LIVE: Reading Festival 2017 – Saturday

By Penny Bennett

A cursory glance at the Reading and Leeds line up for this all confirmed what many have been saying for years – this is not the rock lead festival we once all knew. Musically diverse is one way of putting it but actually the Bank Holiday weekender – an institution in its own right – still boasts an array of acts to tempt even the most stoic festival goer.

The Punktastic team headed up to the Richfield Avenue site to check it out.

Words: Christopher Lee, Becky Mount / Photos: Olly Hanks

Next up on the NME stage are relatively new London outfit INHEAVEN, their alternative sound is the perfect hangover cure to get you moving again on a Saturday morning at Reading. The exquisite vocals of both James Taylor and Chloe Little can’t fail to get you moving. Whilst their sound is somewhere in between grunge and indie with a dash of pop it’s also incredibly dark in places and transfers perfectly into their live performance. They may not have the biggest crowd seen at the NME stage across the weekend but they certainly lap up the atmosphere all the same and it’s easy to see why they’re making waves with their debut self-titled album. [CL]

The Pretty Reckless bring a taste of LA to the Reading Main Stage with their no nonsense rock & roll sound. The sultry tones of front woman Taylor Momsen are enough to get the main stage crowd clapping and singing along, there’s even a few signs dotted around stating ‘We only came to see The Pretty Reckless’ and if that is the case they surely won’t have been disappointed with what they saw. Festival sets can be a difficult job especially early on in the day but the guys take to their jobs perfectly, delivering a faultless performance from start to finish. [CL]

Tigercub bring their own brand of noise to The Lock Up, an organic approach to the kind of subgenre where it’s easy to fall through the cracks. Bands like Tigercub are important, though; emotions are kept in check by reminding us that the likes of ‘Memory Boy’ is about the refugee crisis, whilst their brutalist approach to heart-on-your sleeve lyric writing adds another level to their music. It’s almost subtle, but powerful enough to pack a punch and win crowds over, and it won’t be long until more and more people see what all the fuss is about. [BM]

The mighty PVRIS make an outstanding return to Reading with their unique atmospheric sound. Fronted by the unmistakable vocals of Lynn Gunn they provide the perfect chilled out vibe to a sunny Saturday afternoon much to the pleasure of the thousands in attendance at the main stage. No other band across the weekend could possibly connect with an audience on such an emotional level as they manage during their set, proving why after just two albums they’re already one of the biggest bands around. [CL]

Zeal & Ardor are a headfuck, to say the least. But it’s this kind of spanner in the works that festivals like Reading need. Actually, the music industry needs. Somehow combining themes of Satanism and the history of American slavery, tracks from the debut ‘Devil is Fine’ fall into the crowd and land somewhere between mindblowing and missing the point. Whatever you think of Zeal & Ador, it’s a noisy, refreshing smack in the face. And it’s exciting as hell. [BM]

Scottish band Vukovi enter The Pit for their Reading Festival debut and bring with them their brand of pumped up rock/pop. Combining brutal riffs with the infectious pop like vocals of Janine Shilstone the crowd find it almost impossible to not start moving instantly. It’s refreshing to see a new band command such a big following as the whole crowd know near enough every word and gladly sing it back as loud as they possibly can. ‘La Di Da’ and ‘Animal’ stand out in what is an exemplary set. [CL]

Frank Carter is no stranger to Reading Festival having played here more times than we can remember with Gallows, Pure Love and of course current band The Rattlesnakes. Each year he goes from strength to strength, his set on the main stage last year was one of our highlights and after a hugely successful second album ‘Modern Ruin’ he returns to a packed NME stage. There isn’t a frontman or woman out there who commands a crowd as well as Carter does and he conducts his orchestra of fans perfectly throughout a set consisting of tracks from both of the bands albums. There are handstands on top of the crowd and mosh pits as far as the eye can see. Another exemplary performance from one of the UK’s hottest bands. [CL]

El Paso punks At The Drive In grace the famous main stage and power through a set list heavy on tracks from arguably the bands best album ‘Relationship of Command’ and while they draw in a huge crowd it unfortunately fails to excite. Sure musically the guys are still as incredible as they always have been it’s almost like something gets lost in translation playing such a big stage in the middle of the day. They’re a band far more suited to playing a smaller stage much further into the night than this. Coupled with the lack of interaction between frontman Cedric Bixler and the crowd the set falls somewhat short, much to our disappointment. [CL]

There’s nothing like a little hardcore on a Saturday afternoon, and Defeater are here to put us on a rollercoaster of heartbreak and breakdowns. A word to the wise, this year’s festival is awash with brutal clashes, none more so than the dwindling harder acts. But despite being up against At The Drive In, Defeater show us their personal brand of perfectly executed modern hardcore, laced with emotion and anger in equal parts. They are nothing short of phenomenal to the surprise of absolutely no one, proving once again that they’re an important part of today’s scene. [BM]

Marmozets are another beast entirely, and we don’t say that lightly. The BBC Radio One stage is absolutely packed for a slot that’s, well, not exactly early, but still. You’d think the band would be better suited to a slot over at The Pit, but herein lies the beauty of Marmozets. Their sheer, blistering talent, rage fueled anthems like ‘Why Do You Hate Me’, and their almost-unrivalled ferocity transcends any genre ideals. It’s a welcome return for one of the UK’s finest noise acts, and the band are all too aware of that. It’s a strangely heartwarming set, but mostly it’s just really fucking good and we cannot wait to sink our teeth into that upcoming second album. [BM]

Welsh rappers/rockers Astroid Boys never fail to deliver an incredible live performance, and this was no different. Bringing their relentless energy to The Pit they power through 5 tracks of perfect beats and brutal riffs as the crowd lose their collective minds. With today’s current musical climate and grime becoming vastly more popular than ever it was only a matter of time until some like Astroid Boys emerged and they are masters of their craft. If previous EP’s and their live sets are anything to go on the upcoming release of debut album ‘Broke’ could signal the start of something huge for the boys from CF10. [CL]

As far as metal goes it may not be hugely represented across the weekend but when you’ve got the likes of Korn on the Reading Main Stage there can be few complaints. And that’s reflected in the huge crowd the Californian Nu-Metallers pull in and boy do they deliver. The band have have enjoyed something of a resurgence since the release of last year’s ‘The Serenity of Suffering’ and are clearly enjoying their music immensely as their enthusiasm washes over everyone. ‘Blind’, ‘Freak on a leash’ and ‘Y’all want a single’ see the crowd lose their minds as you’d expect and you’d struggle to see a band put more energy into a set all weekend than Korn do. [CL]

How many times do people have to be told that Japandroids are great? There is a disappointing turnout on the Festival Republic stage for the Canadian two piece. But it’s no bother, because for every fan – both those previously devoted and the rest that are no doubt new found fans – their set is an ardent display of their punk roots, a brutally beautiful onslaught of good old fashioned rock that they’re known for. It’s sad yes, that a band as good as Japandroids have fallen victim to Saturday’s line up, but they pay no mind as they play one of the most passionate sets of the weekend. [BM]

Having While She Sleeps headline The Pit stage feels like some kind of homecoming, a well earned celebration of what has been undoubtedly their year. There is a ferocious energy about the crowd, just one breakdown from levelling the tent and to be honest, we wouldn’t want it any other way. The passion of While She Sleeps has never exactly been questioned, but the intensity and the frenzy can be felt in every riff and every fist pump of the night, taking what’s normally a stellar performance to the next level. A mind melting set with the likes of ‘You Are We’, ‘Brainwashed’ and ‘Hurricane’, the performance from both band and punters alike is raw, unbridled and utterly heart warming. We’d almost worry that 2016 would be hard for the five piece to top…but when they’re THAT good? This year is only the beginning. [BM]

Ok so it’s not rock but the one and only Marshall Mathers is someone who cannot be missed. Once the biggest rapper on the planet Eminem always delivers, and his headline set on Saturday night was no different. Getting through an impressive 30+ tracks in his 90 minute set he gets straight down to business from the get go. It’s a no nonsense, play all the hits kind of set you’d expect from a headline act with a couple of covers thrown on for good measure and never being one to shy away from the controversial, the Detroit legend commands the crowd in chanting “Fuck Trump” much to everyone’s delight. Marshall provides a set that only the Real Slim Shady can and leaves everyone wanting more. [CL]