LIVE: Reading Festival 2018 – Saturday

By Yasmin Brown

Reading Festival continues to be one of the most popular festivals to brighten up our British summer each year, even when summer fails to truly arrive and we are left wading through mud in our favourite wellies. Every year offers a lineup filled with the current biggest names in music, with 2018 being no exception to this.

The Punktastic team made their way to Reading to report back on all of the best that 2018’s lineup had to offer.

Images: Olly Hanks, Words: Yasmin Brown [YB] / Gemma Rogers [GR]

Trusted with the task of opening the main stage for what is consistently the most popular day of the weekend each year, locals Trash Boat more than delivered. Their heavy sound translates far better to the stage than it does on record, offering a loud, hectic start to the day, and despite having just returned home from a summer on the last ever Warped Tour, the band persisted in putting their all into the performance. They might be known as ‘post-hardcore’ but the number of guitar spins that took place on the main stage was totally classic pop punk, and Trash Boat are by no means confined to one genre when it comes to the fans they attract. The band was evidently grateful for the turnout, with vocalist Tobi Duncan closing the set by stating, “I’ve said thank you like 10 times but I’m gonna say it one more time so thank you”, and they certainly made it worth the early start. [YB]

BLOXX were a highlight of the day, even with their short set early on. The band members are younger than you might expect, but this does nothing to diminish the extent or impact of their talent, enthusiasm, or confidence. The four piece are clearly best friends as well as bandmates, messing around with each other and laughing throughout the set, clearly excited to be there and to have received the impressive crowd that packed out the Festival Republic tent. BLOXX took the live opportunity to showcase their musical abilities, with extended instrumental outros from each member, and vocalist Ophelia Booth maintaining vocal strength despite claiming to have ruined it watching Nothing But Thieves the previous evening. The crowd was lapping up the performance – clapping, climbing on each others’ shoulders and creating circle pits on command. BLOXX might just be starting out but they’ve got a long and fruitful career ahead of them. Reading and Leeds is surely just the beginning. [YB]

Australians Chase Atlantic continued to bring the energy in the Radio 1 tent as we went further into the afternoon. The sound was exceptional in the sweaty tent, and although it was the band’s very first trip to the UK ahead of their October tour, they have picked up quite the following on this side of the world. The sharing of vocals was effective in the live setting, with the often sweet tones working well in contrast with the heavier music, and the addition of the saxophone was unexpected yet successful in setting this pop punk band apart from the hundreds of others on the scene at the moment. As the crowd moved in total unison, from arm waving to jumping, it became clear that Chase Atlantic are already set to take on the pop punk world – and the masses of pop punk fans are ready to embrace them with open arms. [YB]

If ever anyone was to purposefully design the perfect band for a sunny festival afternoon, it would look and sound exactly like Skindred. Lucky for us, then, that they not only exist, but are here at Reading, bringing their unique reggae metal sound to get the Saturday main stage party well and truly underway. The parched ground is now so dusty in the pit that anyone partaking in the mosh turns almost instantly a slightly iffy shade of browny-orange, but it doesn’t seem to deter the masses – particularly when it comes to fan favourites ‘Pressure’ and ‘Nobody’. Then again, with an irresistibly engaging front man like Benji Webbe cajoling the crowd into dancing, chanting participation, there’s little chance of a Skindred show ever being boring. It’s a riotous, fun, upbeat set full of big riffs and singalong choruses – and, of course, the t-shirt swinging Newport Helicopter. We only wish we could have a bit of Skindred to kick start every day. [GR]

Back at the Festival Republic stage, Sea Girls vocalist Henry Camamile exclaimed, “this is fucking cool” as the band received an incredibly warm welcome, particularly considering they’ve only been on the scene for a year or so. Mosh pits ensued, and the enthusiastic crowd continued to sing and dance along to each and every song, pausing momentarily only when the band played unreleased song, ‘Forever’. This set was a pivotal moment in Sea Girls’ career, as they last attended Reading Festival in 2012 and swore then they wouldn’t return unless they were playing. As such, it felt incredibly special, something that the band obviously felt too as Camamile seemed to drink up the sight in front of him – “literally a dream come true”. After climbing onto the barrier separating the crowd from the stage for their final performance of their latest single, ‘Adored’, Camamile proceeded to crowd surf as the set drew to a close. They may be a relatively new band, but Sea Girls undoubtedly know where they want to go in this industry, and their talent is sure to get them there. [YB]

It’s no big surprise that the significant – and enthusiastic – crowd assembled at the main stage for Mike Shinoda’s set includes more than a few Linkin Park fans. It’s also not surprising that this is one of the most emotional sets of the weekend, coming only 13 months after the death of Chester Bennington – though this isn’t just a tribute to the band that made his name. A mixture of songs from former side project Fort Minor, solo material from new album ‘Post Traumatic’ and, of course, Linkin Park are on offer and showcase Shinoda’s diverse talents as pop, metal and hip hop blend seamlessly. The dedication of a beautiful piano version of ‘In The End’ to Bennington is spine-tingling; never has a festival crowd felt so united, and there could be no better way to honour his memory. Shinoda is an outstanding, honest performer, and this is one festival exclusive set that earns itself the label ‘unmissable’. [GR]

Next up, old pop-punk favourites Sum 41 took to the main stage to an endless sea of adoring fans of all ages. It might have been 15 years since the band last played Reading and Leeds, but as the band launched into hit after hit, it was almost as though no time at all had passed since songs such as ‘In Too Deep’ and ‘Motivation’ were the soundtrack to our lives. Despite the length of time Sum 41 have been on the scene, they remain humble and gracious, as shown by front man Deryck Whibley when he thanked the crowd repeatedly for having and embracing them. Sum 41 commanded the stage and the crowd just as they always have, breaking into guitar solos (“It’s time for some heavy fucking metal”) and successfully requesting that we raise our arms in the air and sway for the first few moments of ‘Walking Disaster’. Following this, the craziest pit of the day opened, and standing on the edge all that was visible was a cloud of dust raised by those who no longer cared about maintaining cleanliness. Based on this comeback performance, Sum 41 is a band that will remain relevant long after they stop touring and releasing music – and it’s more than deserved. [YB]

Pale Waves have been described as being The 1975 with a female vocalist, but to label them in such a way is to discredit the unique talent this band have. The Festival Republic stage was home to a number of the most impressive bands of the weekend, and this performance was no exception. With the tent filling up quickly, it became clear that Pale Waves are already insanely popular, despite their short career. Many fans had taken residence at the tent for most of the day leading up to their performance, highlighting the intensity of their fanbase – particularly considering the set was only to be half an hour long. For those that did wait, the power pop performance was sure to be worth it, as each member exuded vivacity and front woman Heather Baron-Gracie blessed everyone’s ears with her ethereal, sweet vocals. It was just one of many performances of the weekend that proved that women belong in the alternative/rock scene and it was very, very cool to witness. [YB]

With the release of their new album ‘Rituals’ just last month, Deaf Havana are in the perfect position to be playing a prime slot at Reading and Leeds’ second largest stage. Prior to the band taking the stage, Radio 1’s Scott Mills and Chris Stark took it upon themselves to introduce them, and later joined the choir for the opening performance of ‘Sinner’, along with the LCV Choir – all of whom were repping Deaf Havana’s merchandise. While the DJs left the stage promptly, the choir remained for the duration, adding stunning harmonies to the band’s music and the religious theme that makes up the album – and acting as a perfect supplement to front man James Veck-Gilodi’s faultless voice. Veck-Gilodi stated that Reading is the band’s favourite festival in the world, and with the massive turn out it’s easy to see why. This is a band that can handle a packed out festival tent or a tiny church in London, all the while maintaining their integrity, and sticking to what they believe in. These facts are reflected in the quality of their live shows and the connection they’ve forged and maintained with their fans, who showed up in their masses to support the band, despite the clash with Panic! at the Disco. [YB]

Beartooth have garnered quite the following since signing to Red Bull Records back in 2013, and their Saturday night set pulled in a crowd that meant any late arrivals would be forced to stand outside outside of The Pit/Lockup stage. It’s common that bands in the alternative music scene – and in this case, post-hardcore – are often drawn to the music as a result of its relatable themes, and prior to launching into new track ‘Disease’, front man Caleb Shomo took a moment to discuss and raise awareness to mental health.  It was a speech that many will be able to relate to, and one that left the crows walking away with a sense of hope infiltrating any persistent painful struggles we may be facing: “I will always feel this way, but that does not mean I’m weak. That does not mean I’m worthless. It just means I’m human.” Comments like this will always strengthen any band/fan connection, and Shomo furthered this by spending much of the set singing in amongst the crowd – creating a sense of togetherness that was sure to leave each person in attendance feeling closer to Beartooth than ever. [YB]

Panic! at the Disco, of course, are no strangers to the Reading and Leeds stages, and Brendon Urie’s stage presence continues to fare him well even after the departure of the rest of the original band members. Accompanied by a full band – including a range of wind instruments and some lovely sounding strings – Urie’s incredible vocal range extended across the field, his insane falsetto reaching from the very front, to the food stalls all the way towards the Radio 1 stage. He may only be one person, but his effervescent personality filled the huge stage effortlessly, entertaining even those too crushed into the crowd to be able to see much of what was happening. As Urie took a seat at the glossy black grand piano to perform ‘Pretty. Odd’s’ biggest hit, ‘Nine in the Afternoon’, the crowd went wild, clearly having followed the band through each wildly different album. From an unexpected and confusing pit opening during ‘This Is Gospel’ to the understanding nods and grateful cheers that came in response to calling ‘Girls/Girls/Boys’ an “anthem for pride”, Panic! greatly improved on previous appearances at the festival, and proved themselves as worthy of arena-sized crowds. Urie’s ability to interact with the crowd, despite the grandeur of it, also showed this – ad-libbing after the crowd cameras honed in on a man dressed as Jesus on his friend’s shoulders (“It’s the second coming!”), to exclaiming “it IS fucking Saturday!” during an insanely well received ‘Saturday Night’, to removing the physical barriers as he climbed into the crowd towards the end of the night.

After effortless backflips and an ever-perfect rendition of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (“We’ve been playing [this song] for a number of years ’cause it’s the best fucking song ever written”), we were left with words that would surely resonate with many in attendance long after we’d washed the dirt from our faces and grease from our hair: “I’ve never been happier in my fucking life that’s how important you are. You have an impact.” [YB]