Reading’s vibrant atmosphere and diverse line-up over the years has resulted in the veteran festival earning itself a respectable reputation, but this year more than ever it was clear that Reading is shifting away from its traditional rock roots towards the more popular genres of contemporary music, most notably rap and grime. Nevertheless, I had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend and there were plenty of artists on the bill to keep me busy! Here is my review of Friday at Reading Festival 2017:
I started the weekend at the main stage to watch Mallory Knox; I was supposed to see them at Nova Rock in June, but unfortunately they had to cancel their set last minute due to a traffic accident. The Cambridge quintet were on top form though, squeezing in hits from all three of their albums as well as their latest single, Sugar. I particularly enjoyed the way the lead singer’s vocals and the bassist’s vocals bounced off each other, especially on Better Off Without You.
Next up was WSTR – one of my ‘bands to watch’ at Reading and Leeds this year – who played a mid-afternoon slot at the Pit. Despite having just got back from Australia, they performed with more energy than most bands over the weekend and had the crowd fired up from start to finish! Aside from the fact that the vocals and lead guitar were a bit too quiet, WSTR played a very solid set. The first two songs – Featherweight and Footprints – were particular highlights and probably the best received by the crowd as well.
When I returned to the arena later in the evening I made my way to a packed-out main stage to watch Bastille’s supporting headline set. I haven’t really listened to Bastille much before, but I was really impressed with their performance – a good balance of upbeat and slower songs, they engaged well with the crowd, and they sounded very tight. I would go as far as to say that Bastille have the potential to be future headliners.
Secret sets can be an exciting element to a festival, but when the merchandise of a band that isn’t playing the festival is being sold all over the arena, the excitement and mystery disappears quite quickly. Even so, I still left Bastille’s set early to watch Queens of the Stone Age at the NME Stage. Despite taking 20 minutes longer than expected, the sound guys were instantly forgiven when the band finally walked on; No One Knows, the opening song of the set, sounded absolutely incredible and was definitely the highlight of the day.
The NME stage quietened down after QOTSA finished and I had a near perfect view of the stage, so I stayed to catch the first 20 minutes of You Me At Six’s headline set. Josh’s vocals were sounding really strong and the band had clearly prepared a lot for their most prestigious slot at the festival to date. The set was forced to stop temporarily after Lived A Lie due to technical difficulties though, at which point I was ready to slip away and watch the rest of Bear’s Den’s set at the Festival Republic stage. Bear’s Den, now with a full band, were mesmerising and overall my favourites of the day. The harmonies could still be heard and sounded as incredible as ever, and the addition of the full band suited the stage extremely well. As predicted, they were a fantastic way to end the day.
My review of Saturday and Sunday will be up shortly!