Over the long weekend just gone, I took an extra two days and went to The Reading Fest. (Pronounced “Redding”). The line up? Epic. The White Lies. Frank Turner. Offspring. The Strokes. Jimmy Eat World. Muse. My Chemical Romance. Friendly Fires. Taking Back Sunday. The Naked + Famous. The Streets. Panic! At the Disco. Ed Sheeran. And more. So so so many more. I was amped, and very much looking forward to it.
But, it was my first festival and I had no idea what to expect. I was a little naive to say the least.
I brought a 40L pack from the interwebs (40L ended up being plenty, despite all my fears and trepidations that’d I’d over pack + not be able to carry it or worse, not have enough space). I went a fifth in for some tents, and brought myself a sleeping bag + a stretcher. And early (very early, considering I’d made the mistake of hitting up Angel the night before. I didn’t even make it back to my own bed) I showed up with all my gear hungover but enthusiastic to the buses outside Embankment. Taking the Coach? Best idea ever. Plenty of time for sleeping, and, being dropped off at the gate, I wouldn’t have to worry about getting lost. Brilliant.
The rest of the day was to getting ourselves sorted with wristbands (they stamp metal things on it so you can’t get it off again) and setting up camp in our little corner of tent city. I’d brought a flag and everything. Life was great! The grass was still green, our gummies were still clean, and it hadn’t started raining yet. We found friends of friends who had a gazebo, a camp fire and shared their strongbow with us. The Glory Hole (the toilets. A gender shared short drop) wasn’t so horrific at this point, and we’d explored the many food places and they looked promising. We were off to a great start!
Festival Day 1
By now the skies had opened, and I’d realised that the gumboot requirement? Not a joke. The mud was ridiculous. It was gloopy, it was well over ankle deep, and it was everywhere. I’d never worn gumboots in any other fashion than ironically before. It was a bit mental. Also, we realised that we’d put up our tent over a dip. And that it was a badly designed tent. The inside sections were enclosed, but the middle section was just a pegged down ground sheet. Useless when the ground underneath was a giant puddle.
Still, I wasn’t going to spend all day in my tent, I was armed with a green poncho to keep the rain off, and was otherwise happy. Eventually the sun came out, too. I wrote out my list of ‘too see’ bands on my leg (paying 10 quid for a lanyard wasn’t going to happen, sorry). Mona first, in the NME tent. I love giant circus tents. Had a great feel to it. I managed to push my way into the crowd, and when Naked + Famous came up? Yeah, I was a the barrier.
Afterwards I met up with a few friends, one of which made my afternoon delightful by sharing his jager with me. Bless the 6ft ginger welshmen. My afternoon is a bit blurry after that. I remember dancing around to Patrick Wolf. I know I messed up the Leg Schedule and missed both Rise Against + Metronomy. I know I met an incredibly drunk 16 year old (one who couldn’t get his shirt on right) who tried to talk rugby with me (hard when I don’t care very much) and told me I didn’t look a day over 21. I laughed at him, and then he shared his vodka with me. I know that I met a group of boys, of whom I remember very little. One of them got in my phone as ‘Cute Guy from Reading’ and the texts that followed were all sorts of amusing. I know that I did end up in the crowd to watch Offspring, and I met a boy named Matt. An Australian, I think.
Offspring? All sorts of amazing. It was like being transported back to the 90s. And it only got better. We hit up Noah and The Whale, and The White Lies. I may have danced my little behind off all by myself. Possibly because by now I had well succumbed to that 16 year old boys vodka. And the jager. And the Red Bull + Vodkas Cute Boy from Reading had brought me. Fun times. It explains why I have no photos of The White Lies + Noah and The Whale. And after that? My Chemical Romance. Got my emo on. Right up until the alcohol wore off, and I left half way through the gig to crash.
Pretty successful first day, I think!
Festival Day 2
By now the Hell Hole was to be avoided at all costs, and we all held it together until we could get to the arena to use flushing facilities at 11. I was definitely feeling the effects of the previous days alcholic fuelled one man dance party, I was over the mud, and was a bit disappointed at the efficiency of wet wipes. The puddle in the middle of tent smelt like a marsh, and sleeping in a tent meant freezing nights and ridiculous hot mornings. I wasn’t sure what I’d let myself in for exactly, but there was going to be another 3 days of it.
I wrote out my bands on my leg, and there were only two today. Jimmy Eat World (who I have a soft spot for. Sweetness reminds me of Lyth + his 4am wake ups. Though, there is no love for 4am wake ups) and the Strokes. though, to be fair, I put the Strokes on my leg only to fill up the space a bit. I spent the day mostly following other people around. Organising the phone charging roster at the locker. There may have been a moment of panic when I thought I might miss the Jimmy Eat World set while I waited for an Irish girl who naively told me she was going to ‘quickly’ visit the facilities. Lady, for any flushing technology there is a line a dozen strong. There is no quick happening there. Rest assured I didn’t miss the said band, and skipped out through the mud to meet the other half of the crew.
Still, it wasn’t a bad day. I ate silly amounts of watermelon + pad thai. The sun came out + we all wore silly coloured sunglasses. I met my friend + his handy jager stash. By the end of the night I was Mayor of the Main Stage. I’d watched some young youths scavenge things out of the bins and laughed at them, both from disbelief and amusement. It was a good day for sounds too. There was the Pigeon Detectives, the Two Door Cinema Club. Jimmy Eat World (so much love) and the National. However, after The National I went back to the tent to change. And then I couldn’t make self leave again, I just couldn’t. I put jeans on, and climbed into my sleeping bag and crashed. I woke up long enough to enjoy the end of The Strokes set from where I lay, and called it a night.
Festival Day 3
By now I’d long stopped worrying about what I looked like. I was covered in mud. I smelt suspect. My gummies were wet inside + out, and I’d been wearing the same pair of shorts for the last four days. And I’d completely turned over to practical clothing. I rocked thermals like it was no ones business. The Hell Hole was now something you avoided at all costs, the mud was still everywhere (just a different consistency), and we’d had another epic night of freezing followed by omgtooHOT when the sun rose, and another day of eating expensive fried crap. Oh humanity. Still, at this point you give up caring. A few more days, whatever. You get on with it. I almost had a run in with Cute Boy from Reading, but my phone died before it happened. Sorry Cute Boy from Reading. All your very sweet talk was for naught. I’m impressed with the charm these youngin’s have though. Where did he learn to txt like that? Madness.
Day three was my biggest day. Taking Back Sunday. Frank Turner. Friendly Fires. Panic! At the Disco. Ed Sheeran. The Streets. 2manydjs. Flogging Molly. Muse. My leg was much happier than yesterday, filled with bands and times and places. To be fair it was the day of conflicts. Do I see Friendly Fires or Panic! At the Disco? (Panic, I’d already seen Friendly Fires earlier on in the year). Ed? Or The Streets? I worked out my game plan with Phe, when even scheduled in a lunch break + a time to change before it got too cold.
I threw my hands in the air with Taking Back Sunday. I fell head over heels for Frank. Again. Everytime I see him I fall a little more for him. I managed to convert Phe too, and we rocked out near the front with some young English youths who tried to talk Rugby with us. Again. Because that’s how it goes – they hear our accent, ask where we’re from and then talk rugby. Still, they had a thing for Frank too, and knew all the words so I was cool to rock out with them. I rocked out at Panic, too. I danced my little behind off, first in what seemed like a safe distance away from the front without being miles away, but it soon became a press, a complete mad house. I wasn’t fan enough, so we pulled out (and almost walked into another death circle) and danced near the edge of the tent. Danced like I was back in Second Year. I was that girl who knew all the words and was flailing happily about. Fun times.
We missed Ed because Ed? Way more popular than Reading Fest gave him credit for. We couldn’t even get close to the tent. So we wandered off and came across Frank! Again! He was playing as a special guest. Two sets, I was a happy happy girl and rocked out with Phe to a man who stole my heart with his voice. He’s a charming guy, Frank. Adore him. Afterwards we hit up The Streets (who were great, actually) and Flogging Molly (who were also brilliant). We danced to 2manydjs as we got dinner. And we sat on the ground and enjoyed Muse’s light show. Was a brilliant brilliant day. Possibly my favourite of the three. Not a bad way to end the Reading Fest!
The Day We Left
Monday was a bank holiday. We had to be packed up + out at the coaches at some time that meant we all had to be up by a ridiculous 8am. Turns out that when your tent is overheating 8am is a perfectly fine time to wake up, even if you’ve spent all weekend dancing around like a mad person. So the crew got ourselves all sorted, packed up the tents, admired our ‘tidy kiwi’ mentality against that of the english youths which seemed to be ‘I’m gross and disgusting’. True story. Even worse was when we realised that the campsites were abandoned.
They had left their rubbish, their tents and sleeping bags and blow up beds, chairs, gazebos, everything that they could live without. They just left it. That inconsiderate, careless attitude really got me quite upset. I couldn’t understand why they would be so wasteful. Why they would spend the money and then just dump everything. That they didn’t care that someone else was going to have to come along and clean up after them. And that it wasn’t just one or two groups, but basically the entire tent city?
It was really heartbreaking, and made me pretty furious. So furious that while I waited for the crew to be done? I cleaned up something eight large bags of rubbish from the areas right next to us. It felt like such a useless gesture but it was better than doing nothing. It made me feel better to be doing something, anyway. Then things got better, and I helped myself to an abandoned tent. Packed it down into it’s tent bag which had been left handily by the door, and took it home with me. Apparently I wasn’t the only who did so either. I saw a few other people packing down tents that clearly weren’t theirs.
So yes. It was an interesting experience. The music part? Brilliant. I have never been more excited or stoked to see so many awesome bands in one weekend. There was much dancing to be had, much singing at the top of my lungs, jumping up and down, hands in the air. The festival part? I was sad at the couldn’t-give-a-fuck attitude of so many of the people. The people who threw bottles of urine into the crowd cause the were too lazy to hit up the facilities. The people who started death circles and pushed others around unnecessarily. The people who left their tents, and stole our flag. It was a mixed bag, if nothing else. And I won’t lie, I was glad to be heading home. I was covered in mud, exhausted, slightly indignant at other festival goers, but otherwise happy. It was a (mostly) good festival.
So yes. I’m going to say Number 15 on The List? Done!
Photo credit – Some of the photos have been shamelessly stolen from Phe, Margo + Underwood. Cheers hey, you guys are absolute rockstars 🙂