Mumford & Sons headline the first day of this year's event
Reading Festival 2015 is underway, and with headliners Mumford & Sons still to come, acts including Palma Courts, Palma Violets and Panic! At The Disco have already performed.
Mariachi El Bronx kicked off the event today (August 28) dressed in black and gold outfits. Announcing the band’s arrival, frontman Matt Caughthran declared: “What’s up, motherfuckers? How you feeling out there?” before the band kicked off with ‘Right Between The Eyes’. They wrapped up their set with a huge jam before ending with ‘Revolution Girls’.
It was the second Reading And Leeds on the trot for Philadelphia’s ultra-earnest, blue-collar rock ‘n’ soul four-piece The Districts, and no one looked more surprised than them when a massive mosh-pit opened up during their 1pm performance. The crowd’s energy was matched by the band, who rattled through a set heavy on tracks from their 2015 Fat Possum-released second album, ‘A Flourish And A Spoil’. By earlier song ‘Long Distance’, singer Rob Grote – a young man with an old soul, who looks like he fell out an episode of ‘King Of The Hill’ – was pushing his way into the crowd. He returned to his band to lead them in a strident, closing one-two: ‘Peaches’ and ‘Young Blood’ from ‘A Flourish…’ The latter’s sing-along chorus, “It’s a long way down from the top to the bottom” prove prophetic when Grote climbed a speaker stack, jumped, and fumbled his land. For a moment, he was playing his black Rickenbacker laid out flat on the stage.
Drenge were on typically deadpan form as they appeared on the Reading main stage for the first time. “Who’s having a good time?” asked drummer Rory Loveless, in a monotone voice. “Same.” A minute later, he repeated the same thing before the Derbyshire duo played ‘We Can Do What We Want’. Three tracks from their self-titled debut album followed – ‘I Wanna Break You In Half’, ‘Bloodsports’ and ‘Backwaters’ – before Loveless asked the audience “Who wants to listen to another one?” The duo closed their set with ‘Never Awake’ and the eight-minute long ‘Let’s Pretend’.
Palma Violets played a lively mid-afternoon set on the Main Stage as they showcased a host of tracks from recent album ‘Danger In The Club’. Returning to Reading for the fourth year in a row, frontman Sam Fryer told the crowd: “I think we’ve played Reading Festival ever since we’ve been a band,” before he quipped: “So I guess we’re the house band. We haven’t played as many times as Frank Turner though.” “Nah he’s played about nine times,” interjected bassist Chilli Jesson.
The band played new tracks ‘English Tongue’ and ‘Matador’ before Jesson declared: “We are going to try something we’ve never tried before,” as he strapped on acoustic guitar for the downbeat track ‘The Jacket Song’. They also performed the title track from their latest album and ‘Rattlesnake Highway’ before they ended their short set with breakthrough hit ‘Best Of Friends’, which saw a member of the crowd let off a red flare.
All four members of Parquet Courts walked onstage for their afternoon set on the NME/Radio 1 Stage wearing sunglasses. Bassist Sean Yeaton lifted his to greet the crowd, shouting, “We are Parquet Courts from Brooklyn, New York. In the United States of AMERICA!” With that, the punk four-piece broke into a drawn out rendition of ‘Bodies Made Of’ from last year’s ‘Sunbathing Animal’ album. The early part of the set – including a run through ‘Black & White’, which prompted a mosh pit – was drawn from the same record, with the band opting out of playing anything from their upcoming new instrumental album. Crowdsurfers tumbled towards the barrier during breakneck renditions of ‘Master Of My Craft’ and ‘Borrowed Time’, and with a quick “Thank you” from guitarist Austin Brown, they sped into ‘Light Up Gold’ and ‘Sunbathing Animal’, with spit flying from frontman Andrew Savage’s mouth as he sang.
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Bugzy Malone’s massive 2015 started with an incendiary BBC Radio 1Xtra Fire In The Booth session in March, which threw the 24-year-old Mancunian MC into the centre of a grime beef started by Tinie Tempah and Chipmunk, and reached a million YouTube views faster than any previous Fire In The Booth. Then his debut EP – the eight-track ‘Walk With Me’ – entered the album chart at number 8 in July, with Bugzy still officially an unsigned artist. Unsurprisingly, anticipation for his first Reading And Leeds appearance was huge. Anyone not already in the BBC Radio 1Xtra tent before he came on had to wrestle their way in (most couldn’t) and this wasn’t a late-in-the-day set – he performed at 2.45pm. Stand-out tracks he played from ‘Walk With Me’ included lead single ‘Watch Your Mouth’, before which he encouraged the crowd to “make circles” and mosh, and the Mr Snowman-produced ‘M.E.N’. Bugzy also ran through bars from his Fire In The Booth session, before ending with Chipmunk diss track ‘Relegation Riddim’, the video for which he shot on Chipmunk’s home turf of Tottenham and has clocked up more than three million views since being posted in March.
Brave or foolhardy, Panic! At The Disco returned to the scene of where singer Brendan Urie was knocked out with a flying bottle in 2006 – Reading’s Main Stage. This time Reading was merciful; missile-free, their set opened with the Killers-esque disco tune ‘Vegas Lights’ and ‘Time To Dance’ before breaking into their 2011 single ‘The Ballad Of Mona Lisa’. “This song’s about girls fucking girls and guys fucking guys and girls fucking guys,” Brendon said before ‘Girls / Girls / Boys’, and a run of favourites including the gospel ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Nine In The Afternoon’ led up to a cover of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, which Brendon described as “a very special song – we just wrote it backstage”. They closed with ‘This Is Gospel’ and ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’, with Brendon declaring, “I wanna make out with every one of you”.
Keep checking NME for all the action from across the stages this evening.