Every weekend for the last fifty years, Little John’s Farm in Reading has become the gathering place for thousands of music lovers, bringing bigger acts every year. With 9 stages set across the huge arena and hundreds of acts spanning every genre you could name, Reading Festival is truly an unforgettable festival experience.
With my bag packed and full with as many breakfast bars as I could find, Reading Festival started by leaving Plymouth on an early Thursday morning to board a five hour coach journey to the festival. After arriving, our journey was shortly followed by a tiring two mile walk to an available camping spot; passing excited festival goers setting up their teepees and tents in anticipation of the weekend’s music. After setting up our tents, starting a fire and unpacking our bags, I enjoyed the first nights sleep, making use of a backpack full of food as a rather comfy pillow.
Soon after waking up on the sunny Friday morning, my friend, left out at home, called me to break the news of a Jamie T surprise set. I headed into the arena, to be greeted by a plethora of rock bands such as Drenge, The Orwells, and Queens of the Stone Age; but to contrast the heavier theme of the day there was the indie pop of Vampire Weekend, the psychedelic riffs of Temples; not to forget the aforementioned, ‘one man Arctic Monkey’, Jamie Treays.
Other than meeting three quarters of Palma Violets, the highlight of Friday, and possibly the whole weekend for me, was Metronomy’s prodigious set, with peculiar synth numbers as well as heavy guitar songs from their debut record with hits such as ‘The Look’ and ‘Love Letters’ from their most recent albums. The set was complemented by a fascinating light show beneath the blue tint of the NME tent. After seeing band after band with nothing but a toilet break in between, Friday was ended with Palma Violets’ rowdy set followed by a large amount of pizza, a nice spot on the grass and a great view of Queens of the Stone Age. Friday was the perfect start to the weekend. Starting the saturday morning with a healthy dose of hot chocolate and some Rivita, we headed straight back into the arena, with an extremely exciting line-up awaiting us. After filling up on extortionately priced pasta and exploring the arena’s shops and other food stalls, I saw Cage The Elephant and Royal Blood play impressive sets to surging crowds in the NME tent in the afternoon. As the day went on the mass excitement for Saturday’s headline act, Arctic Monkeys, grew steadily. During the wait for the headliners, we saw English indie band Peace play a lunchtime set on the sunny main stage, playing their old riff- heavy tunes to their new funkier songs.
After a brief break at the tent, excited and covered in glitter, sporting a glam theme, we headed to the main stage to watch Jake Bugg and secure our spots for Arctic Monkeys. During Bugg’s 45 minute set he played songs from both albums, finishing with an extended version of ‘Lightning Bolt’.
After the almost hour long wait for Arctic Monkeys, they finally took the stage, starting with the single, ‘Do I Wanna Know?’, from their latest album ‘AM’, followed by ‘Brianstorm’. During their set they played huge hits from every album including ‘When The Sun Goes Down’, I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’, ‘My Propeller’, and Old Yellow Bricks, before frontman Alex Turner announced ‘I love you Reading’; after which they played ‘I Wanna Be Yours’, a love song inspired by punk poet John Cooper Clarke. The band retired backstage until they were begged back onstage for an encore, starting with ‘One for the Road’ and ending on a fan favourite, ‘R U Mine?’. After an unforgettable day, we headed back to the tents for another night.
We crawled out of our tents on Sunday ready for the last day, with only a few bands left on my ‘must-see’ list, including soul collective Jungle, indie rock band The Horrors, and gypsy-punk band Gogol Bordello. Sunday afternoon largely consisted of exploring the arena’s shops and stalls, relaxing, and watching Jungle play a phenomenal set in the NME tent. Later in the day I saw The Horrors whose set was made by an mesmerising light show, with lasers, smoke, and strobes filling the tent; making the performance extremely memorable.
After seeing The Horrors, we went back to the tent in preparation for the last act of the weekend. After my face had been turned into something that would be fitting on a Bowie album cover, we made it back to the arena in high spirits and saw Gogol Bordello, which was a exceptional gig full of energy, crowdsurfing, friendly faces, and dancing. With the weekend ended on a high note, we made our way back to the tent for the final night.
In the morning we packed up our tents on an extremely rainy Monday morning, then walked a muddy distance to our coach back to Plymouth. It was only on the coach did I realise that Reading Festival 2014 was likely the most eventful, memorable, and enjoyable weekend of my life so far. If you’re not sure what festival to attend in 2015, I couldn’t recommend Reading enough.