Richfield Avenue, Reading | 24th-26th August
With memories of tipped over toilets and exploding deodorant cans scarring our memory, Crack decided not the camp at this year’s Reading. We set out our stall early; let the teenage lunatics slug it out. We came to listen to some music.
Friday began with Future of the Left, raw and stomping with irreverent wit. Much of the day was spent hopping from stage to stage, but Savages were the one which kept us gripped. The Hives then gave a memorable show, suited up like Frank Sinatra’s backing band, before Graham Coxon continued his latest spectacular renaissance.
On the Main Stage, Crystal Castles seemed lost in the light of day, their intensity dissipating due to the lack of intimacy. As the night drew in the backcombed hair came out as The Cure fulfilled many a dream. Standouts Lovesong, Inbetween Days and Friday I’m in Love swooned and Robert Smith’s voice was perfect, twisting tales of love with a feline flair. Despite being two and a half hours since they took to the stage, closer Boys Don’t Cry found us singing as hard as ever.
Saturday was dominated by Green Day. Despite us failing to drag ourselves up for the 11am kick-off, you couldn’t move for hearing the pop-punk legends’ name. But the female presence on the schedule refused to be upstaged. The infectiousness of Grimes, the sass-pop flamboyance of Santigold and a ludicrously energetic showing from Azaelia Banks, culminating in the smashing brashness of 212, made sure of that. On the Main Stage, The Shins’ innately American sound found a strangely perfect setting in the huge, overcast field.
Mastodon were one of the few bastions for the metal audience which Reading once catered for so thoroughly. They all came out of the woodwork for a crushing performance at the NME stage. There we remained for the remainder of the night. The Cribs, surely one of the best festival bands in the country, did what was expected and more. And then to the one we’d been waiting for.
We’ll never forget standing amongst the masses outside the tent back in 2000 as At The Drive-In – then the most talked-about live band in the world – destroyed everything in sight. Here they exploded into Relationship of Command’s opening two tracks, and this time we made it inside. Despite an oddly subdued Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala made up for it, at his wailing, pirouetting best. Incredible.
We cracked into Sunday with a slap in the face from Pulled Apart By Horses and a squeeze of the bum from Eagles of Death Metal. It felt good. Later, our favourite gloomster Mark Lanegan growled his way through a mesmerising set. The Black Keys proved a tasteful addition to Sunday’s shenanigans, smooth as anything and showing admirable ability to up the raucous factor for this boozy, baying crowd. As the masses for the Foo Fighters’ celebratory close grew by the second, Crack p[ted to say goodbye to Reading by getting bludgeoned by the brilliant Justice, who electrified the NME tent, leaving us battered and drained.
We may not be 17 anymore, and we may not be up to spending 12 hours clinging to the barrier to be close enough to smell our heroes. But Reading was still one of the best rock ‘n’ roll parties of 2012.
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Words: Philip James Allen
Photo: Andy Sheppard