Way back when, before hotpants and body glitter were the norm at every summer weekender, Reading was an anarchic rock festival. Somewhere where the weirdos and the misfits congregated to celebrate at the alter of the alternative.
And though the festival’s undoubtedly been a mainstream concern for years now, there are still antagonistic thrills to be found in the belly of its line up.
Today, that title belongs to Bristol punks Idles. One of them’s in his pants. One of them looks a bit like Fucked Up singer Pink Eyes, having a meltdown (albeit with his shirt on). All of them are a brilliantly raw, uncompromising proposition.
During their 30 minute assault of a set, they lambast The Sun, rile up a wall of death and generally act like exactly the kind of thing that Reading Festival needs. In ‘Well Done’, they’ve got a bona fide, confrontational anthem on their hands, while the likes of ‘Stendhal Syndrome’ and ‘Mother’ are spat out with passionate aplomb.
“Thank you very much for sticking around, this has been a dream of mine since I was 16,” says singer Joe Talbot. “I wasn’t expecting that,” he says, gesturing to underpants-wearing comrade Mark Bowen, “but you can’t have everything”. Despite his joking protestations, however, you sense that even Idles themselves know they’ve hit on a recipe that’s pretty special.
Photos: Emma Swann