Oh, Reading Festival. Here we are again; it's Friday morning, the grass is still bright green and standing, and the arena is overflowing with fresh-faced spectators, excited for what the weekend has in store.
Being one of the opening acts is always a tricky one - no one wants to start three days of dancing and drinking on a low. However, local five piece, Area 52, handle this responsibility with the flair and maturity of a band that has been around far longer than themselves. The teens prove that they are quite simply, bloody brilliant. The obscenely talented boys team up husky vocals with intertwining bass and guitars, making for that perfectly invigorating, indie pop sound. Area 52 fully ensure that this weekend starts with a bang.
Next up we cast our eye over to premium rock and rollers, Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes. After never having the chance to appear on main stage in any of his former bands, Carter makes the most of his first opportunity on the gigantic stage. These guys give a brilliantly heavy and confident set, full of punk rock bangers that the crowd lap up fervently.
As we head over to the BBC Introducing Stage for newcomers Eat Fast, we manage to catch the surprise set from the happy-go-lucky indie superstars, Blossoms, before their scheduled set on Saturday. The relatively new band are an apt filler, filling their show with pleasant bopping tunes before the brilliant Eat Fast take-over. Walking on stage immediately after Blossoms, Eat Fast look about as unassuming as humanly possible. This is, of course, all a farce – the lads work through an excellent twenty minute set of grunge and guitar-based indie. As usual, BBC Introducing has provided us with a gem whose future we should all get excited about.
Dinosaur Pile-Up play The Pit next,
and manage to exceed our (already high) expectations. Performing a
mixture of tracks from their latest album, 11:11, and classics from their first record, Matt Bigland and
the boys exhibit their sheer and utter awesome-ness. Bigland's vocal ability to
slip from jerky and hard-hitting vocals, to those gentle and soft is commendable. The crowd go totally wild for climatic ‘Traynor’ and the band's unapologetic avalanche of riff utopia.
As only expected at a festival swelling exponentially in popularity, the acts diversify heavily. This is none more apparent than in the gods of grime, Boy Better Know’s set at the main stage. The sheer size of the audience the group draws is nothing to be scoffed at, and the atmosphere they create is truly electric. In true BBK fashion, they bring out all the big names; brothers JME and Skepta first, followed by Lethal Bizzle and then Wiley, all making a guest appearance. The chemistry between the artists as they take on separate verses to showcase their undeniable talent is admirable, and will force grime snobs to blush.
From one genre to the next, Chvrches take to the stage with their likeable humble aura. Lauren Mayberry skips around the stage, glittered face and all, mirroring the complete joy of her audience. The electronic group present a lot of newer material from last album Every Open Eye, but of course choose to finish on breakthrough single 'The Mother We Share'. Despite the Scottish trio forgoing the belter ‘Lies’, no-one can deny the impeccable energy and talent during their time on the main stage.
Electro remains the word as Chvrches are followed by Crystal Castles over at the NME stage. The prospect of handling a later slot in the absence of their former front woman Alice Glass was questionable, but the band prove us wrong. A tide of relentless synthesised beats and layered vocal work, accompanied by an equally punishing strobe show puts Crystal Castles in a strong position to pick themselves up and carry on; insane and excellent, regardless.
Pulled Apart By Horses are second top of the bill over in Festival Republic, and boy do they own it. The bands' passion ceases not once during their chaotic set. Even after three albums, they keep their sound fresh and exciting, which is reflected just as much in their performance, as it is on record. From opener 'I Punched A Lion In The Throat', to crawling closer 'High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive', and to treating us to some sick new material, PABH are undeniable in their strength. We’ll be keeping a keen eye on these over the next few months.
It's just after 10pm, and energy
levels are dwindling. The first day of the festival is almost over, and in the
year-long gap we've all forgotten how our DMs start to munch on our feet after eleven hours of dancing. What we need is something to kick our arses in check and
get us moving again. Who better to do this than headliners Foals?
To call the performance perfection is still an understatement. It only takes one song to establish Foals as the festival kings, and opening up with the groovy ‘Snake Oil’ does just that. Crowd-pleasers 'My Number' and 'Mountain At My Gates' get everyone up and dancing, but as easily as they manage that, they also flip on the switch of emotion with ‘Spanish Sahara'. It is as spellbinding as expected, and reinforces its place as one of the best songs released in this generation (maybe we cried. Maybe we cried a lot.) By the time Foals leave the stage prior to their encore, every single person in the crowd is feeling the same level of bewilderment. Undoubtedly, together we have just experienced one of the greatest live bands that exist in the world today. Returning on stage with ‘What Went Down’, Foals' strength is unbelievable. In an attempt to please the older fans, Foals revive the old gem ‘Cassius’ for their first ever headline slot at Reading Festival. All it takes is the first few notes of the song to send the crowd into overdrive, before 'Two Steps, Twice' brings a close to the mammoth hour-and-a-bit headline set.
So, what can be said for the Friday? Undeniably, completely, and utterly brilliant. Our weekend could not have got off to a better start.