LIVE: Reading Festival 2018 – Sunday

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]

Just as the weatherman had forewarned us, Sunday was a total washout from start to finish. Luckily, though, this was only the case as far as Mother Nature was concerned, with festival goers refusing to let it spoil their day, braving the rain and mud and continuing to have as much fun as they had over the rest of the weekend.

It’s a mystery as to why Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly – or Sam Duckworth, as some may know him – hasn’t become more successful over his many years as a songwriter. With ten musicians on stage, the depth and complexity of the music they were able to create in the Radio 1 Dance Stage was astounding – not once relying on backing tracks to pad out their sound – and while at first their place on this stage made little sense, as the set went on and more people were drawn into the tent, it became more clear. The combination of string and wind instruments with the usual guitars, drums and bass meant that, regardless of whether you knew GCWCF’s music or not, there was no way you were able to stand still and as the crowd filled out, people slowly started to loosen up and feed off the energy that each person refused to let wane on stage. From the opening song, each musician was given the chance to show off their musical talents, particularly in the opening number. While this performance of ‘Adults’ was definitely the longest, there were a number of instrumentals throughout the set that offered up this opportunity, highlighting both the band’s consistency and versatility, with intricate compositions flawlessly played. It’s sad that Duckworth hasn’t garnered the recognition that he so clearly deserves, but by the end of the set most were happily clapping along and drinking in Duckworth’s stunning, raspy vocals. [YB]

Every now and again, a band comes along that manages to pique our interest through sheer mystery alone. Sleep Token have been making their way through the UK festival circuit this year, attracting plenty of attention as they go – the masked, anonymous group claim to be part of a cult worshipping the deity ‘Sleep’. Whether you believe that or not, their performance is amongst the most impactful, unique, and unexpected of the weekend; front man Vessel fills The Pit/Lock Up tent with soaring vocals that are so pitch perfect as to seem almost unreal.  The band are fascinating to watch, giving as theatrical a performance as they come – but the true beauty in this set is revealed when the gentle melodies kick into huge, djenty, prog metal sections. The ground shakes under the weight of the pulsing rhythms, and the only downside is that they don’t seem to come often enough – by the end of the set, it all starts to become a little samey. Despite this, it’s clear that Sleep Token are phenomenally talented and have stage presence to spare; this is truly a band on the rise. [GR]

Early sets on the main stage were, to an extent, affected by the rain, but after last year’s Festival Republic performance, regular Reading attendees knew that Billy Talent were not to be missed. They’ve been on the scene since before many festival goers were even born but as with Sum 41 and The Used, their age has done nothing but make them better performers and better song writers. While the inevitable comments about the weather were made (“You have a wonderful country but your weather fucking sucks”), Billy Talent didn’t let that deter them from putting their all into their set, implementing impressive guitar solos and encouraging crazy, muddy circle pits in among the fans yelling the lyrics back at the band. With plenty of people wrapped tightly in their raincoats and plastic ponchos, songs such as ‘Rusted From the Rain’ were even more fun than they might have been had the sun been shining, and by the time the finale of ‘Fallen Leaves’ and ‘Red Flag’ came around any weather-related reservations had completely dissipated and it was, arguably, one of the best 30 minutes of the day. [YB]

It’s still suspiciously early on a festival Sunday for The Pit/Lock Up tent to be as full as it is – let’s face it, if anyone’s even out of their tent by 4pm it’s a minor miracle. It makes considerably more sense, though, when the impending secret set is revealed to be Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, and anyone still wiping the sleep from their eyes is almost certainly woken by their ferocious entrance with ‘Juggernaut’. The passion exhibited by the impossibly likeable Carter and his bandmates is reflected back in spades by one of the most enthusiastic crowds of the weekend – mosh pits and crowdsurfers are non-stop, keeping security well and truly on their toes. After expressing distaste for rap artists receiving such sizeable pits over this weekend – “they stole that shit from us!” – Carter insists on a circle pit around the tent, and when fans are reluctant (it’s chucking it down out there, after all), he leads a sprint himself. These antics, coupled with encouragement for an inclusive atmosphere and thrashing rock music, make for an engaging thirty minutes – this is a proper punk rock show for proper punk rock fans, and we are deeply grateful for their appearance. [GR]

It takes a lot to amp up a crowd half full of people that have likely never heard of you, but Normandie did just that at The Pit/Lockup – successfully achieving what they set out to do, which was to make sure everyone had a really “fucking good time”. Lead singer, Phillip Strand, was incredibly smooth in every move he made, making it impossible not to like him, and the music was catchy without being generic – no easy feat in today’s industry. With unnecessary but amusing apologies for the weather (“Sorry we brought the rain, we should have bought polar bears or whatever we have in Sweden”), the crowd clearly warmed to Strand. With moments where it felt as though the bass was the only thing responsible for your heartbeat, it felt fair that Strand demanded that we “bring it” and asked to “see a fucking mosh pit”, because Normandie really were putting on one hell of a show. Jumping into the crowd for the final performance of ‘Collide’, there was no doubt that we’ll be seeing a lot more of this band in the UK over the coming years. [YB]

Hippo Campus offered an entirely different vibe, with their hipster aesthetic preventing them from breaking out of their uber-cool on-stage personas for more than a couple of moments over the 30 minute set. That said, the band sounds exactly the same as they do on record, flawless vocals and all, and their music is undoubtedly made for live sing alongs; even their new, unreleased songs are easy to pick up and mimic by the time the final chorus comes around. With a single trumpet solo and guitarist, Nathan Stocker, putting what seemed to be all of his energy into his art, it’s clear that Hippo Campus do have the ability to put on a more animated performance and it’s a shame that they don’t let loose more often than they did during this particular set. [YB]

Earlier this year, Black Foxxes released their second record, ‘Reiði’, solidifying the fact that this is one of the best bands on the scene right now. After a request to, “Come forward. Embrace”, the band launched into what was to be one of the most intense half hours of the day, with almost desperate emotional release pouring out of the whole band; front man Mark Holley in particular. After a mind blowing performance of ‘Manic In Me’, he had “still not thrown up”, but he had, however, dropped his pick during a particularly intense guitar thrashing – and continued to play just as hard. Whether he didn’t notice or simply didn’t care is unknown, but his dedication to his art and the deep connection to his music was never more evident than it was in this moment. There were a number of moments (other than the blatant declaration of holding his vomit down) during which Holley’s anxiety was evident, most notably when he questioned his decision to wear a hoodie and commented on the number of errors he was making – despite the crowd not noticing at all. Regardless, though, Holley made it through the set with the help of his friends and bandmates, Tristan Jane and Ant Thornton, putting on what can only be described as an exceptional performance. The use of megaphone prior to launching into ‘JOY’ – Holley’s self-proclaimed favourite from ‘Reiði’ – as well as the extended outro wherein Holley jumped into the crowd, made the set finale even more memorable before the band left the stage. It was a performance that told a story, and said a lot about the minds behind the music – and while personal interactions were limited, fans still left the tent with a better understanding of who Black Foxxes are, and feeling more connected to them than ever. [YB]

In some ways, it’s hard to believe that Bedford foursome Don Broco have come so far as to occupy such a high position on Reading’s second biggest stage – yet at the same time, it makes perfect sense. Fresh from being Everyone’s Favourite Band (seriously) on the final run of Warped Tour across the US, Broco are one of the most explosive, energetic live bands in alternative music right now, and their set at Reading Festival is a perfect demonstration of their capabilities. As they launch straight into single ‘Pretty’, the crowd become a thrashing, bellowing mass in time to the heavy riffs; though huge tents like this can often feel impersonal, in front of this band the party atmosphere is electric in a style akin to your local club room at a Friday night show. Vocals from both front man Rob Damiani and drummer Matt Donnelly are hard to fault, and under the accessible, upbeat rock sound is impressive technicality that is delivered flawlessly; Tom Doyle’s basslines are especially mesmerising.  The biggest disappointment is the relative brevity of the set, at just 45 minutes, with plenty of life still left in the crowd for more. What we can be certain of, from a performance like this, is that Don Broco’s ascension through the Reading & Leeds stages isn’t over yet – main stage headline slots beckon, and it may not be too long before it happens. This set sees the end to the festival weekend for Team Punktastic, and as we work our way out through a graveyard of lost moshpit shoes, we can’t think of a better finale.  [GR]