What we learned during the first day of Reading 2016

Frank Carter performing offstage at Reading 2016
Frank Carter (Image credit: Sandra Sorensen)

Frank Carter’s floral suit is punk as fuck

“I’m in trouble, I’m breaking down!” snarls Rattlesnakes man Frank Carter, but he looks like a man who’s got things pretty sussed. His post-Pure Love punk band have added some serious thundering grooves to their already full and bluesy sound, and they’re more than capable of taking on the main stage. “This song’s about doing whatever the fuck you like – I’m here in my floral suit!” says Frank, before launching himself, chintzy trousers and all, into the crowd. A giant circle pit becomes a mass conga line and Frank admits that running in a large circle tired him out, but he still looks dapper, if slightly like a willow pattern plate.

Frank Carter (Rattlesnakes out of shot)

Frank Carter (Rattlesnakes out of shot) (Image credit: Sandra Sorensen)

Creeper need to change things up

Let’s get one thing straight – Creeper’s sound itself hasn’t lost its appeal. It’s still the bouncy, throwback punk it always was, and their live show is as energetic as ever. But their setlist has remained largely unchanged throughout the past year, and there comes a time when the audience being able to scream every word back at them starts to feel routine. To really be the successors to AFI or My Chemical Romance that they’re tipped to be – and are capable of – it might be time to change things up a bit, or at least get that debut album out there.

Creeper's Will Gould

Creeper's Will Gould (Image credit: Sandra Sorensen)

Dinosaur Pile-Up deserve more attention

This Yorkshire trio were once held up as a beacon of the kind of buzz bands Leeds was capable of producing, and it seems their hardcore fan base still thinks so. The crowd in the Pit stage isn’t huge, but their unapologetically melodic, lo-fi sound actually fits quite nicely with the tranche of underground Brit punk currently attracting attention. They might have been at it for almost 10 years, but their sound is as fresh as ever, with closing song 11:11 showing off their darker, more bluesy side.

Dinosaur Pile-Up

Dinosaur Pile-Up (Image credit: Sandra Sorensen)

Nothing More are like three bands in one

Frontman Jonny Hawkins, bassist Daniel Oliver and guitarist Mark Vollelunga treat us to a lightning-fingered one-man-band display as they rig up drums and bass on a makeshift frame that looks bum-clenchingly in danger of toppling over. Johnny openly admits the Mars Volta are a big inspiration, but his other influences – particularly Tool – shine through in songs like the anguished Jenny. Nothing More aren’t afraid to wear their influences on their sleeve, but their woozy genre-exploring means they’re never predictable.

Nothing More

Nothing More (Image credit: Sandra Sorensen)

Hacktivist get better every time

Straight after grime’s beating heart Boy Better Know blew the roof off the main stage, Hacktivist brought their own brand of crossover grime-meets-nu metal to the Pit. For a band with just one album to their name, they’ve got an impressive ability to keep fans excited. At every one of their shows, the crowd moves as one sweaty, amorphous mass to their every command of ‘jump’, and they sound a little tighter, more confident and abrasive every time. Songs like Taken and Hate wouldn’t sound out of place in a club, and it’s this crossover appeal that makes them compelling. So then lads, album two?


Hacktivist (Image credit: Sandra Sorensen)

Crossfaith are still having a non-stop party

Frontman Kenta Koie declares Crossfaith – who’ve become best known for their madcap stage antics, clambering onto their amps and swigging straight Jäger – the heaviest band at Reading and he might be a contender as they unleash their customary explosive live show. They’re the second band to have sampled The Prodigy that day (Die Antwoord cracked the intro to No Good out earlier on) but it’s all getting a bit by-numbers; there’s few surprises in a Crossfaith set. Except for their occasional guests, that is: Benji Webbe is on hand to save the day with an explosive rendition of Wildfire. Crossfaith deserve full marks for enthusiasm every time, but it’s time for something fresh.


Crossfaith (Image credit: Sandra Sorensen)

Everyone loves Twenty One Pilots

Twenty One Pilots certainly have the fan base and are even Linkin Park approved – Chester Bennington recently told TeamRock that their meteoric success reminds him of LP’s global breakthrough – but busting out a ukulele, a floral veil and a fire extinguisher does not necessarily a stage show make. While their appeal might have been lost on this reviewer, they’re obviously getting through to a huge fanbase who relate to lyrics like “Stay in your lane” that sound like they were inspired by a Twitter spat. Their audience is undoubtedly one of the biggest of the day, so they must be doing something right.

Twenty One Pilots

Twenty One Pilots (Image credit: Sandra Sorensen)

It’s so good to have Thrice back

A disappointingly small crowd has turned out to see Thrice rip through some impassioned tracks from their new album, To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere. Dustin Kensrue looks in his element as he gets in touch with his grungy, gravelly side of tracks like the woozy Black Honey, and fans of the new album needn’t wait too long for more where that came from. The band revealed in a recent interview that the “creative energy” after finishing their comeback album was so strong, he felt the urge to start writing another record immediately. Thrice, we’d be very happy if you stuck around.


Thrice (Image credit: Sandra Sorensen)

Asking Alexandria can hold their own as a four-piece

Neither Ben Bruce nor the others in the Asking Alexandria ranks have made any secret of the fact that touring without Ben – who’s at home, imminently about to become a dad – is weird. But it’s not like AA to do things by halves, and even without their lead guitarist, they deliver a ferocious set as a four-piece – their line-up was bolstered at the end by With One Last Breath’s Sam Graves – that sees the biggest crowd the Pit’s seen all day. Yes, there are places that their sound doesn’t have the top-end fullness Ben adds, but the textured electronic undertones of songs like Let It Sleep and I Won’t Give In more than make up for that. If The Black was the start of a new era for AA, they’re powering through it even without an integral member.

Asking Alexandria

Asking Alexandria (Image credit: Sandra Sorensen)

In Pictures: Reading Festival 2016 – Day 1