LIVE: Reading Festival 2019 – Saturday

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


We start off our Saturday exactly as we need to: in the Radio 1 tent, listening to Cassia and enjoying the soft, indie nature of their music as it cures our Friday hangovers and eases us gently into day two. The band feels tropical, suiting the still-warm weather perfectly; allowing you to picture yourself on a beach, cocktail in hand, if only you’re to close your eyes. With a cover of Martin Solveig’s ‘Hello’, the crowd’s enjoyment reaches its peak, clapping and singing along in the shade of the tent as they prepare themselves for the rest of the day. [YB]

Against The Current

Against The Current are a strong opener for the Main Stage, serving up a generous helping of good old-fashioned feel good pop rock. They played Reading Festival for the first time two years ago, coming back to draw a surprisingly large crowd given the time and the midday heat. The set is fun, a sentiment matched by drummer Will Ferri’s boldly patterned shirt and vocalist Chrissy Costanza’s pink inner-eye make-up – let’s just say that ATC have nailed their brand. From 2018 album ‘Past Lives’, ‘Voices’ is a highlight of the set, showing off Costanza’s voice and accompanying it with some infectious rhythms and melodies, as well as ‘Almost Forgot’, which wouldn’t be out of place in mainstream charts. It’s a polished performance, although lacks the same emotional weight as some other bands this weekend – but fans will be pleased to know that they will be back in the UK in December for shows in Manchester and London. [CA]

Higher Power

There’s a very different energy over at The Pit / The Lock Up stage, full of angst and ready for Higher Power. The crowd are already moshing as the first song begins, keen to clap along as vocalist J Town professes to “bring some hardcore style to Reading Festival”. His first hardcore experience was watching Hatebreed and the like in The Lock Up tent many years ago, so it’s clear how meaningful it is for him to return with his own music. While it can be hard to get on board with the new wave of hardcore bands, it’s still possible to appreciate the artistry of the genre, the escapism it offers and the community surrounding it, and surrounding the crowd through Higher Power’s set. J Town keeps the crowd moving and head-banging through the heat, supported by Ethan on bass guitar, Alex on drums and both Max and Louis shredding their guitars. Their second track is aptly named ‘Can’t Relate’, but luckily, the rest of the crowd would most definitely disagree. [CA]

Boston Manor

If Cassia allowed for a gentle easing into the day, Boston Manor create a polar opposite atmosphere in their slightly later Radio 1 set. These Blackpool boys don’t allow for a single second of rest, encouraging circle pits from the get go, ensuring everyone in attendance is well and truly dripping with their own (and others’) sweat by the end of opening song ‘Flowers in Your Dustbin’. It’s been 10 years since the members of Boston Manor first attended Reading festival as fans, and to now be playing the second largest stage on what is usually the most popular day is not lost on these humble men. This is an opportunity they refuse to waste, and as bodies are thrown into the air during ‘Bad Machine’, it’s one that is embraced not just by the band, but by everyone in attendance. Boston Manor have only existed in the public eye since 2013, yet the tightness of their set is second to none, and it’s clear as Henry launches himself into the crowd for ‘If I Can’t Have It, No One Can’, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that this band was born to perform, and to perform together. If you happened to find yourself in attendance during this set, you’d surely agree that this short but sweet experience is one of the best of the whole weekend. [YB]

Enter Shikari

When will you ever find yourself in a position wherein you’re able to see Enter Shikari perform three times in one weekend? At Reading Festival, of course. Already set to perform twice on Sunday, Enter Shikari popped by a day early for a secret set on BBC’s Introducing stage. This is a band we’re used to seeing play huge venues and stadiums, yet here we are, watching them play a stage that’s barely large enough to hold them, ready to perform the acoustic set we never knew we needed. It’s a soft set, in total contrast to what we’re used to from Shikari, yet the impact is by no means lessened as a result. Rather, front man Rou Reynold’s voice only sounds more stunning, and it highlights just what a versatile band Enter Shikari are. It’s intimate, as Reynolds shares his feelings on the world, and introduces some chords that help him to feel better, as well as commenting that those who turned up with just an hour’s notice are “the real deal” and “the force behind this band”. In this moment, we feel it; the connection that has been maintained over the years that Shikari have been a band, and the years in which they have grown to a size that almost no one could have anticipated after the release of ‘Take to the Skies’. Closing this stunning set with Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’ highlights the fact that the members of Shikari don’t take themselves too seriously, and it only results in us loving them even more. [YB]

Dinosaur Pile-Up

Dinosaur Pile-Up join Reading festival goers after two and a half months touring the United States. The crowd is the biggest The Pit / The Lock Up has seen all day and, unsurprisingly, the British alt rock band note that it’s one of the best crowds they’ve ever played to. “You wanna have fun?”, lead singer and guitarist Matt Bigland asks. Of course we do. There’s crowd-surfing, there are beach balls, and there is dancing along to tracks that include ’11:11’, ‘Back Foot’, and ‘Thrash Metal Cassette’ from the 2019 album ‘Celebrity Mansions’. Bass guitarist Jim Cratchley keeps it funky whilst drummer Mike Sheils throws down rhythm after rhythm – there’s a good reason Dinosaur Pile-Up are a firm favourite at Punktastic. [CA]


Beginning ten minutes behind schedule, American singer-songwriter Poppy comes onto The Pit / The Lock Up stage to the narration: “Is Poppy a girl? Is Poppy a boy? Is Poppy gender neutral?”. This isn’t really answered, and nor does it need to be, but it’s clear that Poppy takes the same approach to their music with outright refusal to be constrained by one genre or vocal style. Combining heavy metal riffs with Japanese-inspired sugary vocals and gimmicky costumes, Poppy appears to have built up a strong following over the past couple of years as the tent is packed to the rafters with tangible excitement. The performance is attention seeking and deliberately weird, but the crowd is in raptures and opens up a huge circle pit. Musically, Poppy’s vocals are strong and the talent of the musicians can’t be faulted – as a punter, you just need to be open to what on earth might come through the speakers next. [CA]


Back in the shelter of the Radio 1 stage, we have PVRIS. Another band who are no strangers to Reading Festival, they only find themselves faced with a larger, more emphatic crowd every time they perform. Lynn Gunn’s vocals will likely always remain unparalleled, and the band’s stage presence feeds the crowd with an instant energy that you can’t help but give into. Even PVRIS’ latest track, ‘Death of Me’, is met with the warm embrace of a song you’ve known for years, showing the power this band has on their fans. It doesn’t go unnoticed by Gunn, either, as during ‘Holy’, she removes her earpiece to take in the magnitude of the crowd in front of her, singing more loudly than Gunn herself. PVRIS are one of those bands whose phenomenal talent only shines through in the live show, and while they’re still hugely enjoyable on record, there’s nothing quite like seeing Gunn put down her guitar only to sit at the piano to effortlessly accompany her own vocals during ‘Heaven’. Nor can you visualise the images that appear on screen, providing an immersive experience and further context that could never be imagined through your headphones. PVRIS are simply a band you must see live. [YB]

Of Mice & Men

Of Mice & Men are a band that know how to put on a damn good show. The Pit / The Lock Up tent is loud, the pit opens before the first song even begins and, of course, there are pyrotechnics. Their Reading set ticks all the boxes of what you’d expect to see at a heavy music gig; guitarists Phil Manansala and Alan Ashby in power stance, long hair being whipped around, guttural vocals from Aaron Pauley and relentless drumming from Valentino Arteaga. Introducing new songs ‘Mushroom Cloud’ (about “losing your fucking mind”) and ‘Earth and Sky’, OM&M show remarkable stamina that the entire tent is more than happy to keep up with. Getting everyone down on their knees is a little overdone, but with OM&M it gives a huge adrenaline rush, and undoubtedly some great footage, so the crowd are happy to oblige. This Californian metalcore quartet are true masters of their craft, and made the most of every second on stage. [CA]

twenty one pilots

Tonight’s main stage headliners are twenty one pilots, and it’s only when you place yourself in front of the main stage that you can even come close to comprehending exactly what this band has achieved in just a few short years.

Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun have gone from support acts, to club headliners, to arena headliners, to main stage festival headliners in the space of just four short years, and as we watch them take to the stage to embark on a meticulously planned out spectacle, it’s hard not to feel your eyes welling with tears of pride for this Ohio duo.

twenty one pilots revel in the detail, to the point where even their amps have had the classic Marshall logo replaced with ‘Bandito’ in Marshall’s font. Everything has been considered; from the outfits to the stage design, there’s not a single moment across this 90 minute set you could pick fault with – the sign of a band that has embraced growth (albeit with a little fear – see: ‘Chlorine’) and fought to continue to prove themselves worthy.

While this band have played to countless arena crowds over the past few years, they’ve acknowledged that riding that wave at a festival won’t necessarily win over the crowd waiting for co-headliner Post Malone to take to the stage. This acknowledgement sees front man Tyler Joseph commenting on the respect he has for the British festival scene, before our second Oasis cover of the day commences, this time in the form of ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ – a cover that sees a crowd of 10,000+ Brits singing passionately, proud of our musical heritage. It’s a smart move, winning over the less passionate among the crowd who may not consider themselves part of the band’s Skeleton Clique fanbase, and certainly highlights their self-awareness and humility.

That said, there are plenty of moments that are delicately placed throughout the set just for this ‘Clique’, including the reappearance of 2014’s skeleton hoodies during 2018’s ‘My Blood’ – a track released just for the fans – and it doesn’t go unnoticed. While you may think this is subtle, when you look around and note the number of fans rapping seamlessly to ‘Car Radio’ and ‘Holding Onto You’, it’s clear that they stem back far further than 2015’s ‘Stressed Out’ – the song that ultimately propelled twenty one pilots into the mainstream world of music – and that twenty one pilots simply don’t know what it’s like to have a ‘casual fan’. 

This set is so intricate that you could spend your whole life delving into every detail if you wanted to (or, you know, if you had the time), but ultimately, it’s the combination of professionalism and personalism that makes this twenty one pilots live show as unforgettable as it always is. From comments from Joseph about his hair, which has been cut by his wife just before the show and dancing security guards, to on-stage drumming and podium climbing, there’s nothing you can fault, and if you started Saturday feeling nonchalant about twenty one pilots, there’s little chance you left with the same ambivalence.

When you compare their Radio 1 set back in 2016 – when we saw the entire show switched off due to Joseph climbing the scaffolding without permission – to today, with scaffolding built just for them, it’s hard not to feel emotional about the growth of this band. The fireworks and confetti are all wonderful additions to this set, but it’s only Joseph and Dun – the only two people on stage – who can be given credit for where they are today.

For Punktastic, we can’t think of a better way to have ended our Saturday. [YB]

Click here to view the full gallery from day two at Reading and Leeds.