REVIEW festival Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

The Original Indie Festival Returns, But Does Reading Need To Up Its' Game?

Coming to the end of summer and festival season, there is one festival that holds a glimpse of hope that festivals are still very much alive. Sister to Leeds but also known as “the better one” Reading Festival opened its gates to a diverse yet dedicated crowd.


Scattered with 16 year olds fresh from their GCSE’s and first summer away from home, it was easy to turn your nose up at this boisterous crowd. “Shuffling” and “cutting shapes” I found myself tutting constantly and edging to the more mature crowd- the rock devotees with Metallica printed T-shirts.

The map of Reading Festival is very easy to follow and helpful for beginners which essentially what Reading Festival is - the beginners guide and starting point for virgin festival goers. Surrounding the fairground and 1xtra tent is a swarm of kids, completely opposite is the main stage and entrance to guest area where the older crowd chills. It’s interesting to see this clear diversity and can be somewhat off putting. But enough moaning about the kids, it is all about the music isn’t it?

Known for its Rock line-up and ultimately a Rock and Indie festival, Reading obviously stayed true to that and this year felt like the king of all Indie line-ups. The Libetines, The Maccabees, Alt J... such good bands to shine the light for Indie music (can you tell I like my Indie music?). But Metallica turned up the heaviness and gave us all something to rock out to- ending with “Enter Sandman” it was completely satisfying, leaving me to walk to my tent with a sense of “hell yeah”.

Speaking of main stages though, it was Jamie T who brought the diverse crowd to come together and have a little dance. Performing excellently with an awesomely supportive band, Jamie T is the one that did it for me. With a cheeky smile that’s infectious, his charisma is pushed onto the crowd with everyone just having a good time.

But come on now, it’s not all about the main stage... one of my favourites Gengahr gained an impressive crowd at the Festival Republic stage and their set was just flawless. Running over to the Radio 1 stage, Peace and Catfish & the Bottlemen were undoubtedly going to be fantastic. This stage is known for holding awesome artists that should essentially be on the main stage.

This is one of a few issues that Reading Festival has, they seem to confuse the main stage and Radio 1 artists. Where the Radio 1 tent is absolutely flooded and the poor sod at the back can’t see shit, the main stage is left empty somewhat feeling embarrassed for the artists performing to 20 people. Obviously a good idea to put the not so secret set that Foals did on the Saturday. I hate to say it as Foals weren’t on the original line-up but they were the best band I saw this weekend. Another band that did it for me was Fidlar, contrastingly on the Main stage the LA Punk band gave a superb performance, warming up the crowd for the rest of the day.

So the music definitely hit the spot, Reading Festival has served us up a platter of fantastic music and never fails to do so each year. However, being my third trip to Reading I couldn’t help but wonder that something was missing. Being one of the ultimate music festivals in the UK I realised that was it. Reading Festival is just a music festival; it’s not an experience or holds a unique selling point that its' competitors may have. I often found myself rather bored waiting for the bands to play, surrounded by very little bars this year and the same chicken and burger vans. With independent festivals popping up each year, Reading Festival may have its trademark name but it should maybe step up its' game a little...

Saying all of that, I will probably return next year because the line-up speaks for itself, it may appear a little tedious and rough around the edges but with a legacy and trademark that it is has. You kind of think it is Reading Festival after all...

 To find out more about Reading and Leeds festivals
click here. To visit the Reading & Leeds festival facebook pages
click here. Words & video by Hannah West