LIVE: Reading Festival 2016 [Friday]

By Ben Tipple

Donning unnecessary rain jackets and an excitable enthusiasm, we were once again on hand to catch the action at this year’s Reading Festival. Boasting another varied line-up across the event’s ever-increasing number of stages, the team dipped and dived through tens of thousands of punters to catch some of our favourite acts, and some new to our eyes and ears. Check out what we made of the festival itself in our ‘Thanks For The Memories‘ feature, and below for the bands we caught on the Friday.

For everything we have on Reading and Leeds 2016, including interviews, photos and more reviews and features head here.


SWMRS open The Pit with the exact bravado you’d expect from their fun-loving debut ‘Drive North’. Despite the early start, the stage welcomes a throng of dedicated fans, predominantly of the younger generation yet entirely devout. As co-vocalist Cole Becker (although questionably) declares the lack of real rock and roll in today’s scene, it’s clear that SWMRS have tapped into something genuinely special. Donning a dress, Cole and brother Max power their way through fan-favourites like ‘Miley’, ‘Figure It Out’ and the album’s title track before physically collapsing to the floor. With Joey Armstrong given ample opportunity to showcase his skills on the drums, the performance is as captivatingly frantic as the four-piece’s personalities. [Ben Tipple]

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

The Main Stage offers few of punk-whirlwind Frank Carter’s typical comforts. Faced by an audience a considerable distance back from the stage, he does all in his power to remove the physical barriers. Not long into the set is he balanced on the crowds’ shoulders, encouraging the biggest circle pit of the festival. One which he immediately regrets, noting just how large the distance between the stage and his chosen centre point – the sound tower – is. Understandably some of their intimate force is lost in the vast open space, but tracks such as ‘Devil Inside Me’ and ‘Snake Eyes’ shine break through with their venom. With their sound pushing them further up such line-ups, it’ll be increasingly down to the band members to break down barriers, often quite literally. [Ben Tipple]


It’s a cliché, but Southampton horror-punks Creeper really do get better each time we see them. People pour into The Pit as the band kick off with their usual opener, ‘VCR’, giving them one of the biggest crowds of the day at just 2:30PM and showing just how far the sextet have come since being booked for Reading (presumably) late last year. Their live show honed by months on the road, the only real criticism of Creeper’s performance today is that certain beats – particularly some of the gestures and shapes thrown by frontman Will Gould – are starting to feel a little rehearsed. But to the assembled throng – singing along to virtually every word and in some cases so overcome with emotion that they’re literally moved to tears – this is all part of what they’ve come to see, and they lap it up. And Hannah Greenwood’s voice on ‘Astral Projection’ is positively angelic. [Rob Barbour]

Nothing But Thieves

If there is one British rock band who are made for the main stage at Reading Festival, it’s Nothing But Thieves. Looking effortlessly cool, they swagger around the stage delivering tracks from their debut album with panache, Conor’s vocals completely flawless as he performs in a seductive manner. Sitting neatly between the borders of alternative rock, indie and, dare it be said, dad rock, Nothing But Thieves are a warm comfort to many, and an easy listen for those who like their music a little rough around the edges. Whichever way you look at them, Nothing But Thieves could well be the next best band of our generation. Plus, the drummer wore the best t-shirt there has ever been and that alone deserves a celebration. [Tamsyn Wilce]


While the crowd inside The Pit may have somewhat dispersed after Creeper, Superheaven make their way on stage and open up with ‘Sponge’. The thick, heavy guitar tones coupled with Taylor Madison’s gruff and unclean vocals work incredibly well with newer cuts such as ‘I’ve Been Bored’ and ‘Next To Nothing’. Almost every song includes near synchronized headbanging from the band, as well as probably some of the most tinnitus-inducing distortion you’ll hear all day. Taylor briefly jokes about the fact that the audience paid a lot to come here, but given their recent announcements of farewells they make sure the audience get their money’s worth. It’s frustrating when bands don’t get the send-offs they deserve but thankfully Superheaven seem graceful and still put on one hell of a good show. [Ashwin Bhandari]

Lower Than Atlantis

“Sorry if I seem a little bit nervous,” says Lower Than Atlantis’ frontman Mike Duce. “I’ve recently quit drinking and I don’t have a personality without alcohol apparently.” The brutally honest words come from Duce’s mouth shortly before beginning ‘Another Sad Song’, which seems fitting for a man who is struggling to come to terms with his healthier lifestyle. The track itself is a slightly odd choosing for a performance on the main stage. Though in smaller venues it receives a rapturous applause, it didn’t quite fit amongst the rest of the set, which included boisterous anthems such as ‘Criminal’, ‘Ain’t No Friend’ and latest offering ‘Work For It’. The Hertfordshire quartet have come a long way from the ‘Far Q’ days and playing Reading Festival main stage is a triumph in itself, unfortunately the sound felt a bit flat and they’ll have to give a bit more if they want to find themselves back on that stage in the future. [Tamsyn Wilce]


It’s never easy bringing the tight, claustrophobic atmosphere that Citizen have perfected with their drudging beauty into a festival setting. Yet they are exceptionally successful, acting as one of the few bands over the weekend to transfer a true sense of intimacy to the mid-afternoon sun. The juxtaposing haunting despondency and lightness of ‘Cement’ and ‘Numb Yourself’, in a set heavy on track from their ‘Youth’ debut, are mesmerising. In part due to Mat Kerekes’ blinding vocals, Citizen prove themselves to be one of early highlights of the Reading weekend. [Ben Tipple]

Happy Accidents

London’s Happy Accidents take to the BBC Introducing stage in the middle of the afternoon and play with an energy and enthusiasm which shows they’re not taking this opportunity lightly. This stage has an impressive track record of booking bands whose star is on the ascendant and with their bouncy, heartfelt take on indie power-pop, Happy Accidents could soon be joining that list. The three piece play with an assuredness belying their youth, and singer Rich Mandell looks like he’s having the time of his life. Infectiously fun. [Rob Barbour]

Nothing More

Confidence is the name of the game for San Antonio progressive rockers Nothing More. Vocalist Johnny Hawkins is typically topless from the moment the set begins, a set filled with visual spectacles that accompany the often grandiose rock being offered by the band. Perhaps more about the performance than the otherwise straightforward alt-rock, the skill is undeniable. The tenacity assured for something of a peculiarity, sandwiched between the grunge of Dinosaur Pile-Up and the technicality of Hacktivist. [Ben Tipple]

Muncie Girls

Back in January, Muncie Girls released an album which still stands up as one of the best British releases of 2016, despite the ridiculous quality of the competition. But it’s live that their songs really come to, well, life. There’s a jagged, punk energy to the Exeter trio’s output which really springs from the speakers when it’s being performed. Lande Hekt’s impressive bass is particularly prominent in the mix today and serves to give the songs an energising thump and bounce which draws a growing crowd throughout their set. Low-key album highlight ‘Social Side’, a Cure-inflected tale of “loneliness in remission”, was a risk given its slower pace and eschewing of bass in favour of baritone guitar, but Hekt’s distinctive voice and heartfelt delivery carries the band through. [Rob Barbour]


The gruff Brighton pop punk trio are no strangers to Reading at this point having graced the main stage in 2014, but there’s still a sense of them being overwhelmed by how many kids have come to see them in the new Jagerhouse stage. Blasting through some of the best cuts from their discography, vocalist Thom Weeks puts a funky pair of glasses from one the audience members and charms the overpacked venue with his honest and down to earth stage banter. By the end of the set, there’s a giant human pyramid circulated at the back of the room that reaches the balcony section, crowd surfers are pushed back into the crowd due to a lack of space, and as always Gnarwolves kill it with their tight delivery and undeniable crowd participation. [Ashwin Bhandari]

Twenty One Pilots

The hype surrounding Twenty One Pilots over the past year is one of surprise, but also of interest. Sitting somewhere between pop and rock, with a hint of ska and and a sprinkling of dub, the duo have managed to completely capture an audience so dedicated to them it’s almost terrifying. Wandering over to the NME/Radio1 stage, it’s physically impossible to get anywhere near the inside of the tent and in the distance you can just about make out the two silhouettes of Josh Dun and Tyler Joseph. The next hour is quite the spectacle. Whether Twenty One Pilots appeal to you or not they are fascinating to watch. Their whole stage presence is mysterious but there is so much energy and adoration from the crowd, it’s hard not to enjoy. Tyler isn’t afraid of playing the frontman, clambering over the heads of his fans, luring them in even more. His final crowd surf leaves him almost mauled by the crowd, ascending up a pole with his clothes dangling off him. Rumours speculate he cut the set short due to the intensity of it all, but according to our watches they finish bang on time. The only facts here are that Twenty One Pilots are here to burn the rulebook of rock music and they’re on an ever-escalating ride to the top, and the clique are not going to let you get in their way. [Tamsyn Wilce]


Sitting on the very fringes of punk, duo-come-full-band LUH are largely unclassifiable. Their blend of electronics and riffing guitars accompanied by dual vocals, wavering between gravelly and light, is particularly intriguing. Faced by a small crowd, the occasional arrogance of vocalist Ellery James Roberts is minimised. Despite the perplexed looks on his and partner Ebony Hoorn’s faces as they look out into the expanse, it doesn’t appear to have a detrimental effect on their sound; one which twists and turns from ambient to claustrophobic without a moment’s notice. Unclear where it wants to settle, it is this that makes LUH exciting. [Ben Tipple]


Despite a four-year absence and a distinct lack of fan appreciation for much of the material released after 2005’s ‘Vheissu’, Thrice are one of the ultimate post-hardcore festival bands. The reinvigorating effect that new album ‘To Be Everywhere is to be Nowhere’ has had on the band and its fanbase is well-documented, but it’s still heartening to see new tracks like ‘Blood On the Ground’ and ‘Black Honey’ being greeted with almost as much enthusiasm as legendary songs like ‘Silhouette’ and ‘The Artist in the Ambulance’. The festival’s unusually rock-light lineup this year means that Thrice’s crowd isn’t anywhere near as big as it deserves to be, but the band never give it any less than their all, with Dustin Kensrue’s unmistakable voice gravelled with age but still a force of nature. Simply one of the best live bands Punktastic’s world has, and a perpetual delight to witness. [Rob Barbour]

WORDS BY: Rob Barbour, Tamsyn Wilce, Ashwin Bhandari and Ben Tipple
PHOTOS BY: Olly Hanks