Billie Eilish at Reading: Future headliner smashes one of the festival’s biggest ever crowds

Billiemania takes Reading.

At Billie Eilish shows you see all sorts of people. There’s just about every school year in the country running around in circle pits at the front, as well as wee child in a nappy jumping up and down further back. There’s kids with signs desperate to catch her attention as curious parents nod along by their blankets. Right now, there is no-one quite like her.

The suspicions and rumours appear correct: that may well have been the biggest crowd at a Reading show there’s ever been. When the camera side-of-stage pans out to show the punters what they’re in the middle, there are audible gasps at the sheer volume of bodies packed into the field. When her set was moved from the Radio 1 Tent to the main stage, a gap was left, simply because there’s no point even bothering booking anyone else – the crowd ain’t gonna be there.

It was better than her run at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire and even bigger than her Glastonbury appearance earlier this summer. Why? Because this is her crowd. It’s full of teens with the same reckless abandon that’s amassed this army so far. And she’s the ringleader. Channelling the The Riddler with the lime-green outfit and sense of mischief. For ‘You Should See Me In A Crown’, she orchestrates mosh-pits the size of blackholes for what is undoubtedly not just the biggest, but the rowdiest too.

She’s humbled by the response. As the chantable bassline for ‘Bury A Friend’ kicks in, it feels like the entire site is shaking as she tries to sing but is thwarted by her own grin. After ‘My Strange Addiction’ kicks off, she asks the crowds to “shut up” when chants of her name ripple through the crowd. Billiemania has made its way to Richfield Avenue.

Its largely the same set we’ve seen all summer but sleeker and polished-off. The bouncing ‘Bellyache’ and the thundering ‘Copycat’ remain just as potent and fun as they did a couple months back, while the twinkling ‘Ocean Eyes’ and ‘idontwannabeyou’ remain their intimate sweetness, despite the bonkers crowd. Before ‘When The Party’s Over’ she implausibly asks the crowd to put their phones down and to live in the moment – something she asks at most shows. This time? Well, you’ll likely have seen it on Instagram already.

It’s a triumphant cap-off for a remarkable summer. By this time next year? Well, it wouldn’t be a stretch for her to headline the whole damn thing.

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