21st – 24th August 2014
I am just going to apologise in advance for my own really quite honestly crap photos of Festival, because I did not want to take my camera with, so they’re all taken on a BlackBerry Curve from about 400 BC so apologies. I have supplemented them with photos from more talented and better equipped photographers that were there. You’ll be able to tell the difference. I’ve also decided to split this into a few parts because otherwise it will be a very very long post, so this Part One, Thursday and Friday.
Reading Festival, the place of dreams (mine anyway). Seriously, I’ve been wanting to go to Reading Festival for so many years, taunted by all the photographs of my friends who went year after year, and the knowledge that it happened in the town that years ago had been my home. And then, all too suddenly, it was right on my doorstep. Suddenly, I was back from Cornwall and packing up my sleeping bag and realising that the next day I would be seeing bands that I listen to on repeat on my phone, live. It was really happening. I don’t think that I’ve been so excited to do something more in my entire life.
Thursday – Some amazing friends of my friend had early bird tickets and had already set up our tent on the Wednesday so all we had to carry were our sleeping bags and food, oh and an entire case of cider. We exchanged our tickets for wristbands in the longest queue ever, and then had to endure another ridiculously long queue and questioning to get an over-18 wristband to avoid carrying around my passport for the weekend. That in itself was a stressful situation because, and I don’t know if anyone else feels like this, but when questioned about ID I always feel incredibly nervous and guilty, even though I know full well that it’s genuine and I have nothing to hide. The girl who was checking my passport asked me when my birthday was and I literally just went completely blank. Zip, Ziltch, Nothing, Blank. Eventually I managed to recall it, stutter out my second name and remember my age (I came so close to accidentally saying that I was sixteen for some reason?) and after she had sufficiently laughed at my passport photo (I was about 11 in it) I got my band and could breateh again. I’m such a freak sometimes.
On Thursday there isn’t anything on, like bands or entertainment except for the food stalls and the funfair so mainly people seem to while away the time with drink and wandering around the miles of campsites. And when I say miles, I don’t mean that in a hyperbolic fashion (yeah, big words) I mean that the Festival site is literally HUGE. I knew that it was going to be big, but it’s only once you’re inside and you realise that you got lost in just Yellow Camp while there’s still Brown, Purple, Orange, Red, Green and White camps, not to mention the food stalls and the massive Main Arena. I spent most of Thursday trying to work out two things – how to get from the campsite to the Arena, and how to get from the campsite to the toilets. Then, after I figured out these routes, I learnt that I’d rather not know where the toilets were because I’d prefer to never use them again. Seriously, I know that festival toilets are gross but the campsite toilets at Reading reach another level.
Friday – Because 0f our amazingly close proximity to the Festival itself (about 15 walking) we went home every morning to shower, eat real food and hopefully sleep for an hour before going back to Festival. At first I wasn’t really all for it, because it felt like cheating and missing out, but the Arena only opened later in the day, and all the bands that we wanted to see only played much later in the day, so I grew to appreciate a couple of hours rest and free food. But not on Friday! Friday was Day One, Numero Uno, of the big Fest and at 11:50 am Gerard Way was making his global at Reading Festival and there was no freaking way that I was missing someone who gives me so much inspiration – not just with music, but with his art as well.
Gerard Way –
The NME tent in the arena was packed full to the brim, despite the fact that it was early in the morning, and no one knew the music that was going to be played. I was crushed near the back, but I stuck my hand up in the air and I watched the big screens through someone’s awful green hair and I loved every second of it. I couldn’t stop smiling because mostly, I couldn’t quite believe that I was seeing Gerard Way perform in real life. His new music was really interesting. It was different, as it should be, from the My Chemical Romance sound, but it was really good. I loved the song Drugstore Perfume, and I cannot wait for the album to be released.
Gerard also had a signing at 14:00, and I had thought that since his show ended at abotu 12:30 there would be plently of time to queue, but I had wandered over straight away just in case. The queue already stretched accross the field. I did queue, though the chances of meeting him became less and less likely. I have to admit I was one of the stubborn people who refused to leave the queue, and he did extend the signing for half an hour, but I still didn’t make it. The only complaint that I might have is that the people at the front of the queue would have had to skip his show altogether or miss at least half of it to get to the front, which to be honest does sort of seem to miss the point a little. I was glad to seen him live, and I did get relatively close to him in the queue, so that’s good!
Jimmy Eat World –
I had a big gap between Gerard Way and everyone else I wanted to see that day so I had been wandering around, and meeting up with my friends when I looked at someone’s timetable and saw that Jimmy Eat World was playing on the main stage in about 10 minutes and I thought to myself, why not? I know a few of their songs, but I couldn’t have told you many of the names off my heart. I didn’t really like the dance tent that my friends were going to, so I thought that I might as well go. I was by myself, and the main stage is pretty big so I was a little bit nervous and I didn’t think I’d stay that long. I was so surprised. I watched the entire set, and I really loved them. I had forgotten so many of their songs that I actually knew, and I was standing in a group of some really amazing people who had such great, contagious energy so I couldn’t help but to get excited by it too. You could say that I was pleasantly surprised by Jimmy Eat World, and I was actually tempted to go and see them again, when they headlined the Lock Up stage later that afternoon. I listened in on the end of Twin Atlantic‘s set on the way back, because I’d been told about them, and they sounded pretty awesome.
Dance Tent –
I had a really long gap after Jimmy Eat World, as a lot of the bands were locals or ones that haven’t reached South Africa yet, or just ones that I’m not really a fan of, so I went back to the campsite for a little bit but found myself being dragged back to the arena a few minutes later (having to try and force a can of cider, that I had just opened, down because of the no open drinks rule in the Arena). I went with my friend to the dance tent to see AlunaGeorge who were actaully pretty good, and then I heard some of Duke Dumont Live which I was not a fan of. Again, I’m not a fan of the Dance Tent, because it’s always too overcrowded, and I also don’t know any of the people who played there except a few. Side note: I heard Indiana playing from outside when I was queuing for Gerard Way, and it sounded great.
After another quick trip to the campsite I was pushing my forward at the Main Stage again for a band that I have wanted to see for a ridiculously long time. I was so excited for Paramore and I was not, in any way, let down. They started their set with my favourite song of theirs at the moment ‘Still Into You’ and it just kept on getting better from their. They played songs from all of their albums so fans old and new had something to sing to. Hayley had so much energy, I couldn’t stop smiling…until the sound cut out. There was an awkward few minutes where they could still their music but we couldn’t, but when the message was conveyed to the band they didn’t let it stop them. Hayley, now wrapped in one of the stage crew’s jackets sat down on the edge of the stage with Jeremey and Taylor got hold of a spare working mic and talked to us for a bit. When there was no update on the state of the system they suggested that, despite the fact that they don’t normally play sad songs at festivals, that they sing one now. In one, goosebump-giving moment, the entire arena joined in and sang The Only Exception back to them. It was one of those surreal moments when later you aren’t actually even sure that it happened because it was just too good. I was really blown away by the whole show and it makes my top 3 of the entire festival.
Queens of The Stone Age –
I didn’t have to go anywhere for Queens of the Stone Age, who were co-headlining with Paramore on the mainstage, but the crowd around me changed a little. I guess the standard listeners of Paramore and Queens are a little different (haha), although that is one thing that I really liked about the lineup at Reading – the fact that there is something for all music tastes. You could definitely tell when Queens of the Stone Age started playing, though I think that most of the country heard them start. The bass rattled my lungs inside my chest, and I love that feeling – when you can feel your bones vibrating with the sheer noise created by the music. There was lights and fire and streamers and noise and it was brilliant. They played some great songs like Little Sister and I had such a great session of just enjoying some great music. Thumbs up to that – my ears rang for hours afterwards.
Propaganda Silent Arena –
I’ve never been to a silent disco before, though I’ve heard a lot about them, and I was so not disappointed by my first one. We went to the one in the Alternative Stage in the Main Area and it was beyond cool. In case you might be unaware of what exactly a Silent Disco is, it is where all the people who enter the arena are given headphones which are connected wirelessly to a source of music, which is usually a DJ who is playing a set. This enables there to be no actual music heard by passersby, but to the person wearing the headphones it feels like you’re in a club, or something. These headphones had two channels, on which two different DJs were playing, which you could switch between depending on your taste. I thought it was such a cool idea, and there was such a nice selection of music, old and new and when you took your headphones off all that you could hear was everyone singing along to the music. I had thought that it might be a little bit lonely or make you feel disconnected to those around you, but I was mistaken because even if you and your friend were listening to different channels you could still have a good time without having to bop your head awkwardly to a song that you hate while they love it.
For a first day at Festival I think mine was pretty awesome. I got a lot of people watching done, which is one of my favourite things to do. The sheer variety of people, in age and dress code was actually quite overwhelming. The, ahem, ‘style’ that some people had was sometimes so very much ‘British Teenager’ as I like to think, and it made me wish that I had a better camera just to record some of them – as well as the people who were actually dressed in some beautiful clothing. I’ll be trawling style spotting blogs for some of the looks I saw at Fest for sure. I was absolutely exhausted by the time we went to bed, my feet were killing me in my too-big-borrowed wellies and my legs were aching, but at the same time I couldn’t wait just for the gates to the arena to open the next morning. Festival – Bring it on.