LIVE: Reading Festival 2016 [Sunday]

By Ben Tipple

Donning unnecessary rain jackets and an excitable enthusiasm, we were once again on hand to catch the action at this year’s Reading Festival. Boasting another varied line-up across the event’s ever-increasing number of stages, the team dipped and dived through tens of thousands of punters to catch some of our favourite acts, and some new to our eyes and ears. Check out what we made of the festival itself in our ‘Thanks For The Memories‘ feature, and below for the bands we caught on the Friday.

For everything we have on Reading and Leeds 2016, including interviews, photos and more reviews and features head here.

Black Foxxes

Who doesn’t love a bit of lunchtime hangover heartbreak? Black Foxxes, playing on their biggest stage to date, expel a shroud of cathartic misery over the Reading Festival crowd, for some mirroring the physical and emotional drain of the final day. Their extremely personal subject matter isn’t lost in the open space, especially as Mark Holley goes for broke with his sheer vocal intensity. Everything is turned right up, from the on-stage antics to the ferocity of the otherwise understated tracks. And it works. The subtle gut-wrenching tones are replaced by a hard-hitting punch that is kept under wraps on record. Holley recently told us his anxiety often morphs into on stage anger, and judging by this performance, he was nervous as hell. [Ben Tipple]

State Champs

Ain’t nothing like a pop-punk party to blow away the cobwebs on the final day at Reading Festival and State Champs are the perfect remedy for the day 3 hangover. It’s no lie that the heavier bands tend to struggle with their sound on the main stage, with the thick basslines and distortion drowned out into the vast outside space. However, State Champs have no such trouble, bursting into ‘Shape Up’ the fatigue flies away and is replaced by fist pumps and singalongs. The half hour set is filled with their best pop-punk gems, their energy never wavers, Dereck’s vocals never falter (despite spending a summer on Warped Tour) and the performance as a whole is like a middle finger to any other bands who perhaps haven’t deserve their slot on that stage. Give it a few years and this lot will be headlining The Pit stage and not a single soul will be surprised. [Tamsyn Wilce]


As they take to the festival’s second stage, welcomed by a notably sizable crowd, Basement appear like a reinvigorated beast. Easily the best they have sounded in some time, vocalist Andrew Fisher is on top form, writhing around the stage with his characteristic moves while belting out mesmerising tracks from their recent back-catalogue. With the adoring crowd singing back at the stage, the performance is nothing less than triumphant. What could have been a difficult slot is met with ease, instantly cementing Basement as one of the best bands of the weekend. [Ben Tipple]

Coheed and Cambria

Lunchtime on the main stage is far from the ideal time and place to see Coheed and Cambria who, on a good day, are one of the best live bands in rock music today. They don’t do ‘bad shows’, just better ones. When you open with a song as long as ‘In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth’, there isn’t much space for fucking about. And considering the quality of the band’s output, pulling out a Nirvana cover when you’ve only got 35 minutes to begin with definitely counts as ‘fucking about’. Claudio Sanchez is having a great time, though – picking up and humping speaker cabinets and playing his double-necked guitar behind his head. And the opening trifecta of ‘IKSSE’ into ‘Blood Red Summer’ into ‘A Favour House Atlantic’ is killer. It’s just a shame they couldn’t play for twice as long. Or forever, whichever’s easiest. A true showman, and some of the best songs written in the last 20 years. [Rob Barbour]

Deaf Havana

You Me At Six aren’t the only ones to make a gracious return to Reading Festival this year, as it also sees the return of Deaf Havana and perhaps to their biggest performance to date. Having seen the band over the past couple years, there were still questions and concerns as to whether or not they still had it in them, if they could really put the past behind them and make it work. This performance however is everything they needed to remind us all that they weren’t ready to give up, with new single ’Sing’ acting as the fire in their beer-filled bellies. Dedicating ‘Mildred’ to the recent passing of a close friend, their set is as emotional as it is enjoyable and the fact they still have a deep effect on our feelings shows that Deaf Havana are not to be discounted. [Tamsyn Wilce]

Sleeping With Sirens

It wouldn’t be a festival if it didn’t pour it down, even if only for a moment, right? Despite the showers though, Sleeping With Sirens draw a sizeable crowd to witness their love-it-or-hate-it melodic hardcore. Having taken on the main stage in 2014, they obviously proved a lot of haters wrong as they made their triumphant return this year. Cramming in the hits from their four-album catalogue, it is ‘Congratulations’, ‘Kick Me’ and ‘If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn’ which cause more of a storm than that in the sky. Though far from being a highlight of the weekend, Sleeping With Sirens still manage to prove that they can tackle the challenges thrown at them and it will be no surprise to see them back on the main stage once again. [Tamsyn Wilce]


Waterparks’ bassist injured himself prior to their coming out on tour, so they had to find a replacement. Thus, we find My Chemical Romance’s Mikey Way filling in on low-end duties for a band who are far beneath him not just in age, but in every other sense of the word. Though occasionally memorable on record, the effect completely falls apart live – songs blend into one another, the best melodic parts are pre-recorded synths and frontman Awsten Knight just seems slightly out of his depth. Perhaps it’s sharing a stage with a bona fide legend, or the strange atmosphere that comes from many of the audience coming to watch a band simply for its bassist, but Waterparks fail to leave a mark today. [Rob Barbour]

Beach Slang

As Beach Slang vocalist James Alex welcomes his hero, Ben Harding of Senseless Things, onto the stage – a repeat from their London appearance earlier in the year – it’s impossible not to get caught up in the unadulterated adoration. The smile on Alex’s face is only matched by the commitment on Harding’s, forming one of the sweetest moments of Reading 2016. It’s indicative of Beach Slang’s love for their craft, and a catalyst for their frivolously serious whiskey-soaked rock and roll (despite the band explaining how they have recently switched to vodka as their drink of choice). Beach Slang strike the balance between musical appreciation and good times, and as they round up their fun-loving set at Reading it’s impossible not to smile. [Ben Tipple]


One of the day’s revelations is Eastbourne pop-punk outfit ROAM. What comes off on record as an uneasy mashup of Sum 41 and The Story So Far really comes to life in performance. The Pit is going crazy for the quintet, who return the energy tenfold – leaping around the stage, bouncing up and down in unison and clearly loving every second. There are inflatable dinghies and crocodiles surfing the crowd and mass singalong aplenty. A break for the ubiquitous token acoustic ballad reveals that Alex Costello has a way to go before he truly finds his voice – currently a forced, nasal American accent, albeit a tuneful one – but it would be plain disingenuous to deny that the band own their slot today. [Rob Barbour]

Modern Baseball

Modern Baseball have broken out of the underground, that much is clear. If announcing a show at London’s relatively huge Forum isn’t enough proof, the number of onlookers packed into The Pit before they play the first note definitely is. The energy is palpable as they launch into their set, instantly joined by a sea of enthusiastic voices. Set closer ‘Just Another Face’ is met by the biggest cheer, clearly an indication of things to come. Their Reading appearance is the start of the next phase of Modern Baseball, one that has more than enough potential to launch them into the stratosphere. Our money would be on Main Stage next year, if not a future headliner. [Ben Tipple]

Arcane Roots

Kingston trio Arcane Roots are another band whose live show is really the best way to consume their output. Popeye-strength vocal harmonies and wrecking ball riffs vie for space without ever overwhelming each other and while they may not be the most popular or hyped band on the bill today, they draw an impressive crowd and create a whole crew of new converts. Just a fantastic live band, with songs and instrumental chops many of their peers can only – and should – dream of. [Rob Barbour]

Fall Out Boy

Whether classed as a co- or sub-headliner, Fall Out Boy have brought out all the production stops. The flashy performance helps to distract from a potentially below-par performance, but for most the standard is irrelevant. Welcoming on-stage dancers, a huge pyrotechnic budget and fireworks galore, Reading Festival are on their feet and dancing as far as the eye can see. The biggest reaction is still reserved for their older material, an elephant in the world of Fall Out Boy, yet newer songs like ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’ and ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark’ demonstrate their continued songwriting prowess. Yet compared to fellow headliners Biffy Clyro (we’ll get to that later), their actual ability level is questionable. As a standalone performance however, it’s the biggest party Reading Festival has hosted this year. [Ben Tipple]

Third Eye Blind

Every festival, you experience a moment that distills the festival spirit into a single feeling. The life-affirming joy of a shared social experience combines with the vivacity that only live music can create, for a few seconds of indescribable joy. And for me, 2016’s moment came while watching late-90s also-ran college rockers, Third Eye Blind, perform their 1999 (U.S) hit ‘Never Let You Go’. While there are unborn babies who can probably sing the ‘do-do-do’ refrain to ‘Semi-Charmed Life’, Third Eye Blind actually have a strong catalogue of other songs – songs that frontman Stephan Jenkins knows we’re here to see and, unlike during their recent headline-grabbing appearance at the Republican National Convention, gives us. Jenkins, now 51, still has incredible stage presence and a voice to raze skyscrapers. The tent had the air of a secret shared between strangers, and by the time the band dropped aforementioned ear worm, a near-20-year-old love had been resurrected for all of us. [Rob Barbour]

Good Charlotte

2016, the year that blink-182 got a number one album, Sum 41 are back together and Good Charlotte are headlining The Pit stage on the last night of Reading Festival. You may be confused that we had in fact rewound ten years, but nevertheless let’s fucking enjoy the nostalgia before we’re moaning about mortgages and heartburn. Unlike many reunions, Good Charlotte aren’t going to mess about with this set. They know exactly what we are all there for and as soon as ‘The Anthem’ kicks in it is a riot until the very end. The Madden brothers have made a lot of friends over the years, so it is no surprise to see Kellin Quinn, Mikey Way and Waterparks join them for various choruses throughout the set, with ‘Girls & Boys’ and ‘Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous’ the biggest winners of the night. We don’t know how long this reunion will last but Good Charlotte’s headline set is everything we could have asked for and the perfect way to close The Pit. [Tamsyn Wilce]

Biffy Clyro

As Biffy Clyro take the stage to close the festival, the atmosphere is electric. A band who embody the spirit of Reading like no-one else, they worked their way up the bill over a decade, finally headlining in 2013. Tonight they return to take back their crown. The light show alone, with its mind-warping, shapeshifting video screens, was spectacle enough. But Biffy Clyro have bangers for days. While older fans are treated to a cursory performance of ’57’ (and a cruel tease of ‘With Aplomb’ prior to ‘Many of Horror’), there’s no denying that Biffy have now built up a world-class suite of Proper Massive Rock Songs, almost all of which are aired tonight. Following a suitably pyrotechnic close to the show, Simon Neil holds his arms aloft. “Thank you. We are,” and tens of thousands of people cry in unison, “BIFFY! FUCKING! CLYRO!”. What. A. Band. [Rob Barbour]