The Descendents – Reading Festival

By Tom Aylott

Fucked Up

Day three of Reading: traditionally the motherland of aching feet, smelly torn clothes, and a desperate bid to collect enough paper cups to afford a beer whilst trying to outlast the event itself. Nothing has changed this year as the look of weariness frequents the faces of festivalgoers. Punktastic however is jubilant thanks to a fantastic line up gracing the Lock Up stage today

NOTE: bands performing on Sunday appeared on the Lock Up stage unless otherwise stated.

Opening up the main stage on the final day of Reading are the magnificently rising WE ARE THE OCEAN. An absolutely perfect start to the day, the band do themselves proud, and there’s really nowhere for them to go but up from here.

Shortly after, Hertfordshire’s SPY CATCHER entices a decent sized early crowd into the Lock Up tent whilst a sudden downpour means a fair few others witness the band’s brand of party rock music. Showcasing material from this year’s ‘Honesty’ album, the ‘super group’ impresses with a tight performance that contradicts such an early slot.

Meanwhile, Fucked Up are busy being absolutely brilliant in a very quiet NME/Radio 1 stage, but vocalist Damien really could seem to give even a tiny fraction of a shit. The band are much more suited to a club venue, but the lunacy does translate well upwards.

Back on the main stage, TAKING BACK SUNDAY have somewhat of an off day, and manage to produce the kind of performance that didn’t do them many favours at Reading in previous years. Vocalist Adam seems to concentrate on his damaged ankle, and there’s something not hitting the right note this afternoon.

Simply put, YOUR DEMISE takes no prisoners. From the off the band trounces the stage with a brutal display of beat-breaking hardcore that reverberates around the festival. The performance is rewarded with a packed tent that has a preference for crowd-surfing and huge circle pits. When UK hardcore gets it right, it really gets it right!/

FRANK TURNER then completes his tour of Reading stages, finally gracing the main stage for a performance that is lapped up by the multitudes. It’s a real testament to the effort he’s put in over the years, and it just seems unlikely that he’ll become any less of a household name in years to come.

Still somewhat of an unknown commodity on these shores (something that’s likely to change thanks to an Epitaph Records contract), THE MENZINGERS may get the short end of the stick in terms of attendance but the Scranton, PA outfit makes the most of the opportunity, bashing out a set of good old fashioned punk rock.

Jim Lindberg’s THE BLACK PACIFIC may appear to be Pennywise: Mark II but the band has enough behind it to put on a decent showing, one that’s packed with energy, big hooks and quality songs. This is the type of band that has thrived on the Lock Up for years now, and The Black Pacific proves no different. A quality outing.

OFF! have been receiving a fair whack of plaudits lately and it’s easy to see why from this afternoon’s performance. Keith Morris, formerly of Black Flag and Circle Jerks, may be getting on in years but he’s still able to deliver a vocal quality that young hardcore bands could learn a lot from. The band itself offers a set of short, sharp hard punk outbursts punctuated by Morris’ vocals and Mario Rubalcaba’s (Rocket From The Crypt) impressive drumming.

The size of the crowd that gathers to watch BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH is a clear indication that people haven’t forgotten ‘When The Night Feels My Song’, the song that blew-up in 2005 and 2006. The sing-along during the song itself is truly phenomenal. But the Toronto outfit is no one-hit-wonder. As they did back in May, the band impresses with a range of stunning and soulful reggae numbers that makes for a pleasant change of pace.

Tthe returning HOT WATER MUSIC puts in an industrious set that’s not only lapped up by a small-but-hardcore contingent in the crowd but also by the likes of The Menzingers at the side of the stage. Chuck Ragan and co. blast through a career-spanning set which, whilst being enjoyable enough, seems lacking somewhere. New material should refresh this set in the future.

Over on Radio 1/NME, PANIC! AT THE DISCO are stealing the crowd from everyone else. The set is impressive as often as it drags, but the band really do deliver the hits, and it’s a true spit in face for anyone that thinks no one gives a shit any more.

FACE TO FACE, another reuniting band, make the most of this year’s ‘Laugh Now, Laugh Later’ album, interspersing its tracks with a range of classics. The result is a revitalised performance of pop-punk by way of punk-rock that never fails to put a smile on the face.

What better way to celebrate five consecutive years at the festival than playing twice in one day? Following his main stage outing earlier in the day, FRANK TURNER returns to the Lock Up tent as ‘special guest’ and proceeds to execute a very special set indeed. With a heavier focus on earlier material, a rammed tent sings back the likes of ‘Nashville, Tennessee’ and ‘The Real Damage’ whilst Turner and co. nail it. Throw in covers of Billy Bragg’s ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ (complete with Hot Water Music’s Chuck Ragan) and Queen’s ‘Somebody To Love’ (truly something to behold) and you have one of the performances of the weekend.

FLOGGING MOLLY are veterans of festivals, particularly this one, and act like it. The band’s 50 minute set rushes by in a flash of popular tracks and poor humour. Frontman Dave King leads his band of merry men (and wife Bridget Reagan) through the likes of ‘Drunken Lullabies’, ‘Tobacco Island’ and ‘Requiem For A Dying Song’ as well as tracks from the recent ‘Speed Of Darkness’ album. The response is a predictable flurry of drunken dancing, yell-alongs, and a packed tent of happy punters. On performances like this it’d be hard to argue against Flogging Molly headlining this stage sometime in the not-too-distant future.

THE DESCENDENTS are charged with closing out the final day of the festival and whilst the band is more than capable, tonight the Hermosa Beach natives fail to find the spark for a memorable conclusion. It’s hard to fault the band’s performance, which sees Milo Aukerman takes a few slips, trips and falls. It’s rammed with enough classic Descendents’ material to appease even the most die-hard of fans, it’s just that the atmosphere is lacking, thanks in no small part to the fact that the Lock Up tent is only a third full, which means it feels all but empty. All in all it’s a bit of a disappointing finale to a day that has exuded quality performances.


See all of our Reading Festival coverage, including video and photos, at our festivals section.