Ashnikko greets her debut album ‘Weedkiller’ with a storming surprise appearance at Reading 2023

Today’s short, sweet but sensational set sees Ashnikko deliver a clutch of their most beloved anthems

Words: Ali Shutler.
Photos: Frances Beach.

“If you peel off my skin, you’ll find a colony of ants living just here,” says Ashnikko. As stage banter goes, it’s different but they’ve built a career on being fantastically honest. Over the past few years, they’ve also become something of a regular at Reading Festival. Today, as she marches onto the Festival Republic Stage for a last-minute, pop-up set, she’s given a hero’s welcome – metaphorical ants and all.

Today’s short, sweet but sensational set sees Ashnikko deliver a clutch of their most beloved anthems. It isn’t long before the trap-infused purge of ‘Worms’ causes chaos, the chirpy ‘Slumber Party’ is a relentlessly good time while ‘Stupid’ has the entire tent singing along to the rapid-fire lyrics of self-empowerment. “Let’s do it together,” invites Ash. 

A surprise set means there’s none of the production that made Ashnikko’s Coachella performance earlier this summer the talk of the Internet, but who needs fighting robots when you’ve got a menacing reworking of breakout hit ‘Daisy’ while Ash attacks the stage with everything they’ve got. It’s easy to see why they’ve been invited back for the third time in as many years.

Still, the best moments come from Ashnikko’s debut album ‘Weedkiller’, which is out today. A dystopian fairytale that brings together fantasy, rage, catharsis and autonomy, it’s designed as an entire world to get lost within, and the brief glimpses we get of it today feel tantalisingly inviting.

The set opens with ‘You Make Me Sick’, a song driven by pure, unbridled fury that effortlessly weaves dreamy pop hooks around those abrasive, unforgiving moments and it sounds razor sharp. Likewise, the soaring title track is a fiery party anthem that hops between hammering nu-metal, giddy dance and stadium ambition without losing anything in the dizzying journey. It’s a swaggering album made for big stages and today’s performance gives us a brief hint at just how far this new era of Ashnikko can go. See you at the Main Stage next year, eh?