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The Carling Weekend (Reading) in general
Member Name: Blurbubble
The Carling Weekend (Reading) in general
Date: 27/09/04, updated on 25/01/05 (1206 review reads)
Advantages: Good value ticket price for the amount of bands, great fun
Disadvantages: possible bad weather, sitting through bands you may not like!
The Carling Weekend Reading Festival is my annual holiday so it’s quite an event for me each August Bank Holiday. This year it took place from the 27th – 29th August at the usual location comprising several fields in Richfield Avenue, Reading in Berkshire.
I’ll go through a few basics with you first. You can buy tickets for the event at all the usual outlets but be warned - it sells out FAST! Weekend tickets which include use of camping facilities cost £105 plus booking fee or you can buy day tickets which are usually around £31 per day plus booking fee. If you are intending to camp for the weekend, like me, you can arrive at the site from midday Thursday onwards and afterwards you have to be packed up and away by midday on the Monday. I won’t go through all the recommendations for camping equipment and “survival” gear (I think there’s a separate category for all that!) but suffice to say take a supply of loo roll, plenty of money and be prepared for all weathers!
This years’ main stage line-ups on all days seemed a little disjointed according to the general consensus of opinion of the people I spoke to although I was generally happy with it some of the running orders seemed a little odd. There is also the Radio One Stage which is the second largest and generally focuses on up and coming bands or just those who prefer a smaller setting. Then there is the Dance Tent (self-explanatory!), the Carling Stage for lesser known and unsigned bands and the comedy tent for those who want some light relief with no music! Obviously I’ll concentrate on the bands I actually saw, whether or not I liked them, as listing everything on every stage would take way toooooo long.
Friday saw the whole event kicking off with Goldie Lookin’ Chain on the main stage – they of the “Guns Don’t Kill People, Rappers Do” song. They were a good, fun band to start with and despite only knowing the aforementioned song I did enjoy watching and listening to them. Some hours later I sat through Swedish band The Hives who have never really grabbed me despite being rocky and frenetic it just sounded like they were playing the same song over and over again to me. Prior to seeing them we had ventured over to the Radio One stage to see The Wildhearts who played a blinding set despite continuing technical problems and it was great to see them back again and in fine form with their blasting tuneful brand of punk.
Back to the main stage for Ash. They were good and played a varied set of old and new but were far short of spectacular and suit a smaller stage, where I’ve seen them before. Next were The Offspring, another of those bands who I enjoy for the first two or three songs before they become repetitive and boring and there is something about the pitch of the lead singers voice which literally makes my ears hurt.
Friday nights headliners were The Darkness who I was looking forward to having missed their set at the Festival last year. They were openly nervous and in awe of headlining such a major event for the first time and did rely heavily on their image and lots of stage effects to carry it off but their music was enjoyable, Justin Hawkins (lead singer) very charismatic and funny and they just about carried it off with all that combined. An enjoyable end to the first night.
Saturday kicked off with the 5,6,7,8s on the main stage (they of the maddening “woohoo” song) – I didn’t go and see them myself but my friend did and said they were very good. I was determined to make it to the main stage in time to see the New York Dolls as I had been looking forward to seeing them AND seeing who were going to replace the now deceased three original members. Despite a long time away from the scene, they played a great set displaying how many bands since have been understandably influenced by them. Original members David Johanneson (vocals) and Sylvain Sylvain (guitar) headed up the band and were joined by Sammi Yaffa (Hanoi Rocks) on bass but I’m afraid I don’t know/can’t remember who the other replacement members were!
After the New York Dolls we made our way over to the Radio One stage to see The Ordinary Boys and 80s Matchbox BeeLine Disaster. The Ordinary Boys played a youthful enthusiastic set reminiscent of early Jam with power and tunes. 80s Matchbox etc did not impress me although my friend liked them I found them to be a little too unstructured and they descended into a wall of noise in most songs.
Now for a bit I’d been dreading. We needed to be back in place on the disabled viewing platform (I use a wheelchair) in time for that nights headliners – The White Stripes – however this meant I would have to sit through the whole of Morrisseys set before hand, and if there’s one band/person I have always HATED it’s the Smiths/Morrissey (who, by the way, looks alarmingly like Freddie Starr now he’s getting on a bit….) I survived it by holding on to my pint of red wine, with ear plugs in and a blanket over my head which a kindly soul had lent me. So I saw no evil, heard no evil but I must admit I spoke quite a lot of evil.
At last it was time for The White Stripes who had to cancel their scheduled appearance at the Festival last year due to injury/personal problems. They lived up to expectations played a lot from their “Elephant” album as well as older tracks and covers with variations on the expected versions of their known songs. Thoroughly enjoyable although a little uninspiring just to watch the two of them on stage!
So it was Sunday, the last day, and we made it to the main stage half way through the second band on – Thrice – who were playing some unremarkable thrash metal. Next on where The Rasmus. Oh dear. After being greeted by a hail of bottles and boos they lasted about two minutes making a hasty exit from the stage barely finishing their first (and only) song. Sad and scary for the band and sad for anyone there to see them (which didn’t seem like many…) but amusing for the rest of us who didn’t know/like them.
By total contrast the Dropkick Murphys appeared next and they were fantastically entertaining with their blend of punkified Celtic/ska music akin to Rancid or a more punky Pogues. Impossible to stay still through and immensely enjoyable. The Streets came on next, I only really like his recent “Dry Your Eyes” hit single so I was really looking forward to a whole set and I’m afraid my opinion remains the same. However he was obviously popular with a lot of the crowd and went down well.
Placebo were another band I was looking forwared to and I was disappointed to see that, yet again, they were third on the bill and not headlining despite drawing a large, enthusiastic crowd and putting in a storming performance which spanned all their excellent albums. They were on top form for a relatively short support set.
Oh Lordy, another mass bottling occasion occurred next. 50 Cent came on to loud boos and the hail of bottles started again and continued with venom until he left the stage about 15-20 minutes into his set. I’m indifferent to him and his music and I must say I admired the fact that he tried to persevere for so long unlike The Rasmus, but again it was sad for anyone hoping to see him and potentially dangerous for those on stage having to dodge so many missiles despite being amusing to watch. He was rather an odd artist to have amongst Sunday nights line-up and chiefly heavier rock acts though so I feel the organisers had maybe not thought that through…..
So on to the final act of Sunday night and the whole weekend – Green Day. The American punk/pop band have been around for about ten years now and are very popular although I struggle with them as I can hear so many ripped off old punk songs in their music! Due to the earlier “bottling off” events of the day Green Day were left with about an extra 45 minutes to fill and so they also did some straight covers of old punk classics – the bit I enjoyed the most of their set! Still, they were hugely popular, performed well and pleased the crowd, and I have to admit there are worse bands that could have headlined.
And so it was all over for another year…..
Before I go, having given you a rundown of the event and the bands just a bit more about this years festival – mud, mud, MUD!! Rain, wind, mud. By far the worst year for weather that I’ve experienced and being in a wheelchair getting through the mud was nigh on impossible (the late night Reading litter buggy rescued me from the field on one occasion…..)
For those of you, like myself and my friend, who may not have unlimited money supplies and are planning to stay for the weekend take food and drink supplies with you. It’s far too expensive to rely on the outlets on site for all your meals and drink. We’d just treat ourselves a couple of times a day maybe as paying £1-£2 for a plastic cup of coffee was ridiculous when you could buy all the ingredients and take a little camping stove for a fraction of the price (which is what we do, obviously). I won’t go into all these money saving and survival tips as, I mentioned before, I think there is another category dealing with all that important information!
Right, OK then, there you have it – my holiday for this year! Messy, muddy and tiring but GREAT :o)
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