Clairo at Reading Festival: From the bedroom to the mainstages, a generation’s hero comes good on the promise 

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Clairo is a complete Gen Z hero. Her debut album, ‘Immunity’, is a frank diary entry that may well serve as a launching point for every teenager making their way through life. It’s uncertain and reserved in places, but exploratory and joyful – a new young artist finding their voice in stunning ways.

It makes sense, then, that her mid-afternoon set at Reading 2019 – her first ever at that festival – is attended by kids likely born this side of the millennium. On the front barrier, the camera whizzes past a young crowd who look lovingly towards the stage at their new hero, Claire Cottrill, at the front baring her heart to thousands of people.

On record, ‘Immunity’ revels at its quietest moments – the hushed vocals feel like a whisper in your ear and the most intriguing sounds wallow in the shadows. On stage, however, joined by three bandmates, the sound is grungier than you’d expect. The album highlight ‘Bags’ is driven by Cottril’s hazy guitar parts and the stuttering ‘Softly’ revels itself to be a rock song with plenty of heart.

The biggest crowd reactions are reserved for the songs that put her on the map. The ‘Diary 001’ EP, which featured viral smash ‘Pretty Girl’, alongside ‘Flaming Hot Cheetos’ and ‘4Ever’, songs that were built in the bedroom and recognised by the world. Here, they feel fleshed-out and crafted perfectly for a festival main stage. The twinkling keyboard parts are now booming and the barely-there drums now bulk the songs out to be proper pop songs on their own.

Throughout – and on ‘Closer To You’ in particular – she thrives when just on vocals. She often shuffles across stage like a reluctant pop icon, but secretly harbouring the swagger of someone who knows an army of teens are behind her, ready to sing their heart out to every single line.