anything (other than playing their instruments to a fairly high standard). 
Maybe it's because I've seen All Time Low so many times this year already, maybe it's because the new album disappointed me more than any other this year so far, but this set wasn't the best I've seen from this band, and it certainly wasn't even in my top rated bands of the weekend. 

Bastille were one of the bands I was most excited about during this weekend, but the first half of their set was a major disappointment to me. The played all the songs I'd been expecting them to play, but for some reason it just felt flat - I can't put my finger on why, but I wasn't impressed at all.
This could have been because of new song, 'Hangin''. Compared to Bastille's older material, it just wasn't up to the same standard: where the band normally write huge tunes that you can dance and sing to, that are catchy as hell, this one just seemed... odd. Bastille are normally of such a high standard, so it surprised me that it was just a poor song. I might feel differently about it when hearing a recording, but in a live environment it didn't do the guys any favours.
However, they seemed to turn things around after their mash-up 'No Scrubs'. I hadn't been expecting it, but Dan Smith's vocal sounded relaxed and comfortable, where throughout the first half of the set it seemed as though he was straining a bit too much to hold and reach the right notes. This chilled feeling continued throughout 'Flaws', and by that point it seemed they felt much more at home - the rest of the set was a roaring success. 
The second new song they played, 'Snakes', was much better than the first one. It felt a lot more like Bastille, and it fitted perfectly with the rest of their songs, feeling as though it belonged in with the rest of them. Finishing with 'Pompeii' was predictable, but with the entire field singing along it was a great moment.
Bastille's second album should be announced any day now, and I'm much more apprehensive than I was before seeing them live - hopefully they'll be able to win me back. 

Things We Lost In The Fire
Laura Palmer
Hangin' - new song
Weight of Living Pt II
These Streets
No Angels ('No Scrubs' by TLC and 'Angels' by The XX) 
Bad Blood
Snakes - new song
Of The Night 

This was my second time seeing Prides, but the first where I actually knew who the band were, as they were a supporting band first time around. Since seeing them they've received rather a lot of radio play, particularly on songs 'Out Of The Blue' and 'Messiah', and I've been following their progress.
Their dance-laced indie rock is certainly different, making them one of the more interesting bands of the day. I only knew three or four of their songs before this set, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself - it's music that makes you want to dance, and it's all so very happy that you can't help but have a smile on your face. They had a bigger crowd than I'd been expecting, and most of the attendants knew the words to every song - it was brilliant to see that the band had gathered such a large following over the last year. 
My favourite moment was probably 'Little Danger', in which vocalist Stewart Brock was teaching the crowd to singalong to the "I wanna be" repeated lyric in the chorus. He jokingly shouted "come on guys, it's Friday! We're just getting started!" which encouraged the crowd to put a bit more into their participation, and the energy didn't let down from there. 
However, I absolutely loved closer 'Messiah', in which the band released large multi-coloured balloons on the crowd and had a huge amount of smoke shooting up around them - for a band who headlined the Introducing stage last year, they've come a long way in the last twelve months and it's obvious through the effort they exude. If Prides play Reading next year, it won't surprise me in the slightest if they manage to make it on to main stage - they're a real success story.

Out Of The Blue
Higher Love
The Way Back Up
Little Danger
Just Say It
I Should Know You Better

Special mention: In one of the most crowded performances of the day, I just about managed to squeeze into the tent to catch the beginning of Limp Bizkit's set. In an absolutely genius move, the band decided to play 'Rollin'' first, meaning that after the song finished a huge chunk of the crowd flooded away - it's a perfect way to get rid of people who are only interested in their most well known song and leave room for the real fans of the band. Sadly, their stage time overlapped almost completely with Simple Plan, which meant we had to leave after third song 'Golden Cobra', but I was impressed by what I heard - yes, it felt like we'd gone back in time to the early 2000's, but it was bloody fun.

The band I was most excited about seeing for the first time was definitely Simple Plan. Out of the bands I listened to when I first started really liking music, they're the last one I needed to see live: the rest of them tour over here quite frequently (Fall Out Boy, All Time Low, Green Day etc.) but Simple Plan hardly ever play shows in the UK, and when they do they always seem to pick dates that I just can't possibly make. This meant their announcement for Reading festival was a line-up highlight.
I missed the very beginning of their set due to hanging around at Limp Bizkit for a little too long - that damn 'Golden Cobra' is too catchy! But a reliable source informed me that I'd only missed the first song, 'Jetlag', so it wasn't that much of a problem. Once I got there I had a brilliant time, and you could tell that the band were loving it too, with vocalist Pierre Bouvier hardly standing still through their entire set.
If you want to have jolly good fun and a massive singalong, go to a Simple Plan show. With 'JUMP!' being mashed up with The Black Eyed Peas 'I Gotta Feeling', and a selection of their greatest hits ranging from the melancholy 'Welcome To My Life' through to the smash hit 'Summer Paradise'. I was a little disappointed that they didn't choose to include songs off of their self-titled album, but in a short festival set often songs will be overlooked - it just gives me even more of a reason to go to one of their headline shows in the future.
The best moment was definitely 'Boom', which had only been released at five in the morning on the Friday. This meant it was brand spanking new to most of the tent inhabitants, but with the energy from the band you'd think it was one of their most well-known songs - the dancing and jumping didn't flag in the slightest.
If you haven't been to a Simple Plan show, what are you doing with your life? I can't wait for them to come back and announce more shows, especially knowing that their new album will be arriving in a few months.

Can't Keep My Hands Off You
JUMP!/I Gotta Feeling cover
Welcome To My Life
Loser Of The Year
Shut Up
I'd Do Anything
Summer Paradise
I'm Just A Kid

I was majorly disappointed with Mumford and Sons. It might have been because of the section of the set that I saw, because it was dull, dreary and utterly depressing. The extended intro to 'Thistle and Weeds' lost the attention of most of the crowd members, and it was one of the smallest crowds I'd ever seen a headliner pull. It all just seemed a bit obscure.
Normally, I love Mumford and Sons. I think their music is something a bit different, a welcome relief from the rest of the generic music on the radio. But that just doesn't come across in a live environment. Yes, 'The Cave' sounded just as brilliant as it normally does, but with hardly any interaction with the crowd it meant that the gaps between songs felt too extended and left me with an uncomfortable feeling - you shouldn't be feeling that anticipatory and impatient at a headline show.

The last band I saw on Friday was New Found Glory. Last time I saw them was when they played on the Kerrang! tour back in 2012, so a lot has changed since then - they've released a successful album in the form of 'Resurrection', and parted ways with original member Steve Klein. 
I wasn't in love with New Found Glory when I last saw them, but I really enjoyed their live show - unfortunately, this time I didn't really enjoy their show either. It might have been because it was at the end of a very long day, and I was tired and ready to go home, but it just felt as though the set was dragging. 
I enjoyed 'Head on Collision', 'Vicious Love' and 'My Friends Over You', but I didn't really know the rest of the songs that they put in their set, so it went a bit over my head. It was inspirational when vocalist Jordan Pundik was talking before playing 'Ready and Willing' - he shared the fact that he loved his favourite singer but he was always self-absorbed, and that he decided when he wanted to be a singer that "I'd wanna tell a kid like me he was no better than them and he could do what he wanted to do on stage", declaring "Don't be afraid to follow your passion in life" to an eruption of cheers from the tent. 
It was also interesting that the band were getting demos thrown at them on stage. Mentioning the fact that the same thing happened at their two headline shows at Brixton, Jordan said "please throw all of your demos at us, we will listen to them!" which also elicited cheers from the fans - you can tell that this is a band that care about the people that they influence and will do a lot to help them out. 
As well as the emotion they exude for their fans, it was surprising to hear two covers sneaking into New Found Glory's set - 'Steal My Girl' by One Direction, and 'The Cave' by the headliners that their set was clashing with. Playing a Mumford and Sons song definitely made their performance stand out, and it's brilliant that they decided to cover something so risky - when the original band is just across the field from you, it's likely that the fans will be over there instead of with you, but actually the tent went wild for their cover.
Despite this, the set still felt a little flat to me - the lack of songs I knew mixed with the fact that Jordan's vocal felt more nasal than usual... It just meant that it wasn't the best. This might have been because they had played some huge warm-up shows in the week before, but either way it wasn't that good.

Understatement (*)
Selfless (*)
All Downhill From Here (*)
Truth Of My Youth (*)
Something I Call Personality (*)
Don't Let Her Pull You Down
Head On Collision
Ready and Willing
Failure's Not Flattering (What's Your Problem?)
Dressed To Kill
Vicious Love
The Cave cover
Hit Or Miss
It's Not Your Fault/Steal My Girl cover
My Friends Over You

Bands I saw on Friday:
Mariachi El Bronx
The Struts
Neck Deep
The Districts
Parquet Courts
Panic! At The Disco
Don Broco
All Time Low
The Menzingers
Bear's Den
Modern Life Is War
Limp Bizkit
Saint Raymond
Simple Plan
Django Django
Mumford and Sons
New Found Glory


Special mention: The biggest crowd pulled on Saturday was definitely for main stage openers Babymetal. Despite the fact that I went along to see them, I still don't understand the appeal - in fact, I think I'm more confused now than I was beforehand.

In one of the most exciting secret sets ever, it was finally time for Foals to return to Reading festival. This wasn't much of a secret, as organiser Melvin Benn had hinting about "wild horses" playing a set before the festival kicked off, but it was still bloody exciting.
The only Foals songs I really loved before this set were 'Mountain at the Gates' and 'What Went Down', but I was pleasantly surprised by the rest of their set. Yes, it was short, but it was also utterly sweet. The amount of people sprinting across the field and straight into the tent was testament to how well-loved this band are, and when they shared the fact that it was their first time in this tent since 2008, it really drove home how special this moment was.
'What Went Down' was my personal favourite, but I think for a large portion of the attendants this was their favourite set of the weekend. If Foals don't headline the entire festival within the next couple of years it'll be a massive surprise.

My Number
Mountain at the Gates
Spanish Sahara
Red Socks Pugie
What Went Down

In their first festival appearance ever, merely a year after their band was created, No Devotion shone on The Pit. Compared to some of the other bands on the line-up, they weren't nearly as heavy, but they made up for it with their respective pasts - vocalist Geoff Rickly coming from Thursday, and the other members (apart from touring drummer Phil Jenkins, who originated in Kids In Glass Houses) being the remnants of Lostprophets. I think it's about time everyone stopped mentioning their previous bands, though, because No Devotion is starting to take on a life of its own, and the trajectory really is splendid.
Starting off with 'Eyeshadow', I was struck by how much more confident and comfortable the band seemed on stage - at their show in Cardiff last year the nerves were high because it was their first ever live show, and they didn't seem very relaxed when I saw them at Reading Sub89 either. Maybe it's because their debut album, 'Permanence', is nearly here - maybe it's because they didn't want to waste a single second of their festival debut: either way, they took every moment and made the most of it, making for a brilliant set. 
Geoff Rickly was a man possessed - shouting out the vocals with as much vigour as you can imagine, thrusting his mic stand in the air and holding it above his head as he encouraged the crowd to shout every word back at them. 'Addition' is likely to be the only song that the majority of attendants hadn't heard before, as the other four songs in the setlist (or, at least, the other four that I heard) had all been released at singles: this meant that the tent was abuzz, with a much better reaction that I'd anticipated. It's always tricky when a band has been haunted by such terrible past, and as Geoff said, the other members had been through "the worst break-up of all time for any fucking band possible". I'm just glad that the crowd didn't hold this against them and was more than happy to give them a second chance; a second chance that they are definitely not taking for granted. 
Unfortunately I had to leave before the end of their set, just after the introduction of 'Permanent Sunlight' - I wanted to try to meet PVRIS in the signing tent, and No Devotion's set started half an hour late due to earlier delays on The Pit stage. I would have loved to have seen the rest of their set, because it was definitely special, and I'm so happy of how far they've come in just over twelve short months. Here's to the next year.
'Permanence' releases at the end of September, and I couldn't be more excited. 

10,000 Summers
Permanent Sunlight
Grand Central (*)

(*) provided by Jo Thompson - thank you so much!

Special mention: I didn't manage to get to see much of Pierce The Veil's Reading debut (again, because of the PVRIS signing tent), but the three songs that I saw blew me away. Singer Vic Fuentes was choked up as he shouted to the crowd thank you for witnessing the "biggest and most crazy show of our entire lives", and I was so happy for the band who managed to pull a large crowd. 'King For A Day' sounds brilliant in a festival environment, as does 'Caraphernalia' - I'm just sad that I didn't get to see how well 'The Great Divide' went down. I'm highly anticipating their new material, and can't wait to finally get an announcement of that fourth album.  

I was only just getting into Alexisonfire when they announced they were splitting up, so the arrival of their reunion tour this year was magic to my ears. In all honesty, I hadn't listened to them much since their split (with the exception of 'Young Cardinals') so I didn't really know any of their songs going into this set, but it was still one hell of a performance.
With three vocalists (George Pettit, Wade MacNeil and Dallas Green) the variety of sound is a breath of fresh air - you can't really get bored during their set because it's constantly switching around and keeping you interested. George's abrasive stage persona is also certainly something to watch - he's the angriest member of the band, for sure, so it's brilliant to see him charging up and down the stage screaming all of their lyrics. This, combined with the fact that he ripped through his shirt and ended up running around shirtless (even if it did take around three songs for him to completely tear through it) meant he was definitely the most fun member to watch - even if he might not be the most talented.
I definitely preferred Dallas Green's vocal efforts over George and Wade. It was my first time experiencing any of their voices in a live environment (I've missed Gallows and City and Colour at Reading festival over the last two years!) but I was surprised at how flawless Dallas sounded. Sometimes, when hearing bands with screamo and normal vocals live I end up being disappointed by the clean vocalist - I don't know why, it just seems to happen for me almost every time. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn't happen with Dallas - if anything, his voice seemed even more on point than it normally does on the recordings.
No one really knows what's going on with Alexisonfire at this point: is this reunion for good? Will there be a new album? Or is this officially the end? Either way, I'm excited to finally find out - come on, guys, give us some news!

Boiled Frogs
Old Crows
The Northern
We Are The Sound
.44 Caliber Love Letter
Dog's Blood
Drunks, Lovers, Sinners and Saints
This Could Be Anywhere in the World
Young Cardinals

I love PVRIS. There's nothing bad I can say about them, because I adore them and I always have the biggest amount of fun at their sets. In all honesty, at Slam Dunk festival I did think that vocalist Lynn Gunn was sounding a little rough around the edges - but if you've been touring for nearly a year non-stop, who wouldn't? I had been a little anxious in case I was disappointed with this set, but it was actually the best I've seen PVRIS so far. 
For their first Reading festival the crowd was insane: despite the fact that they started thirty minutes late, there was still hundreds of people waiting outside the tent desperate to get inside. PVRIS haven't played many shows over here yet - only the tour supporting Lower Than Atlantis, one headline show and the three dates of Slam Dunk festival. This means they're still a hot commodity, and I'd guess that for most people in this tent it was their first time seeing PVRIS - or at least I'd assume so from the buzz that was filling the air. 
Keeping their set short but sweet, with the usual six songs played (swapping 'Smoke' out for 'Holy'), Lynn's voice sounded as close to the recordings that I'd heard it. Despite the fact that they've been playing Warped tour all summer, it doesn't seem as though the band are anywhere near burning out, and that's a massive achievement for a band who have only been around for a few years. Even established bands would be flagging at this point, but PVRIS seem to have more energy than they've had before: the success isn't going to their heads, and they seem to be trying even harder to deserve the huge crowds that they're pulling.
As soon as 'Fire' started the crowd was jumping and singing along, and Alex Babinski and Brian MacDonald were beaming. I don't think I've ever seen a band look more thankful and grateful for their reaction. When we spoke to them before the show they all seemed rather apprehensive, but just a few seconds on stage should have resolved any of their fears. 
I'm so glad that they decided to put 'Holy' in their set, because it's one of my favourite songs off of 'White Noise' - it was definitely the stand out moment of their set for me. I love the fact that they decided to slow it down for a little bit, because at a festival they could have chosen to play a highly energetic and upbeat set, but putting 'Holy' in there really made it that little bit more special.
If you were at Reading and you missed this set, you missed a massive moment in this bands existence - and it's going to be a moment people will look back on for years to come. 

St Patrick
White Noise
My House

Special mention: I didn't know much of Seether's material before seeing them, but I'd just like to give them a little shout out for performing a note perfect rendition of 'Fake It'. Sometimes if a band have that one song which is huge, their live performance isn't really up to scratch, but you would have thought you were listening to the recording - they played it just that well. I also loved 'Country Song', which I heard for the first time at the weekend but will definitely be listening to again.

My second time seeing Bring Me The Horizon in two days was not a disappointment. Yes, they played exactly the same set as they did at their warm-up show, but this was my first time seeing them in a festival environment and boy oh boy it was completely different. Bursting out on to the stage with 'Happy Song' they definitely cemented themselves as future headliners - it was the kind of entrance that you can't beat. The energy was insane, with Oli running all over the stage and not stopping for a second. The crowd didn't stop either, with Oli inciting multiple circle pits, culminating in the cry of "If you break a bone you can come to the medic centre and meet us, so let's break some fucking bones!" before diving straight into 'Antivist'.
Their set was one of the loudest as well: despite the fact that I needed to run off and grab some food, you could still hear 'Chelsea Smile' being played over the sound of Charli XCX in the dance tent next to me. It was inescapable - it was infectious. The crowd that they attracted was mind-blowing, especially when you consider the bad reputation the band used to have (anyone remember Oli Sykes and the piss throwing debacle?) because all of their pasts are far behind them - they've redeemed themselves, and they've overcome the negativities that have plagued them throughout the years to come out on top in the most dramatically successful fashion.
There's not too much that I can say about Bring Me The Horizon that I haven't said before, so I'm not going to drag this out too much, but just know that this band are on the brink of something wonderful and I can't wait to see it happen. When 'That's The Spirit' releases next week, it's going to catapult this band somewhere unimaginable - I can just feel it. It's obvious when you hear 'Happy Song' live, when - despite the loud backing track - you can still see the crowd throwing themselves into the song and screaming the lyrics back. It's obvious when you listen to 'Throne', reminiscent of Linkin Park's most successful days. It's obvious when you look at the fact that the band sold out Wembley Arena last year, will likely sell out Alexandra Palace in November, and will likely be headlining this festival next year - if not 2017, at the earliest. 
If you don't like Bring Me The Horizon, you're going to have to suck it up. This band is here to stay, and they're about to become much more unavoidable.  

Happy Song
Shadow Moses
House Of Wolves
Go To Hell For Heaven's Sake
Chelsea Smile
Can You Feel My Heart?
Blessed With A Curse

Special mention: I felt extremely sorry for Ghost, who had one of the biggest crowds I'd seen all day fighting to get into The Pit for their Reading festival debut. Alas, their set didn't start until thirty minutes after it was supposed to (due to the delays earlier in the day) and by the time they got onstage their tent was half empty - if there's a toss up between Ghost and Metallica, I think the majority of people will choose Metallica. Despite this, their set was entertaining - I didn't know any of their songs before seeing about ten minutes of their performance, but I fell in love with 'Cirice' and am definitely going to listen to more at some point in the future. 

Special mention: Another shout out needs to go to Twin Atlantic, who played one of their biggest shows to date on Saturday. Their performances at Reading and Leeds festivals were their last officially touring their latest album, 'Great Divide', and despite the fact that I only got their for the last two songs you could tell they were sending it off with a bang. I only got there for 'Brothers and Sisters' and 'Heart and Soul' - with vocalist Sam McTrusty announcing at the end of 'Brothers and Sisters' "that was me fucking up the words, not you! We all make mistakes". I'm sad that I didn't get to see more of Twin Atlantic, but I'm excited to see what music they will produce after they take a short amount of time away. 

Winning the award for "set I'm surprised no one died at" is definitely The Wombats. Headlining the Festival Republic tent is no easy chore, but a band with the kind of following that The Wombats have gathered is not going to find it difficult - which is how, with The Pit music finished for the night, The Wombats crowd was packed into the field between the two stages, spread up the hill towards Metallica and completely covered the benches located nearby. It was difficult to hear anything outside of the tent, because the amplification was not the best, meaning that some of the impact was lost on me - I got there rather late, so there was no way I was fighting my way inside.
Even without being able to hear properly, it was still a heck of a lot of fun. I saw The Wombats supporting Red Hot Chili Peppers quite a while ago, but they've always been one of those bands I've enjoyed - their music is fun and cheery and definitely summery, so they were perfect for this festival (even though they were playing the only night that there was pouring rain). 'Kill The Director' is still my favourite song by The Wombats, and going by the crowd reaction I think it's pretty high up there for a lot of their fans, but I've also gained a new appreciation for their new music which I hadn't tried out just yet. 
This band should have been on a much bigger stage, and I hope the Reading festival organisers keep that in mind if they book them again, because even though their set was fun the inside of the tent really did look like one massive health and safety risk. 

Welcome To New York
Jump Into The Fog
Greek Tragedy
Be Your Shadow
Techno Fan
The English Summer
Kill The Director
Give Me a Try
Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves)
Let's Dance To Joy Division

Special mention: I should really be able to do a full review of Metallica, but due to the set clash with The Wombats I chose to see them instead. Thankfully, I managed to catch all of Metallica's encore - the amazing triple hitter of 'Whiskey In The Jar', 'Nothing Else Matters' and 'Enter Sandman'. I've never been a massive fan of Metallica, but after seeing what a brilliant show they put on on Saturday night I'm very tempted to start listening to them more. 
It really was a special headlining set. Whereas a lot of bands just finish their sets and walk offstage without so much as a goodbye, every member of Metallica stepped up to the microphone to thank the audience, and the abundance of fans they had onstage behind them. Vocalist James Hetfield was thankful for "Metallica, after thirty-five years of being a band, headlining something as beautiful as this", while drummer Lars Ulrich shared the fact that "eighteen years ago we came to Reading for the first time, tonight is number four and it just keeps getting better and better and better and better". 

Bands I saw on Saturday:
The Riptide Movement
San Fermin
The 100
Bad Breeding
Black Peaks
No Devotion
Pierce The Veil
Bring Me The Horizon
Charli XCX
Lucy Rose
Twin Atlantic
The Wombats


I saw Lonely The Brave at Reading last year and couldn't remember much of their set, so I decided I'd check them out again and see if it could trigger any memories. Alas, it triggered all of the wrong ones - their set was one of the most depressing ones I'd ever encountered, and was one of the only moments of the entire weekend where I felt bored to tears. I attempted to get through their entire set but left quite near to the end, because it just wasn't worth it. When you can feel your heart starting to ache from sheer desperation, just call it quits.
Musically, they're okay I guess. It's just the lyrics and the vocals. I can't tell why, it just makes me want to fall asleep, cry and wail from despair all at the same time. I understand that can be the point with some music (with emo bands, especially) but usually they have at least some redeeming songs that put some energy into their set - this was a half an hour plod-along. Sheer disappointment.

The Blue, The Green
Black Saucers

Sadly, the same can be said about Against Me!'s set. The majority of the songs all sounded the same, with only 'Transgender Dysphoria Blues' and 'I Was A Teenage Anarchist' standing out or sticking in my head at all. It might be because I didn't know the band, but I found myself getting confused as to whether we were listening to the same song that had already been on, or whether the songs were just insanely long, or whether they just sounded similar to each other.
Vocalist Laura Jane Grace was as inspiring as she comes across in interviews, reeling off a list of things that the band do not support before announcing that they stand for one thing "and that is self-expression", which got a lot of cheers from the crowd - with Laura wearing a 'Gender Is Over!' shirt it was brilliant to see them standing for something that affected them personally and to use their platform to campaign towards a greater good. 
I'm definitely going to give Against Me! another go in the future, but their set was not as captivating as I'd hoped. Definitely going to rock out to 'I Was A Teenage Anarchist' though - it's catchy as hell!

True Trans Soul Rebel (*)
Pints of Guinness Make You Strong (*)
Unconditional Love (*)
Walking Is Still Honest
Cliche Guevara
White People For Peace
Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Dead Friends
White Crosses/Spanish Moss
Thrash Unreal
Black Me Out
I Was A Teenage Anarchist

(*) according to

The best set - by far - that I was on Sunday had to be that of Moose Blood. They've been swanning around America on Warped tour for the last couple of months, so I was wondering if they would have changed their sound at all due to the elements around them - thankfully, they were still the same old band that I know and love. 
I missed the very start of their set due to an aversion to leaving AWOLnation, but I managed to see the rest of it (and have it on very good authority that the only song I missed was their opener, 'Bukowski') and I'm so glad that I was there. I hadn't been expecting them to get such a visceral reaction from the crowd, but at multiple times throughout the set the audience started cheering the bands name, bringing tears to vocalist Eddy Brewerton's eyes. He was completely speechless, repeatedly saying "I don't know what to say", and it was an extremely poignant moment - this band have worked so hard and have exploded over the last twelve months, but you can see they're as humble as they were when they were just starting. They're very thankful too, with Eddy thanking the crowd again at the end of the set, before going on to dedicate 'Boston' to his wife - another adorable inclusion.
For one of the softest sounding bands of The Pit on Sunday, they were also the one that got the best reaction. Their lyrics are heartfelt and so easy to relate to, and it's impossible not to fall in love with them if you give them a chance - as so many of the crowd have found out. You wouldn't imagine that emo acoustic music could still be this popular in 2015, especially not coming from a UK band, but Moose Blood have found their niche and would be wise to stick with it.

Swim Down
Chin Up
I Hope You're Missing Me
I Hope You're Miserable

Special mention: I only got to see four songs of The Gaslight Anthem's set, due to their overlap with Moose Blood, but this was their last performance before going on hiatus so I had to get there for some of it. Thankfully, I managed to see my favourite song, 'The '59 Sound', which still makes me as emotional as it did the first time I heard it - The Gaslight Anthem certainly have a way with words. I liked the end of their set, but it was hard to enjoy it knowing that it was going to be the last one that these great musicians would play in a while. I hope they don't leave it too long before returning. 

Special mention: I'd only see Turbowolf at Oxford O2 Academy a couple of days before, supporting Bring Me The Horizon, but I was glad I got to see the end of their set again. They're a lot easier to understand in a festival environment - I don't know if it was the acoustics of the venue at Oxford, or the nerves from the lead singer, but I felt that the impact was lost on me because half of the time I was wondering what exactly was going on. This was completely different when they played The Pit, however, and I ended up liking their set a lot more. Vocalist Chris Georgiadis seemed much more charismatic at this show, and when he told the crowd that it was time for a "boogie boogie" song before 'Read + Write', you could tell a lot more people were receptive of his joking around. 

One of my most anticipated sets this weekend was definitely the festival debut of Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes. The ex-Gallows and Pure Love frontman is back with a new project, and following the release of 'Blossom' earlier this month I was dying with excitement. I never liked Gallows, I started to like Pure Love, but it really did feel like the Rattlesnakes was something I could get completely on board with.
I was not wrong. In a live environment these songs are abrasive and vicious, sounding as though Frank Carter's attempting to kick each and every audience member in their teeth as he performs. I couldn't see anything that was going on onstage, because the crowd surrounding his tent was so far over capacity it was crazy - at least I can imagine the frenetic, disastrous energy that he exuded. 
I enjoy heavy songs a lot more live - when I'm listening through headphones or relaxing at home, it just kind of misses the point if I choose to listen to raging, angry music. In a setting like this however, they were perfect. This meant that 'Paradise' and 'Juggernaut', both songs which I'd previously felt apathetic about, really grabbed me and kept me interested, and I found myself getting more excited during the set than I had been before it. 
I loved the fact that Frank closed with 'I Hate You'. It was my personal favourite song on the album, so hearing the blasé, bitter, no-fucks-given attitude up on stage was sweet as sugar. With Frank finishing the song with a large crowd singalong, shouting at the attendants "what the fuck was that? Leeds was better than that!" to rile them up even further, it was a brilliant end to a perfect set. I'm already seeing Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes again, at Warped UK in October, and I'm definitely going to get there earlier so I can see what's happening up on that stage.  

Rotten Blossom
Devil Inside Me
I Hate You

This was technically my second time seeing Beartooth, but because I was in such a rush at Slam Dunk I only managed to see about forty-five seconds of their set. Thankfully, this time there were no such overlaps, so I saw their entire set.
Sadly, I don't really have much to say. Their sound is kind of generic, with the two vocalists and the heavy breakdowns, so it didn't stand out that much compared to the rest of the bands I saw - in fact, I can hardly remember any of their songs at this point in time. Yes, Caleb Shomo is a charismatic frontman - that is not to be doubted. His vocal was brilliant, as were those of backing vocalists Taylor Lumley and Kamron Bradbury. Their onstage antics were also entertaining, with a guitarist crowdsurfing during their performance of 'Dead'. But other than that, they didn't really stand out to me.
I hadn't listened to Beartooth that much before seeing them, so I'd been expecting them to be a bit heavier - this meant it was actually a pleasant surprise for me that they were singing rather than screaming. Despite the fact that none of their songs were catchy enough to stay with me, I am going to check out their album and try to listen to them a bit more.

The Lines
In Between
I Have A Problem
Beaten In Lips
Body Bag

After missing We Are The Ocean at Slam Dunk festival, I was not missing their set at Reading - their newest album, 'Ark', is their most successful and they have been progressing in leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, due to their stage time being brought forward by half an hour, I think a lot of people ended up missing their set - the crowd was notably larger at the end than it was at the beginning, so for a long period they were playing to a half empty tent. 
Even though they didn't have many people in attendance, they still played the show of their lives. Liam Cromby's vocals on 'Ark' were breath-taking, and I've never heard him seem so self-assured. This setlist wasn't surprising - it included all of their most well-known songs, and the most popular from their newest release - but despite this it still felt inspired: the band seem so much more at ease with their music and their talents, and it definitely comes across. When a band make playing look this easy, it's much easier to watch. 
If you can get to We Are The Ocean's November tour, please do. I've been following this band since 2008 and they deserve all of the support that they can get, because they really are brilliant.

Do It Together
Holy Fire
The Road (Run For Miles)
Good For You
Young Heart
The Waiting Room

Special mention: When I saw frnkiero and the cellabration supporting Mallory Knox back in November, I was beyond disappointed. Frank Iero's diction seemed to have completely dissolved, so you couldn't understand a word he was saying - it just sounded like slightly formed static noise, and it did my head in. I couldn't wait for his set to be over, because it was just that awful.
I don't know whether it's the touring he's done over the last eight months or the acoustics at a festival environment, but he completely changed my opinion in this set. I missed quite a large chunk of it while I was at We Are The Ocean, but when I came in and could understand everything I really did find myself getting sucked in. I've never been able to argue with the fact that Frank is a born performer, and he really does play the frontman card well. 
Throwing in a Leathermouth cover ('Sunsets Are For Muggings') he shared that he makes "setlists right before we go on to know what has to be played", and he thought it was a "damn shame we never got to play this song at Reading festival". You could see a lot of people getting excited, wondering if the surprise addition to the setlist was going to be a My Chemical Romance rarity, but I think it's much more in keeping with the rest of Frank's set to put in a Leathermouth song here or there. 
If there was an award for the band that completely reversed my opinion, Frank would take it with no competition. If he can keep up this quality of show, I'll be addicted. 

The nicest way to spend the end of Reading festival was sat outside the Festival Republic tent, listening to Frank Turner play show 1,720. I've seen Frank Turner twice before - opening up Wembley Stadium for Green Day, and making a surprise appearance at the Invictus Games - but this is my first time actively seeking him out, and I'm so glad I did. 
Yes, I will admit that I didn't know many songs on his setlist. I love 'Get Better' and 'I Still Believe', but I was blown away by how beautiful the rest of the set was - there was no song that stood out for me as bad, because they were all so brilliantly crafted and performed. When you've got as much experience as Frank Turner, I don't think you can play a bad show, and he definitely didn't here.
The songs that I hadn't heard before that I enjoyed the most were definitely 'Song For Josh' and 'The Road', both for completely different reasons. 'Song For Josh' is a difficult listen, with harrowing lyrics regarding a friends suicide - utterly poignant and heart-breaking, but so fabulously performed that it's impossible not to want to listen to it again and again. On the other hand, 'The Road' is a fun singalong song with a chanting aspect, brilliant for a set like this. Only someone like Frank Turner could include both songs in his set without losing a single listener or raising any eyebrows - only a genius could be smart enough to craft a set like this.
The biggest surprise of his set was definitely closer 'Somebody To Love', the second Queen cover I heard this weekend. Hearing a Queen song acoustic would have been brilliant enough, but with Frank's gorgeous voice ringing out across a rather drunk, but extremely vocal crowd, it made for an extremely memorable closer. Yes, it kind of felt as though we were all in a bar, but it just added to the sense of camaraderie and bonding. No matter how big the venue is that Frank plays, it still feels as though you're among friends at one of his shows, and this was one of the most comfortable sets of the weekend.

The Angel Islington
Get Better
If Ever I Stray
Reasons Not To Be an Idiot
The Way I Tend To Be
The Ballad of Me and My Friends
Song For Josh
I Am Disappeared
The Road
The Next Storm
I Still Believe
Somebody To Love cover

Special mentions: Because we didn't really care about any of the bands following Frank Turner, we walked around and saw parts of Refused, Deadmau5, Boy Better Know, and, of course, The Libertines. Refused were disappointing, as was Deadmau5 who had already removed his mouse head by the time we got to his stage. Boy Better Know had one of the biggest crowds I saw all weekend, making it difficult to fight past the dance stage towards main stage - I think it would have made more sense to have swapped them and Deadmau5 around, because his crowd was nowhere near the size that Skepta and the lads drew in. 
The Libertines were the most disappointing of all five stage headliners, but taking the biscuit for most disappointing headline moment was the end of their set: they all walked offstage without a care in the world, while the message "Can Joe Kelly go to the welfare tent on Baker Lane" flashed up in big letters on the screens surrounding the stage - definitely a mood kill. For what should have been a triumphant closing of the weekend, it was understated and rather boring - nothing at all like Saturday night with Metallica and their giant bouncing balls and beautiful fireworks display.

There's nothing more to say but this: Joe Kelly, I sincerely hope you made it to the welfare tent. 

Bands I saw on Sunday:
Single Mother
The Last Internationale
Lonely The Brave
Hawk Eyes
Sundara Karma
Against Me!
Jack Garrett (secret set and main set)
Moose Blood
The Gaslight Anthem
Mini Mansions
Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes
Bury Tomorrow
We Are The Ocean
Frnkiero and the Cellabration
Manchester Orchestra
Kendrick Lamar
Little Comets
Frank Turner
Boy Better Know
The Libertines

I've already booked my tickets to Reading 2016, so see you next year!

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