The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Reading Festival

By Tom Aylott

Title Fight

Saturday morning arrives, and after we catch the last few numbers from the surging SHARKS, the Lock Up stage carries on with TITLE FIGHT, who don’t quite hit the spot today. It might be the early start, but they don’t quite live up to promise this morning in a fairly quiet Lock Up Stage.

Opening with choice cut ‘Skate Or Die’ should set TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET on the winning path from the off. Unfortunately the sludgy sound continues to hinder and instead of crisp, breakneck bubble-gum punk rock we’re treated to an erratic, mumbled hum. It’s a shame because the band appears to have brought a sense of enjoyment with them.

Living up to the hype is never an easy task but LETLIVE. makes a pretty good stab at it this afternoon. Ferocious and full-on, the band brings an onslaught to the stage that starts with vocalist Jason Butler slipping over and ends with him being ushered from the tent by a throng of fans. It’s impressive stuff on the day but you can’t help but think the band is going to need something more once the initial hyperbole dies down.

It’s an interesting setlist STREET DOGS has put together. On one hand, a large portion of the songs you might expect to be played aren’t aired. On the other hand, it’s quite a festival friendly set with nods to The Ramones, The Clash, and Billy Bragg, allowing for any newcomers that may have strayed into the tent. Overall, the Boston band impresses with an expectant energy despite missing two or three killer songs.

MARIACHI EL BRONX, the gimmick that keeps on giving, sees the Festival Republic stage fit to bursting point as festival-goers look for something a little different. As with two years ago, the mariachi band goes down a storm, thanks in no small part to impeccable musicianship and sharp attire. ‘Cell Mates’ and ‘Revolution Girl’ are particular highlights from the dual-identity Los Angeles outfit.

Later on the main stage, MADNESS kick things up a notch by delivering a hits medley to close that ends up being one of the moments of the weekend. Suggs and the lads may have got on a bit, but the delivery is still brilliant and everyone’s in a better mood for it.

COMEBACK KID appear on the Lock Up stage shortly after, and do what they do best – play fucking fast. It’s an absolute blast, and they’re one of bands that make the Lock Up line up on Saturday so strong.

Zipping straight over to the main stage, JIMMY EAT WORLD play to a swelling crowd and deliver exactly what’s expected of them – which in a way is a bit of shame. It’d be great to see the band throw in a curveball as they’ve been over the UK so often recently, and it doesn’t seem that special.

LEFTOVER CRACK carry on proceedings in the Lock Up stage, and there’s just something about Stza and his band of merry men that’s captivating. One of the most notorious bands in recent Punk history, they rub more than a few up the wrong way and the tent is by no means rammed. It’s all a bit surreal, but the delivery is excellent if a little flat from all but Stza.

GLASSJAW then finish off playing a set of whatever the hell they like (not a surprise though), and it’s a short hop over to Radio One to watch some of CRYSTAL CASTLES, who are one of the highlights of the weekend. It may seem strange to include them in a “Punk” review, but the dance act are punk in spirit, if not so much sound. It’s a massive party and there’s just piles of energy.

Whilst Punktastic reported on the re-emergence of CAPDOWN back in April, it’s impressive to see the Milton Keynes quartet translate that performance to a festival setting. Treated as returning heroes by the tent’s biggest crowd of the day so far, a familiar set deep-rooted in 2001/2002 ignites the hordes whilst frontman Jake Sims-Fielding covers every square inch of the stage in a blur of motion. It’s a triumphant return to the festival to match the on-going exultant return of the band.

THE KING BLUES, like Leftover Crack earlier, are outspoken and not for everyone, but the live show today is a million miles from them a few years back. Everything sounds massive, and we catch a few songs before heading to see RIVAL SCHOOLS, who sound equally great. It’s a bit of a weird place for the band to play, but Walter & Co. just seem to be having fun doing what they do.

Finally, THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES absolutely bring the house down over at the Lock Up stage. The band are legends, and there’s really nothing quite like some brilliantly delivered ska punk to round off a night. The Saturday of Reading 2011 dashed past in a blur, but that may have been induced by a few too many beers.


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