“Greetings carbon-based life-forms,” says Rou Reynolds, “we are Enter Shikari and we control pitch, rhythm and light to manipulate your emotions.” And that’s not the full extent of their ‘living art’ situationism. In uniform black suits and blue shirts (“who’s stupid idea was it to do fire on the hottest day of the year, and yeah, let’s wear suits!”) and playing retro-futuristic keyboards styled like ‘60s boffin stations, Enter Shikari emerge for the fourth of their five sets of the weekend – they’re basically every secret set of Reading ’19 – attempting to be an ironic embodiment of the year that pop took control of R&L. To whit: opener ‘Stop The Clocks’ is new wave synthpop that, come the chorus, threatens to pull off its commercial mask to reveal the snarling punk beast beneath.
By song two, ‘Sssnakepit’, all pretence is dropped and they’re grunting out great wedges of rave metal like R&L never went roadshow, but their knockabout larks are far from over. “This song would make a bishop kick in a stained-glass window,” Rou announces before wrapping his tie around his head like Rambo’s bandana, “it’d make you punch a gibbon right in the fucking face!” Lock up your zoos, Berkshire, not an ape onsite goes un-assaulted during ‘The Paddington Frisk’. As their brief set time runs down they play a “quickfire round” of four songs in eight minutes, taking in highway radio rock, riot rave and emo thrash in equal measure.
There’s still time for seriousness, however. Rou points out that their backdrop, a square of 150 strips ranging from blue to the left to deepest red on the right, represents the global temperature every year since 1870, and rounds on the big money behind climate change denial.
It all makes enjoying the thrill of their effervescent punk-rave all the more urgent – “be weird, be wild, be curious, be a child,” Rou urges us as the epic synthetic stampede of a final ‘Live Outside’ cranks up. Oh, Rou, Reading will…