What's Reading Festival's market these days? The defining 'rock day' has gone, the genre demographic has undergone a massive change, and Chase & Status are second headlining the main stage.

It's a tough one, and no-one is really sure where the festival is heading. It's lucky, then, that it seems that whatever genre-related bends in the road the festival is experiencing, the throngs will still be the most devoted music fans in the world. Every single band of the weekend has die hards at the front, experiencing those special 'moments' in a teenage haze, leaving exam results behind. If your favourite band are playing the midday slot, someone will always be there next to you, shouting along from the bottom of their lungs as much as you are. This devotion is exclusively reserved for Reading, and it's infectious.


There's certainly more than just one other guy next to us for Lock Up Stage openers Gnarwolves on the Friday morning. It's before midday, yet people struggle to even get in the tent to see the Brighton punks smash through almost their entire discography in 25 minutes. The grins on each of their three faces indicate that, like countless bands on the bill, they've dreamt of this.

FIDLAR then bring beer drinking, crowd surfing and more fun than should be allowed at 3pm to the NME stage, before it's Frightened Rabbit's turn. The band have had the misfortune of playing right before Bastille at Reading, Leeds and Glastonbury this year, with the band's impressive yet brief set drowned out by throngs of teenagers who couldn't care less about who was playing before Dan and co, making it a pretty unpleasant experience for any Frightened Rabbit fans in the tent. The Scots don't quite possess that one song that can capture and turn a crowd that is evidently not their demographic.

Brooklyn's MS MR serve to continue the Festival Republic's reputation for housing bands that will inevitably be far above its tiny surroundings very soon. The same could even be said currently for CHVRCHES, who feel too big for such a stage even pre-debut album.


After Drenge continue their unbelievable summer touring schedule with an early Saturday highlight in their mid-afternoon Festival Republic stage slot, Twin Atlantic's main stage debut is frankly destroyed by the abysmal sound quality. It should've been a celebration for the Scots - who themselves were on the FR stage only two years ago, and played the NME tent last year - but the final ascent is marred due to the fact that only those at the very front can actually hear anything.

By the time Foals play the same stage later in the day, someone clearly has been given a stern word in the ear, as their set is as loud as anything, culminating in a monstrous 10-minute rendition of 'Two Steps Twice'. They'll headline this festival soon.

Tame Impala could potentially have hit the main stage this year, but their impressive live visuals on the massive screens do work to their advantage more when playing the NME tent to a surprisingly small audience.

Eminem introducing an 8-piece band and 'hype man' MC Porter to his live show makes his live show a formidable prospect, yet little niggles with microphone sound and..oh yeah, almost all his biggest hits being crammed into a 5-minute medley, stop it from being the memorable headline set it maybe could've been.


Sunday at Reading brought the debut of the new Rock Stage - a place for bands not quite ready to play the opening slots on the main stage (that upcoming British bands have ruled all weekend), not indie-orientated enough to be placed in the NME tent, and without that punky ethic that the Lock Up stage requires. It proves a great chance for the likes of Hawk Eyes, And So I Watch You From Afar, and Arcane Roots to bring their sounds to such a huge festival, when bands of their ilk and size have been kept away from Reading until this year.

The addition of new stages has predictably served to the detriment of the crowd sizes, though, with Wavves' 1pm set on the NME stage watched by far too few. Adding 20 more bands each day, and only a minute increase in capacity, means that crowds for almost every band are much more sparse than in previous years.

This much is true for Editors' main stage slot, yet by the time the crowd has registered a universal acknowledgement of "oh yeah, I remember Editors, they're back?", the old songs are greeted with a beautiful reconnection, and new tracks with careful anticipation.

An NME tent and a half then saw Disclosure roll out the special guest appearances, with Ed MacFarlane of Friendly Fires joining the brothers on stage for his first (apart from at Leeds..) live rendition of 'Defeated No More' in a set where Aluna Francis and Sam Smith also made appearances in their respective songs from Settle.

Fall Out Boy's main stage return is huge, but like with all its acts this year, the band's set is barely audible to anyone vaguely far from the stage.

In fact, it's only Sunday headliners Biffy Clyro that manage to play a set with a decent accompanying sound. The show is packed with flares, bangs, fireworks, flames and band members brandishing strobe lights, but this doesn't serve just to tarnish over a lack of substance - some of the set's highlights are the back to basics, fleeting nod to their debut album with '57', with the band remembering when they played it at the first of their eight Reading shows, and a fragile acoustic pair of 'Questions & Answers' and 'Machines'. 'Mountains' sends the thousands home happy, and the question of whether Biffy Clyro are ready to headline major festivals is answered comprehensively.

It seems that when faced with an identity crisis of sorts, not knowing what the festival serves to be anymore, Reading has settled on trying its best to provide absolutely everything. Let's call this a trial year. With a little bit of tweaking, Reading will claw back that fierce reputation it always prided itself on. Oh, and sort that bloody sound out.