Having packed the 16 year old off the day before with blow up mattress, tent and dry shampoo for his first festival weekend at Reading, the husband and I took advantage of a generous offer of a day pass from our friends at Kobalt and promptly went to join him. When I say ‘join’, I mean send a lot of texts, finally manage to meet for ten minutes, top him up with cash and try not to be too grossly embarrassing.
Our first stop was to see The Hives in the NME tent mid afternoon. The joint was heaving with energetic and enthusiastic teenage fans, moshing and jumping and singing along at top volume. After an undignified ten minutes where we – the two oldest groovers in the room (possibly the whole field) – got stuck in the mosh, the whole performance was a joy.
The lead singer swaggered and boasted, giving one of the most arrogant yet charming performances I’ve ever witnessed. He promised that he would ruin the rest of the festival as this crowd would be too tired to enjoy any more. It was cool when the band literally froze mid song for a good few minutes, even cooler when they demanded that the whole audience sit down on the ground, before climaxing the gig to resounding applause and excitement. A real treat.
The crowd was so massive for Alt-J we couldn’t get near the Festival Republic tent – which was a shame as I have reports they were amazing – so we meandered back into NME for a bit of Graham Coxon. Meandering is pertinent, as everyone else seemed to do much unnecessary running from tent to field, as well as random high-fiving. Mr Coxon was right on it, with his serious musician stance, a touch uncommunicative and grouchy, to be expected of him in his solo super-talented manifestation. He did at least ask if the audience were all tired from The Hives.
The Cure came on the main stage at bang on 9pm and played their grown-up Goth hearts out. Robert Smith, a gorgeous caricature of himself, really does have a terrific voice and loads of commitment, and in an uncharacteristic chatty moment he reminded us that it was at least the right day for “Friday I’m in love”. Tight musicianship, clean and vibrant lighting, a great festival night out.
Perhaps I’ve been spoiled, but compared with the jolliness and style of Bestival, the charm of Hop Farm and the, let’s-face-it, gross conspicuous consumption of the House Festival, Reading really is quite grubby, or at least basic.
With no chill-out areas, nowhere for a decent cocktail or a seemingly healthy gourmet snack, this one is not catering for the should-know-better mature punter, but instead targets the young and free, most of them still reeling from their A level and GCSE results.
It is, quite rightly, their time to let gelled and braided hair down, and from the guarded reports we got from our boy, a Party time for all. And thank God for that, they deserve it. No kid should be exposed to too much Dad Dancing.
Words: Susie Innes