Saturday, September 05, 2009
Reading Festival Grade Card: Saturday
Reading Festival is cunningly timed each year to coincide with the release of GCSE and A-Level exam results in the UK. Here at BTA we've put together our grade card for the days we attended. Saturday's candidates were:
Dinosaur Pile Up, NME/Radio 1 Tent
More a leaf-eating Stegosaurus than the carnivorous T-Rex they aspire to be. For this lowest common denominator Nirvana-Vines rock, we're drawn more to the Subways' records.
Grade - D
Delphic, NME/Radio 1 Tent
BTA abandoned their Field Day performance at the dance tent last month due to immense frustration at stretching out one song for half their set. Thankfully, here they're much slicker, playing reasonable length songs much more palatable on the ears and suited to the occasion. "Counterpoint", with it's compelling mash of synths, bleeps and guitars, provides today's first shot of euphoria.
Baddies, Festival Republic Tent
Score highly for their frontman setting what we're convinced is a new trend of "indie robot guitar dancing" whilst holding a perpetually surprised expression. Key tracks like "Battleships" sound like Klaxons B-sides. Disposable and liable to grate over time but ideal festival fodder.
Grade - B
Metric, NME/Radio 1 Tent
Draw heavily on latest LP "Fantasies", a few songs in Emily Haines proclaims her desire to "share the love" without a hint of irony and we're instantly smitten. The purity and sincerity of their new romantic pop charm is contagious and we swoon in unison with the crowd. What live music is for.
Grade - A*
Patrick Wolf, NME/Radio 1 Tent
Bounding on stage wearing truly absurd blonde hair extensions and the first of 2 outfits (a black and white union jack jumpsuit), we're exposed to this afternoon, it's easy to understand how the narcissism and Bowie obsession can overshadow the music. All wholly unnecessary when you can write excellent chamber folk songs with beauitfiul violin arrangements, such as on "Hard Times" and "The Magic Position".
Grade - B
Them Crooked Vultures, NME/Radio 1 Tent
After their appearance at Leeds yesterday, the rammed tent is pretty clear what's about to happen at this supposedly "secret" performance, featuring Josh Homme, Dave Grohl & John Paul Jones and a fat bald guy who everyone amusingly ignores for the entire show. They proceed to play sludgy, blissed-out stoner rock which we find it hard to relate to on first listen and focus on admiring the musicianship on display. Most memorable for the hero worship accorded to Dave Grohl, when he repeatably poured water over his head and shook his locks pretending to star in a shampoo advert.
Grade - A
Rival Schools, Lock-Up Tent
Hold a special place in our heart as United by Fate album soundtracked our university years, and that forms the basis of this hit-laden reunion set. "Used for Glue" remains the melodic hardcore band's key song. They throw in a cover of "Wonderwall to celebrate Oasis's recent demise, cut abruptly short due to the crowd's lack of support.
Grade - A*
Maccabees, NME/Radio 1 Tent
Far too polished and soulless live, and play too much of their inferior debut. "No Kind Words" & "Love You Better" just about scrape a respectable mark.
Grade - C
White Lies, NME/Radio 1 Stage
"To Lose my life..." has completed it's gestation period and the band are the most assured BTA has seen them. The appeal of Unfinished Business & Death has not faded over time & remain their highlights.
Grade - A
Artic Monkeys, Main Stage
Open their headline performance with new album track "My Propeller" followed by a Nick Cave cover. We have to admire the testes these boys have grown in the arid desert confines. A world away from their Glastonbury performance where Alex kept nervously addressing the crowd as "ladies & gentelmen"; here there is minimal acknowledgment of the field. Combined with pathetic sounds levels that plagued the main stage for the 2nd year running, the people respond in kind. Having diligently swatted up on Humbug in the few days since it's release, we can enjoy the predominantly slow-burning material on offer. We're still left with an overriding feeling that Turner is most effective when he portrays vivid images of recognisable characters such as on "When the Sun Comes Down" and "Fluorescent Adolescent", on his earlier pursuits.
Grade - B
1. Rival Schools - User for Glue
2. Baddies - Battleships
3. Metric - Golds Guns Girls
4. Delphic - Counterpoint
5. White Lies - Unfinished Business
6. Arctic Monkeys - Secret Door
7. Patrick Wolf - The Magic Position