Reading Festival 2011 – Saturday

Sunday will be posted up later today when it’s dusted off, but in the meantime, here’s a look at Saturday while I go shopping with my mum.
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On the whole, Saturday’s main stage was… average. There was a lot of stuff I could have watched in the Lock Up, but for the first time in a long time, I actually had friends with me, and friends means sacrifice. I’m okay with that, but it did mean that I missed out on a lot of stuff that otherwise might have been pretty good. There were a lot of gaps. It was a long day.

But in other respects, I got to discover some stuff that I would never have ventured towards. Like Daniel Sloss (4/5), for example. Quite simply the funniest comedian of the whole weekend. He’s young, he’s relevant, he’s got floppy hair but above all else I was actually in tears at his ‘winning the breakup’ routine. Perhaps because it’s entirely relevant to me right now, but it’s sheer genius. Do go and see him if he tours around your town, you’re in for a treat. Daniel Sloss was followed by the surreal Late Night Gimp Fight (4/5). If you can replace a word in a song with the word ‘gimp’, they’ve done it according to their videos. Some of the strangest, most degrading and yet endearing sketches I’ve ever seen. And a man got his cock out at two in the afternoon. What more could you ask for?

Next up was a trip to the Lock Up for a bit of letlive. (3.5/5) who were pretty decent. On record, letlive. have been one of the most exciting bands around this year. Fake History is incredible. But live, that sound just doesn’t quite come through. Perhaps it’s the acoustics of the tent, maybe it’s because it’s actually quite a polished album, but their live performance is completely raw. Don’t think that’s a bad thing. Admittedly, I was a bit lost in places. It’s a complete sight to see though. Singer Jason Butler throws himself across stages in ways that shouldn’t be humanly possible. Guitarists Jean Nascimento and Jeff Sayhoun shred like there’s nothing else left to do in the world. To listen to, they weren’t at their peak that day, not like I think they could be. To watch, they were insane.

A brief stint in the Alternative tent saw us in the company of Michael Fabbri (2.5/5) who elicited a couple of laughs but on the whole was pretty average. He didn’t measure up to the comedic genius of Daniel Sloss, at any rate. Paul Chowdhry (1/5) was that bad that I actually fell asleep. Apparently nothing exists outside of London. Where the hell do you think you are then, mate? Dire stuff.

Jimmy Eat World (4/5) are always outstanding. Whatever the set, they know their audience and they play to that audience. We got all the hits from Bleed American, Futures and Chase This Light, a couple of gems from Clarity and the latest from Invented. Even at fourth, Jimmy Eat World should have been higher up on the bill. Who the hell are The National? They’re not Jimmy Eat World, that’s for sure. Jimmy Eat World were made for big things and they’re finally getting some of the recognition they deserve. The full touring band this time made a huge difference to their set, allowing them to achieve the depth that’s displayed throughout all of their albums. A Jimmy Eat World set always feels really personal; unlike some acts where you really feel part of the enormous crowd around you, the band always manage to make it feel extremely intimate, despite playing to an audience of thousands. It takes a lot to be able to do that.

During dinner, I caught a bit of Glassjaw (4/5). I feel that I can’t really give Glassjaw an accurate enough review, considering that I caught less than half a set. That half a set I did catch was pretty intense. Daryl Palumbo is demonic in his movements, and those eyes… those eyes. Glassjaw are frequently quoted as the best post-hardcore band around and I find it easy to see why – they are utterly captivating. The King Blues (4/5) in the Lock Up are just as captivating but for wholly different reasons. It’s great to see them back in the Lock Up. Their performance on the main stage last year was good, but it wasn’t where they belonged. As Itch said, “You people in the Lock Up… you’re our kind of people, yeah!” They ran through a blistering set of reggae and ska tinged punk rock, and although I appreciated Tim McIllrath’s statements the day before, he doesn’t really know what he’s on about regarding our country, but The King Blues really do. New song, Power To The People, is a hardcore influenced dub whirlwind, ready to inspire the youth of today. The tent was packed, not just full of the punk crowd, but there were girls with flowers in their hair, mums and dads, indie hipsters and more, proving that The King Blues have a greatly universal appeal.

But it seems that no band has more universal appeal right now than The Midnight Beast (4/5). Much like the HMV Institute on their headlining tour this year, the tent was so rammed that the band had to stop in the middle of their new song in order to get everyone to move back so nobody died. That is how excited people are to be seeing The Midnight Beast. Screaming teenage girls aside, their comedic raps had pretty much the whole tent in fits, including an impromptu cover of Friday which had more people singing along than will probably admit to it. A Midnight Beast set is definitely a show, with so much going on that it’s difficult to keep up. Cheerleaders, fake swords, boyband dancers… they’ve got it all. Comedy rap is a big thing right now and The Midnight Beast are the best of British for sure. The new song shows promise of lots of new material to come, so they’ll definitely be worth watching. Not bad for three guys who covered Kesha’s Tik Tok in their living room.

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