Reading is one of the last festivals on this year’s circuit for me. To be honest it was one of those nice surprises I’d forgotten about, having bought my ticket back in February or something, and every time I looked over the lineup, I was more and more impressed. With headliners Mumford and Sons, Metallica and The Libertines, none of which I really care for, the rest of the extensive genre-crossing lineup included Kendrick Lamar, Royal Blood, Deadmau5, Bring Me The Horizon and Knife Party.
As it did back in 2013 when I last went to Reading, Bastille kicked off proceedings with a hit-filled crowd-pleasing set that I really had no complaints about. A warm reception to a cover of TLC’s No Scrubs being a highlight. After an absolute car crash of a performance at Latitude earlier in the year, and with a desperate fascination to find out how alt-J are in any way successful, we trundled along to catch a bit of their performance. Opinions were confirmed of a posy, pontificating attempt at experimentation, topped off with appalling facial hair. Shortly after, Limpbizkit and Run The Jewels impressed with back-to-back sets on the Radio 1/NME Stage, followed by an enthusiastic closer from Mumford and Sons. Oddly, all their biggest tracks seemed to come within the first half an hour, and as by no means a die-hard devotee, the hour and a half left seemed to go on for eternity, with the incessant strum of a banjo beginning to engrain itself for life.After a heavy Friday night I ended up missing a few people on Saturday, ones I’d have liked to have seen such as Modestep, Dimension x Kove and for the laughs- Babymetal. However, I’m afraid my head couldn’t take it that early. But in all fairness, who decided that dubstep-rock, drum & bass and heavy-metal k-pop was a good idea at midday? Scottish rockers Twin Atlantic delivered a solid performance with pleasing renditions of I Am An Animal and Heart & Soul, which was followed by a fairly uninteresting set from Rebel Sound. I was disappointed with their set at NASS earlier in the year, and hoped to better wowed with more Shy FX and less David Rodigan, but unfortunately the set was pretty much the same. Although I will say that a dubbed version of Feed Them To The Lions was a highlight of the weekend. To round up proceedings we passed through Metallica’s headlining spot, mainly just to say I’ve seen them, and I was really surprised with how tame the crowd was. Mumford and Sons boasted the biggest crowd of the weekend the evening before. Sunday lurked forward bringing the dreaded rain with it, and luckily it managed to hold off for the night, which is always a plus. Snakehips rocked the Radio 1 Dance Stage with a funk-disco-rap criss-crossing performance, while Blonde and Maribou State delivered very impressive live sets despite the midday slot and fairly meagre crowd. After a horrific, ear-bleeding bludgeon of noise from The Cribs, followed by a mind-numbing bore-fest from The Maccabees, Jamie T was just was the doctor ordered with renditions of classic tracks such as Sticks N Stones, as well as songs from his recently released Carry On The Grudge. Jamie xx blew me away with his steel-pan infused concoctions of contemporary electronica, taking us through a wild ride of his debut’s assortment of sounds. What followed was a very accomplished performance from Kendrick Lamar with his sub-headliner slot, reeling off all the hits from Good Kid, Maad City and To Pimp A Butterfly (full review to come). Following hugely disappointing cancelations to two of my favourites- Tyler, The Creator and Yeezus–collaborator Evian Christ, to make up for it then came arguably the highlight of my weekend- Hudson Mohawke. After an impressive recently released album, and with live performances being something of a rarity, rocking a full band Hudmo reeled of the explosive drum-built trap filth which was met with a huge reception, particularly with the incredible Ryderz. To round up the weekend, Deadmau5 fell flat with an hour-half techno beat that slightly picked up with Ghosts N Stuff, by which point I’d already lost interest.
All in all a particularly memorable weekend of music. The weather didn’t do Reading any favours, and there were a lot of calls for a washout, but despite disappointing performances from Rebel Sound and Deadmau5, as well as cancellations to Tyler, The Creator and Evian Christ, Hudson Mohawke, Kendrick Lamar and Jamie xx were the real headliners from Reading 2015.