Reading Festival 2016: Thanks for the memories

Reading Festival 2016: Thanks for the memories

By Ben Tipple

Aug 31, 2016 16:00

Reading and Leeds Festival stands alone, increasingly moving away from the genre-classifications that restricted its now contemporary buffet of sounds. Certain spots in the dusty field fall victim to a catastrophic sound-clash, yet only ever en route elsewhere. In these moments, the true eclectic nature of the line-up rears its head as punters stumble from the heavy sound of Kvelertak to the sultry tones of Scouse songstress Lapsley within a hundred feet. In-between, a cocktail bar blasts out unadulterated pop music as Imagine Dragons provide the backdrop from the Main Stage. At times it’s impossible to find something you’re not going to like, not that you should be looking for that.

That’s the explanation behind the equally diverse crowd. Whereas some of our other yearly favourites (Groezrock, Download, Slam Dunk etc.) celebrate diversity under the fundamentally alternative bracket, Reading Festival dabbles further afield. Venturing into the Dance Tent for a minimalist early morning recovery session with The Japanese House feels like a whole different world, a different festival, to standing among the mass of fans mesmerised by the on-stage spectacle during Fall Out Boy. Elsewhere Nas proves his continued relevance (if his involvement in Netflix’s brilliant ‘The Get Down’ hadn’t already) to a throng of eager fans, some of whom are undoubtedly far too young to have been there the first time around.

It’s here where Reading succeeds. Perhaps unfairly receiving flack for its predominantly younger crowd, instead it offers pockets of cleverly conflicting atmospheres. Although not going as far as the zones present at Boomtown and its contemporaries, Reading and Leeds has nurtured something similar by circumstance. And it’s a behemoth in all of these worlds. As the fireworks crash over Biffy Clyro, it’s a far cry from wandering across the site with Disclosure’s ‘Latch’ invoking a gentle pace. Those with varied tastes can dabble. Those with their bulletproof conviction can pick a stage and largely remain there unbothered by the other clans, other than the glitter and neon paint that somehow creeps into all hair and clothes like a sixteen-year old’s rave-plague.

As far as electric atmospheres go, 2016 is relentless. Reading is a noisy festival. It’s the only one where a non-smoker can return feeling like their throat has inhaled one-hundred cigarettes strained through a cheese-grater. That’s not the say the stages are overly loud; they suffer the same unpredictability of any major event trying to switch and change between bands at short notice. Instead it’s constantly alive. Moments of calm are few and far between, perhaps only really brought on by the downbeat Chvrches material emanating from the Main Stage on an early Friday evening.

Although potentially exhausting, it’s easy to get whipped up by the unfaltering energy. Feet may hurt. Legs may buckle. Bums may hit the surprisingly dry ground. Yet ultimately there’s always something to get up for again. The pace is often ferocious, and the festival welcomes this. Somehow, the bright lights, loud music and wave of consistently good acts fire through to power any potential flaggers.

And we at Punktastic have a reasonably broad taste. Some of that is evident by the bands mentioned already. But our spiritual home has, and always will be, The Lock Up (remember the Concrete Jungle?) and, more recently, The Pit. This year the line-up celebrates an even greater range of alternative artists, from straightforward pop-punk to metal masters and indie-punk aficionados. Reading also stretches its wings further here, with the likes of Muncie Girls and Happy Accidents appearing on the BBC Introducing Stage, and Basement and Black Foxxes just some of the heavier acts graduating to the vast second stage tent. That’s before we even get to the obvious alternative stylings of the likes of Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Coheed and Cambria and Fall Out Boy, to name a small selection of the talent on the Main Stage.

With so much to see, we are busy. Hell, my feet bleed. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be bringing you our written highlights and lowlights, video interviews and enough photos to make you believe you’re back in the dusty field of dreams. We may be exhausted, but we’d go back in a heartbeat, at least for one more day. Or two. Or…

Check back over the next fortnight for all our Reading Festival 2016 coverage.