Reading Festival is a great festival. We go every year. We get drunk and we see as many bands as is feasibly, possibly doable. Occasionally, we remain lucid enough to actually take note of what’s going on around us and it’s at those moments that we made mental notes that we forget.
Anyhow, here are some things that happened that we’re going to talk about. Some of it is directly about bands but some of it might seem like constructive criticism that we should probably send straight to the promoter for him to ignore completely. We prefer it when you ignore us completely, so here goes.
Nine Inch Nails vs Biffy Clyro (Beefy Clyro?)
Let’s start with the big story – the band beef. On Sunday afternoon, a couple of hours before NIN were scheduled to take the stage, Trent Reznor tweeted this slightly cryptic message:
Should be an unusual show tonight at Reading…
— Trent Reznor (@trent_reznor) August 25, 2013
However, he somewhat clarified his position immediately with this petulant and rather disrespectful message:
…the lying promoter and the band following us (whoever the fuck they are) fucked us on our production.
— Trent Reznor (@trent_reznor) August 25, 2013
It was something that a lot of people haven’t been able to comprehend about Biffy Clyro being billed above Nine Inch Nails. Right now, they are a more popular band than NIN.
For a direct comparison: at their peak, they have both headlined London’s O2 Arena but NIN’s was their farewell show, swaddled in nostalgia and thousands flocked to the last chance saloon, probably having not bothered seeing them for a while before, if ever. Biffy’s headline set at the O2 was just part of a tour promoting their new album.
For another direct comparison, you only needed to see the kind of crowd they each pulled. One can only hope that Reznor peeped out and saw how many more people were watching, singing along and loving Biffy Clyro.
2013 was Biffy Clyro’s year
While they had headlined Sonisphere Festival in 2011 and then played main support to Metallica at Download Festival 2012, this was their homecoming. Their eighth Reading Festival performance saw them headlining up against Green Day and Eminem but Biffy were closing the festival. Biffy were closing a festival that their band has grown up with. Biffy were closing a festival that we’ve grown up with.
Luckily, Green Day have taken on the collective persona of your annoying try-hard dad, who starts wearing eyeliner and skinny ties to look cool and is so out of touch with what’s cool that your stupid haircut goes completely unnoticed.
Luckily, Eminem got berated for singing along to a backing track of his own voice – something more seasoned Eminem fans have apparently seen many times and apparently don’t care about any more because he’s never changed.
Anyway, he was fun in his angry rapper way and Green Day were terrible in their big fat letdown way, so all Biffy had to do was be ok. They’ve got six albums worth of fantastic songs and a wealth of touring experience, after all.
It was possibly the finest Reading Festival headline performance of the past decade. Biffy Clyro performed with emotion and style, gratitude and grit, heaviness and delicacy. There were beautiful moments, such as a sky filled with streamers during ‘Many Of Horror’ and the incessantly enormous pyrotechnics early on, and they will live on in the memory of all who stuck around after a long weekend to watch this band reach the pinnacle of their career.
For anyone in any doubt as to who Biffy (“fucking”) Clyro are, they’ll know now, alright and they’ll be back here on this stage, sitting pretty at the top of the Reading Festival poster again. That is of no doubt.
Other notable bands…
Fresh from an excellent Pure Love set, Frank Carter gatecrashing a stagedive during his old band, Gallows’ set was something to behold, as was the enormous Main Stage crowd for Bring Me The Horizon who still aren’t the crossover sensation that so many tipped them to be, but are rightly popular enough, regardless.
Fall Out Boy were fantastic, with songs from their new album sounding better with age and System of a Down looked like they were enjoying their wacky selves for the first time since their reunion. Perhaps some new music is afoot.
Reading Festival stalwarts, Deftones were as excellent as they ever have been and it was nice seeing While She Sleeps’ Loz Taylor wallop the plonker in the crowd who grabbed a fistful of his hair. That was unnecessary.
On the electronic side, Skrillex performed his bog standard bullshit in a tank to a tent full of whooping bros who then went to Fuck Buttons’ silent disco, probably expecting more of the same but instead getting dark, ambient drone that only served to boggle their stupid minds en masse. It was a wonderful sight.
Legends fail to excite
Maybe it’s always been the playground for those celebrating their GCSE results but the meagre crowds turning up to see influential figureheads like Trent Reznor and Mike Patton – who was in town with his art-rock masterclass, Tomahawk – rankled somewhat.
Could it be that adding the 1Xtra Stage and extending the Dance Stage in order to sell the festival out this year only resulted in a dilution of the crowd? Perhaps. Or perhaps fans of those bands just don’t go to festivals. Regardless, it’s sad, considering how high up the bill both NIN and Tomahawk were, that they both played to smaller crowds than they deserve to.
More rock bands
While the dance and hip-hop presence has increased, it’s also true that there’s been an increase in contemporary rock at Reading Festival 2013. The evidence is clear. With all the aforementioned, along with New Found Glory, Skindred, Lower Than Atlantis, Mallory Knox, Bury Tomorrow and the Rock Stage replacing the Dance Stage as the third day on the Lock Up Stage, the line-up appeals to anybody who went to Hevy Festival in either 2011 or 2012.
These are the bands that have been breaking out and onto the airwaves of Radio 1 – the medium that Reading Festival’s line-up has always followed the closest over the years – so it’s good too see them here. It’s a good thing for “us” because it got the grebos out in force. There’s still room for a Slayer or a Slipknot to return to Reading. That’s for sure.
Placebo didn’t play
Here’s a tweet I did from earlier this year. It contains information that I discovered whilst researching… Placebo.
Placebo's Reading Festival Main Stage positions (from the top): 2000, 2nd – 2003, 3rd – 2004, 3rd – 2006, 2nd – 2009, 3rd #fyi
— Raziq Rauf (@RAZIQRAUF) April 22, 2013
Fear not. Placebo are playing two (2) (TWO!) dates at Brixton Academy in December. Yes, somehow they’re still massive.