As someone who had attended Reading Festival on a day ticket in 2010 it was safe to say my views on many aspects of the festival left something to be desired.
Having turned up to see The Libertines reunite in 2010, I elected to camp over by the Main Stage for the duration of the day in order to have the best spot in the crowd. Bar a quick run for some food and drink, I kept to this shedule.
The music was ace, The Futureheads, Mystery Jets and The Cribs did more than enough to satisfy my Indie thirst and everyone around me seemed in great spirits without being total tools. And then came Dizzee Rascal.
Let’s make it clear, I have no problem with Dizzee. His music isn’t my thing. You’re never going to get me bouncing to ‘Bonkers’, or that other song of his. Or the one after that. The issue I have is with the large congregation of fans who turned up to see him.
Now ladies and gents, it’s normally an accepted given at festivals that you may have to wait through less desirable artists in order to be up close to your idols and normally most people accept that. If you aren’t hassling them, then no harm no foul. But never before (or since) have I been physically attacked by a crowd for not getting down to dem sick beats of an artist.
So it’s fair to say my view of Reading was that of a bunch of over-entitled pricks ruining a great festival. Pair that with the tales of reckless behavior and tent burning from friends who had previously attended and it’s a safe bet to say I’d much rather have put my bollocks into a vice than face all of that again… and then The Libertines announced they were playing again.
So there it goes. Back at Reading Festival, doing press with the HTF team, this time for a weekend. So, would history repeat itself? Or would I finish the weekend pre-booking for 2016?
The main difference between day ticket and weekend is of course that nasty C word…Camping. I’ve done many a festival in the last few years and never have I adjusted to the idea of roughing it out and only managing about 2.2 hours of sleep a night. Most of that is likely down to the fact that someone had the genius idea to put the camping area I was in right next to the silent disco. Everytime my head hit the pillow I was brought back to life with a drunken (and unaccompanied) chorus of ‘Chelsea Dagger’ or ‘Wonderwall’. It’s safe to say headphones are a must for sleeping in tents.
No wonder everyone acts so fucking batshit insane all blooming festival. The fuckers in the crowd aren’t drunk, just seriously overtired. It’s havoc even more when trying to perform press duties. Ever tried chatting to your favourite artist for five seconds and not coming off like a quivering gimp? It’s tricky. But eventually a few triple shot coffees and some niceties in the Relentless Tent in the guest area kept me ticking at some level of sanity.
One upside of staying the weekend is that brilliant feeling at the end of each run of acts. The moment the stage headliners come off and you realize you’re doing this all again tomorrow. There is no better feeling in the world. There’s also no worry about catching the last train so you can easily drink yourself a bit too merry and socialize. Or, as is the way with Reading, make friends by shouting abuse at them (just ask our Urban Editor). Most of these people you won’t ever speak to again, but others you may just find you make a new bestie in, even if it’s just for the duration of the festival.
So onto the punters, were they still pricks this time around. Well in short, the behaviour in some respects didn’t really change. Although I wasn’t punched by Kendrick Lamar fans. But I learnt more about myself across the weekend. That maybe I’m the one at fault for treating music a little too seriously, and once you lighten up a little, it’s suprising what you can enjoy. So while by no great stretch of the imagination was I skanking out to Kendrick, I wasn’t rooted to the spot for an hour, which probably helped. I also had the sense to chat to a few people before the big man came out so the guys around me knew that urban isn’t where I’m at, but that I’m willing to try it out.
So yes, in short, Reading 2015 was an actual success. I wasn’t punched and I kinda enjoyed a set by Kendrick Lamar. The times they are a changing people.