Saturday, 2 August 2008

Reading Festival 2007, Sunday

Reading Festival, 24-26 August 2007


It’s the last day of the festival, so of course everyone is now butt-ugly. One of the major downsides to not camping is noticing how much everyone stinks; that weird festival smell of clotted lager, armpits and damp hangs in the air. The perfect antidote to this shabbiness is found in the form of New Young Pony Club, who are incredibly confident for a band so new, and with perfectly balanced sound considering the Festival Soundman Factor. Although it’s slightly worrying that this hi-hat trend just will not die, their carnival sound and freshness and femaleness still make them stand out. In many ways, NYPC are the English CSS – they can play their instruments, sure, but Tahita’s banter is awkward and stilted in a very British way. "It’s like a party", she intones. Yes. "Is anyone here from Reading?" she asks. Yes, apparently some people here are from Reading. And remember: "It’s a long day ahead, so keep hydrated". Will do.

It’s Soho Hairdressers Day on the main stage as Funeral For A Friend, Lostprophets and Fall Out Boy all play to huge crowds. Predictably, FFAF’s new material isn’t received nearly as well as older songs like ‘She Drove Me To Daytime Televison’. ‘Juneau’ brings the crowd together for one of those sing-along moments without backing, which they execute with surprising tunefulness. Fall Out Boy are whiney and irritating, with the way they’re all clever and so not. And the aptly monikered Patrick Stump is like a young Michael Moore, with his baseball cap squashed over his chubby cheeks. God, he is nasal. Go away.

Now this is more like it. This is Reading, and Lostprophets are, today, inarguably brilliant. Ian Watkins has in fact become Rob Brydon in all but name over the past few years, whether intentionally or not, giving out hilarious one-liners: “I wanna see you pump your fists like it’s 1984!” Watkins manages, through balls-out showmanship, to get the entire crowd - way out past the mixing desk to the food stalls - to jump up and down together, but only when they start and not before: “Not yet Readin’! You can’t dance to talkin’!” He then patiently crafts the perfect circle pit (“that’s not a circle, that’s an oblong!”) for some bone-breaking hijinks. Sadly, and despite their previewed new stuff sounding like a brilliant return to their post-hardcore roots, they barely touch their early material except for a thrilling ‘Shinobivsdragonninja’ closer.

Thankfully, Reading closes with a cluster of sexy dance bands rather than yesterday's embarrassment of glitches. The Radio 1 tent is already packed out for CSS, who enter to a stage covered in helium balloons. The crowd absolutely adore Lovefoxx, and she returns the love, inserting ‘Reading’ for the ‘bitch’ in ‘Meeting Paris Hilton’, to hilarious effect. “Do you like Missy Elliott?!” she shrieks, before rapping along to ‘Work It’ in ‘Fuck Off Is Not The Only Thing You Have To Show’. There’s also time for a great disco cover of L7’s grunge-grrrl classic ‘Pretend That We’re Dead’, before the Sao Paulo six-piece disappear in a haze of confetti.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of the crowd sticks around for LCD Soundsystem, the veritable grandfather of all this indie-disco, new rave nonsense. In theory, James Murphy is perfect sandwiched in between CSS and Klaxons (although considering the romantic relations between those bands, perhaps that’s not the right choice of words) until you remember that, unlike those bands, the tubby bear and his cowbells have no real songs. It’s all ice-cool and grown up and clever and completely yawnsome. A good time to make up for the Disaster ‘Shake by digging into possibly the best fish and chips I’ve had in years (if you live in London you will totally concur – you can’t find a proper chippy for love nor money).

As the final day draws in, the tent is stuffed to burst with the happiest looking people I’ve ever seen. Covered in the insides of glowsticks (apparently they’re non-toxic; I bet they woke up on Monday covered in noxious scabs) and waving light sabres, the crowd scream their lungs out for every single song. Klaxons variously walk or hobble on stage (Jamie’s broken ankle leaving him on a crutch) wearing assorted scraps of bacofoil and sequined hoodies. Storming into ‘The Bouncer’, the whole tent is kept jumping and shouting for all the singles, oohing along to ‘Golden Skans’ with all the boys having a crack at the falsetto bits, until they end the weekend with a positively heroic ‘It’s Not Over Yet’, their version of the club classic becoming an anthem for this generation too. The band is clearly overcome at what has been a manic rise to the top for them, and as for the crowds, feet crushed in their wellies, they are sated for another year as festival season shuts down.

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