Two weeks later and I’m still recovering… what a light weight! But as a first time festival goer… I didn’t expect less. I feel like warm garbage juice now… but it was definitely worth it! Reading Festival 2012 was certainly a highlight of my Summer and I got to share it with my friend, Polly. Just 3 weeks before the festival, I managed to get us some sweet as GUEST tickets. This of course meant that we had a better camp site (with less people) and had access to proper flushing toilets- WITH toilet paper… how posh are we?! The 3 weeks flew by and my crazy organisation obsession meant that Polly didn’t really need much for the weekend. Plasters, berocca, funnel, mouthwash, plastic bags, paracetamol, mirror, wetwipes… you name it, I had it!
Friday, the first day of live music, arrived and so did we. After a day’s work, we met each other at Reading Station and trekked to the festival’s camp site, where finding a weekend ticket on the floor and getting £130 for it, proved to be a sweet way start to our weekend! We walked some more to find the optimum spot for our tent and needed to make a pit stop at the general porta-loos. Goodness gracious… I have never experienced such in my life… I felt dirty already and had been there for 5 minutes. We found a good area to pitch our tent (not too close to the toilets) and did an awesome job doing so. Let the good times roll!
After our wristbands were checked 4 times, we made it into the arena and the first band we saw on the main stage was Paramore. With a cider in both my hands, Paramore were pretty good. We then made our way around the arena- surrounded by people dressed as tigers, bananas, superheroes, Elvis and so forth. We wormed our way into the NME/Radio One Tent to see The Courteeners and there was a large crowd in a tight space, which made breathing quite difficult… it was great 🙂 At the end of the set, we saw a bit of our local talent on the Festival Republic Stage- The Subways are from the town I currently live in and they entertained a very supportive crowd. As neither of us were interested in seeing The Cure, we set off to get some more drinks and waited to see The Maccabees hit the stage. I don’t remember much of them to be honest, but I know it was good :).
Another perk of having guest tickets meant that we could enjoy the guest area once the arena closed for the night. Here we adopted an easy money making scheme by collecting the festival pint cups, where 27 cups earned us £2.70! Winner!! That could buy a half pint and we thought it would be handy towards the end of the weekend when we’d be broke. The area had separate toilets, cash bars and a dance floor which had us hooked on until 3.30am. By this time, I was drinking Vodka like it was water and enjoyed every minute! Polly and I were starving, but by the time we headed off to bed, everything was closed and we had nowhere to go for our mega craving of pizza… with a roast dinner topping. Sad times.
We crashed out at around 4am and so our first day was over. We had 2 more to go…
After having one of the worse night’s sleep ever (due to being freezing cold and uncomfortable)… the sunshine poured into our tent and it was hard to stay asleep. So we got up and walked to Tesco to get some food and a lot of drinks. Tesco was rammed (of course) with a lot of hungover people (of course) and on normal circumstances that would be my worst nightmare, but as I was one of those people, I didn’t mind so much.
We made it out alive and headed over to Papa John’s to get our dream roast dinner pizza!!! This however, was not on the menu. I have written a letter of complaint. Na, not exactly. We waited over 30 minutes for our Margherita pizza as the oven decided to break down. But it was sooooo worth it! Then we realised how much stuff we had to walk back with and tried to bribe a security guard: Pizza for the trolley? He didn’t budge. Taxi it was then!
We got back to the camp site and stuffed our faces with biscuits and chips (or crisps rather), until we started hearing a familiar song playing… It was Green Day!!! They were rumoured to be playing a secret show at the festival, but we didn’t think it would be first thing on Saturday morning! We grabbed our stuffed and headed for the arena where we found that any access into the NME tent was blocked off by security. Grrrrrreat!!
We didn’t miss out on them completely though, as the main stage was playing a video for those who weren’t in the tent. Green Day should have been on the main stage to begin with, but anyway. Then just about twenty minutes before their set finished, the main stage’s coverage was cut off as the first band of the day were ready to start playing. Ummm… PARDON??!!! At this point, every fan at the main stage was now even angrier and charged towards the NME Tent to try get a look at the last few minutes of the set. We were so close, yet so far.
We headed back to our tent again and filled up some bottles of vodka and cider then went to watch Blood Red Shoes on the main stage, followed by a bit of Mystery Jets. We then bought some ridiculously over-priced lunch: I had Chinese noodles and Polly had some offensive looking cheesy chips… with gravy. Just nasty. After chilling and looking around the stalls, the hours passed and we waited to see Miike Snow perform in the NME Tent. My new wellies were absolutely killing my feet and walking around wasn’t exactly helping… So I drank more 🙂 And they were all better for a while.
The Vaccines came on at 6.40 pm and I was really looking forward to seeing them and singing along. We got into a good position in the crowd, but soon found that we were surrounded by the most frustrating, inconsiderate people alive. We ended up moving about 5 times before giving up and heading out. The Vaccines were really good, but we were pretty annoyed which ruined the experience a little bit.
But the bad mood didn’t last long as I was bursting with excitement to see Florence And The Machine. The clock struck 8pm, the rain started pouring just before, and then the red-headed beauty graced the stage with her presence. Florence Welch and her band ploughed through an 80-minute set and all through the rain. This didn’t spoil her mood or performance though, as she was well overjoyed to be on the main stage at the festival- the first festival that she ever attended as a youngster. Before playing ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)’ she demanded that her supporters give each other hugs and declared the crowd “a performance in their own right”. She wanted as many people as possible on each other’s shoulders, so I got Polly up on my shoulders and sang my heart out.
Her set also featured ‘Cosmic Love’, ‘Breaking Down’, ‘Shake It Out’ (my favourite!) , ‘Never Let Me Go’ and ‘Dogs Day Are Over’, before which she told the crowd that they “had made her dreams come true”. It was a magical, eccentric and goose- bump- giving performance. Florence And The Machine whisked us away on an intense trip, full of epic harmonies and love.
You can experience it too 🙂 Sorry about the quality:
Next up we had the amazing Kasabian. The rain had calmed down a bit… but it seemed to have affected the sound as we were not impressed with the sound quality at all. We stayed for a few songs, but decided to chip off to bed and were asleep by 11pm. Unfortunately, it was another awful night’s sleep for me. I guess it was worse as there were more hours to get through, but I survived 🙂
And then… the last day of live music… Sunny Sunday. We were looking forward to this day for one reason… Foo Fighters!!! We got up and organised ourselves for the day and waited for our 2 other friends to arrive- Sam and Raj. We had cider/beer for breakfast and enjoyed the glorious sunshine. Once Sam and Raj arrived, we started watching some bands on the main stage: Gaslight Anthem, All Time Low and Bullet for My Valentine. We then all joined in the crowd for the Kaiser Chiefs‘ set which I really enjoyed. Straight after them, The Black Keys played and the crowd started growing bigger and bigger as the Foo’s were just 1.5 hours away!
Polly then made a friend who we called ‘Coconut’ and Raj made him aware that he was REALLY cool to be with us. Why “Coconut”? Well, because Polly sniffed his big, curly hair which apparently smelled like coconut dry shampoo. I think that our beer, vodka and cider mix had something to do with that 🙂 We then showed Raj what it was like to be in a proper mosh pit… Oh how I love moshing! We sadly lost Coconut in the process. Sniff sniff 😦
Then… the moment we’d all been waiting for… The Foo Fighters stepped onto stage to bring an epic three days to a triumphant close and opened with ‘White Limo’ then went straight into ‘All My Life’. Working through a mammoth 26- song set over two-and-a-half hours, Dave Grohl announced that the performance would be the band’s last for the near future. As this was my second time seeing them live, I knew that the music would be incredible and we were all in for a GREAT show.
I kept telling strangers who hadn’t seen the Foos before that their lives were going to change… I was so right. It was indeed an AWESOME performance. By this time, Sam had gone off to get as close to the front as possible while Polly and Raj went to the loo. I was surrounded by people who were there for a purpose- to rock their faces off and simply be absorbed into the sounds coming from the stage.
For the final song, a huge roar went up as Grohl said ‘…and this is how we end the gigs now.’ It could only mean one thing: ‘Everlong’. Their signature song proved more anthemic than ever, with fireworks shooting out from the stage to end an evening that will live (Ever) long in the memories of thousands of people.
And here we were… amongst 90 000 people and I was 20 metres from the stage singing my heart out to ‘Best Of You’. Sorry for the quality again- the cameras weren’t able to keep up with the awesomeness!!
A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!!! Well worth watching!
And that ladies and gentlemen… was the end of a simply wicked weekend! Sleeping in a bed that night was one of the best things !ever! and as a first time festival goer, I’d definitely do it again and would recommend it to those of you who haven’t been to a fest before.
Please enjoy some of my photos of the weekend 🙂
Until next time…