It’s a sodden start to Sunday at this year’s Reading - driving rain greets the start of the festival’s final day - but it’s something that works to Let’s Eat Grandma’s advantage. Jenny and Rosa are welcomed by a more-than-sizeable crowd, half sheltering from the rain, half here to hear tracks of brilliant futuristic pop from this year’s ‘I’m All Ears’. They’re then given five of them in a concise, hit-packed set, all backed by the excellent, intricate drumming of Savages’ Fay Milton. ‘It’s Not Just Me’ remains one of the year’s most addictive synth-pop hits, while closer ‘Donnie Darko’ is a drawn out rollercoaster, dipping into every corner of the pair’s weird and wonderful world.
Lady Bird are another early beneficiary of the rain, the Kent trio’s first set of the day kicking off The Pit in style. As ever, they mix heartfelt lyrics (latest single ‘Boot Fillers’ dedicated to step-parents everywhere, for example) with rambunctious punk spirit, their closing thrashout as euphoric as anything the stage will see all day.
Next, fellow threesome Demob Happy are another thanking Mother Nature, their rifftastic, jam-heavy set at the Festival Republic stage drawing in Reading’s early birds from the off.
The BBC Introducing Stage is no stranger to the secret set - for years now, the tiny space has hosted a handful of acts from higher up the main stages for relatively intimate short shows. And, of course, the festival itself likes the late announcements; Friday’s performance from Bring Me The Horizon on the Radio 1 Stage a perfect example of it. Peace’s spot today though, at probably the height of the downpour, still holds something special. And it’s not just the fact it isn’t a repeat of anything in Leeds. They open with a cover of Avril Lavigne’s classic ‘Complicated’. Both deadpan and faithful, it does a lot to perk up the hardy souls giving the barrier as good as it can take - even if the band’s view is a sea of bobbing coloured plastic-covered heads. Their set does more to ponder the question - why they weren’t anywhere else on the bill to start with?!
Shame’s main stage set is also affected by the weather, but if anything, the small turnout just makes Charlie Steen and co more fired up; from the moment ‘Dust On Trial’ storms into life, they’re determined to win the crowd round. A small turnout it might be, but they’re fiercely dedicated, with mud splashing in every possible direction during a pit for the furious ‘Lampoon’. Backed by two huge inflatable mascots at the back - the band’s latest recruits - today’s set is an example of a band that are defiant, but also willing to laugh in the face of something that could, on the face of it, be disheartening. They fare all the better for it.
The rain clears up just about in time for the Vaccines to perform a set of a set of storming guitar hits over on the main stage. Over the course of 45-minutes the band barrel through a show spanning all four of their studio albums in front of a glittering golden sign spelling out their band name. Sounding rawer and more energetic than they do on record, the crowd are treated to raucous, sped-up versions of ‘Wrecking Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’ and ‘Teenage Icon’ early set and from there on out, the energy barely lets up.
“How are we feeling, Reading? Let’s make this one to remember…” drawls frontman Justin Young, before launching into an acapella opening of ‘Wetsuit’, with the crowd performing their own hearty singalong. With their newer material fitting in as seamlessly as the crowd favourites that established them as a band almost a decade ago, by the time they end on the resounding high of recent single ‘I Can’t Quit’, there’s moshpits and singalongs galore. A much needed energetic boost to a rainy day.
It’s up to Slaves to close out the weekend on the Radio 1 stage, and if there’s any doubt as to their intentions for the weekend, walking out on stage to ‘We Like To Party’ by The Vengaboys makes it pretty damn clear. New single ‘Chokehold’ is a highlight of their riotous fifty-minute, bringing softer Britpop textures into the chunky, chaotic punk that’s their bread and butter.
The duo’s cover of Skepta’s ‘Shutdown’ is brought out once more - the rapper was supposed to play this very slot but pulled out of the festival earlier in the performance - and by the time they close on ‘The Hunter’, every remaining ounce of energy is left in the field, and Reading 2018 comes to a cacophonous close.
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