It’s the end of another glorious year of Reading and Leeds festival. The bars have shut, the tents have been packed down, and Pete and Carl are strolling arm in arm into the sunset back to London. From secret sets to headline glory to the weekend’s breakthrough successes, it’s been a classic year: here are the 10 best moments you can re-live from the comfort of your sofa, courtesy of BBC iPlayer’s streams of the Main Stage, NME/ Radio One Stage and BBC Introducing.
10 Alt-J (Friday, 7.45pm, Main Stage)
At a festival more traditionally known for heavy riffs and maximum moshing, Alt-J’s sultry nuances and intelligent lyricisms could have gone down like a lead balloon but on Friday they proved themselves able to adapt to any crowd. Taking the second spot below Mumford and Sons on the Main Stage, they had a huge crowd wanting to “lick you like a crisp packet” – surely a Reading Festival first.
9 The Libertines (Saturday, 9.55pm, Main Stage)
The Libs had unfinished business to take care of here: last time at Reading and Leeds was rather unceremoniously agreed by fans to be two of the flattest shows for the band in memory, amid rumours they were only really playing for the money. No such complaints this time around: Pete, Carl and co were in bullish form in their headline slot, energised by their new songs. ‘Gunga Din’ is already a Libs classic, but it’s the oldies fans want to hear, and they’re not left disappointed, as the four-piece roar through the hits. Back with a vengeance, then.
8 Jamie xx (Sunday, 5.55pm, NME/Radio One Stage)
A euphoric dance love in to be remembered, Jamie xx’s winning Reading slot proved his new album ‘In Colour’ loses none of its good vibes in translation from record to stage. The tent was packed for the Londoner’s performance, zipping through colourful, sophisticated dancehall-inspired banger after banger in front of a giant disco ball. A sped-up rendition of ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)’ got the crowd going – before the brilliant closer ‘Loud Places’ sent the place truly haywire.
7 Swim Deep (Friday, 5.50pm, NME/Radio One Stage)
In forthcoming LP ‘Mothers’, Birmingham quintet Swim Deep have gone from feel-good indie boys to one of the most adventurous bands out there. It’s a leap that could have misfired in a festival as large as Reading, but on Friday afternoon it felt like a pivotal moment in their careers. Bringing out a whirling dervish dancer and unleashing some of the most excitable and experimental from their new canon, their set was one of the weekend’s most brilliantly surprising.
6 Catfish and the Bottlemen (Saturday, 7.55pm, NME/ Radio One Stage)
Say what you will about Catfish, but judging from this weekend’s show their 2016 Main Stage placing is almost undoubtable. Drawing one of the biggest and most fervent crowds of the weekend to their set, Van McCann and co were treated like headliners already. Queues stretched out beyond the tent, every word was sung back like a classic and the normally mouthy McCann was reduced to a humbled series of “thank you”s.
5 Jamie T (Sunday, 6.25pm, Main Stage)
Back where he belongs: Jamie’s return to the Reading Main Stage was one of the most heartwarming moments of the weekend. Last year he snuck in a secret set at Reading and Leeds, causing pandemonium as fans clamoured to get inside one the festival’s smaller tents. This time around, everyone was invited, as the Londoner played a sunset set full of enormous anthems designed to make crowds like this go berzerk. If there was a bigger pogo this weekend than the one that ensued to ‘Zombie’, we missed it.
4 Peace, (Friday, 6.55pm, NME/Radio One Stage)
While Peace’s secret set on the BBC Introducing stage in the afternoon provided some early highs, their main gig drew one of the most ravenous crowds of the weekend so far. With a heaving tent dancing and singing back every word, Harry Koisser and co drew a giddy congregation while dishing out the festival’s best one-liners. “I finally got to wear wet paint,” enthused Harry, donnning a trenchcoat covered in the stuff. “You’re literally watching paint dry”. A+
3 Wolf Alice (Saturday, 5.20pm, NME/ Radio One Stage)
While last year’s set on the Festival Republic Stage may have marked Wolf Alice out as one of the UK’s most promising new bands, this weekend they graduated into one of our best bands, full stop. The jump in billing and crowd size (read: huge) was a visible representation of how much the Londoners have proved their mettle. Massive mosh-alongs to ‘Giant Peach’ and ‘You’re A Germ’, plus the ultimate pals anthem in ‘Bros’ plus the kind of effortless camaraderie that you can’t fake made their Saturday set a righteous victory from start to finish.
2 Bring Me The Horizon (Saturday, 7.40pm, Main Stage)
Yorkshire metallers Bring Me The Horizon played an in-flight safety style video on the Main Stage screens prior to bounding out for their milestone slot on Saturday night, warning that some serious carnage was about to unfold. How right that video was, with bodies flung around like rag dolls and circle pits whirling from the moment they stormed onstage. Cuts from upcoming new album ‘That’s The Spirit’ earn the biggest cheers, between old favourites from almighty 2012 LP ‘Sempiternal’ and more. Future headliners? You better believe it.
1 Foals (Saturday, 1.35pm, NME/Radio One Stage)
If there was any doubt that Foals are heading into truly gigantic territory, then the band’s secret afternoon set on the NME/Radio One Stage took down any last naysayers with one sledgehammer, half-hour assault. Filling the tent to bursting, Yannis and co delivered a flawless set of hit after hit after hit to a crowd of rabid fans, culminating in the destructive, crowd-surfing blitzkrieg of ‘What Went Down’. Not only was it the best gig of Reading 2015, it felt like a preview of what could very, very likely turn out to headline Reading 2016.