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The Top 5 Bands at Reading Music Festival 2012

Updated on August 27, 2012

The Reading & Leeds Festival is one of the biggest and rock/indie festivals in Europe and well deserving of that reputation. Every band says how fantastic the crowds are and it attracts hundreds of big big names every year. So here we have a totally biased and personal account of the best Reading had to offer this year.
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The full Line up
The full Line up | Source

5) Florence and the Machine

The second best act of the main stage (nothing quite beats the atmosphere of a tent) and to think, I nearly didn't bother seeing these guys! I knew none of their songs and I was standing far away from the stage in the pouring rain, wearing nothing but boots, a t-shirt and shorts...and yet they were really entertaining. The calm melodies and crowd were a welcome and pleasant change to the 'rocking' crowds of the previous shows. Florence came across as...lovely, which considering she had a 40,000 person audience, is quite an achievement. Despite the tranquillity of the songs, they were quite invigorating as well, with lots of crowd interaction. Standing there, with enough space to move a little bit, songs to make you move with the beat and have a laugh with my friends, with rain and the dark of night for a closed but refreshing atmosphere, was very unique. One of the best experiences of the main stage.

4) The Foo Fighters

The main stage's best act and the most entertaining performance (for me) by a band who I only knew a few songs by. The darkness, light show, and pure power of Dave Grohl made an open stage with over 50 or 60 or 70 thousand people in the crowd, feel like a very personal thing. The opening 40 minutes were very energy filled, as you can expect with tracks like 'All My Life' and 'The Pretender'. The middle was much more mellow affair. Dave told a story about his music career, brought out his little daughters to do a tribute to them and the crowds sang happy birthday to his mother! All in all a good gig. To others it may have been given a higher ranking but a) I only know a few FF songs b) Main Stage has less of an atmosphere than a tent no matter how good they are c) It was a 150minute set at the end of 4 days at the festival, most of the people I was with were, like me, struggling to stand and get through it.
Still, a very good live band. It's worth checking out their Reading set if you are a fan.

3) The Hives

If you've listened to the Hives before reading this, I'll just say, they were exactly what you expected from their albums. Fast. Loud. Exciting. A bit ridiculous. Energetic. Fun. Put together with 5,000 equally as pumped up fans and you have yourself a damn fine performance. The crowd interaction was perfect for what they were (getting the crowd to sit down and the jump up for Tick Tick Boom) and they sweated like rest of us, all clad in their signature black and white uniforms as their white strobe lights clashed against the darkness of their stage. I walked out of that tent, soaked and drenched, just like everyone else, regretting nothing.
If you fancy jumping up and down and 'rocking out' then check out the Hives.

2) Billy Talent

You will love or hate these guys. Like them for their pumping and pounding anthems and 'join in with me vocals' or hate them for the unique sound of their lead vocalist. After years of casually listening to their first two albums I opted to see these guys before I went for dinner before that days headliners.....thank god I did. I'm about to buy tickets to their UK tour now. These guys know how to perform. The construction of each song perfectly entwines the bass of their drummer, with the distinctive guitar and pivotal vocals into an all mighty sound. Again, what made this performance special was their positioning. They played in the Radio 1 NME tent. The atmosphere was perfect. The acoustics were better. And the vocalist knew what we, as a crowd, wanted. He even said, before he started a massive circle pit in the crowd in their big finale 'we just want to say, take care of yourselves okay, it's all about taking care of each other at this type of event. If someone falls down you pick them up okay'...and that was meet with a massive roar from the crowd. Heck, even the way he said it, it sounded like he was singing another heavy fast paced song (service announcements would be a lot better if Billy Talent did them).

1) Green Day - Billie Joe Armstrong's self proclaimed 'Best Worst Kept Secret in the UK'

They were rumoured to be one of the headline acts but were not, luckily for the 5,000 of us who got to see them inside the closed NME tent. A week before the festival they were rumoured to be playing a set at the Festival. A few days later, rumours suggested it would be Saturday at 12am, an hour after gates opened. Then on the day the gates opened early and 5,000 people ran to the tent to get a place before security closed the tent!!! That's right, they CLOSED THE TENT leaving somewhere between 30-70 thousand people outside.
The atmosphere was incredible inside. A closed space. Very little sunlight. Filled with hardcore fans and those who got in early to see them....aka the most excited people! The atmosphere couldn't have been better.
And this is all before the band came on....and they did not meet high expectations, they blew them out the water! The actual band were fantastic. All the energy you'd expect from the punk giants utilising their signatature 'waaaaa oooooo's for crowd interaction. They played old classis such as 'Welcome to Paradise' and 'Longview' for hardcore fans as well as their mainstream singles like 'Holiday' and 'American Idiot', all of which went down better with the crowd than most songs over the whole weekend (even 'Fridays I'm in Love' by headliners 'The Cure'. And just to top it off, they refused to come of when they ran out of time, much to the crowds enjoyment, even when stage managers tried to drag them off (see 2:25 in the attached clip).
As a fan of Green Day I imagine I'm quite biased but our entire camp (made up of about 20 people) said they were absolutaly incredible!
Easily the best gig of Reading Festival 2012 and that I've seen in my 18 years of being.
Poor Leeds for missing out.

Now lets not be biased

And because I missed out on many bands, here are all the bands I saw and a brief summary:

  • Deaf Havana (good studio band, poor live show, very uninvolved)
  • Cancer Bats (not my sort of thing and again, suffered from a large open air stage),
  • Coheed and Cambria (uninspiring but they did have a double necked guitar which is cool).
  • The Hives (incredible energy filled performance)
  • Passion Pit (middle of the road performance)
  • Bombay Bicycle Club (nothing special)
  • Paramore (rock solid and entertaining performance, but felt like they were missing something)
  • The Cure (boring, yet admirable attempt)
  • Social Distortion (only saw a little bit, but what I did see, was an energetic band, with a tiny crowd, offering the best performance of 'crowd interaction' I've seen to date)
  • Green Day (perfect)
  • Pure Love (middle of the road rock)
  • Reginald D Hunter (very funny and intelligent American comedian who is big in the UK)
  • Enter Shakari (I don't listen to their music and I have no idea what they were playing, but I lost my mosh pit virginity in these crowds and I bloody loved it)
  • Billy Talent (excellent)
  • Florence and the Machine (lovely, calming, strangely theraputic)
  • Kasabian (nothing special, ended up right at the front...note to self, never go up to the barriers, it hurts, you just get squashed)
  • Band of Skulls (middle of the road rock with a slightly creative twist)
  • Eagles of Death Metal (fun and entertaining but never quite caught my attention)
  • DZ deathrays (only caught the end of their set. Good atmosphere. Would have been very good if I liked their music).
  • 2 Door Cinema Club's short set on the BBC stage (I went from expecting to hate them to thinking 'I'll check them out when I get home'.)
  • All Time Low (solid performance, enjoyable, arrogant band)
  • Bullet for my Valentine (best metal band at Reading)
  • Kaiser Chiefs (strong performance)
  • Black Keys (slight dissapointment but an okay performance)
  • Foo Fighters (best headline act, best main stage act, good atmosphere, a bit too long)

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