A quick Reading Festival day one round up..

The rain! The mud! What can you say? The British summer at its maddening worst.

Anyway, there was still some great music, and the tents were nice and dry. And in any case, the main stage was a lot of somewhat identikit emo / rock / metal merchants, so we pretty much stuck to the tents, but the Blackout made the step up successfully with tons of energy and crowd engagement.  (My Chemical Romance went down well to a relatively small crowd for a headliner but I didn’t see much of them).

Highlights

Antlers despite having a front man who seems to be a sensitive introvert, rather than a Jagger type, were enthralling,  doing their fine album “Burst Apart” proud with a warm and yet thrilling set of songs.

A bad but atmospheric picture of the Antlers at Reading 2011

The Vaccines may, I suspect, be a one-album wonder but my goodness, they’re milking it brilliantly! Perhaps the biggest crowd of the day in the new huge NME tent, and a highly enthusiastic, sing-a-long, dance-a-long crowd it was too.  My friend Adam considered it a bit of a “Reading moment”.

Frankie and the Heartstrings overcame their lunchtime slot simply by treating it as if they were headlining! Frankie Francis a great frontman and their audience engagement and crisp songs were as enjoyable as anything all day.

Dry the River seemed to me the big “breakthrough” of the day. OK, a rain shower drove people into their tent, but they made the most of it, as they ranged from gorgeous Fleet Foxes harmonies to a final Metallica / Mogwai guitar thrash session. Excellent and I could see them being “the next Mumfords” as it is now compulsory to call all promising acts that feature a violin and harmonies.

I only caught the last 3 songs of the Offspring but “Pretty Fly for a White Guy” still sounds tight, funny, memorable and basically great!

Clock Opera and General Fiasco on the Introducing stage both showed a lot of promise and  are worth checking out further - names for the future...

Not so highlights

While Noah and the Whale came though well at the end of their set with their biggest songs, it was a bit slow to get going –they used the first 5 minutes of their allotted time for a brass band version of Bohemian Rhapsody, which got the crowd singing and in a positive mood – then came out and played 2 dull, lesser known  songs which quietened everyone down again.

Anna Calvi’s album is excellent, she can play guitar with the best, and has a great voice and image. But... she didn’t engage at all, very ‘stiff’ and formal almost, and as one mid-tempo slightly Spanish influenced song followed another, I gave up.

Cerebral Ballzy – well, you have to laugh. For the first few minutes anyway, then unless you’re a 15 year old boy who loves the circle pit... it gets a bit monotonous.

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