FestivalsLive Reviews

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Reading Festival 2017

Another year, another outstanding Reading Festival. Taking place over the August Bank Holiday weekend in Richfield Avenue, the three day epic is home to some of the biggest worldwide names spanning across genres far and wide. With a gloriously sunny landscape to top it all off, here’s how our weekend at the festival went down…


Our first visit to Reading’s main stage this year was to witness Mallory Knox, who put on an energetic set to kick off our weekend. Treating fans to well loved tracks including Lighthouse and Shout At The Moon, the crowd’s energy and participation was high. Changing things up fans are left a little confused when Mikey Chapman left the stage, allowing Sam Douglas to take over on lead vocals; is this a new era of Mallory we were witnessing? Answers on a postcard please! Closing with Better Off Without You pits open up, powerful riffs fill our ears, crowd surfers take to the air and Mallory Knox leave to a rapturous applause. 7/10 – NC

Over on the Festival Republic stage Idles bring the chaos, punk vibes and fierce lyrics which get the crowd watching and listening in awe. During the course of their set fans stumble into the tent captivated by their loud, in your face attitude; in that tent anything goes, from possessions being thrown to circle pits throughout each and every track. Performing material from debut album Brutalism their tongue in cheek attitude is clear: Well Done sees them explaining the meaning of ‘penultimate’ for those readers of The Sun who might be less aware. They’re tongue in cheek, hard hitting and fun which is just what our Friday needed. 8/10 – NC

WSTR are a band who’ve become one of the best in the British pop-punk scene since the release of debut album Red, Green or Inbetween the improvement in live shows and crowd sizes has been noticeable. It’s hard to not get caught up singing along, head bopping and finger pointing during this set as fan favourites Graveyard Shift and Eastbound & Down were received with delight. However Fair Weather with THAT lyric “my friends are dicks but I would never have it any other way” became a set highlight, we mean where have you been if you aren’t singing along at this point? Everyone in that tent was making sure vocalist Sammy Clifford’s first time at Reading festival and WSTRs first appearance there was one to be remembered. 7/10 – NC

Reading’s line-up has become no stranger to opening up to new genres, and this year girl power pop has played a big role. Anne-Marie with her loveable on stage attitude, huge vocals and catchy tunes packed out the NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage, getting the ultimate party started. Although her album is still in the works, it’s impossible to not dance along to tracks such as Alarm and Do It Right after non-stop plays on the radio. Performing with complete confidence, an air of sass developed around the solo songstress when singing about the guy who broke her heart; but Anne-Marie came out on top thanks to Ciao Adios becoming one of the hottest songs of 2017. On a hot day in a packed tent, Anne-Marie proved why she’s going up the ranks and we can’t wait to see where the rest of the year takes her. 9/10 – NC

We move onto The Pit stage for a dose of rockers Counterfeit, who have fast become one of the hottest and most talked about bands to surface from the UK. Frontman Jamie Campbell-Bower is a true rockstar, oozing with confidence as he controls the crowd at ease, eager fans crushed onto the barrier to get that one inch closer. It doesn’t take long before he joins his fans on the barrier, later jumping over to embrace a mosh pit during the hard-hitting Come Get Some. It’s no surprise that Counterfeit are rising as quickly as they are, because if today’s performance is anything to go by they are shining stars worthy of attention. 8/10 – HG

Making a surprise appearance on the main stage during Boy Better Know’s set in 2016, grime legend Lethal Bizzle heads up the NME Stage – and with true swagger. Donning a yellow Jackie Chan style robe and matching trouser set, Bizzle owns the stage as the packed out crowd pushes and pulls in an attempt to show their appreciation – some say that grime is the new punk, and they might be right: mosh pits erupt throughout causing sheer chaos. It wouldn’t be a grime show without the addition of some familar faces, and much to the crowd’s delight Stormzy and Skepta both make an appearance, the latter performing alongside Bizzle during their latest collab I Win. It’s truly brilliant to see a UK-born genre becoming so prominant and with that we leave the tent with a grin from ear to ear. 9/10 – HG

Stumbling upon Tigers Jaw set in The Pit might have been one of our better adventures of the weekend. Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins have the ability to make the tent feel like an intimate show in a tiny venue, it’s captivating and quite simply spine tingling. Performing tracks from album spin emotions run high as the duo hear the crowd singing back and new fans responding to their acoustic vibed tracks. Despite being a two-piece, Tigers Jaw produce emotional, hard-hitting tracks and bring a different vibe to the festival, which is what makes it so special. 6/10 – NC

Having spent a lot of Summer in the US on Warped Tour, Boston Manor’s return to UK stages was one many were anticipating. Following the release of debut album Be Nothing last October the packed tent is pumped up for the chaos the set would bring. Boston Manor are great. More than great, they’re brilliant live. The relentless energy saw frontman Henry Cox lead the crowd into mosh pits, surfing and chaos. Lead Feet, Trapped Nerve, and Laika bring powerful choruses, frantic chunky guitars, and sing-alongs and serve as proof that Boston Manor should be heading further up the bill in no time. 8/10 – NC

If there’s one band you can rely on to deliver an outstanding show it’s Arcane Roots. There’s something incredible in the way that the trio are able to capture you in a hypnotic trance, Andrew Grove’s mesmerising vocals wrapping around you in a haze; yet before you can get too comfortable an influx of crushing percussion, mind-bending guitars and hard-hitting bass embraces the entire tent. To add to the effect it’s perfect timing for the sun to set as the stage is lit with huge flashing beams, confirming that Arcane Roots are bound for things much bigger than The Pit stage. With the release of their new album imminent this three-piece are only just getting started, and without a doubt they provide one of the most skilful sets of the day. 9/10 – HG

Having spoken to them earlier in the day The Amity Affliction’s set had a heightened sense of excitement surrounding it, and it seemed as if the ferocious crowd had got the memo too. The mixture of melodic sing-alongs and full-throttle, scream-infused chaos during All Fucked Up and Lean On Me sending a rush of adrenaline through those anticipating what would come next. Using on stage fire cannons to their advantage Joel Birch has a theatrical sense about him, using hand gestures to mimic lyrics and to signify his demand for a circle pit to take place within The Pit. What makes The Amity Affliction so very gripping is the fact that they’re not a smooth musical roller coaster, taking you on twists and turns both vocally and tempo-wise during their setlist. Closing with This Could Be Heartbreak, the title track of their latest album, it was a hot, sweaty but a somewhat special ending to a headline worthy set which saw the crowd sing-along in unison throughout. 7/10 – NC

Rumours had been spreading across Reading Festival throughout the day of the potential secret act to take to the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage. Who could it be? As intrigued music fans gathered into the tent, those down the front let out screams every now and again as clues emerged on stage. We’re soon to discover that it’s the legendary Queens Of The Stone Age, who step out to the world-famous opening riff of No One Knows. It’s incredible, surreal in fact, to see such a legendary band on a stage this small, yet Joshua Homme and co. seem very at home. The appearance today coincides with the release of their long-awaited album Villains, a perfect celebration in this intimate and sweaty setting. Ploughing through as many tracks as possible in their short set, Homme concludes: “we hope we’ve given you a night you’ll never remember.” Trust us, we won’t be forgetting this in a hurry. 9/10 – HG

You Me At Six have worked their way up the ranks over their ten-year career span, leading them to the headline spot at the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage. Battling with Main Stage headliners Kasabian, crowd support isn’t an issue as the tent is bustled by fans both new and old. After a slight delay to their set a silhouette sheet compliments opening track Spell It Out. The atmosphere intensified as the sheet fell to the ground, the band coming into their own performing tracks spanning their five studio album discography. Their fast paced, powerful set was a little too powerful at times, as a power shortage led to Loverboy trasnforming into a partially acapella track; yet provided the chance for the quintet to show off their thinking-on-the-spot skills. Josh Franceschi’s vocals have improved significantly since their last headline run, as has the composition and musical talents of the entire band highlighting that being off the live scene for a little while isn’t always a bad thing. Next year marks ten years since the release of their debut album Take Off Your Colours and in a surprise twist Save It For The Bedroom becomes a standout moment for older fans. There was also hints from Franceschi of an anniversary tour next year, something that fans have been requesting in numbers for the past months. New tracks Night People and Take On The World were received with differing responses, from mosh pits to phones lighting up the tent; You Me At Six were once the Underdogs but have now taken their place proudly as headliners of a Reading Festival stage. 8/10 – NC


We kick off another glorious day of Reading Festival over at The Pit stage, witnessing Welsh hard-rockers Dream State make their debut. The band’s confidence builds over the course of the set, as vocalist Charlotte Jayne prances across the stage in a Becca Macintyre-eqsue fashion, commanding the small yet loyal crowd in the tent. Dream State’s brand of rock is both emotive and hard-hitting in equal measures, fans transitioning from swaying to head banging as the light and dark hits. With more and more practise we’re certain that Dream State will conquer even bigger stages, and this is definitely a good start. 7/10 – HG

We remain at The Pit stage to catch the next set of the day, Casey. Their spoken word emphasised sound creates a raw yet dark vibe as heavy, emotive lyrics filled our ears before we’re hit with with sharp, bold breakdowns. Tom Weaver domineers the crowds with his vocals, creating an atmosphere that allows the crowd’s thoughts to flourish, the lyrics to be interpreted in many individual ways. What makes Casey such a special band to witness live is they’re mesmerising with their onstage presence, tracks such as Ceremony blending together aggression and meaning into one short track. 6/10

As far as hype bands go, we’re sad to say that The Pretty Reckless are one of them on Reading Festival’s main stage. From the moment we reach the crowd there’s little excitemen, next to no movement from fans watching and limited on-stage interaction with the crowd. Taylor Momsen’s grungy, effortlessly cool attitude shone throughout, in particular during Make Me Wanna Die – the song which everyone was there to hear. Sadly after this point crowd members began to drift and the energy on stage took a swipe. Closing with Take Me Down it wasn’t the most memorable set of our day, but to hear Momsen’s raw, husky vocals live made us realise that it’s recording where the band’s skills lie. 4/10 – NC

Bringing back our faith is PVRIS, who make the main stage their home throughout the entire 40-minute set. It’s so great to see the trio shine on a stage so big, and although the general crowd-size for all rock-orientated bands was disappointingly small the band are poppy enough to draw in a sizeable amount of people. Lynn Gunn is able to command the crowd with ease in between wowing us with her soaring vocals, contributing also to guitars and percussion in various points during the set. PVRIS’ synth-pop-rock mash up is the perfect soundtrack to the sunny afternoon before us, blasting through fan favourites across their back catalogue, everybody – ourseves included – singing from the top of our lungs to St Patrick, Whats Wrong and My House. A thoroughly enjoyable set from one of the hottest bands in the world right now. 9/10 – HG

All weekend we’d be looking forward to one set in particular, and that was Marmozets on the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage; oh boy, they did not disappoint. Throwing the crowd into chaos from the moment Move, Shake, Hide kicked in there was sheer pandemonium in the tent. Marmozets were back with a bang. Following on from Becca MacIntyre’s knee operation Reading & Leeds were their first festival appearances and you wouldn’t have guessed it from the confidence they exerted. Performing new tracks in the form of Play, Major System Error and Habits their bold, in your face sound turns heads and tears mosh pits open throughout the tent. Captivating the crowd with Captivate You Becca sang with emotive passion, and one by one smiles beamed across stage upon realising the crowd knew every word and were singing it right back. Closing with Why Do You Hate Me was a sure fire way of thrashing out bold guitar lines, heavy drums and igniting one last pit in the tent. Marmozets, since they reappeared on the scene, have worked consistently to become one of the best live British bands around and that’s why they’re such an exciting band to keep an eye on. 9/10 – NC

We head back over to The Pit for our daily dose of grime, this time from Welsh grime/rock hybrid Astroid Boys. With a roll of intro music getting us pumped we’re more than ready when the band take to the stage, who take absolutely no time to hit us hard with the likes of Foreigners which sees everybody bounce in unison and spit the lyrics back. Although on-stage they have a no-fucks-given attitude, Astroid Boys have some very important messages and ones that many in the crowd can relate to; those packed down the front showing their appreciation via pits and arms flailing towards the stage. New song Dirt and old classics including Minging also go down a storm, and despite not playing to a full tent the band deliver a very special performance for those in attendance. 8/10 – HG

Our Saturday at Reading was a mixed bag and Major Lazer was definitely something a little different for us to check out. The dance trio pulled in one of the biggest main stage crowds we witnessed all festival as people got involved in their energy packed set, which acted as a warm up for Saturday headliner Eminem. Wanting to get up close and personal with the crowd Diplo climbed into a zorb ball and was released across the crowd, exploring to see where the party was at. Accompanied by onstage dancers, Lean On, Cold Water, and Light It Up got an outing at the festival, causing the crowd to turn into a field-sized version of the nearby dance tent. Asking the crowd to stop any mosh pits from forming due to safety reasons, he uses this opportunity to make the crowd follow his commands. Packing in snippets of songs including material from Usher, Kendrick Lamar and Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, the crowd were well and truly danced out and ready to watch tonight’s main stage headliner Eminem. 7/10 – NC

Eminem is either a love-him-or-hate-him artist for many, but given the emptiness of other tents and the business of the main stage field it’s clear that there’s a lot of love flying around for The Real Slim Shady at Reading. After the news of his set not being televised, there was an air of excitement knowing that the only people who would be able to watch the full set live were those seeing it before their very eyes. Opening with Square Dance he unraveled a set full of his classics, but with some unexpected gems thrown in (we weren’t expecting to hear B.o.B’s Airplanes on tonight’s setlist). We’ve never known Eminem as one to do things in moderation, from sharing his political views by getting a “Fuck Trump” chant going to performing a 33-song setlist for the Reading crowd. Nobody could deny that you were watching an iconic performer on stage, yet his set didn’t go without a few hitches; the overpowering bass meant sound quality was extremely poor and hard to hear in much of the field, and tower climbers mid-set meant a substantial amount of attention shone on them as they risked theirs and others safety. Yet as the final 15 minutes of his set kicked in the tone changed and turned the show completely around. From The Real Slim Shady to his emotional speech about addiction and how it can change people’s lives, Eminem brought the crowd together going into Not Afraid, with almost the entire crowd singing back the lyrics. Closing his set to Lose Yourself it was clear that although he may have initially been thought of as a controversial headliner, Eminem was one that a lot of people lost themselves in. 7/10 – NC

We get the impression that anybody who is told they’re clashing with Eminem would have a knot in their stomach, but one band who stand their ground – and do a mighty fine job of it too – is Steel City metallers While She Sleeps. Whilst the tent isn’t heaving there’s a big, loyal crowd at The Pit, which is comforting to see considering dance and mainstream music seems to have the hearts of a very big proportion of the festival attendees this year. “Em-i-nem, Em-i-nem” frontman Loz Taylor chants as he stares into his fans’ eyes, the crowd roaring with appreciation to be witnessing the rising metallers rather than the Rap God himself. “Welcome to the family motherfuckers,” he continues, as the band blast through a span of hits that have the tent off their feet and energetically ploughing open pits. Bravo While She Sleeps, who proved that they are MORE than deserving of that headline slot, no matter who they’re up against. 8/10 -HG


With many people still nursing hangovers from the party after Eminem’s set last night Scottish outfit The LaFontaines kick people into shape over on the BBC Radio 1xtra Stage. Kerr Okan bounds onto stage admitting that they are too nursing hangovers from the night before so need help shaking them, making this a firm two-way street. Release The Hounds and Under The Storm get the crowd jumping, moving and singing along, motivated by the band’s on stage fun energy; we all wake up to pay attention. We do, however, begin to wonder when will the band-fad of making crowds sit down and then jump up disappear? It’s fun but overdone and takes away some of our vital energy which could have been used to jump along to their set. 8/10 – NC

It was quite the weekend for The Xcerts, who took a phone call on the Thursday before the festival to say that they’d be opening up the main stage at both Reading & Leeds. Undeniably a pinch yourself moment, the trio take to the stage with huge smiles across their faces. With all early slots on final days at festivals the crowd is pretty sparse, but The Xcerts performance is one that could – and should – have seen them play much further up the bill. Old favourites Live Like This and Shake In The Water intertwine with new hit Feels Like Falling In Love, which Murray Macloed dedicates to their friends Architects. Describing the experience as a “cosmic daydream” we’re so pleased to see such a deserving band take a main stage slot, and we hope to see them on the line-up in 2018. 8/10 – HG

We have a real soft spot for duos, how do they make so much noise?! One that we witnessed for the first time today (and trust us, it won’t be our last), is Scottish brothers Saint PHNX. Drummer Alan Jukes stands up and holds a singular drum stick in the air to show his appreciation to those who have turned up to their set as the pair easily get the crowd on side, arms swaying high side to side during the likes of hit single Magic. At one point during the set Alan joins brother and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Stevie Jukes at the front, swapping sticks for a tambourine, and there’s a real feel-good vibe permeating the tent. Saint PHNX do indie rock right, and if they continue down this path they could be shining at the forefront of the genre in no time. 7/10 – HG

Having heard nothing but good things about Fizzy Blood we were reminded that the compliments were well deserved at their set today at Reading Festival. Their punk sound turned heads, gathering passersby who were intrigued to see what all the fuss was about. The rough-around-the-edges vibe and chaotic on stage presence brought satisfaction to both our ears and eyes, unsure of what was coming next. Tracks such as Pawn go down an absolute treat, the grunge edge entwined with great guitar solos and riffs. It’s really hard not to move along to the beat or throw yourself into a mosh pit. The Leeds based band might have been far away from home here, but that didn’t stop them giving it their all. It’s no suprise that big names including Radio 1 have picked up on them and supported their new material. 7/10 – NC

With a new tour announced during the festival weekend, including a show at Ally Pally, Brighton’s Architects had a lot to be excited about, and plenty of fans celebrate with them in the audience. One of the few heavier bands on the main stage this year, a hefty sized crowd had formed in the sunshine as they opened with Nihilist. With streams of smoke and fire throughout their set the heaviness fans were expecting was there; it was brutal and bold in the best possible way. Gravity sees a mass of crowd surfers making their way over the barrier, as security and the band look on at the chaos taking place before their very eyes.  When Sam Carter took a moment to honour his late brother, band member and co-founder Tom Searle, there’s a real, raw emotion on stage which overspills into the crowd. It’s an incredibly moving and poignant part of the set as the band share a moment onstage at this huge festival, whilst fans have time to reflect themselves on their own memories of Tom’s impact on Architects. “This one’s for Tom” states Sam before kicking into closing track Gone With The Wind, giving it their very all to allow everyone to go crazy once more; today was a real triumph for Architects. 8/10 – NC

One of the great things about Reading & Leeds Festival is their ability to successfully curate a line-up so diverse, and after the heavy as hell set from Architects the stage is prepared for grime legend Giggs. Largely known for his collaborations, although don’t get us wrong his own material is just as killer, we were very pleased to see him perform his sections of Kano’s Three Wheel Up and the legendary JME’s Man Don’t Care, the latter some were lucky to witness on the main stage in full during Boy Better Know’s set in 2016. Drake making a suprise appearance was probably THE biggest highlight for many, judging by the thousands of people sprinting over just to get in the same vacinity as the rap sensation. Giggs may seem to have taken a backseat in grime, but he sure as well proved he can play the main stage as a solo performer. 8/10 – HG

Reading is always treated to some extremely fun (and popular) secret sets, and one of this year’s was over on The Pit; advertised as a band called The Prettyboys who don’t actually exist anywhere properly on social media. With some snooping and mystery solving fans it was revealed these pretty boys were in fact none other than Reading regulars Don Broco. With their tent heaving, the secret set had certainly caused a stir as they brought the party, opening up with Pretty and causing the crowd’s energy to soar to new levels, pits to open up near instantly. Performing a set of fan favourite hits such as You Wanna Know, Automatic and Money Power Fame heads were constantly bopping along, hands flying all over the place and for a second we forgot that we were at a festival and not at a Don Broco headline set. It’s impossible to not have a good time seeing the quartet with their perfected live shows and the treat of oldie but goldie Thug Workout for the push-up squad to take centre stage in the pit. With their Ally Pally show in November fast approaching, Don Broco made it clear that if this secret set was anything to go by it’s going to be one big party; and we can’t wait to be there. 8/10 – NC

One of the most anticipated sets of the weekend was Liam Gallagher. Was he finally going to make amends with brother Noel and reform Oasis on stage? Chances not, but hey we can dream. Nonetheless he made damn sure that he satisfied the crowds’ Oasis fix, performing seven of their hits (over half of the set) including Rock N Roll Star and Morning Glory, much to everybody’s delight. Barely moving from his microphone, Gallagher still oozes with attitude and proves he is a true rockstar, reminding the crowd that “there’s no fucking miming up here mate”. The rest of the set is made up entirely of tracks from his forthcoming, and aptly titled, solo album As You Were, before ending on Be Here Now and of course Wonderwall, which turns the crowd into a massive karaoke. We’ll be honest we were a little sceptical beforehand, but Liam Gallagher really is the rock n roll star and we wouldn’t want it any other way. 8/10 – HG

Charli XCX has been making massive waves in the pop music scene, with her feisty attitude and catchy sing-a-long tracks, we headed to the Radio 1 Dance stage to spend our Sunday evening in a packed tent catching her set. Opening with Roll With Me it didn’t take much for the crowd to accept her invite and lose all inhibitions. Having released her Number 1 Angel mixtape earlier this year the hype around her new album, which everybody has been waiting for, was enough to tell us that this set was going to go off. Her stage set up felt as if we were being given a glimpse into Charli’s mind with smoke cannons, inflatable dancers, flowers and a lot of pink flashing lights. Musically and visually this was everything you could want from a set so high up the bill. Performing the tracks everybody wanted to hear including Fancy, After The Afterparty and I Love it, we were all loving singing along to her impeccable vocals, whilst trying to spot her running across the stage. The excitement peaked when Charli performed latest single Boys, we all know and love that video as it features some truly delightful boys from all different genres. Yet when she performed it we weren’t all busy thinking about boys, everybody was busy thinking how Charli is truly one of the coolest and best pop queens right now. Charli XCX is only going to get bigger, so everyone in that tent should remember just how special this set was. 9/10 – NC

With the pressure of closing Reading weekend firmly on Muse they had a lot to prove, especially as this was their third time headlining the festival. The packed out field cheered in delight as Dig Down opened up their frantic set, their confidence was clear and they were settled into the headliner slot within seconds. Muse are prime examples of hard work, and with experience also on their side we’re entertained with spectacular stage effects including streamers, fireworks, confetti and a hypnotic light show; it was the little things that made it such a delight to be a part of. You’d struggle not to notice Matt Bellamy on stage with his bright red trousers, electrifying vocals and snazzy guitars (our personal favourite would be his touchpad adapted one). Everyone in the crowd at least knew a handful of Muse tracks, from Supermassive Black Hole to Time is Running Out and this meant everyone was on their feet, having a dance and singing to say goodbye to a great weekend. There had been a fair share of secret sets and surprise guests this weekend, but nobody was expecting Brian Johnson of AC/DC fame to come up onstage to perform classic Back In Black, causing jaws to drop including that of Bellamy’s as he introduced “the best singer Britain has ever produced”. We couldn’t believe our eyes, it seemed like nobody could and it became, for many, a weekend highlight. Closing with Knights of Cydonia fireworks shot up into the sky, marking the end of a brilliant three days. The trio took time to take an onstage selfie to mark the occasion, we mean who wouldn’t want a selfie to remember their third time headlining this iconic event? Reading Festival 2017 you were fun, see you again next year! 8/10 – NC

Written by: Nicola Craig and Hannah Gillicker

Photos by: Nathan Roach

A 20-something year old journalist and freelance PR often found at a gig, a festival or holding a dictophone to a band and asking them all kinds of questions. I'm a sucker for whiskey and vinyl.