Fat White Family, The Orwells and Palma Violets. Bands who make a habit of staging eventful performances. Watching them you’re usually struck with the sense that anything could – and probably will – happen. Performing at Brighton’s The Great Escape festival in May 2014, the Fat Whites’ frontman Lias Saudi appeared on stage wearing just a thong and a smothering of what looked – we hope – like barbecue sauce. The Orwells’ frontman Mario Cuomo, meanwhile, has been known to jump off stage and kissed a stage invader at a show at London’s 100 Club this summer. Last but not least, Palma Violets are known to spend more time crowd-surfing than their fans and, on occasion, carry NME staff members on stage with them to dance. On Friday of Reading Festival they were all playing on the Festival Republic stage. But who in this head-to-head-to-head would provide the most chaos on the day?
Fat White Family
With their sinister lyrics and songs called things like ‘Is It Raining In Your Mouth?’ and ‘Touch The Leather’, there’s an air of malevolence about Fat White Family without them even doing anything spectacular. After a relatively slow start, there was some crowd-surfing and a whole lot of jumping around from shirtless guitarist Saul Adamczewski, but the main chaos came when they were prematurely ushered off stage with a song left to play. Saul stormed off, leaving the rest of the band to flick the Vs at the stage manager.
Chaos rating: 6/10
The Chicago gang’s anthemic songs had the packed tent bouncing from the off, circle pits breaking out all over the place and more and more fans rushing to the tent when they saw what was happening. They do get an extra point for dedicating the final song of their set to NME, but they also automatically have it taken from them for that song being ‘Who Needs You?’. “Because who needs the fucking NME?” asked the singer. Top marks for the attitude, if not the sentiment.
Chaos rating: 7/10
The Londoners were delayed by about 15 minutes due to some sound problems on the stage, but the DJ played some indie classics and if anything, it helped the atmosphere before they arrived on stage. Despite the fact their set overlapped a little with Queens Of The Stone Age on the nearby Main Stage, the tent was rammed, as you’d expect for its headliner. Their set was more than worthy of the crowd, ‘Step Up For The Cool Cats’ among the obvious highlights, and it could’ve perhaps been even better had their set not been cut short, like so many of the bands on the Festival Republic stage on Saturday. Nevertheless, the sight of the band being completely subsumed by the crowd, still playing their instruments, was a thrilling one, so thrilling a few hundred people stayed around long after the band had finished to savour the moment for as long as possible. The band returned the favour by posing for photos and sticking around to take in the chaotic scene they’d created.
Chaos rating: 8/10