That main stage has seen some hammer today, hasn’t it? After AJ Tracey took it to Ladbroke Grove, Billie Eilish turned up to smash the remains of it to bits.
The heat is stopping NO ONE. There are pits from the front of the stage to way past the sound desk. Sod throwing pints, someone throws their wallet at one point. Talk about giving your fav your coin.
Billie Eilish is a fucking force to be reckoned with. She isn’t going to be an icon; she is one. Right. NOW. No one else at 17 years old, and on their debut album cycle, can step out onto a Reading Main Stage tea time slot, look out at a packed out crowd and stand there doing absolutely nothing for 30 seconds while the crowd scream and lap her up.
She seems to be in a weird middle ground between knowing she is the absolute shit and not being able to believe it either. She commands the stage like she’s been doing it for a decade, but as soon as the crowd chant her name, she says “Stop it! Shush!”
She kicks off with ‘bad guy’, the actual song of the summer, despite coming out in March, that’s also FINALLY knocked Old Town Road off the Billboard top spot. Watching the camera pan out and Billie start losing her shit when it drops is THRILLING. A. F. Then we’re straight into the Office-quoting ‘my strange addiction’, no fucking about.
She knows it’s hot though, so she does take pity on us poor punters standing in the sun (it’s also a miracle that she’s not turned up in a puffa jacket), and plays a few slowies so we can calm down. During ‘when the party’s over’, she asks the crowd to put their phones down and live in the moment. Some oblige. Some are simply too excited and caught up in the moment and want to savour every minute of it by recording the whole thing.
That’s the beauty of this Billie show too. Most of this crowd look like young girls with their parents in tow, attending their first Reading, much like Billie herself. Sometimes it’s easy to forget she’s only a baby in this whole music machine thing, but then, would anyone older than 17 be THIS FUCKING EXCITING.
Words: Abigail Firth