The Carling Weekend is more of a staple part of the festival calendar than mud, rain and Primal Scream, but anyone who thinks everyone’s favourite rock weekend has gone stale has another thing coming. Cleopatra, comin’ atcha. Oh yes.
As well as a revitalised Scream headlining the Radio 1 Stage and a host of top names across the other stages, this year’s line up at Reading and Leeds boasts an absolute shed load of fantastic upcoming acts splattered across the Carling Stage (that’s the one that nearly imploded last year when Arctic Monkeys played), as well as the more mainstream acts that make up the rest.
For cynical festival veterans like yours truly, it’s this that makes going back to Reading such a mouth watering prospect. Having had the pleasure of seeing the likes of Muse countless times, there’s no greater thrill than seeing the next big band in a sweaty tent. Well there is, let’s pretend for a second.
Of course before exploring the music and examining ways to enhance your enjoyment, survive the quiet and the riots and most importantly keep your beer cool, we need to take a glance at the most important aspect of any festival: the beer.
Blood, sweat and beers
Artists drink over 9000 bottles of water and over 13,000 cans of lager over the weekend. Two million pints of lager are drunk during the festival and there are over 800 toilets on each site. Despite the English summer rain likely to befall both sites this weekend, one can be sure of one thing: that all that beer you brought with will be warm.
So the solution? Well, up until now it rested with either a picnic cooler – the kind your folks took to Leeds Castle when you was a kid or wet towels. Place wet towels over cold beer (a night outside should do that) and – even if the temperature soars – you can be guaranteed of having cold beer.
However, must as we’re loathe to admit it, the best solution comes from the marketing bods at Carling who have decided to bring back the Carling Cold Beer Amnesty – where you exchange a warm can of your own beer for a cold Carling. And there’s quite an easy way to make this work for you financially that can be followed in four steps:
1) Go to Tesco
2) Buy the cheap, nasty, economy ‘no frills’ own brand beer
3) Stick it down your pants to warm it up
4) Swap it over and smile at how much money you’ve saved.
Now, on to the pick of those pesky bands who’re gonna be littering the Carling Stage over the weekend.
Mumm Ra (Reading – Fri/Leeds – Sat)
This year’s Arctic Monkeys. Mumm-Ra – named after the Thunder Cats character – hail from Essex and the last six months has seen them honing what they do best – writing pop music that sweeps and sways and hopefully does justice to the music that makes us all get up in the morning - the lush beauty of The Beach Boys via the pastoral quirks of The Kinks to the outer limits reached by The Beta Band and Sigur Ros. Having rocked Fuji Rock in Japan and with some serious backing from the crew that brough Kaiser Chiefs to the masses, expect them to be way up the bill next year.
Don’t believe us? Head to www.myspace.com/mummra and hear for yourself.
The Morning After Girls (Reading – Sat/Leeds – Sun)
They’re Australian but sadly not female. Still, don’t let that put you off. Anyone who liked BRMC’s dirgey Mary Chain reworkings but thought they were rude, charisma-less twunts will be enamoured with TMAG’s fervent ferocity and pounding melodies. They’ll be a great way to open your day of hedonism and there are certainly few cooler bands to see all weekend.
The Like (Reading – Sat/Leeds – Sun)
According to The Like’s biog, they ‘transcend all the easy labels that one may be inclined to attach to them: all girl band, teenage band, LA band, etc’. Now this is only true depending on how you label them. If you label them as a bunch of really fit girls playing no-nonsense ‘great-when-your-pissed’ festy tunes, then it’s a big Vanessa Feltz lie. Candy of the very eye-est order. Go look, like.
The Noisettes (Reading – Sat/Leeds – Sun)
Being soul punk saviours that make Yeah Yeah Yeahs look like Starsailor is no easy task, but The Noisettes pull it off effortlessles. With a front girl who recalls a Aretha Franklin on crack, it’s an essential mix of killer riffs, blistering rhythmics and out and out energy. Believe me, you will love them.
The Fratellis (Reading – Sat/Leeds – Sun)
With debut indie release ‘Climbing Up The Back Stairs’ doing the business, this Glasgow trio have built up a burgeoning rep partly through their online giveaways at www.thefratellis.com. But don’t let that Monkeys-esq marketing put you off or the fact that Oasis man Owen Morris produced their EP. It’s contagious pop-punk somewhere between The Libertines and Green Day with the kind of explosive gusto you’d expect from one of the UK’s finest breaking artists.