I arrived home from Reading Festival on Monday, spent the rest of the day cleaning up and catching up with some sleep. Reading started on Friday, and that was the day I set out. Arrived in Reading, and tried to find the entrance to the car park. Parking was on site the last time I went to Reading. Not now, somewhere else and I had no idea where. I think I should have read up about this on the website. Seems that the parking was on the other side of the Thames. Ended up paying a BMW garage £40 to park in their compound a few hundred yards from the entrance.
Yes it had rained and rained in England for the previous few days, there was mud everywhere. Not quite as bad as some years at Glastonbury, but enough to get it caked on my walking boots. Tent erected a short distance from the entrance, walked to the stadium and saw the end of a show. Then checked my wrist band, it said Friday. Shit, why had I not been given a weekend wrist band? This was going to be a short weekend unless the faux pas was sorted out. Walked back to where I had exchanged my ticket for the wrist band and spoke with the manager. They took the number from my wrist band, and located my ticket, and re-issued me with the weekend ticket. There is a God after all looking after me, or more likely the organisers had some good systems in place to correct mistakes.
My camping neighbours were a group of Bedford kids who had just got their GSCE results. They were a good polite bunch, but alas fell foul of some jobsworth on the gate who decided to id them when they brought their beer in. It was all confiscated, and alas I was unable to get it returned.
On the main stage I watched NOFX, a Jewish American Punk band that was quite refreshing, followed by LOSTPROPHETS, and then QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE. Finally GUNS and ROSES. This was a disappointment, they were one hour late starting. Bands are never late playing at Festivals these days. The change over between bands is clock work precision. It takes 20 minutes and the next band starts on time. There was no excuse for G&R to be late other than their own inflated egos. At midnight the band was forced to stop. So instead of 150 minutes of G&R, we had 90 minutes and then some pathetic sit-in on the stage to get the power back on. While they played their short gig, there was some excellent pyrotechnics, though.
Saturday was another dry day, and the mud was starting to disappear in the heat and wind. Spent most of the day wondering around the different stages getting to hear bits and pieces from different bands. On the main stage I saw THE CRIBS, THE MACCABEES and MODEST MOUSE. I was very close to the front during the CRIBS, four rows from the front. It was quite an experience, being squashed, and then pushed left and then right. After that show, I moved out to miss DIZZEE RASCAL, I felt it might get worse, and so I headed to another stage and saw CANCER BATS. Actually is took over 10 minutes to force a passage through the crowd. The NME stage had CRYSTAL CASTLES, sing very wildly in a techno frenzy. Despite the ban on crowd surfing, the singer herself, Crystal, went crowd surfing while singing. Never stopping for breath, an excellent performance. The late evening I spent at the Lock-up Stage and watched the CANCER BATS, real head banging stuff where you have to slash your hair up and down [Ed – must have been tricky for Steve] to the rhythm. Then it was NOFX doing a second show, followed by BAD RELIGION celebrating 30 YEARS OF F*****G PUNK. Yes I have the T shirt, but have been banned from wearing it any where in the village or with Rosemary.
Sunday, bright and sunny. Discovered that the Alternative Stage hosted comedy. Started off OK, but the second act was not to my taste, a couple of Cardinals shouting at each other, probably trying to get the crowd to join in. Walked out of that. The main bands I Saw where LIMP BIZKIT where I was nearish the front, but in the Mosh Pit, or Circle. You can be quite happily singing and dancing to a tune, when suddenly a 10 yard diameter circle appears in the crowd and everyone left inside the circle goes crazy moshing. Not an ideal place for your expensive glasses, or blackberry. At least the phone (not mine) that disappeared into the mud was retrieved and passed back to its rightful owner. I saw LAFARO, a Belfast band, on the BBC Introducing Stage. Head banging stuff, mainly their friends and relatives watching. The competition from the main stage keeping many away from them. It was quite listenable, so may be we will hear more from them. Back at the Main Stage I watched PARAMORE, the red headed singer Hayley was wonderful to watch and very easy on the eye.
Finally it was BLINK-182, great set. The special effect on this was Travis Barker, playing his drum set, being turned upside down during his solo without missing a drum beat.
Back at the tent, I now found a crate of beer slipped into my tent. Yes it is my luck, I don’t get things stolen at festivals, I get given things, like 20 cans of lager. I think it was the French couple who had packed up their tent for an early get away. They also left the tent to be removed by anyone who wanted it, or for charity. Not wanting all this beer, it was donated by me to a worth cause who where extremely grateful.
Monday morning back home. Comparison between Reading and Glastonbury. Glastonbury food is far better, cheaper, and more choice of drinks. Reading has heavier rock music. There are more older people at Glastonbury, I definitely started feeling old at Reading festival, but nobody seems to care. Things to do differently next time. I must not take a gas cooker, apparently I could have been chucked out of the festival. I must also work out the parking and phone home more often.