LIVE: Reading Festival 2019 – Friday

By Punktastic

While ‘British Festival Season’ often conjures thoughts of muddy fields, populated almost solely with last-minute welly purchases, this year’s Reading Festival brought only sunshine and across the whole weekend.

Pulling from all of Punktastic’s very favourite genres, it’s one of our most anticipated times of the year, and 2019’s line-up had us drooling with excitement for months before the bank holiday weekend rolled around. Regardless of the weather, we love Reading, and this year the sweltering heat (coupled with litres and litres of water), made for an unforgettable weekend – one we can’t wait to repeat all over again in 2020.

Words: Yasmin Brown [YB], Catie Allwright [CA]; Images: Tash Greene, Matt Higgs

The LaFontaines

Our day starts on the Dance Stage, where Glasgow’s The LaFontaines pay no attention to the time of day as they happily cause a ruckus with their Scottish hip-hop/rock sound and endless enthusiasm. Prior to experiencing the set, their place on the Dance Stage seems confusing – but by the time frontman Kerr Okan is done with the crowd, there’s no denying that there’s no better place for this wonderfully mental band. If there’s one way to describe the short set, it’s ‘fucking fun’, as Okan amps up the crowd ready for the long weekend to come, not only jumping into the front few rows of the crowd, but actually leaving his mic behind altogether as he runs front to back through the crowd who are, by this point, equal parts ecstatic and confused. The LaFontaines are something different, and their popularity highlights this. Who ever knew they needed a very Scottish sounding rap/rock band? Certainly not us, but today only highlights that the music scene is a better place for having them in it. [YB]

I Don’t Know How But They Found Me

Nobody likes the opening band; their set time’s far too early and I’ve never heard of them. The chances are, they won’t go far… or at least, that’s what the opening lyrics of the Utah-based pop-rockers I Don’t Know How But They Found Me set, from the aptly named ‘Nobody Likes The Opening Band’, would tell you. What they lack in stage presence – and who can be surprised, really, with only two band members and no on-stage theatricals to fill the vast Main Stage – iDKHOW make up for in dry humour and unspeakably high notes from vocalist Dallon Weekes. iDKHOW’s self-aware performance is a gentle easing into the festival weekend, with 1980’s-inspired funky beats like ‘Social Climb’ and crowd-movers like ‘Do It All The Time’. Their opening track finishes “if you lend an ear and give them just one little chance, you may just like the opening band”, and we couldn’t agree more. [CA]

Sea Girls

As iDKHOW perform on the main stage, we’re also on our first of many visits to the Radio 1 stage this weekend, and we’re delighted to be able to catch Sea Girls one more time before the summer is over. This is a band that has grown beyond human comprehension over the past year, going from performing to mere handfuls of people at festivals in 2018, to filling tents and being entirely drowned out by the sound of their fans’ voices – not least during ‘All I Want to Hear You Say’ and set closer ‘Call Me Out’. While they’ve grown in popularity, the band members themselves don’t seem to have changed a bit, with happy-go-lucky guitarist Rory still grinning as though every day spent on stage is a new life highlight, and front man Henry continuing to venture into the crowd part way into the set. The band has always been tight, but with what must be close to fifty festival appearances under their belt since the beginning of summer 2018, Sea Girls have become ones to watch and deservedly picked up as one of Radio 1’s favourite newcomers. [YB]

Twin Atlantic

In comparison to the freshness of Sea Girls, Twin Atlantic are a band that have been commanding the main stage at Reading and Leeds festivals for years now, and each year they come back with more gusto (and more fans) than ever before. The weather has reached I-Would-Like-to-Die levels of hot now, but not for a second do either the crowd or band let this deter them from making the most of this Glaswegian four-piece’s live summer comeback. With new music on the horizon, the half hour set is not only filled with performances of tracks from across their current discography – each met with more excitement than the last – but the debut performance of unreleased track ‘Volcano’. Having been given a small glimpse of what’s to come with new music (that has been three years in the making since the release of GLA in 2016), the crowd is even more amped, pushing through the sweat and dust to make the most of every second of this set. It’s a glorious and triumphant return that has only left us anxious for more. [YB]

Patent Pending

All the way from Long Island, New York, Patent Pending’s set at The Pit / The Lock Up can only be described as complete and utter chaos, in the best sense of the word. Energetic front man Joe Ragosta asks the crowd who’s heard of Slick Rick, a one-eyed felon known for his iconic lyric “the roof is on fire”. As it turns out, Patent Pending borrowed the line and are now in a legal copyright battle, but it doesn’t stop them performing ‘Let It Burn’. The set appears to follow the theme of the band’s 2017 album ‘Other People’s Greatest Hits’ as Ragosta leads into ‘Every Time We Touch’ by saying “I wrote this song and it made me a millionaire. That may or may not be true – deal with it.” There are some originals too, like ‘Hey Mario’, which explores the relationship between Mario and Princess Peach, and ‘Psycho In Love’ – complete with its signature pirate hooks dance move, which fill the tent. Incorporating pop punk, rap metal, ska, and electronic elements, make no mistake that although they don’t take themselves too seriously, it’s not for lack of musical talent, and after almost two decades together, there’s no indication that Patent Pending are slowing down. [CA]

Press Club

Continuing Punktastic’s occupancy of The Pit / The Lock Up stage, Press Club join us from Melbourne’s independent punk scene to deliver a stunningly raw performance. Natalie Foster is messy haired and fresh faced, and completely embodies the music with no frills – just an incredible vocal range, which she flexes to deliver her lyrics with tenderness through to anger and conviction. Far from formulaic, drummer Frank Lees and guitarist Greg Wietwyk take the crowd on an unexpected journey of fast-paced rhythms and catchy riffs, receiving the best reactions to anthemic ‘Suburbia’ and my personal favourite, ‘Separate Houses’, taken from albums ‘Late Teens’ and ‘Wasted Energy’ respectively. Live music has a beautiful way of bringing people together – and this is the kind of band that would be as exhilarating to watch in a dark and smoky bar as it is to dance along to in a festival tent on a scorching Friday afternoon. [CA]

You Me At Six

Nobody does Reading and Leeds quite like You Me At Six. Having played here more times than we can count, and headlining the Radio 1 stage just two years ago, it’s a second home to this Surrey five-piece. This time, however, they’re back for an early evening main stage slot, as always making the most of this incredible opportunity and putting on a live show fans will be recalling for years. Front man Josh Franceschi carries enough charisma for the whole band, speckling the set with motivational speeches about love and acceptance, cementing himself as the passionate, caring, and opinionated man we’ve always loved. Even without the mic, however, the personalities of every band member shines through in their performance, and it’s easy to tell from the casual nudges or friendly jibes that these five best friends were made for this life, and they were made to live it together. Today, in among his consistently smooth vocals, Franceschi makes many impressive yet unexpected attempts at screaming. With the introduction of new dance-rock track ‘What’s It Like’, as well as a mention of more new music to come in October, it suggests that perhaps this is the direction the band may be moving. By the reaction of the crowd, it seems this change in sonic direction is welcome and, as with Twin Atlantic earlier in the day, the set leaves us filled with anticipation for what this band has to offer us moving forwards. [YB]


How can three people make so much noise? Let’s set the scene – it’s now 6pm in The Pit / The Lock Up tent and the crowd is a little sparse, but Puppy are killing it. Where to start – the earth-shattering riffs straight out of the 1990’s, the unlike-any-other vocals, or the genre-breaking result of them coming together? If you’d never seen Puppy before, you’d probably picture Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, or something along those lines – not three young lads from London with a goofy sense of humour. But it works. It really, really works, and gives vocalist and guitarist Jock Norton, bass guitarist Will Michael and drummer Billy Howard Price a hugely likeable quality. Combining tracks from their occult-like debut album ‘The Goat’ (2019) such as ‘Black Hole’, and earlier singles like ‘Forever’, Puppy give one of the best performances at Reading. If they’ve managed to come this far since just 2014, you know that this is only the beginning. [CA]

Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers

Reading is an old stomping ground for all three musicians we’re about to see, but today is their first time playing together as Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers. It’s disappointing to see the turnout, but this is quickly forgotten as it’s clear that only the true fans have made it to The Pit / The Lock Up – shown as we hang off every word, only interrupted by shouts from the crowd about how much Grace is loved. The set features tracks from 2018 album ‘Bought To Rot’, including ‘The Hotel Song’, which gives thanks to hotels around the world for their sanctuary, the importance of being ready to leave, and only taking with you what you need – a beautiful metaphor for resilience and personal growth. ‘Valeria Golino’ tackles the struggles of needing help but being sexualised, whilst ‘Born In Black’ is about taking that thing others ridicule you for and turning it into a sense of empowerment. Grace is always open about her battle with mental health, dedicating ‘Manic Depression’ to anyone suffering. Although much more sombre than earlier performances, the set is powerful, emotive and touching – with a number of people staying behind to meet the band. [CA]

Pale Waves

If there’s ever a band that is going to have you both crying and dancing with joy in the same heartbeat, it’s Pale Waves. Their often painful lyrics are disguised among upbeat melodies, and it’s not difficult to find yourself confused as to how you should feel. In a live environment, this is even more poignant, and throughout the Radio 1 set fans find themselves with tears running down their faces, while still unwittingly dancing along in a confusing yet cathartic emotional breakdown. This is what makes Pale Waves so wonderful; their ability to evoke multiple emotions at once, and while front woman Heather Baron-Gracie can be pitchy at times as she struggles to juggle both vocals and guitar, the band’s live show is consistently one to remember. Today is no different, as Baron-Gracie blows kisses and dances in the most endearing way, seemingly unaware of the impact she has on the band’s fans as she notes to the already misty-eyed crowd that “we’re gonna get emo”, midway through the set. As if we need another reason to cry.  The gratitude that flows cyclically between band and fans reaches its peak as the set draws to a close with ‘There’s A Honey’, and Baron-Gracie clambers into the crowd to hug those in the first few rows, the farewell screams reaching almost deafening levels. This is a band that deserves their following, both in regards to their music and who they evidently are as human beings, too. [YB]


Now firmly in headliner territory, PUP bring one of the liveliest crowds of the day, promising to “just play as many fucking rock songs as we can”. Everyone is clapping, singing and bouncing through tracks from the Canadian punk rock band’s most recent album, ‘Morbid Stuff’, as well as screaming requests for older track ‘Dark Days’, from their self-titled 2014 release. The tempo is brought down a little with ‘Scorpion Hill’, the crowd swaying along as the sun set around us, then up again all the way through to the undeniably catchy final track ‘DVP’. It’s not clear who is having more fun – bandmates Stefan Babcock, Steve Sladkowski, Nestor Chumak, and Zack Mykula, or the tent full of fans. Either way, it doesn’t feel like there was a huge divide between the two – just hundreds of people having a great time. [CA]

Royal Blood

As the sun starts to descend behind the carnival backdrop of the festival, Royal Blood take to the stage. Met with a seemingly infinite crowd, this Brighton two-piece show no fear as they launch into their catalogue of hits. For a rock band to have such a mainstream following can make fans nervous, but Royal Blood continue to put out authentic rock ’n’ roll music, perfectly designed for a main stage slot like this. The pair exude talent, their tight performance and flawless sound making this a set that anyone could enjoy, regardless of the extent of Royal Blood knowledge. With dramatic pauses for effect and a drum solo that can only be described as ‘epic’, they’re the perfect warm up for tonight’s headliners, The 1975, although there are moments where you’re left wondering whether they themselves should be running this show. [YB]

The Maine

Our Friday night draws to a close with the ever wholesome The Maine over in the Lockup tent. Tonight is the band’s first time at Reading and Leeds, and while they “didn’t think anyone would show up”, the tent is packed to the brim with fans singing along and swaying to every song, with more spectators trickling in as the set continues.

As we’ve grown used to with The Maine over the years, this is a group who don’t take themselves too seriously – highlighted as front man John O’Callaghan practices his ‘sexy’ dancing during ‘Am I Pretty?’, and a fan named Alex is brought on stage to join the band for ‘Girls Do What They Want’, during which time O’Callaghan kisses Alex (with permission, of course), and the crowd chants the fan’s name as though he’s exactly who we came here for tonight.

The set is exquisite, with O’Callaghan’s vocals merging perfectly with the band’s perfectly played out beats and melodies. The grins prompted by the experience of singing along to ‘Another Night on Mars’, arm in arm with their best friends and other loved ones, are reflected on the faces of each band member, and we all undoubtedly concur with O’Callaghan as he notes, “I’m gonna remember this night for fucking ever”. Friday may be over, but we’re never going to forget it. [YB]

Click here to view the full day one gallery from Reading & Leeds.