Reading: Who was rip-roaring and who was rubbish?

We’re back home after three days in a field by the Thames, clothes have been washed and hangovers nursed, so it must be time to discuss who rocked Uncut’s world at the Carling Weekend: Reading Festival and who rocked the boat of musical excellence…

Best Band: Arcade Fire

They might have played many a festival this summer, including the Uncut-sponsored paradise of Latitude, but the Fire still have it in them to surprise, pouring out a river of aural genius on Saturday night. Songs like ‘No Cars Go’ and ‘Black Mirror’ sounded even more apocalyptic than usual, with arty feedback trails marking the string-soaked soundscape. An honorary mention must go to The Hold Steady who, due to Klaxons’ magnetic pull, bravely battled through their set in front of a tiny crowd on Sunday night.

Best Show: Smashing Pumpkins

It’s good to have them back. On the basis of their performance at Reading, it’s safe to say Billy’s come back with the most fire in his belly since, ooh, at least 1995. Festival sets have got to be snappy and packed with the songs the festival-goers know, and so the Pumpkins decked out their performance with a treasure chest of hits alongside tracks from ‘Zeitgeist’. The white suits, unbelievable UFO lightshow and full moon hanging above the site all added up to a transcendent hour and a half.

Best Song: Kings Of Leon - 'Charmer'

It was a close call to pick and choose – Kings Of Leon’s set on Friday was laced with some of the greatest rock songs of recent years. Their Pixies rip off ‘Charmer’ wins the day purely through the fervour of its delivery, Caleb screaming like Black Francis with his finger in the car door, while the drums do ‘that Bone Machine thang’ so well.

Best Dressed: Klaxons

We like to pretend it’s all about the music, but a show isn’t the same if a band just comes on in their day clothes – Led Zeppelin wouldn’t have seemed half as mystical without Page’s dark magick suits and Plant’s ‘golden god’ mane, while Roxy Music’s retro-futurist garb undoubtedly elevated them to greatness. Gradually dropping their neon-clad outfits over the last year, new ravers Klaxons emerged to a more-than-rammed NME/Radio 1 tent on Sunday night sporting a selection of black and silver attire and accoutrements. Very classy, very space-rock, don’t cha know.

Worst Band: Fall Out Boy

As if having to suffer their god-awful emo-pop wouldn’t have been bad enough, Pete Wentz and co. dropped in a bunch of horrendous covers to their Reading set, suggesting a career as a sub-standard function band awaits. Fancy hearing R Kelly’s ‘Ignition (Remix)’ anyone? What about Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’? Huey Lewis And The News‘The Power Of Love’? No, thought not.

What do you think of Uncut’s picks of the festival? If you think we’ve missed the best band of the weekend or failed to catch the greatest song, leave a comment and let us know.

Words: Tom Pinnock
Arcade Fire pic credit: Andy Willsher
KOL pic credit: Jo McCaughey
Fall Out Boy pic credit: Andrew Kendall


Editor's Letter

The Fourth Uncut Playlist Of 2015

This week's big distraction has been what appears to be a crazy number of early Aphex Twin tracks accumulating on Soundcloud (I've added the link below). Among the new stuff, though, please try Bop English; the new solo project of James Petralli from White Denim.