Monday, August 30, 2004

Reading Festival 2004 - The Year of Mud

Wow! I'm clean again... I best tell you about it then.


Weirdest. Day. Ever.

I had packed for the Festival on Wednesday and I had a job interview on Thursday. It lasted from 8.30am to 4.00pm. It was one of those jump-through-hoops days where I felt like a lab-rat being lead through a maze. It’s a really good sign that I got through to the third stage but the trouble is I’ve built myself up for this so much that it will be a real downer if I don't get it.

Amy and Deacon had let me stay Wednesday night in Southampton so I could get to the interview with minimum grief and I got back there at about 4.30pm and woke Deacon (who works nights…sorry…) to let me in. I changed into my civilian wardrobe and after some vegging got a lift to the station from Amy.

I forgot how civilised trains could be and it was nice to just chill while getting somewhere. Got into Reading at about 8pm and walked to the Festival site. After a bit of messing around met up with Andy, Jay and Tim who bought beer. Yay! At this point time became unimportant. But wellies did… The Reading Festival was knee deep in mud! Well, I had had six almost totally dry festivals prior to this so it was bound to happen eventually. Must have been fun for Tim because he was a festival virgin. A bit of a baptism of fire. (Don’t worry, all others will be a doddle after this one…)

It was a long and treacherous trek through Goth infested swamps and welly-hungry bogs including several really odd blokes wearing nothing but magic marker. Woohoo Woohoohoo! has replaced 118. We arrived at where the guys had set up the tents earlier in the day (thanks) which happened to be exactly the same field as last year minus the dead fox. They had set the four tents up in a nice circle so we could have a fire in the evenings. Problem was, someone had plonked their tent right in the middle of it. Hud and Verity turned out to be really cool people so we made a circle of five and all got pissed.

After a few bevvies and some shorts, I was babbling incoherently as I started to unwind. I forgot about the events earlier in the day very quickly.


Goldie Lookin’ Chain. Great way to start the weekend. Just goes to show a talentless bunch of Welsh wasters can actually do well and be entertaining. Shell suits and shite dancing. Top lyrics and plenty of laughs. (Just took a trip to their website. Click around a bit and you’ll find a Daley Thomson’s Decathlon style kifter rolling game.)

Hundred Reasons. Pretty good. Can’t remember much about them though…

Modest Mouse. Into the Radio 1 Stage for The Wildhearts. Got there early and saw some of these guys. Don’t remember much about them so they must have been okay.

The Wildhearts. Absolutely fucking awesome. Ginger managed to win over the festival crowd in milliseconds helped by the fact that there were obviously a large number of hardcore fans there. The set was plagued by gremlins but they still managed to rock. Highlights for me were SuckerPunch and Caprice. (I still don’t understand why they’re not bigger. They must be the UK Rock scene’s worst kept secret…)

The Hives. Revelation of the weekend. These guys are great! I’ve heard most of their songs but they never made a mark in my head until I saw them. They came out in black and white suits and the whole set was really entertaining. The crowd was really into them and the frontman, Pelle, worked the crowd great. It was helped by the fact that the sun made its first appearance “courtesy of the Hiiiiives.” Had the defining “Reading Moment” early this year! Tops!

Ash. Top entrance by Tim with his guitar on fire. Ash have so many top tunes that it’s difficult for them to have a bad day. They have a good day and rocked like a good ‘un. Har Mar Superstar made an appearance during “Kung Fu” and rather distressingly removed his clothes. Charlotte looked really tasty.

The Offspring. Tons of good tunes. Boingy fun. They give popcorn to the crowd.

The Darkness. MMMMMEEEETTTTTAAAAAAALLLLLL! They’ve come a long way. I saw them at what was their breakthrough set in the middle of the day at last year’s Reading. This time they had a chance to show what The Darkness is really all about with a triumphant headlining set. Three costume changes including a Napoleon hat. Many of their now familiar tunes. Top sing-a-long during “Get Your Hands Off My Woman Motherfucker” and the words “Fuck” and “Cunt” in 10 meter high lights. They played some new stuff which was great. “Hazel Eyes” stuck in my head and they announced that they were putting a freeze on the touring to make their long awaited second album (yay!). Finished off with a cover of “Street Spirit” and “Love on the Rocks” and tons of spiffy fireworks. I said last year “I really hope they are more than a flash-in-the-pan...” Well it turns out that it’s rebellious to be positive… (Coo-ee! Thumbs Up!) Watch out because I reckon Justin was right and The Darkness have been for real all along... Now all they need to do is follow up that first album… Doddle, right?

Long treacherous trek through swamps. Ankle deep mud. Static punk dude in goggles with ghetto blaster. Free Hugs. High Fives. BOLLOCKS! Dave? No Woohoo Woohoohoo! And we’re back to the tents. It’s at this time it dawns on me that the mud is preventing any decent randomeering. We all didn’t fancy going for a wander and noone wandered to our outpost on the distant fringe of the campsite. Still, the locals were friendly and we got more pissed.


Not Rainy. Yay! The ground is now mostly sticky instead of slippery.

The’s. They are actually quite good and the bassist is cute. I hear Woohoo Woohoohoo for the rest of the day in the arena, mostly from older women with day tickets. It is mercifully less prevalent out in the campsite.

Avenged Sevenfold. Missed the first part of their set but it sounded real good. Punk. Metal. Real Heavy. Will investigate further.

The Roots. Franz Ferdinand. The Libertines. File all three under “severe indifference.” Saw a chap with “Cunt” on his forehead in a henna tattoo.

Morrissey. Or “MOZZZZAAAAAAAA!” as he was known (to us at least). The three preceding average acts had caused the alcohol to flow rather more quickly. Met up with Jay’s cousins by chance. One of them got in a comedy (but not to him) strop. Never found out what it was about but he stomped off with a “Fuck the lot of you!” and a flurry of middle fingers. He was seen lurking near us about 20 minutes later and repeated strop. Morrissey was pretty good. Did “How Soon Is Now” which is an awesome tune. Dissed Radio 1. “Radio 1 refused to play my last two singles so let’s have a big ‘boo’ for Radio 1!” The crowd booed. Also found out the he got a speeding ticket for driving 32mph in a 30mph limit… which is nice. I should understand Morrissey better than most of the crowd because I’m probably older than 90% of them but I don’t. I just ended getting pissed out of my gourd with some pretty decent tunes going on in the background.

The White Stripes. Brilliant. "My name is Jack White. This is my big sister Meg. Sorry we couldn't make it last year - we caught a cab this time!" (they missed last year when Jack broke his hand in a car crash) Jack White is totally self indulgent throughout the whole set. I forgive him. They play some incredible tunes. “Fell In Love With A Girl”, “Hotel Yorba”, “Hardest Button To Button”. Even played “Jolene” (originally by Dolly Parton!!!) and made it sound amazing. Went away feeling like I’d seen a legendary performance.

Trek. Saw that the swamp had started claiming footwear. Bollocks. Dave. Punk. Beer. Bed.

Had a midnight poo. I cannot talk about it but I was incredibly brave. I actually heard a “Timmeeeeh!”


Little bit of rain but nothing worrying. Ground is now mostly bouncy.

The Futureheads. A big pair of stained Y’s.

Your Codename Is Milo. Went to see them after we decided Futureheads was shite. Wish I’d seen more and will have to investigate further because they sounded really good.

MUD/BOTTLE STORM WARNING: Didn’t see it but The Ramus have to leg it after one song. Arf!

The Streets. Crap but no bottle storm. I wonder why?

Lostprophets. Very impressive. Really got us worked up and I really like their stuff. Questionable but fun audience participation. For “Shinobi Vs. Dragon Ninja” and I quote “I want you to split down the middle. This half of the audience is ‘Shinobi’ and this half is ‘Dragon Ninja.’ When the song kicks in I want to run really hard at each other. Be careful and really watch out for each other. Seriously. If you’re fragile you might want to move to the back.” I REALLY want to find a photo of this :)

Placebo. Average again but better than last year.

MUD/BOTTLE STORM WARNING: 50 Cent. He left the stage after five tunes. I suppose with hindsight it was well out of order bottling Fiddy but it was Mean Fiddler’s idea to book him in the first place. Besides, Jurassic 5 and Dizzee Rascal didn’t get any grief at all… And don’t feel sorry for him because our Fiddy got paid many MANY times more than you or I earn in a year to have a bottle fight.

Auf Der Maur. Pretty decent. A LOT better than Fiddy…

The next was the MAJOR nightmare clash of the festival. Supergrass or Green Day? They are both really cool… Me and Tim went to Green Day and Andy and Jay went to Supergrass.

Green Day. My respect for these guys has tripled. I liked them before I saw this. “Dookie” is one of my favourite albums. Their set was awesome. They had to a lot of time to play with because of 50 cent and The Rasmus having shorter than expected sets. There was all their best stuff in there. “Basket Case”, “Welcome to Paradise”, “Minority” and “When I Come Around”. At one point they made a band from the audience! The ultimate in crowd participation? Even though there was quite a few covers, it never felt like they were filling for time. There was “I Fought The Law” by The Clash, “Blitzkrieg Rock” by The Ramones, “Shout” by Lulu(!), “Ever Fallen In Love With Someone” by The Buzzcocks and “We Are The Champions” by Queen. It was topped off with Billy Joe doing the solo of “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” which was literally stunning.

And that was it. The traditional Rip Down was pretty muted by the mud but there was Mobile Raves, Free Hugs Gangs, Trash Fires.


Woke up. Packed. Ate Olympic Breakfast. Went Home.

Not as eventful as last year but I said it would be legendary one way or the other. One way, it made the news with the “one of the muddiest festivals ever” and the Fiddy bottle storm. The Other, legendary performances from The Wildhearts, The Hives, Ash, The Darkness, The White Stripes, Lostprophets and Green Day.

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