LIVE: Reading Festival Saturday 2012

By Tom Aylott

Enter Shikari

As the sun rose on the Saturday of Reading festival and those bleary eyed hangovers started to kick in, the word soon began to spread that Green Day would be playing the NME/Radio 1 stage at 11am. For those lucky enough to be in the know / on a phone, what followed was an absolute master class in how to command a festival audience from start to finish. Billy Joe Armstrong had the crowd in the palm of his hands with an almost manic energy about him, and despite rumours of a ‘Dookie’ set proving to be unfounded this hardly bothered the crowd one single bit. As the band left the stage way overdue to the tones of ‘She’, the general feeling was one of witnessing a genuinely special festival moment.

Next, Cardiff indie rockers Los Campesinos! were taking their places on the main stage, proving themselves worthy of the big slot. The crowd swelled to an impressive size as the audience from the Green Day filtered out, and the band sounded great. Their brand of indie rock is nothing if not infectious and fun, and was well worth watching.

Up next on the main stage were Blood Red Shoes, with the Brighton Based duo causing an absolutely massive racket. It’s still surprising just how well they manage to fill their sound out – especially on such a big stage – and you wouldn’t be surprised to see them a bit further up on the bill next year.

On the NME/Radio 1 stage, Twin Atlantic were gearing up for perhaps one of their biggest shows to date. Put frankly – they smashed it in front of a packed out tent. Twin Atlantic proved just why they are one of the best UK bands around at the moment. Front man Sam McTrusty’s voice sounded as strong as ever, and you only had to read his tweets afterwards to see just how much the set meant to the band. One of the highlights of the weekend for sure.

Back on the Main Stage, The Shins were up playing through an absolutely sublime set. It had been a while since The Shins were in the UK and based on this showing, they’ll hopefully be back again really soon. Everything sounded brilliant this afternoon, and ‘Simple Song’ got a fantastic reaction from the crowd.

Up next was Enter Shikari in what unfortunately seemed like an identical set to their comparable triumph last year. Their set wasn’t really helped by the sound and the wind started to take effect and distort it beyond enjoyment. Ideally, the next time they play Reading they’ll be in a tent where shit can truly go down but it was just a bit disappointing today – though not all through the fault of the band.

In what could be seen as one of the Radio One/NME tent’s slightly strange bookings for the weekend (they’re not really a Radio One buzz band or anything), Billy Talent ploughed through an interesting set and gave some great tasters of the band’s new album.

Closing down the Saturday for us was the much anticipated return of At The Drive-In. Unfortunately, a combination of matters meant that this wasn’t as great as it could have been. A lot of people were damp from the rain and it was quite cold by this point as well – this combined with a fairly small crowd and a largely disinterested looking band meant that something just wasn’t quite right. The technicality of the band was there but the energy was lacking – even on the quite ball busting combination of ‘Catacombs’ and ‘One Armed Scissor’. It did however remain a privilege to have heard those songs played live along with getting to say “I saw At The Drive-In live”