LIVE: Reading Festival 2016 [Saturday]

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.


Opening any stage at Reading Festival can be a difficult task, and there will always be the concern that nobody will actually turn up. Fortunately though, a healthy crowd grows for Scottish band Fatherson, who clearly put a lot of time, practice & thought into this performance. Though their set isn’t very long, they cram in favourites from both their debut and this year’s album ‘Open Book’, including ‘Wondrous Heart’, ‘Always’ and the infectiously bouncy ‘I Like Not Knowing’. Ross Leighton’s voice absolutely soars in the NME/R1 tent and the whole performance sounds impeccable. Finishing on ‘Lost Little Boys’ you get a sense that Fatherson will be heading for much bigger things in the coming months, and with Greg Walkinshaw’s pounding drum solo leading the outro, it’s clear that this is a band with so much more to give. [Tamsyn Wilce]


Dead! have got the weight of the world behind them. It is this that has caused some to turn their collective noses up at the young upstarts, writing them off as a mere novelty. Yet after twenty-ish minutes in Reading Festival’s The Pit stage with the boys, it’s abundantly clear they have far more to offer. Met by an initial apathetic crowd, other than the die-hard Dead! following (Zombies, perhaps?) launching into song, by the end of their set they celebrate a substantial level of respect across the tent. There’s an infectious youthful glow running through their sound, but one of substance. Recent single and set closer ‘You’re So Cheap’ in particular sets Dead! up as a genuinely exciting prospect. It’s probably time to turn those noses back down. [Ben Tipple]


It can be a thankless task, appearing early on the main stage on a day when many of Reading’s attendees are nursing two-day hangovers, but Clutch are an inspired choice to kick off Saturday’s festivities. The stoner rock veterans cherry-pick the biggest party jams from their impressive back catalogue, with gargantuan riffs and enough groove to get even the most broken of campers’ heads banging. Frontman Neil Fallon, despite being twice the age of some of the other musicians appearing this weekend, is a force of nature – stalking the stage, a ringleader of metallic mayhem ensuring everyone is wide awake and ready to party another day. Awesome. [Rob Barbour]

Ghost Town

As Hollywood trio Ghost Town run through the line checks for their set, guitarist Alix Koochaki repeatedly peels off the unmistakable, staccato riff from Marilyn Manson’s ‘The Beautiful People’. A curious choice, you might think, for a band whose target demographic were several years from being foetal when the nu-metal classic was released. Then the band start playing, and all becomes clear: ‘The Beautiful People’ is the only riff that Koochaki knows how to play. Sure, he transposes it into different keys while the band camouflage it behind a wall of insipid ‘EDM’ backing tracks and yes, the focus is undeniably on the technically-able but loathsomely uninspired pop-punk crooning of quirky-haircut-with-a-pulse Kevin McCullough, but Ghost Town are essentially a Marilyn Manson emo remix band. The crowd love it though, packing out The Pit and obeying McCullough’s every command, so we’re forced to draw the conclusion that this clearly isn’t for us. [Rob Barbour]

Parkway Drive

Parkway Drive’s sound is arguably not made for mid-afternoon sunshine. The speakers blast out the lingering thunderous bass-lines, waiting for the carnage to kickstart. And it does, to some extent. The crowd in part fling themselves around with the force dictated by the sound, but the sheer diversity in today’s main stage antics makes for a notably varied reaction. That doesn’t stop the band putting in their all, even bringing out the daylight pyrotechnics to muster the barbarity usually witnessed from the stage. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the performance, but as vocalist Winston admits their somewhat peculiar situation, it’s clear that the dark indoors is where they work best. [Ben Tipple]

You Me At Six

Rumours were circulating before the Reading and Leeds weekend as to who would fill the 45 minute slot left open by Fearless Vampire Killers, who split not long before. With a new single and album announcement, You Me At Six are leaders in the race, so come 4PM The Pit stage is spilling out with people eagerly awaiting to see if the British band appear. As the echoing opening riff to ‘Room To Breathe’ begin, the band, who have been away writing their fifth studio album for over a year, are welcomed with huge cheers and sing-a-longs from start to finish. Squeezing in what they can, it is ‘Underdog’ and ‘Stay With Me’ which strike the hearts of many watching, whilst new single ‘Night People’ and ‘Plus One’ offer a taste of the direction the band are heading in. Closing with ‘Bite My Tongue’, which is dedicated to Architects’ guitarist Tom Searle who recently lost his battle with cancer, the set finishes on a poignant moment and reminds us all as to why music, and bands like You Me At Six are still so important to the alternative community. Welcome back boys, it’s good to see you. [Tamsyn Wilce]


A week after the festival, we’re still not sure if Tunbridge Wells duo Slaves are a performance art piece, or simply the two luckiest bastards alive. Drummer/vocalist Isaac Holman is undeniably an engaging performer; coming on like an angry Al Murray after eight pints of Snakebite and leaping around, attacking his drum kit with the energy and focus of a particularly troubled toddler, but the band’s knees-up-knees-up-mother-brown cockney schtick starts to grate almost immediately. Music for people who think they like punk but actually just hate music, and people. [Rob Barbour]

By the way, that photo above is from their “secret” appearance on the BBC Introducing Stage over the weekend.

Milk Teeth

Moving from strength to strength with each live performance, Reading Festival sees Milk Teeth at their most assured. With a sound quality matching their on-stage performance, the confidence protruding from the stage is staggering. Their set allowing them to play the majority of this year’s ‘Vile Child’ debut, Milk Teeth demonstrate their newfound intensity, proving that vocal screams aren’t necessary to truly pack a punch. In their quiet moments they remain equally as sublime, not least as vocalist Becky Blomfield strips it all back for an intimate version of ‘Kabuki’. Edging even closer to the top of their game (they just keep getting better), Reading Festival may be the best we have seen Milk Teeth to date. [Ben Tipple]

Giraffe Tongue Orchestra

Featuring members of Mastodon, Dillinger Escape Plan and Alice In Chains, Giraffe Tongue Orchestra are solidly built around William DuVall’s huge vocals. As tight as you would imagine from such a pedigree of musicians, they slide from the silky rock and roll to metal infused riffs, dropping in the occasional part-rock drum beat to spice things up. At times straightforward, at others cleverly convoluted, it’s an unusual adventure for these veteran rockers. And considering some of their other outfits, it’s also notably safe. It’s this confident blend that appears to be the draw for its members; an expertly delivered slice of light relief. [Ben Tipple]


You might not think that cheesy dad rock riffs from the 80s mixed with black metal vocals would ever work in a million years, but Kvelertak are here to prove you wrong. Sporting his signature owl mask, vocalist Erlend Hjelvik shows no holding back, even in the blistering heat of the midday sun, shrieking his way through tracks and commanding the audience to his every whim. Even slightly more refined and reserved tracks such as ‘1985’ sound incredibly powerful and it’s honestly hard not to get your headbang on for them. With pummeling riffs galore and a sense of victory, Kvelertak might not have been the best fit for a festival like Reading, but prove that the festival is far from lost in mainstream mediocrity. [Ashwin Bhandari]

Red Hot Chili Peppers

In our Reading Festival preview feature, we described Red Hot Chili Peppers as one of the festival’s “House bands”; an act who’ve been playing for literally a generation, who have headlined on the cycles for albums released decades apart and who’ll most likely be a headline draw for as long as they exist. The problem with the Chilis, though, is that they’ve been too famous and too successful for too long to understand, or care about, the concessions expected of so prominent a slot at such a prestigious event. Consider Anthony Kiedis’ moustache: objectively hideous, it makes him look like a sexually deviant Charlie Chaplin impersonator who lost his hat and replaced it with Myspace-era sweep-fringe. But do you think anyone will ever tell him that to his face? Of course not. Just like no-one seems able to tell the band – or at least make them hear – that having written songs as incredible as ‘Californication’, ‘Under the Bridge’ and ‘Parallel Universe’ doesn’t buy them sufficient credit to subject a festival crowd to self-indulgent, improvisational jams.

That Flea, Chad Smith and (relatively) new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer are remarkable musicians isn’t in doubt; neither is the fact that they should save that shit for open mic jam nights at the Frog and Fiddle. And even when the band do crack out the hits – and, oh, what hits they are – Klinghoffer can’t resist putting his own stamp on them (read: replacing the beautifully simple solos in ‘Scar Tissue’ with generic funk chords, and randomly launching into an apparently unrehearsed rendition of ‘Brimful of Asha’). Cornershop’s 1998 one-hit-wonder is an appropriate choice, though: a song which had a brief, bright moment in the late 90s but whose novelty has well and truly worn off. [Rob Barbour]

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