Open Bracket, Semi colon? Come on now, seriously.
Live review of the first day at Reading and Leeds Festival featuring Bullet For My Valentine, Paramore, Foo Fighters, The Blackout, Every Time I Die, Polar Bear Club and more.
The Rock Sound team is at Reading and Leeds Festival for a weekend of top coverage. Check out Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram for all manner of band-in-field related malarky.
Right, on with the action...
Taking the much-coveted opening slot over on the mainstage at Reading, DEAF HAVANA seem to have a touch of the jitters today – and you can hardly blame them. Faced with the biggest crowd of their career to date Norfolk’s finest eventually deliver the goods, however, opting for an acoustic-led, slightly scrappy approach – complete with tambourine player, no less - rather than an all out attack. It pays off too, the likes of ‘Leeches’ and ‘Little White Lies’ morphing into the scream-a-long festival anthems they always threatened to become, and ‘The Past Six Years’ all the more poignant in its jarring pessimism. This is where all the half-empty basement shows and motorway hours pay off, and it’s evident that (an ever so slightly tipsy) James Veck-Gilodi is lapping up every second, visibly taken aback by the goodwill coming his way. Enjoy it lads: you’ve earned it, and this is only the beginning. [RS]
Greetings from Leeds! It's hot, sunny, and there are wasps everywhere - however, this is not going to stop the Northern faction of Rock Sound from having a lovely time in Bramham Park this afternoon. Kicking things off on the Main Stage are the EAGLES OF DEATH METAL, who are without co-frontman Josh Homme, but have more than enough entertainment in singer Jesse Hughes to compensate. Taking up a bandmate's bet that he couldn't down an entire pint of bourbon whiskey, Hughes - now £2 richer - commandeers the band through 'I Only Want You,' 'Cherry Cola' and 'I Want You So Hard (The Boy's Bad News),' before quickly succumbing to the amount of alcohol he has just consumed. Before long, he's wandering up and down the barrier, administering high fives and kisses in turn to lucky punters in the front row. An elegant start to the day. [AB]
After that, Frank got a proper sweat on with Mongol Horde, check out pictures from the set by clicking on the image below. [All shots by AB, with a cheeky one from AK]
They may not command the same level of casual curiosity as Frank Turner’s topless cameo in Mongol Horde and, with the Gaslight Anthem busy working the mass appeal of their stylised blue-collar charm a few hundred yards away on the main stage, POLAR BEAR CLUB are up against it this afternoon in Leeds. Neither the initially underwhelming turnout nor the effects of a sleepless overnight drive from Germany can dull the New Yorkers’ spirits, however, as they launch into an understated, yet unexpectedly pile-driving set dripping with energy, enthusiasm and infectious joie de vivre. Far from the ‘coolest’ band on today’s bill, PBC are perhaps modern rock’s least likely men, but what they have on theirside is a clutch of songs that genuinely connect, delivered in a manner that demands - and receives - the undivided attention and active participation of an ever-swelling audience coaxed inexorably from their mid-afternoon slump. [PW]
Meanwhile back at Reading Festival CANCER BATS guitarist Scott Middleton was melting faces like this...
And COHEED AND CAMBRIA frontman Claudio Sanchez was getting in fight with his microphone stand...
Click on either of the above pictures to be taken to full galleries from either set.
Bona fide Reading veterans, THE BLACKOUT have few peers when it comes to working a festival crowd, today’s show proving no exception. Packing out the big tent and backed by an impressive array of lighting effects the Welsh wonders seem at the very top of their game, belting out the hits with typical fervour and holding their own against You Me At Six’s mainstage appearance. A polished display that threatens to redefine ‘fan-pleasing’, this may be business as usual from the six-piece, but it’s no less enjoyable for it, Sean Smith a commanding but playful focal point and the crowd exploding in a whirlwind of sweat, hair and good vibes. Detractors can say what they will, but in a situation like this they’re difficult to fault, abounding with energy and entertaining from start to finish. Revolutionary stuff? Not in the slightest. Great fun? You know it. [RS]
Yikes! People sure are excited to see BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE destroy the Main Stage at Leeds – the volume of the crowd's yells paired with BFMV's walk-on track ‘O Fortuna’ (that's the X Factor intro music, for those not into their opera) makes for a riotous atmosphere. So the only real letdown is that their set is so perfect, it's a bit boring; the band are technically note-perfect, and their stage moves go down a treat – but there’s no spontaneity to the set; their mics are already carefully placed on top of the amps, so it’s not a surprise when they belt out a song up there. Nonetheless, they’re what the crowd want. It’s impossible to drown out the Bullet! chants that ring out between songs like ‘Scream Aim Fire,’ ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ and ‘The Last Fight.’ Even based on closing track ‘Waking The Demon,’ as a crowd-pleaser, they’re flawless - this set won't go down in Leeds Festival history, but the audience are 100% satisfied. [AB]
The Joy Formidable playing the Radio 1/NME Stage at Leeds Festival, click on the image to see the whole gallery.
Somewhat surprisingly, a fair proportion of the sizeable, none more punk Lock Up crowd claims to have never seen the infamously hard-touring TRASH TALK in action. Still, if that's the case, then it's difficult to imagine a better way to pop your TT cherry than this. Largely retaining the chaos of old - not least during frontman Lee Speilman's many forays into and, indeed, onto the front rows - but augmenting it with a ferociously tight, muscular sound that allows their previously 'blink and you'll miss it' material to pack a serious wallop across the board, this afternoon finds the jovially agressive Californians raising their game in highly convincing fashion. Egged on as ever by the affectionally combative Speilman, the crowd responds in turn and, come the closing stage invasion, it's hard to tell whether there are more bodies on stage or off. Either way, Trash Talk are clearly onto a winner. [PW]
While that happened YOU ME AT SIX met Reading main stage, the rest was history.
Hayley Williams and co have faced more than their fair share of challenges over the last few years, so today’s performance takes on something of a celebratory feel. Pulling in an enormous crowd PARAMORE more than live up to their billing, attacking the occasion like headliners and reminding us all how broad their treasure-chest of tunes has become. From a touching rendition of ‘The Only Exception’ (with thousands providing backing vocals) to a loud, proud, explosive ‘Ignorance’ they resolutely fail to drop the ball, tweaked line-up or no. Whereas in the past the band could seem dwarfed by such sizeable stages they dominate today, Hayley confident and charismatic, as well as – for the most part – in fine voice. With a new record in the works and their popularity continuing to skyrocket, you wouldn’t bet against them returning to top the bill in a future year. The doubters can consider themselves silenced.
Gallons of booze, a crammed, sweat-soaked tent and EVERY TIME I DIE: it was always going to prove a winning formula. Making what is, somewhat unbelievably, their first visit to Reading fest, the Buffalo bruisers deliver one of the rawest and more punishing sets of the weekend so far, stuffed to the gills with grimy riffage and solid gold anthems like ‘The New Black’. Not at all fazed by the occasion ETID are at their chaotic best, mounting speakers, sending guitars flying and inciting some genuinely terrifying pits. This is live music at its most frantic, unpredictable and exhilarating, and as ever Keith Buckley is a compelling figure at centre stage, putting most frontmen to shame with his seemingly boundless intensity. The newer cuts go down well but when ‘Floater’ and ‘Kill The Music’ come out to play energy levels go through the roof. Still one of the best live acts around, anywhere.
Back at Leeds with evening creeping in and the ominous clouds gathering outside the Lock Up tent providing a fitting backdrop to the darkness about to be unleashed within, the now not-so-new, but still thrillingly rejuvenated version of GALLOWS explode into 'Last June', ably setting the stage for a 40 minute schooling in precisely why those waiting for ghost of their former frontman to cripple their performance are fools of the lowest order. Playing a set heavy on (routinely fantastic) numbers lifted from their forthcoming self-titled release serves to emphasise that in no way is this a band wishing to trade on former glories, and classic cuts like 'London Is The Reason', 'Misery' and, of course, the closing one-two double-whammy of 'In The Belly Of A Shark' and 'Orchestra Of Wolves' are given a new lease of life by a refocussed group of musicians with absolutely nothing to prove and, on tonight's evidence, everything to gain. [PW]
LESS THAN JAKE headlined the Lock Up Stage at Leeds Festival, click on the gallery below for shots.
There comes a certain point during a festival – namely, that moment when you're twenty minutes into a two-and-a-half-hour set, and it starts to rain – where it seems like it's time to call it a night. But the mighty FOO FIGHTERS incentivise persevering with Bramham Park's stormy microclimate, keeping a hold on the soggy crowd by powering through 'All My Life,' 'The Pretender,' ‘Arlandria,’ and 'Monkey Wrench.' The only negative is that their live show isn’t always the best place for a festival headline slot – each song averages six or seven minutes, thanks to their mid-song jam sessions – but when the final chorus of ‘My Hero’ is at the end of their extended arrangements, the crowd are happy enough to stick around. Notably, though, they run straight through 'Everlong' to close their set - with no jamming or instrumentals (granted, it's not totally no-frills, given the fireworks display at the end) - and it's the highlight of the day. [AB]
Grab our all new app for all our festival coverage in one place. Use the below links to download it FOR FREE!
The Rock Sound team on site this weekend are:
Rob Sayce [RS]
Ashley Bird, photos [AB]
Pete Withers [PW]
Amy Bangs, words [AB]
Andy Kelham [AK]
Mark Forrer [MF]
Nigel Crane [NC]
Ben Patashnik [BP]
Ryan Bird [RB]
A top bunch.
Read this next!
FTHC's hardcore side-project are coming for you this June.
And that's putting it lightly.
Academy: "It is very much business as usual."