Newest Review: ... if people don't like rock music they dont have to sit through anything they don't like. The main acts I went to see was 30 seconds to m... more
Member Name: carlmcq
Date: 21/08/05, updated on 05/09/08 (2563 review reads)
Advantages: Great weekend with six stages with thousands of other music lovers
Disadvantages: Band clashes!
During the weekend of the August Bank Holiday, the Berkshire town of Reading, along with it's counterpart in Leeds, becomes home to one of the countries biggest and best festivals - The Carling Weekend. Some of the biggest names in rock music perform to the best part of 90,000 people for three nights, switching between the two sites during the weekend.
Now, this year will be my third visit to Reading - having been there in 2003 and 2004. Bands that played over those two years included no less than....
Blur, Metallica, Linkin Park, Blink 182, System of a Down, The Darkness, The Offspring, The White Stripes, Green Day, The Libertines, Ash, Razorlight, Placebo, Franz Ferdinand, Beck, Sum 41, The Datsuns, Primal Scream, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Staind, The Doves, The Hives, Morrisey, Lostprophets, The Streets etc. etc. etc.
...And remember, those are just some of the bands that performed on the Main Stage, without even touching bands on stages like the Radio 1 Stage, Carling Stage or the Dance Tent. A pretty impressive roll-call list I must admit.
But what about this year?? Well, this year's ticket would have set you back £125, plus a booking fee if applicable - an increase of £20 since the 2003 festival - a staggering rise, but I suppose with a festival this popular, people will still buy tickets if it goes up another £20 again.
And the line-up? Well this is it for this year's festival:
Friday: Pixies, The Killers, Queens of the Stone Age, The Coral, Elbow, Graham Coxon, Dropkick Murphys, The Wedding Present, Goldie Lookin Chain, Do Me Bad Things
Saturday: Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, Razorlight, The Charlatans, Dinosaur Jr, Roots Manuva, Biffy Clyro, All American Rejects, From Autumn To Ashes
Sunday: Iron Maiden, Marylin Manson, Incubus, Iggy & The Stooges, NOFX, Funeral For A Friend, Alkaline Trio, Turbonegro, Bullet for my Valentine
Radio 1 Stage:
Friday: Kasabian, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Cooper Temple Clause, My Chemical Romance, Fightstar, The Subways, Death From Above 1979, The Dead 60s, Blood Brothers, YourCodeNameis:milo, The Black Velvets
Saturday: The Tears, Babyshambles, The Arcade Fire, Hot Hot Heat, The Kills, The Others, Juliette & The Licks, Nine Black Alps, The Cribs, The Longcut, The Editors
Sunday: Bloc Party, The Futureheads, LCD Soundsystem, British Sea Power, The Duke Spirit, Maximo Park, HAL, Sons and Daughters, The Rakes, Towers of London, Art Brut, Boy Kill Boy
These are the two 'biggest' stages, and I'm sure you'll have heard of a vast majority of these bands.
Whereas, the Carling Stage predominantly hosts small bands, some that are unsigned, that have the potential to make it big. Bands who've played there over the past couple of years that I've been to Reading include: Keane, Franz Ferdinand, Razorlight, Kaiser Chiefs, Kasabian and The Subways. 2005's headliners are Ladytron, The GO! Team and Echo & the Bunnymen.
The Dance Stage usually includes large headliners, and a number of bands you may be familiar with, such as: Death in Vegas, Audio Bullys, Scissor Sisters, Squarepusher, Roots Manuva and 2 Many DJ's. 2005's headliners are Lemon Jelly and Mylo.
Nowadays, The stage formerly known as the Concrete Jungle Stage, has been renamed the Radio 1 Lock-up which showcases some heavy, often underground genre bands, and shares the same tent as the Dance Stage, with the Lock-up being the Saturday and the Dance Stage on Friday and Sunday. The Lock-up's headliners this year are Bad Religion and Hatebreed, with previous headliners being A, Sick of it All, Pennywise and Lagwagon.
The finally stage is the Comedy & Cabaret Tent. Now, I can honestly say in the two previous years I've never actually been in there. But according to the festival's offical site, it does showcase some of the UK's best up-and-coming comedians - so possible worth a check if you're drunk and no band's are on that you want to watch!
And of course, with all these bands, it's nearly impossible to have a whole day, let alone a weekend, when there aren't two bands you want to see that are playing at the same time - a harsh reality unfortunately!
So that's the stages and what's on, but what about elsewhere?? Well there are a variety of food stalls throughout the site - from the basic Burger and Coke, to Hog Roasts and Stir-fries. Although be prepared to fork out a few quid for them, as these kind of festival are the perfect chance for venders to exploit the buyer, as there's nowhere else to buy food....unless you choose to wander into Reading town centre, which is a wise option especially if you're camping over the weekend. Alcohol is also available in the arena, and in the campsite - but remember, this is the Carling Weekend Festival, so expect to drink Carling Black Label predominantly, with the odd bit of Grolsch or Jack Daniels, unless you again decide to venture into town, for more options, at cheaper prices!!
And then there's the campsite, which is simply a different world to anything else! Seperated into different colours - Green, Brown, Yellow, Orange, and Red for Campervans, you'll find people wandering about, quite possibly staggering about drunk actually, at all hours of the day, or night, doing all sorts of crazy activities - including stuff such as trolly ramping, accordian playing, fire-breathers and piggy-back jousting - and that's all from personal experience! But just remember, join in with the spirit and you too will have a cracking time - guaranteed!
But, perhaps most importantly, there's the festival toilets...and lets be honest, the less said about them the better!! Of course, if you're of the male gender, going to toilet in bottles or bushes maybe the more "pleasant" option, despite the environmental aspects! But if you're female...you may eventually need to take that option to, due to the vile nature of the port-a-loos. Of course, you could again venture into Reading town centre and find a public toilet, which is what I've often done, especially if you've not got a strong stomach!
Remember, when you get there, regardless of whether you're camping from the Thursday onwards, or just have a day ticket, customers must exchange their ticket for a wristband as soon as possible after arriving on site, as that's the only way to get into the arena, as just showing you're ticket is not allowed.
Aspects such as car parking are available, with parking located in nearby fields and so forth, which come inclusive with your ticket.
And finally, let me give you a list, taken from the festival's official website - www.readingfestival.com - with the bare essential's to take to the festival to make your weekend go as smoothly, and as brilliantly as possible:
Money / Cash Card
Clothing for all seasons
Sleeping Bag / Blanket
Tent - if you're borrowing my tent bring it back please...
Travel Ticket Home
Paracetamol or just drink some water before you go to bed
Sun Cream & a Hat
Tin Opener & Bottle Opener
Toiletries and Towel
Dry Clean socks!
A sense of humour and an open mind.
So if you've never been, may I drop a subtle suggestion to make the time to go someday, as this festival is an incredible experience that anyone, regardless of culture, gender or age, will enjoy!
Well, I've now been to 6 Reading Festivals...and unfortunately that may well be my last. (although I did say that last year!!)
One of the reasons is, I've seen more or less any band that'll play the festival now and as I've been going for so long, I base my judgement on the line-up.
This year, bands that played included....
Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, The Killers, Bloc Party, Queens of the Stone Age, Fratellis, The Enemy, Editors, Tenacious D, Feeder, Biffy Clyro, Dizzee Rascal, Babyshambles, Manic Street Preachers, The Cribs, Last Shadow Puppets, CSS, The Wombats, Vampire Weekend, The Automatic, Plain White T's, Pendulum, The Ting Tings, We Are Scientists, The Subways, Mystery Jets, Santogold, Wiley, Glasvegas, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly....and many, many others!!
However, although there is a massive amount of music during the weekend, there is no more than when I first went in 2003...yet the price has gone up £10 every year. The first time I went it was £105, now it's £155 - and I can guarantee it'll be £165 in 2009.
To add insult to injury, the site itself is limited in increasing in size due to a train track on one side and the River Thames on the other, yet more and more people seem to come through the gates every year...at times making moving between stages impossible. Anyone who's been the past couple of years will agree that if a big band play on the Radio 1 stage, once they finish it will take up to half an hour to get to the main stage due to the sheer volume of people leaving and moving about.
Prices have naturally gone up...a pint of lager cost £3.50 this year, £3.90 for cider. This may be to do with the conclusion of the Festival's sponsorship with Carling, but it's still pretty dear. Of course, in the past couple of years, they've encouraged a "Cup refund" which gives you 10p for every pint cup you return...at times you will see a host of teenagers going round collecting absolutely everything they see, even if there's some drink left in it, just to earn a few quid! It's a good incentive however and has certainly cut down on rubbish and increased recycling.
Due to the increase in numbers, the site did marginally increase this year, by pushing a campsite over the other side of the Thames and making the Arena size slightly bigger. It worked on the side that they made bigger, but on the Radio 1/Lock-up Stage side, congestion problems are still a massive factor.
This year for the first time they also placed wristband exchanges at the entrances. Before you were able to enter the campsite, on showing a ticket to security, pitch your tent, get settled and then get your wristband. But now you must do that before you enter. It's probably a security matter of reducing people entering the site for free, but the queues took far longer than the previous method. Everyone had their camping gear with them which made dragging it all a couple of feet every minute a big annoyance and a lot of people found the whole ordeal frustrating.
Don't get me wrong, I still love the Festival but perhaps I'm showing my age! I'm tempted by either trying for Glastonbury next year or going to somewhere such as Bestival which takes place this weekend...it's also slightly cheaper!!
If I do go next year I fear I may criticise it some more, but if the right bands play then I may well go. If you've never been and are young at heart, I thoroughly recommend it...just make sure you've got a full wallet and are prepared to queue!!
Summary: An incredible festival, with great music, and a great community feel