Reading Festival Saturday Review – with The Hunna, Sundara Karma, The Beach and Palace

The weather was not as gorgeous as Friday, but the music was even better. The threatened torrential showers did not materialise, a quick shower first thing the only precipitation, and there were some excellent new bands to spot.

Starting on that theme, if you have teenage kids and haven’t heard of The Hunna yet, you will.  I hadn’t come across them till a few weeks back but by the look and sound of a packed Festival Republic tent, which showed admirable singing-along lyric accuracy, they are going to be the next big thing. Somewhere between McFly and You Me At Six in style, we suspect the band would like to be more “rock” but their audience wants guitar-heavy pop tunes. But if they can strike the right balance, they should be huge.  And speaking of You Me At Six, they made an unadvertised surprise appearance – playing in “the Pit" (the heavy metal / hardcore tent). They seemed to go down well but frankly I couldn’t get anywhere near them for the teenage mob!

Back to new bands - Tin Pigeons have an indie-Mumfords vibe and a cover version (with mandolin) of R Kelly’s Ignition (Remix) was great fun. Our other big tip for the top is The Beach though. Basically a good looking young man with a great voice and classic pop-rock songs in the Hozier, George Ezra mode, maybe a bit rockier, he was very impressive. It’s not a great band name I would suggest, but hopefully that won’t hold him / them back.

Other successes were Vant, Jack Garrett (again), Brian Fallon and the Crowes (ex- Gaslight Anthem, a little more country than his previous style but most enjoyable), Lapsley, (a lovely chilled out set after dark), and from the US, Lany and Whitney.

Blossoms drew a huge crowd in the NME tent, a bit too busy for me to enjoy it. I like them, and they got a great reception, but confess I don’t quite get their sudden rise to this level of fame with a number 1 album as well.  I should say I was getting a bit stressed, carrying some cold pizza through a packed tent trying to find my family during their set, which perhaps coloured my view somewhat!

Earlier in the day Fatherson showed stadium band potential, kicking off the big NME tent in style with their anthemic, tuneful rock. Sunset Sons followed them on the same stage and were a highlight with indie songs that already sound like they’ve been around for ages.

They will go further, as will Sundara Karma. The local Reading band debuted last year, and we said they had a “strong set of big songs” but they weren’t quite the finished article. Yesterday, they had the honour of opening the day on the main stage and “they killed it”, as we critics say. They were so much tighter and more confident than last year, and they are carving out their own interesting niche. One new song had a complexity that recalled smart North American bands like Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend rather than their UK indie rivals. If their rate of improvement continues, they might be back on the main stage much later in the day in not too many years’ time.

I’ve never been a huge Red Hot Chilli Peppers fan really, don’t mind it but find the blend of rock, funk and faintly embarrassing rapping a bit much. But the members of my family who are fans (and I’m outnumbered) loved them - “epic, energetic, consummate professionals, did all the big hits. Played for almost two hours and we wanted more”.  Imagine Dragons were second on the bill and they’re a great festival band, with big tunes and audience participation. It can seem a little “corporate” for my liking, if you know what I mean, but “Radioactive” is one of THE anthems of the last decade.

Finally, a special mention to Palace, who had the tough late slot in the Festival Republic stage, up against the headliners. But everyone (including me) in the small crowd loved it – muscular guitars and tight playing, strong tunes, an excellent lead vocalist plus harmonies and a sound that spanned the blues-y Americana of Band of Horses to Bombay Bicycle Club indie.

Reading 2016 1(We missed one act from our review yesterday - Rationale, who used to be known as Tinashé , and who just has a wonderful soul voice and some songs that matched. One of the highlights of Friday).

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