Hot Milk leave the stage with the crowd chanting their name at Reading 2023

From here the only way this band are going is up.

Words: Ali Shutler.
Photos: Frances Beach.

Sunday lunchtime and a scrappy punk band are opening Reading’s Main Stage East. If there was a spot that spelled almost certain doom, it’s this one. True to legacy, Hot Milk explode onto the stage in a flurry of electric guitar, ready to kickstart a chaotic party, but none of their mics are working. They call it before the song is over, and leave the stage. This set has all the makings of an absolute disaster.

Hot Milk have built their career turning negatives into a more communal euphoria, though. “Let’s try this one again,” smirks the band’s Hannah Mee when they return to the stage minutes later and launch into the snotty rebellion of ‘Party On My Deathbed’. From here on out, it’s an all-out victory. 

‘I Just Want To Know What Happens When I Die’ asks big, existential questions that are twisted into a collective singalong while ‘Teenage Runaways’ deals in fiery escapism. There’s intimate, emo number ‘Glass Spiders’ that scratches against bone while the theatrical, twisting ‘Horror Show’ couldn’t be more ambitious – it’s menacing outro threatening to blow out the speakers of the stage. 

Before the poppy bounce of ‘Bloodstreams’, Hot Milk invites the growing crowd to celebrate the release of their debut album ‘A Call To The Void’. “We didn’t think we’d ever get to release one ‘cos no one would sign us, which was dead annoying,” grins Hannah, with another victory under their belts. Elsewhere, the closing chaos of ‘Split Personality’ sees the band asking for the biggest mosh pits the festival has ever seen, while Jim Sham jumps down into the crowd to help get things started. After that frantic, furious finish, Hot Milk leave the stage with the crowd chanting their name – well, apart from Jim who’s still down on the barrier. “I don’t know where I’m going,” he admits, before the mics are once again turned off. From here the only way this band are going is up.