Live Reviews

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Reading Festival 2018

An August Bank Holiday tradition for many is spending the weekend at Reading Festival, seeing some of the biggest names and exciting new acts from wide-spanning genres. With our fingers firmly crossed that summer would continue for just three more days, here’s what happened during our annual trip to the festival.


Our first stop was The Pit stage to see Aussie outfit The Faim smashing their festival friendly set. Vocalist Josh Raven never dips in energy, domineering the stage and revving the crowd into a frenzy on the Friday afternoon. Closing with single Saints Of The Sinners it’s clear that these guys are rising stars, with a packed out tent and singalongs galore. Their debut EP is out on the 7th September, so keep an eye out for them making waves in the near future! 7/10

With 2018 being their most successful year to date thanks to the musical masterpiece that is Hold On To Your Heart, The Xcerts set at The Pit became one of our festival highlights. Filling their set to the rafters with upbeat pop-rock hits, including fan favourites Drive Me Wild and Hold On To Your Heart, there is plenty of sass from Murray Macleod who owns the stage like a rock star – an all-round winner. They told us that someone would be getting lucky tonight, but we reckon that was everyone witnessing such a special set. The crowd may not have been the biggest thanks to their clash with Bring Me The Horizon, but that didn’t stop the electric atmosphere circulating the tent. 8/10

We knew that Creeper would take on the challenge of playing the Main Stage with ease, and we were definitely proven right. The hauntingly beautiful Crickets was led by Hannah Greenwood and sung back with passion by their loyal fans, while the rowdy Hiding With Boys made the crowd surfers go wild. With Travis Scott up next on the Main Stage, a crowd of both old and new fans got to witness the uniqueness of Creeper, who today took a monumental step in their career. 7/10

There’s something extremely exciting about The Fever 333, captivating in fact. What we’ve noticed so far at Reading is that many of the bands in The Pit have had large, enthusiastic crowds showing the importance and popularity of the stage. Showcasing music from recent release Made An America alongside unreleased tracks, we watch on as Jason Aalon Butler charges across the stage, domineers the crowd and reminds us why they’re one of the most talked about bands on the bill. 7/10

Another Australia band on The Pit stage is Trophy Eyes, who warmed up for their performance today with an intimate show in Kingston on Thursday night. You’d be none the wiser and their energy levels are up as they blast through material from their recent full-length The American Dream. New to the world of a Trophy Eyes live show, the anthemic gang vocals, bolshy energy from John Floreani and incredibly catchy choruses assured us that we’ll be seeing them live again, hopefully sooner rather than later. 9/10

Leeds based Fizzy Blood might have been far away from home, but this didn’t stop the grunge/punk rockers from delivering a chaotic, rough around the edges and rowdy set, all the while bringing the sunshine out again. Performing a selection of tracks from their Summer Of Luv and Pink Magic EPs, we caught up with them prior to their set so keep an eye out for that on the site! 6/10

Nothing But Thieves are a huge Reading Festival success story. Three years ago the band opened the Radio 1 Stage and 2018 sees them headline the same stage to a packed out tent, proving themselves worthy of this honour. At the beginning of the set Conor Mason makes it clear that it’s going to be something special, while his whirling, huge vocals shine brightly. He even throws out cheeky remarks such as “This is why you don’t go and watch Travis Scott” when they unleash their huge hit Ban All The Music. It’s hard not to appreciate the sheer musical talent that the quintet possess, from the driving drum lines to the intensely riffy guitars which are shown off at every opportunity. Mixing up the setlist with material from their debut and follow up albums, there was something for everyone as the energy turned up a notch and the pits opened up to Live Like Animals. Treating fans to the live debut of new single Forever And Ever More, we are instructed to move our hips during the verses and to go crazy in the moshpits during the chorus – as you can guess the crowd obeyed every single rule. Nothing But Thieves where the stage headliners that the Radio 1 Stage was looking for, and we can’t wait to move up onto a bigger platform in 2019 to continue their success story. 9/10

Closing the first night of Reading Festival, Fall Out Boy took to the Main Stage to make their grand return to the festival. Opening with Thriller jaws dropped, beers began to fly and impressive pyrotechnics followed – including fire from Pete Wentz’s guitar. Let’s be honest here; there wasn’t a single person in attendance who didn’t know at least a handful of Fall Out Boy songs. Sugar, We’re Going Down oozed in undeniable energy, followed by hit after hit from Uma Thurman to Dance, Dance, and their signature cover of Michael Jackson’s Beat It. It was a setlist hard to fault; however we, along with many others, couldn’t help but feel that there was a slight lack of interest and interaction between the band and the crowd. For a crowd as responsive and enthusiastic, it felt as though the quartet didn’t enough energy to reciprocate, which took away from the experience even if just slightly. Props to Pete Wentz who made sure to get up close with the fans, who’d been waiting patiently to see their idols in the flesh. Set closer Saturday went down as a Friday highlight as the sky lit up and confetti fell down covering the crowd, closing the day with a bang. 7/10


Brushing off the cobwebs from the night before we took a trip to the Main Stage to see Trash Boat, who are back on UK ground and familiar territory at Reading. As a band who are used to playing much smaller venues they are seemingly overwhelmed by the size of the stage, but as their set progresses they use this to their advantage. Frontman Tobi Duncan prowls the stage keeping the energy levels high whilst even finding time to dedicate Old Soul to his mum, brother and nephew who’ve come down to watch their set. Showing off plenty of new material from latest album Crown Shyness, they kick off our Saturday in style. 8/10

Making their Reading Festival debut on the Radio 1 Stage, Aussie garage outfit West Thebarton perform as part of their first run of UK shows. The seven-piece are playing on a stage perfectly fit for them as they bound across it with confidence and excitement. We admire their organisation to ensure that the performance isn’t overwhelming, messy or hard to admire each other’s musical talent. Lead vocalist Reverend Ray has raw, gritty vocals which produce an intense punk sound and we can’t help tapping our feet and bopping our head in time. We’d recommend keeping an eye on West Thebarton as they’ll be making a name for themselves in the UK in no time at all, following on from the release of their debut album Different Beings Being Different. 9/10

Mike Shinoda’s set was guaranteed to be one of the most heartwarming of the weekend, and it didn’t let us down. Taking time out to pay tribute to Chester Bennington before performing In The End, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Mike declared “I want you guys to sing it so loud that Chester can hear you.” Performing a set of Linkin Park, Fort Minor and original solo material there was a sense of unity throughout the crowd as everyone looked out for those visibly moved during the set. The gratitude of Mike and the support received during his set clearly moved him, as he spoke openly about his struggles to overcome the anxiety of performing again. 9/10

Next it was SHVPES’ turn to cause some chaos and quite literally open up the pits over on The Pit stage. With their new album Greater Than just around the corner, their set provided the perfect platform to gauge a reaction from fans, mixing a blend of rock, pop and metal. The unpredictability of SHVPES for many is an appeal, you never know what’s around the corner from the Birmingham band. Their set also featured some pretty snazzy personalised beach balls, which we fully believe summoned the sun to make a return when the clouds took over. 7/10

Saturday was the day of girl power as Sigrid took to the Radio 1 Stage with her huge power-pop voice. Voted as BBC Sound of 2018 the packed out tent was full of fans eagerly waiting to hear hits including Strangers and Don’t Kill My Vibe, proving that although festival bills often under-represent females, they’re more powerful than many first assume. We loved watching her confidence-filled set as she bounced across the stage lapping up each and every drop of attention the crowd was giving her. For many in the audience, the Norweigan synth-pop star is a relatable role model: she’s normal yet she uses her talent to create some of this year’s catchiest songs. 8/10

Continuing the female domination we head back to the Main Stage and find our spot in an audience worthy for a headliner. But this afternoon’s turn out was for pop queen Dua Lipa who brightened up everyone’s day, giving us a dance class and abs envy in the process. Although her band and backing crew opened her set, all eyes were on Dua Lipa as she appeared glowing and radiant whilst throwing herself right into her sassy hit Blow Your Mind (Mwah). With the slickest dance routines Reading has seen in years and a squad we definitely wanted to join, her set was 45 minutes of sheer pop goodness. Undeniably all age groups and music fans turned out to watch her perform girl-power track IDGAF before closing with the anthem of the summer, New Rules. Reading Festival has received some negative feedback for opening its arms wide to pop, but Dua Lipa proved why a little bit of musical diversity never hurt anyone. 9/10

Now to something completely different with Blood Youth and their rowdy hardcore sound. As we returned to The Pit something didn’t feel right; it might have been the size of the crowd or the lack of spark during their set, but we just felt that this was not Blood Youth’s finest hour. Even during the chaos of latest single Starve they didn’t manage to turn the set into one, which would, and should, have shot its way to the top of our festival highlights. 6/10

Rounding off our Saturday night was Panic! At The Disco who drew in an audience of young, old, new and returning fans. We had high hopes (excuse the pun) for this set and something was telling us when they burst onstage to (Fuck A) Silver Lining that we weren’t about to be let down. Frontman Brendon Urie has matured with age, perfecting the art of showmanship as he worked his way across the stage dancing, singing and owning it with every single ounce of his being. It was the small things here that made a difference, like the playful interactions between guitarists Nicole Row and Kenneth Harris and the mesmerising visual effects. Performing a set of newer hits including Say Amen (Saturday Night) – which we loved hearing on a Saturday night – and the summer anthem High Hopes made this a standout set for all the right reasons.

Reminiscing about their first time performing at the festival in 2006, Brendon Urie reminded everyone of when he got bottled and knocked out, but that now “this is the happiest I’ve ever been.” It would be incredibly easy for us to devote this review to how much fun we had during this set, but some key points to note: Bohemian Rhapsody, the ultimate cover version that everyone in the field partook in; Brendon’s high notes during The Ballad of Mona Lisa which you did at times doubt came from a human; Girls/Girls/Boys seeing pride flags dominate the crowd and a sense of unity throughout the music community; and the ultimate throwback I Write Sins, Not Tragedies received the loudest singalong of the weekend. Fact. Ending our Saturday night in a typical Panic! At The Disco style, all inhibitions were lost during Victorious and the confetti shower merged, with a superb firework display which kept our eyes fixated for just a little bit longer. This was a set that we’d never forget. 10/10


It wouldn’t be Reading Festival without some typically British weather, and Sunday brought that in the bucket loads. Dinosaur Pile-Up faced the tough role of opening up the Main Stage in the pouring rain, and sadly to a lot fewer people than they deserved to be playing to. But they didn’t stop them from playing a passionate set with confidence and throwing in some new tracks for good measure. 7/10

Making our first visit of the day to The Pit we were there to watch one of the most mysterious yet beautifully intriguing bands around at the moment. Sleep Token perform anonymously, hidden to give themselves new identities, and even away from the stage nobody knows who the talented artists behind this quintet are. We weren’t sure what to expect but the beautiful harmonies and rousing guitar lines met and exceeded any expectations we’d set in our heads. Their cover of Outkast Hey Ya was one of the smoothest, powerful and memorable moments of our weekend. The question on our minds throughout however, was who lays behind these identities and will it even be revealed? 9/10

Remaining at The Pit we witnessed Swedish outfit Normandie make their Reading Festival debut. Performing tracks from their 2016 debut Inguz alongside their upcoming album White Flag, this set saw singles Ecstasy and White Flag getting some of their very first live outings. The quartet made sure that their first time performing at the festival was to be a memorable one, as vocalist Philip Strand got up close and personal with the fans during their set. We’re sure that this won’t be the last time that they band grace one of Reading Festival’s stages. 8/10

Next on our agenda was Milk Teeth, with Becky Blomfield back and feistier than ever after some time out for personal reasons. With Em Foster from Nervus filling in on guitars, the quartet looked stronger than ever. Performing material from their debut album Vile Child, alongside EPs Be Nice and Go Away it was a slow-burning set, but it was clear that those in attendance really did enjoy it. We’re massive fans of girls supporting girls, and Becky’s friendship with Em is something to be admired as she dedicates Swear Jar to her. It was a fierce, fiery and fantastic set as Owning Your Okayness gets dedicated to all the fuck boys out there and closes the set. We leave feeling a little bit more empowered than we did when we first entered the tent, thanks Milk Teeth! 9/10

Two sets in one day are quite unusual at Reading Festival, but Scarlxrd is bucking the trend by performing on the Dance Stage and at The Pit. The trap metal artist doesn’t do things in moderation as he mingles with the crowd, demands more energy and showcases material from his impressive back catalogue of six albums in two years. Yes, you did read that right! Reading is all about finding your new favourite artist and the variation in genres appearing not only across the festival, but also across The Pit stage, is just what makes Reading such a special weekend. 6/10

Don Broco have gone from strength to strength since the release of their debut album Priorities back in 2012. Cementing themselves as one of the UK’s most exciting live bands this explains the packed out tent and mosh pits which erupted instantly as Pretty came into play. Their 11-song set saw no lapse in energy from both band and crowd as some slick, well thought out choreography was exhibited by the quartet. Very, very impressive lads. Although they perform plenty of new material, there is a reflective moment in the band’s set when Rob Damiani dedicated Priorities to their long-term supporters. Don Broco are fun but this doesn’t stop them from being perfectionists when it comes to their musical performances. We mean, we’re shocked that Simon Delaney didn’t fall off stage with the ferocity of his guitar work. Considering this was their last show of the year it explains their pure fire energy, which worked it’s magic and rubbed off onto the crowd, as T-Shirt Song closed the set and saw people from the crowd remove their shirts to swing around their heads. Don Broco’s rise to fame has been one backed by hard work and perseverance, and to see it paying off leaves us wondering where they’ll be on next year’s bill… 9/10

Written by: Nicola Craig

Photos by: Anthony Adams 

Nicola Craig
Head of Live with an unwavering love for the seaside, live music and writing about others instead of myself. Twitter: @nicolalalalar