Kim Petras deserves more than what Reading is giving her right now (isn’t that the case for all of the next-level-but-somehow-still-underground pop stars here, though?). Bunged on the Dance Stage at half two on a Sunday, she plays a tiny set to a half-empty tent, and we’re a bit gutted for her.
Mostly because every song (all five of them) is AMAZING and she’s up there giving it her all with only a DJ and her name in bold behind her. Fair play to the ones at the front singing every word, it’s just a shame the crowd doesn’t extend much further than that.
Closing with her bit of Charli XCX’s ‘Unlock It’, we find ourselves praying that somehow, somewhere, there’s an alternative universe where Miss XCX and Miss Petras are the biggest pop stars in the world.
Reading loves an exclusive, and what could be better than the very first public outing of Murph Wombats’ new project, Love Fame Tragedy?
A modest-sized crowd which continues to grow with each passing minute, Murph and his band of three swiftly kick into gear with latest single ‘Backflip’. Which, FYI, sounds even more melodically enchanting with a live soul behind it.
Of course, not everything goes off without a hitch. “Clearly the curse of the Wombats applies to this band, too. This is what happens at your first gig kids, it all goes to shit,” he says with a smirk as silence rings out due some technical difficulties that plague for a bit longer than anyone really would like.
But the crowd are behind Murph, and as soon as things kick into gear, it’s all systems go. Featuring a special appearance from Bastille’s Dan Smith, the pair collab for a song they co-wrote; a pop bop for the indie ages, it’s a loving mix of both bands.
In case you missed it during one of our many previous conversations with The Amazons lads – they’re from Reading. This makes today a homecoming of sorts, as made evident by the exclamation from singer and guitarist Matt Thomson: “For the next half hour, this festival is ours!”
Given the absolutely sardine-tin packed tent, it’s a fair flex. From the moment the drum-roll hitting, riff-heavy monster ‘Mother’ kicks in, it’s pints in the air and pits all around. A battering of the singalong rousing ‘Stay With Me’ and a cheeky appearance from Yonaka’s Theresa Jarvis for ‘In My Mind’; it’s a blowout homecoming that the four lads from Reading deserve.
While much of Reading is melting in the sun, it is raining heavily in The Pit. Like a can of the good stuff, shaken up after being left for too long in the sun, FIDLAR’s Sunday afternoon slot explodes within a couple of notes of ‘Alcohol’ with more beer in the air than there is in the bar. “Netflix are doing a documentary about us and mosh pits, so go fucking nuts,” says frontman Zac Carper at one point, but seriously, there’s no need. With tracks like ’40oz On Repeat’ in their deep-lined bag of good-time punk anthems to pull out, this is just one big and very sweaty party from start to finish.
Following Lil Baby and Gunna, Reading put ‘The Indies’ back on stage in the form of Sundara Karma. Real music isn’t dead guys; it just wears eyeshadow and no shirt now.
Nah, in all fairness, the way these songs come to life on stage is wonderful. Closer ‘One Last Night On This Earth’ sounds lovely when backed with a choir :’). While the debut album stuff, particularly ‘Flame’ and ‘Loveblood’, go down a treat.
We’re a big fan of some groovy indie, but we’re a bigger fan of Oscar crooning around the stage, looking sweatier than the crowd, somehow, despite wearing less clothes than everyone else.
Sunday might be the day of rest, but not on August Bank Holiday. We’re obviously a religious bunch though, because we find ourselves at church. We pray at electro pop’s altar. Our vicar is Lauren Mayberry. Church has a ‘v’ in it and yeah let’s get to it, it’s Sunday evening, and Chvrches are on.
We love our Lauren, and she’s doing a mighty fine job of getting the energy up at the arse end of the most knackering weekend in the festival calendar. How does she not get dizzy? She keeps twirling around this stage
The tent could be fuller, but everyone is well into it. Their disciples (we promise the religious references will stop soon) are going hard at the front, and everyone else seems to be having a nice bop while they wait for Bastille.
“Thanks for inviting us back,” says Lauren, as she also notes she can see the Main Stage screens playing Foo Fighters from where she’s standing. Dork: taking the bangers over the boring oldies any day of the week.
By the time Bastille come on stage, the Radio 1 tent is rammed. Genuinely rammo. Dork only went for a wee, and now we can’t get back in. About a quarter of this crowd are happy standing outside the tent and watching it on the big screens.
You’d think the Reading crowd have nothing left to give at this point in the festival, but it’s no problem for Daniel. As soon as ‘Quarter Past Midnight’ kicks in, they’re reenergised, ready for one final hurrah. This might be one of the best crowds we’ve seen this weekend too. Not bad for the festival closers.
Obviously the ‘bit hits’ get the best reaction. ‘Happier’ has everyone from front to back clapping away, ‘Of The Night’ has everyone bouncing, and closer ‘Pompeii’ is such a frenzy, those outside are having their own party too. ‘Doom Days’ deep cut ‘Million Pieces’ gets played right before the end, with Dan getting the crowd to sing the ‘million pieces’ hook. It’s really lovely.
After joining Matthew ‘Murph’ Murphy at his Love Fame Tragedy secret set earlier, Dan fetches him out for ‘Blame’, but honestly we think Craig David should’ve been there for ‘I Know’.
Foo Fighters might be the ‘must see’ Reading band, but as we’ve said, Dork know where the bangers are, and this Bastille set is straight euphoria from start to finish. Get them back on the Main Stage asap, please.
Words: Abigail Firth, Jamie MacMillan, Steven Loftin