Plus Bo Ningen and A$AP's Ferg close out Day One
The first day at Reading 2015 is now complete, and NME has been keeping an eye on the action across the stages.
All Time Low brought a small section of the crowd onstage for their fratboy-friendly set on the Main Stage as the festival got into full swing this afternoon (August 28). Before the American pop punk band launched into ‘Time-Bomb’, frontman Alex Gaskarth picked out fans in the audience to join him onstage. Despite a momentary delay, a huge crowd eventually arrived up there, each dancing and singing along with the band. Guitarist Jack Barakat even handed one audience member his guitar to play throughout the song. As the crowd departed the stage, Bakarat joked: “One of those guys touched my dick, I swear. I had a shrivelled dick before I came on because I was so nervous but now I got a raging hard on.”
Making their fourth appearance at the festival, All Time Low also debuted a series of songs from their new album ‘Future Hearts’ including ‘Satellite’, ‘Kids In The Dark’, ‘Runaways’ and acoustic ballad ‘Missing You’, which Gaskarth dedicated to anyone “who’s having a shitty time” in the crowd. Before they wrapped up their set with ‘Dear Maria, Count Me In’, Gaskarth urged the audience to get on each other’s shoulders. The band then had their picture taken with the wobbly throng in the background.
Riding the wave of the recent emo revival, along with bands like Mineral, cult Chicago quartet American Football reformed last year to play a series of UK and US shows and their Friday afternoon set on the NME/Radio 1 stage provided a moment of heart-on-your-sleeve reflection as they emotionally tore through the entirety of their 1999 self-titled album. Embellishing their classic emo sound with brass and maracas, they began ‘You Know I Should Be Leaving Now’ with a melancholy trumpet solo before breaking into the kind of languid torpor which defined their set. When frontman Mike Kinsella sang “I’ll see you when we’re both not so emotional,” it’s a line which could arguably sum up the band’s overarching thesis in one single sentence. Plunging the depths of post-rock for their finale, they chose to finish off their set with an instrumental, proving their chops as skilled musicians.
London-based Japanese psych-rock four-piece Bo Ningen flew back from spending time in their homeland to perform an incendiary set that ended with frontman/bassist Taigen Kawabe playing most of their final song propped up on the barriers dividing crowd from stage, facelocked in position. “Lovely to play here again,” Kawabe said before launching into ‘Henkan’, their 2011 debut single. They managed only five, wild, long songs in their 35-minute set, building from atmospheric space rock, through to kraut, neo-psychedelia and acid punk.
“We don’t have time to talk,” declared Alvvays‘ Molly Rankin, following a pre-gig technical nightmare. But when huge bouncing white balloons dropped on the crowd in the Festival Republic tent, her set took a turn for the better as she played out her band’s self-titled debut album.
Bastille drew a very substantial crowd to the Main Stage for their step-up slot. They opened with ‘The Things We Lost In The Fire’, which saw singer Dan Smith taking to a stand-up drum set, and continued with ‘Laura Palmer’ and new song ‘Hanging’, a reggae-tinged future radio anthem. After bringing it down slightly with ‘These Streets’ and their ‘No Scrubs’ pastiche ‘No Angels’, Smith said, “This is very surreal for us.” ‘Blame’ took the set into bluesy folk territory, ‘Icarus’ picked up the pace and another new song, ‘Snakes’, was introduced by Smith saying “this is the last new song we’ll play before leaving you to go and see bigger and better bands”. The set finished with a huge singalong to ‘Pompeii’ and Smith telling the crowd, “I wanna see how high you can jump”.
Killer Mike and El-P’s Run The Jewels pulled one of the biggest crowds of the day to the NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage for their debut Reading performance, coming on to Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’ before launching into their title track/theme tune, ‘Run The Jewels’. “The UK knows how to throw a fucking rap party,” said a seemingly bewildered Killer Mike during a set that took in material from both their albums and deeper cuts such as ‘Pew Pew Pew’, a bonus track from their debut album. ‘Blockbuster Night Part 1’ from ‘Run The Jewels 2’ was a highlight, as was Mike’s between-song banter: “If you’ve got prescription glasses or a prescription phone, put them in your pocket, because shit’s about to get fucked up.”
Over on the BBC Radio 1xtra Stage, A$AP Ferg declared: “Reading! Make some motherfuckin’ noise, I wanna see a big-ass mosh pit! Get your fuckin’ hands up!”. The throng in front of the stage then surged forward as soon as the Harlem rapper emerged and he rushed to the front of the stage, jumping in time with gut-wrenching blasts of bass from his DJ.
He then incited the crowd to chant ‘Trap! Lord!’, the title of his 2013 debut album. Ferg then rushed into a breathless version of ‘Fuck Out My Face’, welcoming Marty Baller, the first MC to sign to his Ferg Entertainment label, onstage. Topless after less than five minutes, Marty Baller rushed around the stage, flexing his biceps and pouting at the crowd as the DJ cued up ‘Hella Hoes’.
When Ferg rapped the opening lines of ‘Shabba’ – which features a guest verse from fellow A$AP Mob member A$AP Rocky, who was absent tonight – the crowd chanted the words right back at him. Afterwards, Ferg threw his towel into the crowd before both MCs disappeared offstage. They returned with a bottle of champagne, dropped a few bars of a bass-heavy brand new song, ‘Being Wrong’, before departing to huge cheers. Fans streamed out of the tent, but were halted in the tracks when the DJ fired up A$AP Rocky’s ‘Lord Pretty Flacko Jodeye 2’. Marty Baller then bounced on the spot centre stage, screaming the lyrics into his microphone until the sound was cut.
Headlining the Main Stage, Mumford and Sons told the huge crowd for their Reading Festival headline set that they’d been aiming to play the event ever since finishing their amped-up third album, 2015’s ‘Wilder Mind’. The band took to the Main Stage at 9.30pm, and sprung to life with recent album track ‘Snake Eyes’ on a stage illuminated by white lights and red beams that reached out over the crowd. At one point, keyboard player Ben Lovett said: “When we finished our third record there was one place in the world we wanted to play more than any other and that was here for you fine people.” Frontman Marcus Mumford agreed. “We’ve been around a few times – not enough – but there’s fucking nothing like a British music festival, I’ll tell you that,” the frontman added.
Meanwhile on the Lock Up Stage New Found Glory covered Mumford and Sons‘ early hit ‘The Cave’ during an energetic set. The band, who were playing at the same time as Mumfords, dropped a pop punk version of the track towards the end of their show. Introducing the track, guitarist Chad Gilbert asked the crowd: “Do you think Mumford & Sons can hear us from here?” before the band launched into their take on the folk track.
Earlier the band arrived onstage to the sound of Michael Jackson hit ‘Man In The Mirror’. They then burst through their set at break-neck speed to a packed tent as they reeled off hits from their back catalogue including ‘All Downhill From Here’, ‘Head On Collision’, ‘Dressed To Kill’ and ‘Vicious Love’. Gilbert revealed that the band were asked to play the Main Stage but they refused because “we wanted to come back to where it all started so we could see your pretty faces.” He added: “That means this your fucking party.” As they closed their set with ‘My Friend’s Over You’, Gilbert praised the festival. He added: “Reading give it up for all the bands that played today. We never have anything like this in the [United] States which sucks. Reading is really cool.”
Catch up with the afternoon’s action here.