Reading Festival is historically something of a rite of passage for British teenagers. The festival emerged from the National Jazz Festival way back in the '60s, a creation conceived by Harold Pendleton (who founded iconic club The Marquee in Soho). Yet by the '70s it was one of the first festivals to take punk rock and new wave under its wing, soon racking up a reputation for being the festival home of heavy metal and hard rock acts, as well as being one of the first festivals to welcome rap to its headline slots.

Throughout the years it has been the site of teenage rebellion and controversy, staging notably iconic and often infamous performances - think Nirvana '92, The Stone Roses '96 or Arctic Monkeys on the Carling Stage in 2005. Anarchy, rebellion, and sweaty rock performances have always gone hand-in-hand with Reading, but upon entering the site on Friday, one question hangs in the air - what is Reading Festival today?


Looking around you, the array of vest tops and flexed muscles, bandanas and neon face paint is staggering. As Alt-J take to the main stage, the post-GCSE/A Level crowd are more interested in getting completely off their face than stand around and listen to any of the music. It doesn't even feel like they'd be interested in burning your tent down or throwing eggs at you or anything. It just feels strange.

With a Friday night line-up that features everything from Bastille to A$AP Ferg and even Limp Bizkit, it feels as though Reading has lost its core identity, has it gone soft? When it comes to headline sets, there is the choice of a predictably Mumford-and-Sons-style Mumford and Sons performance on the main stage, a masterclass debut Reading show from newcomer Georgia on the Introducing Stage finished off with a nostalgia-inducing set from New Found Glory.



And then it hits me. It appears that Reading has taken on a new face of rebellion, and what has happened is that the actual reason anyone goes to Reading at all in fact hasn't changed, it's just that the teenagers have taken on a different guise. At the end of the first day, no one really cares about the line-up, they really are there just to get away from their parents for the first time and lose their minds, as they have done for years. The difference is that these days Reading isn't just for the indies and the goths any more - it's a festival for every single teenager out there.

Saturday begins with this thought in mind, but something even more surprising happens. The whole essence of the crowd seems different and there is a different feeling in the air. The main stage opens with one of the most talked about bands of the weekend - Babymetal. Part-J-Pop, part-metal, part-choreographed-dancing, and overwhelmingly confusing, the three young Japanese girls can't help but leave you open-mouthed with surprise. It's confusing, unsettling, but oddly brilliant as the girls sing sweetly over hardcore metal and shredding guitars. Mental. But it goes down a storm, and feels bizarrely refreshing after the weird tension in the air from the night before.




Everything seems to have stepped up a gear, and there's a new feistiness. Twin Peaks perform a ferocious and entertaining set full of head-turning energy and FIDLAR take to the stage with frontman Zac Carper wearing a hilarious t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase "WAKE UP, JERK OFF, CRY" and playing tracks from their new album Too, as well as drawing tracks off 2013's self-titled debut.

Later on, Wolf Alice perform to a completely packed out NME/Radio One tent, bringing all the biggest tracks from their debut album to an adoring crowd who sing back every word at Ellie Roswell as she takes to the stage with a cooler-than-thou stance and a Spice Girls t-shirt. Saturday evening also plays host to an incredibly impressive BBC Introducing performance from fuzzy-guitar upstarts Demob Happy. Long hair and head banging are a must as the four-piece blast through a full throttle set of wild powerful rock.




Saturday night boasts a line-up that seems a lot more suited to Reading, with quite frankly killer rock sets from the likes of Bring Me The Horizon - who bring mosh pits, plenty of pyrotechnics and fists raised to the air - and of course the metal behemoths that are Metallica who present their slick, no-nonsense set to the Main Stage like it is the most natural thing in the world. The contrast between Friday and Saturday night could not be more apparent. At last, it appears the beating core of Reading is back, and it's kind of exhilarating.

The final day features the standard Sunday festival crowd that is clutching on to its last gasps of energy after at least two nights, and in some cases three or four nights, of constant partying. '80s pop-inspired songstress Shura takes to the NME/Radio 1 tent to an audience that is suffering slightly from the night before, yet it takes nearly no time at all for her infectious tunes, including 'Touch' and '2 Shy', to get the crowd back on their feet and ready to face the day.



With a new injection of energy, things quickly get going again, powered by the likes of Mini Mansions and their slicked-back, super tight anthems on the Festival Republic Stage, as well as The Cribs and their fast-paced, career-spanning set over on the mainstage. However, there is one band that are really set the blow the crowd away, and that's The Maccabees.

Say what you like about them but few bands have the power to revive themselves after a few years of absence to such critical and popular acclaim. Frontman Orlando Weeks is softly spoken, but has a commanding stage presence, showing that it is not always he who shouts loudest who makes the biggest mark. With a set that features old favourites alongside new tracks from latest album Marks To Prove It, it really is a highlight of the whole weekend.



There is one act that has been on the tips of everyone's tongues throughout the weekend, and that is of course the mighty Kendrick Lamar. The boundary-pushing rap superstar took to the stage to a vast crowd before headline act The Libertines, but performed a headline-worthy slot himself, blazing through crowd favourites such as 'i' as well as instant classic 'King Kunta' and 'Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe'.

Reading is a festival that has developed and grown many faces, and at times it feels as though it is suffering something of an identity crisis, working out where it sits in today's world where there are literally music festivals every weekend and the festival industry has basically become over-saturated. However, there is something about the havoc and the fact that it is such a rite of passage for the younger generation that mean it must continue and means that no matter who you are, you will almost definitely have some memory of coming to this site on Richfield Avenue as a 16-18 year old and being away with your mates for the first time and experiencing some great music, and may this weekend of rebellion continue for many years to come.



Whilst running between sets, The 405 chatted to some bands about festival experiences, and the bizarre things that happen when you're on the road.


Twin Peaks

You looked like you were having a lot of fun earlier on onstage. What gets you going before you get up there?

Cadien Lake James : I think the tunes do it. We love playing together and we love what we write, you know. Obviously, that's why we play with each other, and so it's all pretty natural to just have a good time onstage and that's how we've always played for like three and a half/four years now.

We're kind of delving into festival memories. What was the first festival you played?

Cadien: It was last summer, Pitchfork festival.

Connor Brodner : No, no it was two summers ago, another festival in Chicago. Pitchfork was like our first legit festival, but like the first ever one we went to was this one called Peace Fest which is back in Chicago, and it's basically like a big weed fest in a park. It was the last time they ever did it. So our first festival on a proper festival stage was the last Peace Fest. It was small, and a lot of people came out and it was a lot of fun.

And do you have a particular festival memory that you can share with us?

Cadien : Playing Pitchfork was really cool, because it was one of the biggest crowds that we played for, and it was to a home crowd so that was really cool.

Connor : I remember seeing The Strokes at Lollapalooza after they hadn't played for a while, and I remember texting him [Cadien] , because he couldn't come because he was at camp or something, and being like "Dude, you should be here!"

Cadien : Yeah, I got like ten texts, because I was such a big Strokes fan.

Obviously, you're wearing a pretty amazing boiler suit thing right now. Dressing up for festivals - yay or nay?

Cadien : It's really about being comfortable. I mean, I've got an elasticated waistband. It's just comfortable, you know! That's what it's about at festivals.


Demob Happy

Obviously, you're playing later on today, looking forward to it?

Matt Marcantonio: Indeed we are. Can't fucking wait.

And how are you getting revved up for it, besides your cup of tea?

Matt : Just drinking fucking too-hot tea, you know, that's how you do it.

Tom Armstrong : My way of getting revved-up is just trying to get rid of the hangover by 6:30. We did a DJ set last night in Brighton and it was totally planned to not get messed up, but people just bring you drinks the whole time.

Matt : Just going to think about, you don't want to be too laissez-faire with gigs, and when there's an important one you kind of have to recognise the importance of it, because sometimes you get to a point where you think "you know, I've got this". And then you think, yeah, I should probably be nervous right now. I'll probably get nervous later.

Have you been to Reading before?

Tom: Never been to Reading. We grew up in Newcastle, so Leeds was more our vibe.

Matt: Been to Leeds, what, three times? 2006, 2007 and 2009. When we went, it was fucking rad. Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Kings Of Leon...

Tom: Queens Of The Stone Age would play all the time, Deftones smashing it out...

What's your favourite festival story?

Matt: I snuck into Leeds in 2009. Rambo-ed through the forest, over weeds and climbed over the fence. I also left a tent at that festival. You know, those pop-up tents you have when you're like two? They're like all colourful and connect together in tubes. That was the only tent I had. I'm six foot four and I slept in that, I was a metre out the end and I just left it there. That was a time in my life when I didn't value it, now, looking back I wish I still had it.


Elliphant

How's your first Reading going?

It's been so great! We were expecting it to be a lot more complicated than it's been because of the size of the place and we've done English festivals before and it's been crazy. But actually it worked out to be really fun and really nice backstage, cool people and really good show. The audience were actually probably the most intense, crazy audience I have played to. I wasn't expecting at all so early! It looked almost like throwing stones into the flat water, you know, because they were making the circles and most pits. It was like lava that was bubbling! It was beautiful and I was just like watching them, I was so shocked!

What was the first festival you ever went to?

Roskilde, I think when I was 17/18. I was invited to it, me and my friends always talked about festivals, but always wasted our money on other stuff, we weren't ambitious enough to get there. So Roskilde was the first, and for many, many years the only one I went to and I was there for the whole week just going bananas. It's the classic festival - very muddy, very traditional in its crazy way. I would love to go back there and play it!

Have you had anything particularly crazy happen at any of the festivals you've played this summer that you can share with us?

One thing that is very funny is that - and I can't really put a finger on one specific day - it is so fun to sit backstage at these festivals with all these creative people. It's like being thrown into summer camp, but you're like a grown up. All my friends around me are like growing up and getting serious with like apartments and having kids and stuff, and I'm still backstage and catching up with people I've been working with. Me and Azealia Banks had a project, and I never had a chance to see her, until Splendour festival in Australia. I think most of my connections in music have come through festivals - the first time I met MØ was at a festival!


Mini Mansions

What was the first festival you ever went to?

Michael Shuman: The first one I ever went to was Coachella, and I was in High School and it must have been in 2000. I think that was the year it was like Mars Volta, Queens of The Stone Age. It was a big one for me, I was like 16 and Mars Volta played at like noon and I walked in just at that moment.

Tyler Parkford: For me, there was this folk festival on Long Beach and I was like 13. Arlo Guthrie was playing and I got a kazoo signed after the set and my brother, being six years old, had mistaken it for an unsigned kazoo later on and just used it and slobbered all over it. So, literally the Arlo signature came to nothing. Seriously, I was super pissed.

Michael: Did you beat the shit out of him?

Tyler : Nah, I mentally abused him.

Obviously you've played a lot of festivals this summer. Has anything really bizarre happened at of them?

Tyler: Ah, we just keep going and going and...

Michael: The only thing I can really think of right now for some reason is playing Bonnaroo, and because we played early they didn't really want to treat us so nice, they didn't give a shit. So at the end of the night we had some extra pieces of gear and we were trying to find our van, and we couldn't find it, so we drove all the way around and we're walking around for about an hour and a half and no one wanted to help us. Artist? Didn't matter. It's America, they don't care.

Tyler: We finally found a golf cart, and it had to pick up these really rich people who were out in the woods staying in these really nice camping zones, taking them to their car, and just could not find our car.

You've been treated better today though, right?

Michael: Totally. Here they treat you really well.

Is that sarcastic?

Michael: Yeah, it was sarcastic. Don't worry, you'll get my sarcasm soon...

And you're playing later on. How do you get yourself ready before you go onstage? Or is it straight on and get on with it?

Tyler: He does a lot of shadowboxing... You know like fake boxing? And sometimes it freaks me out because sometimes I don't know if he is actually going to punch me.


Glass Animals

What was the first festival you ever went to?

Dave Bayley: This one! I went with Joe when I was 7... [laughs], no maybe when we were like 14? There was a lot of sneaking alcohol in, a lot of snuggling, a lot of doing things that we shouldn't have been doing.

Any particular festival memories you can share with us from this summer?

Joe Seaward: Best festival memory... I mean Sasquatch Festival was pretty special. It was crazy.

Dave: It was crazy. It is beautiful for one, in Washington. And for some reason a lot of people showed up, and I don't know why, and it was really cool. And they were sitting on ice cream trucks and dancing and it was really cool. People were like climbing up the walls, it was a bit messy actually, but it was really, really fun.

Joe: And Australia!

Dave: Yeah, Australia was good, a similar kind of weird... one guy climbed up one of the giant poles in the middle of the tents with a wine bag and was pouring it down on everyone, it was just raining wine. That was awesome.

Is it good to be back in the UK playing festivals though?

Dave: Yeah, this festival has a particular place in our hearts. I met Joe here! We knew each other very vaguely, and I was going with a load of my mates, and he was like "I have a ticket, but no one to go with. Wanna hang out?"


Shura

The last time we spoke, we were in your flat with your cats, so first of all - how are the kittens doing?

They are so much bigger! And the weird thing is Winnie is still smaller compared to Flump - the dude - but Winnie can jump anywhere, and Flump is just really shit at jumping. Which is kind of cute, but Flump just can't do anything.

Did you ever come to Reading and Leeds when you were younger?

No! I grew up in Manchester, so it was difficult. I didn't do festivals, I think the closest thing to a festival I did when I was younger was Gay Pride when The Gossip played. But my first proper festival was Glastonbury. It was either 2008 or 2009? It was when Bruce Springsteen headlined. But it was my first one, and I got so drunk - we went to Shangri La - and I just got so drunk on the first night that I don't really remember any of it. I just remember falling into someone else's tent and I was that dick. Then I went back to my tent and ate a whole bag of wasabi beans.

You've played loads of festivals this summer...

Yeah! Loads of festivals I've wanted to play for ages as well. Like Pukkelpop in Belgium, Lowlands in Holland. We did this cool niche festival in a skate park in Denmark which was really amazing, and we were the only British band there so we were quite high up the bill, and they did this light show, but it was insane. I've never been on an LSD trip, but that's what I imagine that it'd be like.

Have you found a difference between the Reading and Leeds crowds?

I think I noticed more people in the Reading crowd knew the words, but when you're an act from London I think that is only natural, it takes a while for it to filter out to 'North of the wall'. But I grew up in Manchester, so I have a Northern soul, so I would say the site in Leeds is a bit more scenic, but it's a bit more intense here at Reading, which is also fun.


Neon Waltz

What was the first festival you ever went to?

Jordan: T In The Park in 2007, it was actually really good. It was Kings Of Leon - when they were still really good - and The Strokes playing, and MGMT and Interpol.

Did anything happen that made you learn how not to do a festival?

Jordan : No, [laughs]. But what I've found is that it is completely different when you are on the other side, totally different experience. I always thought it would be kind of the same, but it's so different.

What was the first festival you ever played?

Jordan: Oh God, I don't know. I think it was one in Inverness called Belladrum, it's like 100 miles from where we are actually from but it is the closest, decent-sized festival near where we live.

Has anything really bizarre happened at any of the festivals you've played this summer?

Jordan The only thing I can think of, off the top of my head, is when we played this festival that Mumford and Sons had put together in Aviemore, which is near where we are from and they picked the bands that played and you could tell it was put together by a band because the bands were treated really well. Two bottles of whiskey, loads of beer in the dressing room and a free bar as well, so we left at like 7pm and I was sick...


Sundara Karma

We're talking festival memories. When was your first festival?

Oscar Lulu: It was here, it was here! It was 2011. And we're 19 now, so we were 14. For some of us the first year they came was when we first played, and then we came the year after, and snuck in last year...

Are your friends here?

Oscar: Yeah! We're doing Maccabees, Jamie T then catching Kendrick, then we're having an afterparty with them.

Have you got any stories from the festivals you've played this summer?

Oscar: Well... we're still getting used to the whole 'rider' situation. We see all this free alcohol and we just go crazy.

Ally Baty: It's when we get a bottle of vodka...

Oscar: Yeah, we're only used to seeing beers, and then we had this free vodka, and hit it way too hard before we went on stage. And I didn't really judge the crowd that well, and went into the crowd and it was mainly like 14 year old girls... and ended up being dropped because I overestimated how strong they would be and ended up being dragged out by security, but just carried on. It was memorable for me, but you all probably had a laugh.

Dom Cordell: Well you fell down as I was turning around and Haydn was just laughing.

Oscar: Well, you know, you just got to get back on that horse!

What's the most disgusting thing you've done at a festival?

Dom: Well Haydn was sick yesterday...

Haydn Evans: That's not disgusting, that's just the most recent...

Dom: I don't think we can reveal the most disgusting...



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All photos, above and below, by the sbsolutely incredible Hollie Fernando.