Having wanted to go to Reading Festival since I was about 12 years old, I am very, very happy to say that I have been for the last two years, and this year will be my third.
Although, admittedly, the line-up is nowhere near as good as it used to be, I still believe it’s one of the best festivals to go to in terms of atmosphere and what’s on offer. I almost wasn’t going to go this year, but on a drunken night out, a friend said to me ‘apart from the line-up, give me one good reason why you don’t want to go’. That may sound stupid, but he had a point. Reading is about more than music. This sounds cheesy and I hate myself for saying it, but it’s about having some of the weirdest/ best times of your life with a group of great pals, despite paying ridiculous amounts of money for food and alcohol, and trying to sneak into the Nando’s toilets because it’s the second day and already the toilets have become a toxic waste site.
Reading 2015 was my first, and I arrived on the Thursday morning and queued for about two hours, and then trudged through mud for another 30 minutes. Not the greatest start, but there was nothing in the world that was going to dampen this experience, because I was insanely excited to see Panic! At The Disco, Neck Deep, Mariachi El Bronx, All Time Low, Fidlar, Palma Violets, New Found Glory, Prides, Bring Me The Horizon, Spector, Slaves, Pierce The Veil, Royal Blood, Metallica, Twin Atlantic, The Wombats, The Libertines, Kendrick Lamar, Awolnation, Moose Blood, Babymetal, Jamie T, Peace, Swim Deep, and Don Broco. Word of advice to any festival newbies: try and get a bag you can carry, not one you have to drag, and try to camp away from paths. You don’t want to get woken up in the middle of the night by a drunk man falling on your tent. Also, sleep on a yoga mat, because lumpy floors are not the one.
It’s possible that I may have just made camping sound like hell, but it’s far from it. You get to spend an entire weekend hanging out with your best friends, drinking, eating questionable food, trying to get the perfect balance between burning yourself on the fire and being too far that it doesn’t warm you, and seeing some of the best music the world has to offer. It really doesn’t get better.
Getting back to the line-up here, I don’t think we’ll ever witness anything as good as 2013 and previous years again, but it doesn’t mean that the line-ups are necessarily bad. Where else are you going to see Eminem and Muse at the same festival? Ordinarily (please don’t shoot me) but I wouldn’t pay to see Metallica at the O2 or something, but seeing them at Reading was a whole experience. Reading is really good at that. You see bands you wouldn’t normally, and they can end up becoming your new faves. Thanks to Reading, I have seen a whole host of my favourite bands and artists, and discovered some new ones along the way.
Reading is nothing short of iconic. Especially looking into the history and seeing how many phenomenal bands have graced the stages. The amount of artists who cite Reading/ Leeds as their favourite festival to play isn’t surprising, and that’s probably because of the atmosphere. You may think you’ve seen it all from small venues to arenas, but nothing really compares to Reading. It may just be me, but I have never seen a bad crowd, and the performers definitely pick up on that, which might also be why I’ve seen some of the most energetic performances of my life at that festival. It may have something to do with the fact that 99% of people are a little bit drunk, but people seem way more willing to have a dance or mosh to a band they haven’t heard before than people watching the support acts at a gig, and when you feel like everyone around you is going bat-shit crazy for a band, you do too.
Aside from the music, the food is decent, I’ve had the best pizza of my life at Reading, but also the worst cup of tea, so I guess it depends on what you get – but feel free to wander to the high street for a cheeky Nando’s or a Maccy D’s. The silent disco/ DJ sets are also pretty good, and definitely worth checking out.
One thing that is worth a mention but probably for all the wrong reasons is the toilets. They are by far the worst things you’ll ever see and smell in your life. But you just have to use them. Reading does offer a ‘luxury’ toilet service, but honestly, part of the ‘Reading experience’ is slumming it in the grim toilets, or going behind a bush. If you pay for a luxury toilet, myself and the rest of the festival will judge you. Especially because you can just walk into town and use a coffee shop toilet for free if it gets that bad.
Overall, with the music, food, atmosphere, and looking at downers like awful weather and disgusting toilets through rose-tinted glasses, I’d say Reading is a pretty great festival.