Reading Festival Friday Review – the Sun, Frank Turner, Twenty One Pilots and Grime Star

It’s not often you see a rock star enclosed in a two-metre diameter transparent red plastic sphere, running across the hands and heads of their audience. Or a drummer crowd-surfing, sitting playing his drums on a small platform being passed over the heads of the crowd. That’s what makes Twenty One Pilots a unique band, and one of the most compelling live acts in the rock world.  Perhaps compensating for the fact there are only two of them, and a consequent high reliance on backing tapes, they certainly put on an amazing show at Reading Festival last night, almost performance art at times.

We saw them three years ago in the smallest tent at Reading, when they were unknown. That day, the tent was pretty empty when they started but they drew people in and ended up getting an encore – unheard of at Reading. We thought then they had something pretty amazing. “Future super-stars without a doubt” we said and hey, we’ve been proved correct. In the intervening three years they have become a huge act. Their lyrics obviously strike a chord with the young audience too, often about the search for meaning in the world and teenage insecurities, and they got 15,000 people singing and rapping along with every word for many songs. All in all, quite an experience and a highlight of day one at Reading.

That was towards the end of the day; at the start, Frank Turner (pictured above) celebrated his tenth consecutive year at the Festival with a rousing set on the main stage, with a big audience for such an early slot. Our first year attending Reading coincided with Turner’s so we have a particular soft spot for him, and he did not disappoint.

But other than that, we didn’t see much on the main stage. Both Disclosure and Boy Better Know drew huge crowds (that didn’t include us); the massive influx to the main stage for the latter was astonishing, grime really has arrived, like it or not. Nothing but Thieves just about managed the step up from their great set last year in the NME tent last year although sound quality wasn’t great, and Churches did well considering the narrowness of their musical palette.

Lesser known bands Transviolet, Banners (the song writing maybe stronger than the performance), Blaenavon, Otherkin (who aren’t sure if they want to be McFly or Nirvana), Anteros, White Miles, and Area 52, were all good on the Festival Republic stage but Lewis Del Mar stood out for their engaging but sophisticated electro pop – at times, reminding us of Vampire Weekend and Alt-J, their sound made a lot of the other bands seem a little “basic” somehow. This is the band on US TV, not at Reading, by the way.

On the BBC Introducing Stage for very new / lesser known acts, Strong Asian Mothers did one brilliant song then their equipment packed up – the dangers of running a good chunk of your material from a laptop, we suspect. Blossoms (who play their main set on Saturday) did a “surprise” set on that stage but were a. late and b. sounded like they were playing through a large sock.

But Paris Youth Foundation, a five-piece indie band from Liverpool, played a short set with songs that showed considerable professionalism and musicality already, combined with potential to go further. With the Maccabees sadly announcing their split recently, there is a vacancy for an indie band with strong guitars, good tunes, but some depth and emotional heft. This lot might just fill the bill.

A final shout out to the star of the day really – the weather. It was beautiful, brilliant sunshine and a perfect blue sky all day, but not boiling hot, and with a pleasant breeze. It got cooler but not cold after dark too; just about perfect. Of course the weather forecast for today (Saturday) is torrential thunderstorms – let’s hope for the best!

First Voice

  1. Brandon_K:

    Gosh, I am probably old. From all these artists I know only Twenty One Pilots. Really like their music, sounds very fresh, do not look like anyone. But when I tell my friends that Twenty One Pilots tour http://livetourtickets.com/twenty-one-pilots-tickets/ coming and I want to go to their concert, they had fun for me since that band for teenagers. Please, say that it is not true!
    Since I still going to visit Sasquatch! Music Festival 2017 where they will be headliners! And btw, the only thing that I like about Suicide Squad is TOP soundtrack https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UprcpdwuwCg. And Margot Robbie, of course.

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