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Buy Or Sell: Reading 2012 THE AFTERMATH

1) Reading felt like a new festival in 2012 with a fresh look and fan friendly free beer offer?

Lewis Lowe: SELL

Although I agree that the atmosphere seemed a whole load better this year, I can’t help but think it was a culmination of little things combining and not big changes that will improve the festival long term. The free beer offer which showed so much promise before the festival became a bit of a disappointment in reality, with fans left annoyed that despite a hike in prices of just about everything the free ‘pint’ actually turned into a can of Skol provided for each day. With cans of Skol being sold in supermarkets for 50p a can it’s hard not to consider it a slap in the face rather than the olive branch of which it was intended.

David Hayter: BUY

I completely take Lewis’ point about the Beer offer. I arrived on Friday and dived straight into the festival, and as such, ended up downing a quick can, and handing the rest to some campers who were staying put.

Now for the Festival as a whole, it might only be symbolic, but I think the new coat of paint, and the new, less 90s more 21st Century logo, helped the Festival feel fresh. It felt like I was at a new Reading. Pop friendly, yes, more genre divisive, perhaps, more mainstream in feel, definitely, but a distinct festival with a character of its own: a happy youthful character closer to, but yet still distant from, V and Glasonbury.

Now as I’m sure many of you will point out, the bands are largely the same, as is the layout, but the festival has been changing slowly as pop culture has changed. 2012 didn’t feel like a clash between old Reading and new Reading. It felt like an festival looking forward, with a simply message to older fans: we want you come with us, but we’re not going back to the old yellow and black alternative fest – so please get on board or call it day?

Kyle Prangnell: SELL(ish)

This is a difficult one. Although the inclusion of the free beer was accepted with open arms, it still felt as though the bare minimum had been done after realising that the offer had been committed to, with rubbish beer, and a reduction from burgers to bacon butties. However, the whole thing went down brilliantly (and the beer far too quickly). It was organised perfectly, but was a slight disappointment compared to what was implied beforehand. However, if this is brought back, and perhaps improved upon, it could be a fantastic bonus over other festivals.

 2) The Cure were a flop?

Lewis Lowe: BUY 

Headline acts festivals will rarely appeal to everyone it was hard to defend the reaction to The Cure’s set in 2012. The crowd was one of the smallest I had ever seen, and after nipping off to catch The Subways part way through, I was able to return to near to the front without the need to push through the crowds.

Although a partial fan myself I found the set lacklustre after I had held such high hopes before hand and around the festival site there was a definite divide in opinion. Cure fans enjoyed the show and loved seeing them whereas people who are less dedicated to the band, such as myself, felt they lacked the cutting edge and showmanship we’ve grown to expect from headline acts. It’s a real shame in a sense as the poor turnout and lukewarm reaction are likely to discourage Festival Republic from booking alternative headliners in the future, instead staying with the safe options who receive plentiful radio play.

David Hayter: SELL(ish)

Okay before the festival, when asked if The Cure would succeed I said:

“Now the thing that gives me pause for thought is The Cure’s style. If they start pulling out the 8-minute tracks full of slow subtle texture will they take the crowd on a celestial journey or leave them chilly and disinterested?”

The Cure did exactly what I thought they might, and Reading responded in kind. This is not a knock on either group. The Cure’s playing was sublime, truly heartbreaking in places, but it wasn’t accessible and it did ask a lot of a crowd they must have known would be unfamiliar.

Equally, the Reading fans gave The Cure a chance, were perfectly respectful, and eventually chose to drift off and watch one of the night’s other headliners. Sleigh Bells were a real adrenaline rush (a great contrast), while The Maccabees and Social Distortion were worthy alternatives.

The Cure did flop in terms of numbers and response (not performance), but unlike Razorlight, this wasn’t a bad booking. People had a good time, seeing the bands they’d rather have seen, just like Arcade Fire in 2010.

Kyle Prangnell: SELL

Sell, sell, and sell again. Was I blinded by my great love of The Cure? Or the crate of beer I’d drunk beforehand? I’m not sure, but The Cure stole the show for me. Sure, they’re not to everyone’s tastes, but some people are just wrong. It seems I got quite lucky with the people around me, as talking to them they were just as big fans as myself, and so enjoyed the lesser known songs. But if The Cure are reading this, you should have played “Killing An Arab”.

3) Green Day stole the show at Reading 2012?

Lewis Lowe: SELL

Whilst I still agree that Green Day playing Reading was a massive coup I don’t think they stole the show. A huge amount of people didn’t get the chance to see them due to the NME being filled to capacity and my reaction to not seeing them was ‘meh’. I think a lot of other people had similar feelings, well if my camp was anything to go by. It was an interesting showing though, were Festival Republic testing the water for a possible headline set for the band in 2013? 

David Hayter: BUY

Lews is definitely right in a literal sense, for the vast majority they didn’t steal the show because, quite simply, most people didn’t see them. However, Green Day still stole the show.

On Friday, from people who recognized me to friendly fans making conversation, everyone was talking about the set: was it real, when would it happen, would we all be able to get in.

By Saturday and Sunday they were the story of the festival. On the BBC, on NME, pretty much everywhere you went. Even if you were just complaining about not seeing them, you were talking about Green Day. They created a tangible buzz, no one else did. Oh and of course, inside the tent itself, it was mindblowing.

Kyle Prangnell: BUY(ish) 

I don’t have any interest in Green Day really, but I’ll try and be objective. I got a phone call from a friend at 11 saying they were on, but decided to stay at my tent and have a few beers instead. I think for a lot of people, they probably were the best band of the weekend, but then for many people like me, they barely even registered. I heard it was absolutely packed, so for that reason, it was obviously a bit of a show-stealer, and a lot of the post-festival news has been about them. So I guess it’s a buy. Sort of.

We’ve reached the half way point, it’s time to change places.

4) Reading 2012 was better than you thought it would be?

David Hayter: BUY 

I undoubtedly thought this weekend would be a success, there were too many crowd pleaser for it not to be. However, for me personally I was less excited. I had seen the vast majority of the bands live multiple times, and I knew due to work commitments I’d miss out on many of the exciting new bands I’d hoped to catch.

Worse still, despite having a lovely time in 2011, I remember several bad times at Reading where I felt too old and the site seemed too abusive. Thankfully, 2012 was even better than 2011. The crowd was nice, young, happy, inoffensive, but totally up for it. The music was equally good, I can count the bad performances I saw on one finger (Angels And Airwaves). And if that’s the case, what is there to complain about?

Kyle Prangnell: BUY

When the lineup was first announced, it certainly failed to blow me away, and there’s a possibility I wouldn’t have bought my ticket if it wasn’t for The Cure. But this was definitely the most fun I’ve had in the three years I’ve been going. It wasn’t even for the bands (apart from a select few), but the whole weekend was just amazing. So I guess it’s not due to the organisers, but still definitely a buy.

Lewis Lowe: BUY 

I went to the festival not expecting much and was completely shocked by how much I enjoyed myself at this year’s festival. In fact, I think it was the best Reading Weekend I have ever had. Things just fell in place on a personal side of things, with great mates to enjoy the brilliant bands and half decent weather with. The atmosphere was also top notch with most of the crowds I watched bands in being made up of a large amount of actual fans, enjoying the music and making the whole weekend enjoyable. 

5) The Foo Fighters just aren’t exciting anymore?

David Hayter: BUY

I still feel the Foos are a great live experience for newcomers and great professionals, but I can’t lie, over the last five years the band has changed. They used to be hungry, aggressive, and often quite funny. Today, they’re indulgent, self important, and a little lazy. They’re still good fun, and know how to engage a crowd, but a certain something has left them.

They’re like that great striker who loses a yard of pace, but still knows how to finish a one-on-one. Just listen to “Monkey Wrench” and compare it to the versions of yesteryear, it feels so much flatter today. Everyone has a routine, but the Foos owe it to their fans to rediscover their angst and aggression, even if they just fake it, it’s an important part of the show and the band’s music.

Kyle Prangnell: SELL

If you’d asked me this question before the most recent album, and before I’d seen them live, I would have bought this, but this summer has really changed my opinion of them. I was expecting a good show, from a good band, and nothing else. But they absolutely nailed it. It was probably because I wasn’t expecting much, but I couldn’t say they are no longer exciting. Plus, I think a crowd of more or less 100,000 people says a lot.

Lewis Lowe: BUY

I have never found the Foo Fighters exciting. They have always been a middle of the road rock band at best, with a back catalogue that screams ‘average’. Despite this I thought I would give them a chance as they have always been known as a good live act. Oh god, I wish I hadn’t. The whole set just morphs into one song, with over emphasized pauses to ‘build up’ the crowds excitement. I would have been more excited if the first pause was permanent and they never continued. Add to this the most cringe worthy stage banter I have ever encountered and it all but concluded my view that the Foo Fighters are utter cack. Thank god I was able to head to Justice who completely saved my Sunday evening, phew.  

6) The crowd at Reading were an improvement on year’s past – you enjoyed being on site?

David Hayter: BUY

I thought Reading drew a fantastic crowd this year. I don’t think it was a hardcore music crowd full of super fans, but it was a really game audience. People tried really hard to enjoy what they were watching, people danced to bands they didn’t know, moshed to new riffs, and played along when band’s asked for audience assistance.

I could visibly see that people didn’t know all but one Crystal Castles, Green Day or Passion Pit song, but rather than bringing everyone around them down, they had a go, and had a good time.

The worst thing (outside of violence, racism, homophobia, sexism, etc.) at festivals, in my opinion, is people who visible make it known their not having a good time, and ironically dance or act in yobbish manner to attract attention to themselves. I saw very little of this at Reading 2012, people might not have been dancing because they loved the music, but they were doing it because they wanted to have good time – and I think everyone did.

Kyle Prangnell: BUY

Although the forums seem to be filled with a lot of complaints, I think it’s actually been worse in the past. The main complaints about the clothes other people were wearing, but that’s being ridiculously judgemental. Saying that, I did get a little worried when a group of about 20 16-18 year olds all pitched up next to our camp, but we didn’t actually have a problem with them all weekend. Sure, there were a lot of rowdy GCSE students, but overall, I had a much better experience than previously.

Lewis Lowe: BUY

On Thursday night I was horrified by the people attending the festival this year. The drunk 16 year olds were something I definitely did not miss having taken a break from the festival in 2011 and I genuinely started to question why I had decided to come. I am an old man now, more suited to festivals like Glastonbury than the ketamine fuelled neon crèche that is Reading. By the time I had got to the arena on Friday however my view changed, there was a real buzz around site and the kids I had encountered on the previous evening must have being lying in a pool of tears inside their tent after experiencing their first come down. People genuinely seemed to be there for the bands this year, with early acts such as Cancer Bats drawing decent sized crowds who were loving every minute. This was a running theme across the whole weekend with all the bands I watched receiving a huge amount of support with the only possible exception being The Cure.

 

Bonus Question: The Best Thing About Reading was A) The Big Bands B) The Small Bands C) The Atmosphere (and why)

David Hayter: Small Bands 

I was incredibly tempted to say the atmosphere, because it was great, but that was more of a pleasant surprise. For me it was the small bands. I didn’t see as many as I would have ideally liked, but when I did get the chance I loved it.

Seeing Grimes rocking the dance tent was pretty magically, for all those who knock Reading’s progression, I can guarantee you 7 years ago the Dance Arena would have never been full for an art house act like that. Savages were my band of the weekend, 5 stars, incredible. I loved the two tracks I’d heard coming into the festival, and they blew me away. Tickets booked for Islington in November.

Kyle Prangnell: Atmosphere

Strangely, as it’s not a festival known for the atmosphere, I’ll actually choose that. Sure the best moment of the festival for me was seeing The Cure, and bands like Django Django and Trash Talk were absolutely brilliant. But the whole weekend for me was made by the atmosphere at my campsite. There was only a small number of us, but sitting out in the sun with a beer in hand, having a laugh with my mates before and after going to the arena was brilliant. I guess that’s not the kind of atmosphere the question is asking about, but for me that was what made this year so memorable (and The Cure).

Lewis Lowe: Small Bands

The best thing for me this year were the small bands. They received so much support throughout the whole weekend by true music fans, and made it worthwhile attending. They even showed the big bands up on many occasions, with acts that have been in the business for years being taught how to do it by acts that have been around 2 minutes. It just goes to show how a well thought out under card can be as important as the headline acts booked.

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Author: david

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