From The Bronx’s feel-good mariachi to Panic At The Disco’s homage to Queen, here’s the lowdown from the first day of Reading…
MARIACHI IS A GREAT WAY TO START THE DAY Watching Mariachi El Bronx with their matching charro outfits and sunny disposition, it’s hard to believe they moonlight as punks The Bronx – or is it the other way round? Giving them the responsibility of kicking off Reading’s main stage is a bold move, but these guys don’t deal in the kind of tongue-in-cheek mariachi designed to irritate. Cast your mind for a moment to The Heartbreak Kid and the mariachi band who keep bothering Ben Stiller at inopportune moments during the film. If that band was Mariachi El Bronx, you’d be asking them to stick around for much longer. For anyone who prefers their punk incarnation, they played a storming second set as The Bronx later in the day. Troupers, the lot of ‘em.
**ANDREW O’NEILL REALLY HATES LIMP BIZKIT **Stand-up comic Andrew O’Neill was on hand to give a swift history of metal on the Alternative Stage in an act that’s part Bill Bailey and part metal covers band. Before revealing his innermost feelings on Fred Durst, he races through the origins of heavy metal at lightning speed. For anyone who missed it, it goes something like this: Ozzy Osbourne invented metal, Metallica aren’t a great band to have sex to and Slayer are great because… well, they’re Slayer. A mention of Coal Chamber and Deftones leads Andrew on to talk about nu-metal: ‘What could go wrong?’ he asks the audience. The answer? ‘Limp Bizkit, that’s what – they can fuck right off!’ Don’t bottle up your feelings, Andrew.
DON BROCO’S ROB DAMIANI LOVES THRUSTING No, that isn’t a euphemism – it’s just the move the Don Broco frontman loves to pull on stage as he makes his way through a set full of stadium-ready choruses like those in Automatic, What You Do To Me and Fire. The retro vibe is strong with the neon groove-rockers – pink lights fill the stage and the Club Tropicana-inspired cover of their new album, Automatic, hangs behind them. Suggestive moves aren’t the only dances in their repertoire either; bassist Tom Doyle skanks like he’s at a ska show at one point, while guitarist Simon Delaney can’t stay still for a minute. The band also reveals a little snippet of trivia about themselves – they were actually formed at Reading Festival on the boys’ first visit, post-GCSEs. And now they’re rocking the NME stage, with Rob giving Brendon Urie a run for his money in the falsetto stakes. Good work, lads.
Photos: Sandra Sorensen
**PANIC! AT THE DISCO ARE BETTER THAN KANYE WEST… **Well, as far as covers of Bohemian Rhapsody go, anyway. But before they launched into that bombastic, unexpected gem, Brendon Urie and co strode onto the stage looking for all the world like they’d just absconded from a wedding party. Bassist Dallon Weekes and touring members Kenneth Harris and Dan Pawlovich all sport black suits, while Brendon – the best man, obviously – sparkles in a sequinned blazer. A decade ago, they commanded excitable legions of teenage fans, and today, they still do. ‘We’re going to play a song we just wrote backstage,’ Brendon announces, before launching into the opening bars of Bohemian Rhapsody. And it’s a glorious, note-for-note reproduction of the Queen classic that has the whole crowd singing along. ‘Well, it’s better than Kanye West’s attempt at Glastonbury,’ remarks one audience member. Indeed.
**NECK DEEP’S BEN BARLOW LOOKS LIKE MANY PEOPLE **Not since Busted told us what they go to school for have we seen such impressive synchronised jumping – Neck Deep pogo in perfect time with each other as they make their way through a melodic, if slightly nasal set. That isn’t the only similarity Ben Barlow, Matt West, Fil Thorpe-Evans, Dani Washington and Blood Youth’s Sam Bowden (who’s standing in for Lloyd Roberts, who left the band to deal with recent online allegations) have with the early noughties pop-rockers – they’re also a big draw for Reading’s glitter-faced teenage contingent who, to be honest, are probably the only demographic of the festival they’re appealing to. It’s a good job most of the audience are too young to remember The Backstreet Boys in the heyday, too, because Ben’s floppy blonde ‘do is more than reminiscent of Aaron Carter’s famous curtains. Or, as one kinder crowd member says, he looks a bit like Kurt Cobain. Carter or Cobain? You decide.
ALL TIME LOW’S JOKES ARE WEARING THIN It was all going so well – a pit even broke out during Kids In The Dark, which is anything but mosh fodder, but lead guitarist Jack Barakat seemed intent on lowering the tone. His first declaration to be labelled ‘creepy’ by one crowd member is his promise to ‘find every one of you in Fuck Village tonight’ – his nickname for the nearby campsite. Alex Gaskarth invites a bunch of fans from the front row onto the stage during Time Bomb, and they’re obviously enjoying the opportunity to share a microphone with the pop-punk frontman, but Jack’s repeated anecdotes about having an erection after they leave the stage fall flat. It’s clearly toilet humour for toilet humour’s sake, but given the scrutiny pop-punk culture finds itself under at the moment, it feels a little below the belt. Beneath the laddish banter there’s a solid, sing-along show, but today, the knob gags aren’t amusing anyone.
Photos: Will Ireland