Alkaline Trio – Reading Festival


Dear Mr Soundman,

Please report for duty at the Lock Up stage.



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Once again Punktastic finda itself hindered by the quality of sound at a gig, in this case, a pretty bloody big gig. Look, we realise that you?re not going to get one of these colossal tents to sound like the Sydney Opera House, but surely it?s not that difficult to make vocals heard. But then again, I?m no sound engineer, so maybe it is. Alas, it is with regret that Punktastic isn?t the happiest of festival bunnies on day one, affectionately branded MUFFLED FRIDAY.

Rather predictably, the Lock Up stage is the basis of operations today. For the record then, unless otherwise stated, you can be pretty sure these bands played Mike Davies? stage.

As far as bands go, there?s nothing particularly wrong with the Flogging Molly/Rancid/Street Dogs crossover that is BLOOD OR WHISKEY. It?s solid enough stuff that has a set market of potential fans out there, but as a festival opening band it doesn?t work. The energy is muted and unfortunately the big bang start to the weekend is missing, proving more of a limp opening. (2/5)

With CRAZY ARM we welcome the first of only a handful of home grown acts gracing the Lock Up this weekend. The Plymouth quartet makes the most of the opportunity to what is more than a decent sized crowd, delighting with a brand of rootsy folk-punk that really is unique. Truly one of the most underrated acts on the underground scene, it?s good to see the band shine through this early on. (3.5/5)

Praise has been levelled at THE SKINTS around these parts for what seems like forever now, so it?s somewhat justifying to see the East Londoners play to not only a very busy tent, but to tear it up altogether. If only the guitar vocal was coming through loud and clear this may have been a perfect set. Still, the response the quartet receives is a direct impact of how well such problems are handled, and the fact that this is simply one of the best bands out there. Roll on bigger and better things. (4/5)

Such is the abysmal sound in the tent that it?s hardly fair to pass comment on Hellcat dwelling CIVET, who certainly get the worst of it today. On stage there appears to be malfunctions whilst the sludgy sound resonating does nothing to aid the quartet. Let?s hope next time out is a bit more favourable.

Oakland?s STATIC THOUGHT kick starts a hardcore double bill that almost defies the daylight hour. Whilst the band is tight enough, this isn?t a performance that?s going to blast the band into public consciousness anymore than it already is, but you can?t fault a band that works this hard on stage. (3/5)

Likewise New York?s THIS IS HELL, another tough working, hard-hitting band that just doesn?t really do anything wrong on the day, but fails to make any overall impression. Maybe it?s that the band is suited to sweatier locales (the lack in attendance means the tent lacks that quality), or maybe it?s just wasn?t meant to be. (3/5)

And, again, likewise STRIKE ANYWHERE. Maybe there?s a lull in the day or maybe the ongoing sludgy sound is the real culprit. For a band that often receives plaudits for a fine live zest, it?s all a bit by-the-numbers for Thomas Barnett and co. You can?t deny that the songs are there to fire-up the festival but it just doesn?t happen. A little disappointing. (3/5)

[Elsewhere, over on the Main stage?]

Punktastic has recruited a reliable informant* to check out proceedings on the big stage.

GOGOL BORDELLO opts for less of a stage show and more of a focus on tuneful music than on previous outings. The result is an intriguing offering that makes you look at the band in a slightly different way to 2006/7. Still, the riotous response to ?Start Wearing Purple? reminds you of how the band got to a major and the main stage. (3/5)

Whilst the band?s jokes may be amusing (not to mention inappropriate) NOFX fails to balance banter and performance, leaving a somewhat sour taste. Jokes about playing two songs in a row for the first time actually ring true, whilst a crowd-pleasing set doesn?t seem to please the band all that much. (2/5)

[Meanwhile, back in the Lock Up?]

STREETLIGHT MANIFESTO returns for the second straight year on the back of a surprisingly full tent last year. It?s more of the same this year as the NJ outfit pours on the brass and dance, uplifting those in attendance with energy and joviality. It?s party time in the tent, and well worth mentioning that the sound in the tent is actually sounding good for the first time today. (4/5)

In contrast, HATEBREED is just about the polar opposite of Streetlight Manifesto. The big, bruising bully-boys rain down a thunderous disharmony on punters, crushing riffs, throaty vocals and pounding beats. You know what you?re going to get from the New Englanders, and it?d be a lie to suggest the band strays from a path it?s well and truly beaten. This is Hatebreed-by-numbers. What more would you expect? (3/5)

Dodgy sound returns in time to greet AGAINST ME! and thus hinder what could well have been today?s stand-out performance. Instead, in 50 minutes or so the band never really excels. The likes of ?White Crosses? and ?I Was A Teenage Anarchist? from this year?s release add to an already useful set, which isn?t too ?New Wave? heavy for a lot of critics, but the ignition switch is barely flicked. (3.5/5)

Let?s be honest, with the shoddy sound quality a quick bout of NYHC isn?t exactly whetting the appetite, but that?s where SICK OF IT ALL pretty much owns the world. You may not be in the mood for it, but the legends are going to throw it at you anyway. And throw it they do. Lou Koller is a walking time-bomb on stage, hurling out lyrics, only to then pontificate on those years past. SOIA shines through (as much as a hardcore can ?shine? ? maybe there?s room for a diamond in the rough analogy here) and shows the young?uns how it?s done. Damn fine, that?s how. (4/5)

Whilst organisers are bricking it over the antics of Axl Rose (he actually graces the main stage at the exact same time as the Lock Up headliners kick-off, which is an hour after G N?R Should have begun) ALKALINE TRIO rather sombrely (okay, even more sombrely than usual) open up a headline set that is most unlike what you might expect. Scratch off the fact that Punktastic cannot hear vocals for the first four songs, there?s an air of dissatisfaction about the show. Whilst Skiba and Andiano switch main vocals back and forth, there?s no real success in reaching out to the crowd. The setlist is predictable (which is no bad thing in a festival setting) and musically the band is tight, but you just don?t get blown away like on other occasions. Perhaps it?s an off night, perhaps it?s the accumulating poor-sound issues that have nulled the brain, but this is not the end to the day envisioned. Even Axl?s pampered antics on stage fail to break what can best be described as a disappointed funk. Here?s hoping day two pans out a little better. (3/5)