Sweaty, tired and bruised - and that's just the sound engineer in the Lock Up Stage. Following a weekend of behemoth shows and chunky beats we recount the top ten acts in the tent just for him...
The scenes at the Lock Up Stage for this New Jersey Ska Punk band were electric. The weather turns nasty with a torrential down pour minutes before they were due on stage. Far from being a shelter from the storm, the packed tent chanted at full voice, "Streetlight! Streetlight!" reaching fever pitch as the band took to the stage.
The entire tent was jumping and singing every word right back to cheeky singer Tomas Kalnoky. "I can't tell if you guys are being polite and British or if you really like what we're doing", he tells the audience. There was no doubt about it, the crowd loved it. After the band leave the stage, there are more chants: "One more song! One more song!" Not bad for four o'clock in the afternoon. AK
“If anybody that came to see a slow band, we’re sorry, but we’re fast,” singer Tony Foresta told the Lock Up Stage audience. But for the crowd that had formed to watch them, nobody seemed to stop, scratch their head and leave, pretending there was somewhere better to be, because frankly, there wasn’t.
The trashcore group were rewarded with raised fists and an almighty singalong for ‘Born To Party’, a track that Foresta admitted “will fuck you up.” But the need for speed was revered by fans, who created circle pits among the tent poles and even for those not getting involved, the performance would’ve left them out of breath. DF
With a host of American punk rock outfits plying their trade at this year’s Reading, the bands have to be on top form to be noticed and very entertaining Anti Flag were just that. As political as ever the rockers were on the backs of the US government’s recent bank bail out.
“Fuck Wall Street, CEO’s and bankers!” was the pertinent message delivered by Justin Sane before the group launched into ‘This Is The End (For You My Friend)’. Despite the aggression in the messages delivered in between songs, Sane showed his more caring side, “if someone is down [in the circle pit] – pick them up!” he shouted during ‘Die For The Government’.
It wasn’t all serious though as Sane asked for some audience participation, “I’m going to shout ‘one, two’ and you’re going to respond with, ‘one, two, three, four,” explained the singer. “I thought we would have trouble with this, [pointing at a crowd member] you can’t even put your hat on straight, let alone count to four,” he jested before the circle pits took effect for ‘Death of a Nation’, thoroughly entertaining. AF.
When outside worldly events start to affect the fun of your festival it can feel a little creepy. You’re supposed to be escaping but Glastonbury goers this year couldn’t avoid the news of Michael’s Jackson’s death and the same was true for all the GCSE pupils who were avoiding Mummy and Daddy at Reading this year…though maybe to not such a degree.
As news of Oasis’ demise started to drip feed from one person to another over a bad burger, it transpired that recently reformed melodic hardcore group Rival Schools would be the first act to incorporate it into their set. A tent rammed full of veteran fans of their only album ‘United By Fate’, were treated to a rendition of ‘Wonderwall’ sandwiched between a handful of new tracks and some classic old material that didn’t sound a decade old at all. Rival Schools are still as relevant as they ever were. DS.
Chase and Status
Chase and Status are one of the biggest names in drum ‘n’ bass right now, but the duo sonically are so much more and this was evident during their DJ set in a sweaty, tightly packed Dance Tent.
The cheers were reserved for the teenagers who managed to continuously climb the tents rafters - the bigger applause going to those who fell as oppose to those who reached the top - and for a furious forty minutes the rammed tent had the atmosphere of the festival.
Amongst the soundtrack were Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘Give It Away’ but the largest screams were reserved for the General Levy’s classic track ‘Jungle Is Massive’. AF.
This Naples, Florida band have done well to mix rock, punk and blues into an interesting twist on pop punk. Singer/guitarist, Chris Farren soundes like Alex Turner after a heavy night on whiskey crossed with Bruce Springsteen. Songs of growing up and chasing the American dream prevail in this set without preaching or being too cliché. A mix of instruments, including mandolin and violin, creates a punk-folk vibe that met the approval of the nearly full tent. AK.
With certainly no energy lost from their morning performance on the main stage and with a rammed tent spilling out into the alleyways, it seemed the crowd too hadn’t yet quenched their thirst for Alexisonfire. “This is so much better than earlier. I can hear your voices! It’s not like the main stage where the crowd are 1000 miles away,” declared the singer George Petit.
An impassioned performance of ‘This Could Be Anywhere In The World’ meant that the crowd size only increased throughout the set of which ‘We Are The Sound’ was the highlight before Petit finished the night with a recommendation, to see Billy Talent, but with Alexisonfire performing like this you’ll only end up disappointed. AF.
The excitement surrounding Rise Against’s appearance as the Lock Up’s headliner on Saturday night was clear to see on hundreds of T-shirts during the day. Rise Against, the post punk trio from Chicago, went into their set headlong with all the vigour of a group of guys who knew they had to deliver.
In true political-driven spirit they bounded onto the stage with the aggression of rioters, before commanding the heaving tent to dance (and by extension get a little fisty) like party leaders with dark agenda.
The mobilisation of their troops was easy thanks to a ‘rawking’ setlist that omitted any of their slower songs. However, disappointing to many they felt the need to leave their most famous song at home, ‘Swing Life Away’, and threw in the harder songs like ‘Dancing For Rain’. This performance surely cemented them as the Rage Against The Machine for this generation of post-punks. DS.
Ghost of a Thousand
This Brighton hardcore band – with a drummer who has the best mullet in rock – proved themselves to be a fantastic festival band. Their surprisingly melodic screamo wokes up the lunchtime crowd in the Lock Stage. Singer, Tom Lacey, called for a circle pit during 'Left For Dead' and there are no shortage of participants. "I don't want to see fighting, I want to see hugs", adds Lacey keeping the party vibe. The set ends with 'Black Art Number One' and Ghost of a Thousand have given us a perfect start for a long day of rock n roll.AK.
We’re pretty sure that as Mike Davies was erecting the Lock Up tent he was mentally penning the manifesto for the stage which we’d like to think went something like this: “Onto this stage shall step only the world’s greatest hardcore punk bands.” And it was so.
Warming up for Thursday and Rise Against was LA punk troop The Bronx. Not so much commanding the stage as simply rocking the anarchistic rock swagger along with the crowd, trying to be part of the people. With nearly four albums to their name The Bronx certainly had a lot to treat the Reading crowd to. Amongst the hustle and bustle of the tent frenzy we think we heard ‘Knifeman’, ‘Inveigh’ and ‘Past Lives’ amongst others before we had to empty our ears of dust and sand: a mini-wash we don’t mind performing ever. DS.
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