With slightly sunburned faces, TeamRock headed to Richfield Avenue for the third and final day of the Reading Festival. Here’s how the day unfolded – let’s hope no-one got tangled up in their guitar lead or anything.
State Champs are the perfect wake-up call
You’d never know there were several hangovers blighting the lunchtime Sunday crowd bouncing along to State Champs. It’s their first ever Reading Festival, and it’d be criminal if they weren’t invited back next year after this supercharged set of sunny pop punk. Opening with Shape Up, that gravelly, abrasive low guitar that gives their sound its edge is there straight away, and Perfect Score has the heart-skipping syncopation of mid-career Fall Out Boy. Set closer Secrets gets the sizeable crowd singing every word, and there couldn’t be a better way to get Sunday off to a triumphant start.
If something fucks up, Coheed and Cambria keep going
When Claudio Sanchez finds himself tangled up with his guitar lead and what appears to be a pair of headphones spilling out of his pocket, stopping to sort himself out doesn’t cross his mind. He carries on belting out Blood Red Summer while two techs rush to free him, then continues the set mishap-free…ah. Not quite. He slips banana-skin style onto his back but doesn’t miss a note of A Favor House Atlantic, in a perfect example of how to style out an on-stage slip up. Don’t worry, Claudio, it’s happens – just look at this lot.
Sleeping With Sirens go large on guitars
How many guitarists is too many? Not three, according to Sleeping With Sirens. The Florida post-hardcore crew’s live show is bolstered by extra touring axeman Alex Howard, and although their sound is much heavier than on record, the super-sized string section is little more than a talking point. They’re on top form, though – a shoeless Kellin Quinn’s trademark high-pitched vocals cut through the thick swell of guitars on Kick Me and Do It Now Remember It Later. “You look like you’d be happier in a porta-john!” laughs Kellin, pointing at one unlucky audience member who didn’t appear to be enjoying themselves. It’s Portaloo over here, pal, but don’t worry about that guy. Everyone else was loving it.
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Tonight Alive bring the good vibes
Latest record Limitless might have raised eyebrows by doing away with the pop-punk that planted Tonight Alive on the alternative scene, but the sprawling reverb of this new whimsical pop era makes the new tracks perfect for an indoor stage. To Be Free’s silvery melodies fill the tent before they treat the crowd to some older songs, and Jenna McDougall’s euphoria positively radiates from her. Pontificating vocalists tread a fine line between being inspirational and hammy, but when Jenna tells the crowd they’re safe to express themselves at a Tonight Alive show and encourages them to harness their own positive energy, it’s obvious she means every word.
Five Finger Death Punch are a bit tired
Ivan Moody might look like he’s been attacked by a red-paint-wielding opponent as he appears with a crimson handprint daubed around his right eye, but he’s left his attitude at home. Perhaps he’s behaving after his recent spell in rehab, as he paces the stage smiling and waving jovially between snarls as he booms out Lift Me Up and Got Your Six. Their all-American hard rock still packs a punch even if the band themselves seem subdued, but TeamRock later learns they’ve been awake for days as they had to nip to Germany between their Leeds and Reading sets. We’ll let them off for taking it easy.
Fall Out Boy don’t save the best for last
Opening with The Phoenix and ploughing straight into Sugar We’re Goin’ Down ensures the crowd is on board with Fall Out Boy right from the start, but it’s surprisingly early to get the nostalgia-fuelled mass karaoke going. Songs from the latest record American Beauty/American Psycho lack the rhythmic flourishes and hook-driven melodies of their earlier work and sound strangely flat between their older, bouncier tracks. Patrick Stump does a surprisingly accurate impersonation of Elton John on Save Rock And Roll, but Grand Theft Autumn and Sophomore Slump are disappointingly absent from the setlist. What we do have is a shit ton of pyro – fire dancers, flames on top of the stage and fireworks make sure that the show literally explodes.
Good Charlotte are well and truly back
Good Charlotte draw an audience to The Lock Up stage that bursts out the sides to toast their reunion. Joel and Benji Madden look and sound more comfortable going back to their roots than they ever did in their ill-fated country-pop duo the Madden Brothers. “They said pop-punk is dead, and we said nay!” declares Joel, as he belts out old hits like The Motivation Proclamation and The Young & The Hopeless. New tracks Life Changes and Makeshift Love blend in perfectly, proving Good Charlotte really have picked up where they left off, and still know how to do it.
Biffy Clyro end things on a high
From the moment they open with Wolves Of Winter, Biffy Clyro own the stage. This is a band that are most at home commanding a stage with a live sound that’s gut-punchingly full, and Simon Neil’s impromptu jams between songs – at one point he casually picks out the riff to Sweet Child O’ Mine – add an intimate quality to a massive show. They cherry pick from their last four albums for the expansive setlist, and even throw in the time-signature-bending 57 from Blackened Sky. The last three songs are nothing short of spectacular: Animal Style’s snarled frustration gives way into the swelling sonic embrace of Many Of Horror, where every chord has the ability to warm hearts and flip stomachs. Fireworks burst out through Stingin’ Belle, and the air thickens with thousands of voices. That’s how you finish a festival on a high. We’re counting down the days to their winter UK shows.