Carling Weekend : Reading, Radio 1 Evening Session Stage Saturday

AFI, Hundred Reasons, CTC and more...

There’s no describing exactly how scary AFI are unless you actually see them. Arriving in the NME signing tent in the glare of afternoon sun they’d looked moderately terrifying, but here in the dead of night – only minutes from the witching hour – the black-tattood straightedged ones are enough to make even Count Dracula go running for his mother. NME.COM – cowering underneath a tent in the random fields of Berkshire – can only report, according to one expert eyewitness, that “they were really good”. Just like you knew they would be.

Hundred Reasons come as a suprise. Previously written off as durgish-stadium rock, tonight they satisfy every festival cliche in the book – epic tunes, packed tent, hundreds of fans with their hands in the air and one moment where every single person present raises a lighter in dedication to the bizzare powers of American soft-metal, even if it’s an English band responsible. It’s been, uh, emotional.

The Cooper Temple Clause, meanwhile, crash down onstage and get right to the task of blowing the tent offsite by blasting through traditional set-closer ‘Panzer Attack’ FIRST and then demolishing the rest of the show with apocalyptic track after track. Current single ‘Promises Promises’ is a frightening metalic onslaught, the first airing of ‘Music Box’ is beautiful and twisted in one and the frenzied finale of ‘Let’s Kill Music’ crowns them the all pouting, all posing, all conquering Kings Of Reading. World domination is the least they should expect.

Danger! Danger! Mars Volta! If only we could see who’s actually playing. Unfortunately, two giant squalling balls of hair are blocking what could possibly be one of the most anticipated sets of the Carling Weekend. We can hear, though, that they play approximately three expermental-noise progressions lasting four hours each and for the second time in two days NME.COM is confronted by the sight of a man with his pants round his ankles streaking through the Radio 1 tent. At the end, prime howler Cedric Bixler hurtles his mic stand into the crowd and splits a blokes head nearly right in two. Fitting.

Odd that such mania should be preceeded by jangly Celtic tunesmiths The Thrills. The only problem is that they sing ‘Big Sur’ quite early; an otherwise harmless summer soundtrack that includes the line ‘Hey, hey, we’re The Monkees’. NME.COM is instantly reminded that monkey’s like bananas, has graphic flashbacks to an article that appeared in NME earlier in the week and has to go and be sick.

No such problems with The Kills however; here’s a duo who LOOK like they’re festival goers – possibly unwashed, completely disheveled and so introspectivaly detached you’d think they’ve spent the last two days mucking out on booze and sun like the rest of us. They could be a truly great rock band, but unfortunately they spoil an otherwise venemous set by topping it off with an absolutely rubbish rendition of ‘Cat Claw’. Can’t win them all.

Mid-afternoon in Reading and all hail The Rapture; hairy, clubbed-out psycho rockers hell-bent on larging it up Ibiza-stylee while outside it’s hotter than the sun and bodies lie strewn about in a booze-kissed stupor. Looking for all the world like the bastard love children of The Music and Happy Mondays, they play a set that NME.COM swears includes the screamadelica of ‘House Of Jealous Lovers’ TWICE, and trip off to Leeds with all strobe lights ablazing.

Jet, meanwhile, aren’t interested in nightclubs. They’re in the dubious position of having to contend with the spectre of The Libertines and TCTC in the signing tent, but they don’t give a XXXX – because what they’re interested in right now, mate, is real Oz-tray-lyen pub-laden r.a.w.k. “Thanks Reading!” howls hirsute drummer Chris Cester after slow burning intro ‘Move On’. “We’re gonna fuckin’ PARTY!”. There’s no doubt Jet think they’re the greatest rock’n’roll act in the world – and with riffs nicked straight from Angus Young’s back pocket for ‘Cold Hard Bitch’ and the sweaty ‘Look What You’ve Done’, there’s little doubt that today they probably are.

Hairiness appears to be the order of the day. My Morning Jacket saunter on without a care in the world bar their next trip to the barbers, pull out a few bursts of sunshine and provide a gloriously carefree picnic-basket’n’riverside moment with ‘Lowdown’. If ever there was a wink and cuddle moment to inspire running off and shagging your beloved in the name of summer loving, then this would probably be that time.

Stellastarr* (mind the asterix), though, want you to hunch your shoulders a bit more and rewind the clock to…ohhh, at least mid-winter 1979. They’re the poppier Joy Division (c)2003, upstaging Interpol’s attempts by including boy/girl harmonies and a shirtless drummer.

So, it’s up to Northern art-punkers Futureheads to open proceedings on the Radio 1 stage at midday. Not that they look any worse for the dubious honour of playing while most of their fellow bands on the bill are probably just crawling in to bed from the night before, but the Sunderland quartet go ahead and personify their name in one by a) sounding like they’ve bounded in to Berkshire from another planet entirely and b)stylishly doing the heads in of a few thousand sleepy-eyed punters with a cache of blinding tunes that would wake the dead. Class.

Primrose Hille