From BABYMETAL to Metallica, Gengahr to The Libertines - the very best bits of R+L

Decades of musical history roll into yet another edition of the one of the world's most legendary festivals: three days, two cities, hundreds of bands and memories to be made. 

Reading + Leeds 2015 was yet another weekend packed with all the filth, fun and fury that you've come to expect - where heroes returned, legends were made and the new crop of talent cut their teeth. 

With the noise still ringing in our ears, here are the 26 best things about Reading + Leeds 2015. 

1. Royal Blood eye up the future
A huge crowd gathers as the rain trickled down, before the band confidently stride on stage for what may well be one of the true defining performances, not only of the weekend - but their career so far. 

"There is not a single person in this field who understands how truly insane it is for us to be up here right now," frontman Mike Kerr tells the audience, geeing the crowd up for a blistering outing of 'Little Monster'. "There are a lot of fucking people here - I think I just shat myself."

As well as teasing the crowd with the riff from Black Sabbath's 'Iron Man', a surprising highlight comes when the band air  new track  'Hook Line And Sinker' - a real grunge meets glam-rock stomper with a juddering and thunderous beat that soon blooms into a glorious release with the chorus. If this is a sign of things to come, then things are only going to get more massive for the Brighton duo.

- MORE: See photos of Royal Blood at Reading here
- MORE: See photos of Royal Blood at Leeds here

 2. Babymetal prove the talking point of the weekend
There are countless Babymetal t-shirts on show throughout the grounds - not just from fans but the likes of Bring Me The Horizon and All Time Low are even donning them. Yes, this is going to be historic. 

Babymetal, if you didn't know, are a Japanese metal idol trio that recently broke out of the Japanese market, and have been revered by the Western world for their absurdity and actually-really-great brand of pop-metal.

Their backing band donned gothic white face paint and played unreal BPMs effortlessly. The Babymetal trio took vocal and performance responsibilities, as they pranced around the stage with seriously impressive choreography. It's not easy to dance well to dance music, let alone speed metal.

Watch our interview with BABYMETAL below

The crowd comprised people of all backgrounds and creeds clad in Babymetal merchandise. And despite this dedication, accurate singalongs were rarely performed well - even when lead singer, Su-Metal, repeated the melody back at the crowd - but the lyrical butchering didn't matter too much. Everyone was having too much fun.

At the back end of the set, Babymetal cut away to another visual prompt telling of Babymetal's rise to fame and the mantra behind true metal being true bravery. If we could understand any of the band's lyrics, we might identify some plot, but the gist of this intermission was to make a stand against bullying by - wait for it - inciting a wall of death.

Maybe the earliest wall of death in Reading history, the probably hungover crowd raised their devil horns in the air and clashed with an almighty chorus of groans and laughter.

- MORE: See photos of Babymetal at Reading here
- MORE: See photos of Babymetal at Leeds here 


Photo: Danny Payne

3. The Maccabees shine as future headliners
Warming up for Jamie T, Kendrick Lamar and The Libertines, The Maccabees put on a hit-packed and career-spanning performance that will prove truly hard to beat - showing a testament to not only their longevity but why there seems to be no stopping them. 

It was a set worthy of headliners. Before they took to the stage, we asked them if they could see themselves topping the bill in future. 

"We'd love to," guitarist Felix White told Gigwise. "I think we could do it one day, we're just slowly getting better at what we do. About ten years ago we were the first on in the news bands tent, and I think we genuinely have got better as we got bigger. That's the best place to be in - if it keeps going like that, then great." 

Watch our interview with Maccabees below

And we're certain that the only way is ever skywards from here. Judging by the size of the crowd alone, the momentum behind The Maccabees is immeasurable, let alone the relentless dance that they inspire. 

"The first time we played here on the Levis stage, we played this song," White told the crowd, introducing 'Precious Time'. It sounds as fresh now as it did then, with the true ambition of it finally fulfilled in the likes of the epic 'Marks To Prove It' and 'No Kind Words'.

"It's a shame," Orlando Weeks tells the crowd, introducing closer 'Pelican'. I feel like we're really getting going, but we gotta go."

As the masses stand tall on one another's shoulders, we can't help but agree. We have nothing but kind words to say, and could watch them all night. 

- MORE: See photos of Maccabees live at Leeds here 


Photo: Danny Payne

4. Kendrick is king
As his band takes the stage, and the backdrop shows stock footage of Compton, Kendrick Lamar stepped onto the stage met by chants of his name to the melody of ‘Seven Nation Army’. “I appreciate the love”, he remarks before bursting into a scorching rendition of ‘Money Trees’.

Before we appreciate Kendrick for the awesome live performer he is, it’s equally as important to recognise the significance of his latest record, To Pimp A Butterfly. Kendrick articulately and passionately given insight into the authentic treatment of black communities in America in 2015 with this record to people who would otherwise never have realised the world from his perspective, and for that fact alone among many others, he is one of the most important figures in music today.


Photo: Richard Gray

This was cemented permanently with K.Dot’s Reading performance on Sunday night. Between the gut-trembling bass of ‘Backstyle Freestyle’ and rocking version of ‘Fuckin’ Problems’, Kendrick isn’t bringing a set full of politically-conscious tirades and deep cuts, he came with the intention to party.

Addressing the crowd, the Compton hero asks both sides of the stage if they’re feeling good. “If we feel good on both sides and feel good at the back, then we can go home”, he pointed to his band: “and know that no vibe was killed”. A huge swell of screams met the first chords of ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe’, a track that bridged the gap between die-hard Hip-Hop heads and pop fans.

‘m.A.A.d city’ following was a treat to see since there was a snap following the three Schoolboy Q’s ‘yaks’ that saw Kendrick switch on the thrusters and propel himself with a heightened vigour. The theatrical strings and sweltering intensity was unlike any performance this weekend.

While the energy levels were peaking, the spritely and instantaneously recognisable guitar of ‘I’ was the feel-good kick that went down a storm, although that could be said for so many tracks in this set. The self-love philosophy is one most apt for a festival environment as people pushed the limits of their hedonism and vanity.

More humbling, a moment of silence was attained before the funkadelic beat of ‘King Kunta’ filled the ears of the 50,000+ people that turned up to see the strongest lyricist in the game do his thing. Finalising his set with “one of his favourite songs” dedicated to those people that have been rolling with TDE since day one, the incredible A.D.H.D was performed with an effortless conviction. Kendrick Lamar performed with the strength and vitality of a headliner because, if we’re being honest, he did perform a headlining set.

- MORE: See photos of Kendrick at Reading here
- MORE: See photos of Kendrick at Leeds here


Photo: Richard Gray

5. Bring Me The Horizon charge into the future
Sheffield's finest Bring Me The Horizon drew one of the biggest crowds of the day. 

“Now we’d like to ask you to open this place up as big as it will go. Pit enforcers, please make yourselves visible now,” states the calm voice of a woman coming form the satirical health and safety video playing to the mass gathered for BMTH. No sooner is the video over, it begins.

“S.P.I.R.I.T. Spirit, let's hear it,” cries out over the speakers for ‘Happy Song’, the second single released from the soon to arrive and change our lives album, That’s the Spirit. The main stage crowd know every word, managing to drown out frontman and vocalist Oli Sykes. “Yeah, that's the spirit.”

Smashing straight into Sempiternal classics, ‘Shadow Moses’, ‘House of Wolves’ and ‘Go To Hell, For Heaven’s Sake’, Sykes doesn’t have a moment of rest - he ricochets across the stage, raising his arms to the sky as if asking the crowd to ascend with him.


Photo: Richard Gray

Emotionally addressing the crowd, Sykes thanked the fans for their support to help him "go from being a drug addict to working for you every fucking day". 

Only the best of the old but classic BMTH tracks are brought to bare at Reading, ‘Chelsea Smile’ and ‘Blessed with a Curse’. Finishing with, and clearly setting to tone for the band’s new trajectory is ‘Drown’ - and what a way to end. 

We really rarely say this but BMTH were pretty close to perfection here. We daresay they'll probably headline Download Festival next year. Now is their time. 

- MORE: See photos of Bring Me The Horion live at Reading here
- MORE: See photos of Bring Me The Horizon live at Leeds here


Photo: Richard Gray

6. Foals' not so secret set
Rumours of a secret appearance had been circulating for weeks, following heavy hints from Reading and Leeds boss Melvin Benn. Then, the band confirmed the news this morning via Twitter - before legions of fans flocked to the tent to catch a glimpse of Yannis and co.  

"It's good to be back," said frontman Yannis Philippakis, after the explosive opener of 'My Number' sent the packed tent into a relentless bounce. "We're Foals, if you don't know who we are."

They then played an epic rendition of new track 'Mountain At My Gates', before a furious outing of 'Inhaler' erupted in some pretty wild moshpits. 

Watch our interview with Foals below

"The last time we played this tent was 2008, I think," said Yannis before a beautiful 'Spanish Sahara'. "It's fucking great to be back - this feels like our home."

As the fans embrace him with open arms as he wanders into the audience for 'What Went Down', we can't help but feel the same.

"We would love to headline Reading," Yannis Philippakis told Gigwise. "We grew up in this festival - the first big festival show we ever played was here. Every time we've come back it's grown and grown. We grew up watching Nirvana in '92. Reading, we hold dear."

He continued: "If we were asked to do it, we'd obviously be overjoyed - but at the same time, we're not holding our breath. If we do it, it needs to happen."

Guitarist Jimmy Smith added: "Next summer we'll be ready. We'd have been playing for a year, so we're as ready as you are, basically."

They played a set more than worthy than headliners, now is truly their time. Fingers crossed for them topping the main stage next year.  


Photo: WENN

7. Panic! At The Disco covering Queen 
Appearing in a dazzling silver blazer in the boiling afternoon August sunshine, Brendon Urie led his band through a rousing set of emo dancefloor classics, fan favourites and solid gold hits. 

Early peaks came with 'The Ballad Of Mona Lisa', 'Girls/Girls/Boys', 'Miss Jackson' and the fittingly summer-y and Beatles-esque 'Nine In The Afternoon', but the best was saved for a moment of pure rock legend nostalgia. 

"This is a new song, we just wrote it backstage," joked Urie, before crooning his way into an explosive rendition of Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' - uniting the vast crowd gathered at the main arena in a deafening holler-back sing-along, word for word to perfect. This moment will be hard to forget. 

"You guys are way too much fucking fun," blushed Urie afterwards. "Thank you from the bottom of our hearts - this is fucking amazing", before launching into 'This Is Gospel. 

Ending of course with 'I Write Sins Not Tragedies', Panic! At The Disco sealed one of the most instantly danceable sets of Reading 2015 with a kiss of pure joy. 

- MORE: Read our interview with Brendon Urie discussing fans, his new album and 'being naked
- MORE: See photos of Panic! At The Disco live at Reading here


Photo: Richard Gray

8. It feels so good to have Jamie T back
The long-awaited return of Jamie T proves him as a permanent hero in the eyes of the crowd, and there’s clearly little that could ever change that. In fact, it’s besides the point since Jamie turned up to Reading today with a main stage, even headliner-sized performance.

Opening with Panic Prevention’s ‘Operation’, the crowd fell into a groove the moment the last word of “I ain’t no abacus, but you can count on me” was uttered. From that point on, the audience were putty in Treays’ hands. For a man who has admitted to suffering severe stage anxiety, he didn’t show a sign of it.

The real stars behind the man himself were his incredible band, especially his drummer, who gives the performance an entirely new feel, a lot more driven, more technical. Though, when it comes to tracks like ‘368’, the technical aspects aren’t what stand out, the simply awesome songwriting does.

It’s tracks like ‘Salvador’, however, that make you appreciate how far Jamie has come as a performer. The DIY teeth and nails recordings from the 2007 recordings are now dynamic and road-tested models of how to win over festival crowds with plenty of sing-a-longs and a heaping load of passion.

Even the newer tracks from Carry on the Grudge, released earlier this year, have a grander scope than they sound on record. ‘Peter’ showcases the whole band’s versatility with it’s cut-throat attitude making it blatant that Jamie T isn’t a one man show anymore.

That is until he sends his band off to wings to perform a low-key, solo rendition of ‘Calm Down Dearest’. The London songwriter admitted he hadn’t played it in a while but he obviously hadn’t forgotten the word, and neither had the crowd.

Drawing to the end of his set a few conclusions have been made: ‘Sheila’ was unsurprisingly massive, ‘Rabbit Hole’ has become a staple among the highest ranks of Jamie T tunes and ‘Zombie’ has officially been inducted as one of the ultimate festival songs.

- MORE: See photos of Jamie T live at Reading here
- MORE: See photos of Jamie T live at Leeds here


Photo: Richard Gray

9.The Libertines play the show of their lives
After mixed reviews from their set in Leeds days before, there are fears that the band may remain forever a shambles. When we met with Gary, John and surprise guest Ed Harcourt backstage beforehand, and they seemed more than ready for battle. 

That typical Libs romance soon bathes over the masses gathered in the historic main field of Reading, as Vera Lynne's 'We'll Meet Again' croons out of the speakers. With little more fanfare, Doherty's cherubic grin beams over the main screen and 'Horror Show' kicks off with haste. Pits erupt, crowd surfers take flight and a skyful of flares are thrown into the ensuing madness. This is going to be absolutely mega. 

While their sound was born in the sweaty backroom toilet venues of London, that intense energy of these indie dancefloor staples is magnified by their every-growing status as true classics. 'Vertigo', 'Can't Stand Me Now', 'Time For Heroes' and a tear-jerking 'Music When The Lights Go Out' get a far better response than anything played by Metallica the evening previous. This the soundtrack of a generation, and it's about bloody time they were aired on this scale. 

There's also a damn good reason for them to be here - their new album is a triumph, and 'Gunga Din', the Ed Harcourt-featuring 'You're My Waterloo' and Anthem For Doomed Youth's title track land like old favourites. This is the sound of a band in love once again, and its hard to not fall with them. 

After a killer five song encore, culminating in violent fits of joy during 'Up The Bracket, 'What A Waster' and 'I Get Along', its impossible to not get swept away in the camaraderie. 

"Reading!" howls a wide-eyed Gary Powell. "I hope you've had a good weekend. And remember - you are all Libertines." 

Amen. The battle has been won, and the good ship Albion sails on and on. 

- MORE: See photos of The Libertines live at Reading here
- MORE: See photos of The Libertines live at Leeds here


Photo: Richard Gray

10. Limp Bizkit party like it's 1999
While Mumford & Sons pulled a huge crowd to the main stage for their epic headline set, fans were spilling out of the NME/Radio One tent well into the field to catch a glimpse of Fred Durst and his rag-tag squadron of nu-metal heroes. 

"We're gunna party like it's 1999," bellowed Durst arriving on stage, before rushing straight into the biggest hit 'Rollin'. From then on, Bizkit brought a real college frat party vibe - with their DJ scratching in hip-hop classics, intermittently blended with jammed riffs from Metallica and Guns N' Roses. 

"I think it's time for some Limp Bizkit karaoke up in here," said Durst, before the biggest response of the night was saved for a riotous cover of Rage Against The Machine's 'Killing In The Name Of'. 

Sealing their set with the brutal kiss of the aggro anthem 'Break Stuff' (during which Durst paused the set so a fallen member of the crowd could be picked up), and the Mission Impossible soundtracks 'Take A Look Around', 

- MORE: See photos of Limp Bizkit live at Reading here


Photo: WENN

11. American Football are a band for all time
Playing for the first time at any UK festival, American Football performed a sincere and emotional set to a relatively small but attentive audience at the NME/Radio 1 stage. Having only put out one album in 1999, their UK following wasn't established until many years after that. The resonance of Mike Kinsella's songwriting in his solo Owen project was widely recognised a led a lot followers back to American Football.

This generated a miniature cult worldwide who admired the band for how their ephemeral impact at the time transformed into the soundtrack to the formative years for a lot of young adults. Playing Friday afternoon on the NME/Radio 1 stage, the Chicago quartet performed low-key and sprawling renditions of tracks both well-known and considered rarities among the small but fervent audience. One of the few truly intimate performances that has ever graced that specific tent at Reading festival.

Watch our interview with American Football below

12. As It Is, are what they are - bloody good un
Reading’s The Pit stage played host to iconic and emerging pop punk all weekend, but Saturday was the day for something new. Relative newcomers to the scene, As It Is make their mark. 

With their debut album Never Happy, Ever After making waves upon its release only a few months ago (in April to be precise), these guys bring fresh vibrancy, making an impact the minute they leap onto the stage.

‘Speak Soft’, first track from the album, blasts away any qualms of British festival tradition - the drizzling rain outside the (thankfully) tented and domed stage. Patty Walters, the mic throwing, fringe flicking, split jumping frontman of the quintet has limitless, infectious energy.

Rattling through new but undeniable hits, ‘Cheap Shots & Setbacks’ is next. “Okay Reading Festival,” says Patty, jumping up and down as if on a pogo stick. “I wanna see every pair of feet off the ground. Can you do that for me?” His plea is met with action. Relentlessly, we push straight into single ‘Concrete’.

“At this point we don't really know what to say”, expresses guitarist Benjamin Biss while Patty gets his breath back. “You're exceeding our expectations”, as you can imagine - this goes down well.

Closing their Reading with debut single ‘Dial Tones’, what an impression these up starts have made. The only thing is, you do get told to jump a lot - have a massive coffee before you watch them play.


Photo: Richard Gray

13. Andrew O'Neill's History Of Heavy Metal
So, you think that all metal was created equal? Think again. What are the vital difference between thrash and black metal that you need to know about to avoid conversational embarrassment? Andrew O’Neill’s History of Heavy Metal - a melting pot of topical in-jokes, pub quiz knowledge and glorious live recreations of iconic riffs and songs will help you out.

Taking place at Reading’s Alternative stage, O’Neill - stand up comedian and passionate metal-head, takes us on a journey through the sound of an age, the metal age. From Deep Purple to Black Sabbath, to 1977 when punk ruled the roost, no cornerstone is left unturned. From that "DIY ethic to heavy metal” onto something darker, “Now, ladies and gentlemen we’re going to leave thrash…into the expansive and sinister that is death metal.” We’re into Napalm Death territory now.

Whether you’re a seasoned metaler or a naughties newbie, fun and fascination awaits.


Photo: Richard Gray

14. Wolf Alice are summer 2015's champions
With a No.2 album under their belt and the world on their side, Wolf Alice sprinted onto the stage not wanting to waste a single second that could be used playing tunes from their incredible debut, My Love Is Cool.

A few tracks in, frontwoman Ellie Rowsell addressed the crowd: “I love you guys already, this is going to be fun”, before launching into their most recent single ‘You’re A Germ’. Wolf Alice have always had a ferocious live set but we don’t think we’ve ever heard them like this.

The track scorched with a palpable heat, using the crowds energy as fuel. As Rowsell screeched, the track intensified, and after every ascending count up to seven before the chorus, the non-believers in the audience became instantly involved - especially on ‘Bros’ where many hugs were shared, and the crowd embraced one another.

Watch our interview with Wolf Alice below

Songs old and new were lapped up by the full-to-the-brim tent. The crowd knew every word, every vocal quirk, every breakdown and every subtle drum fill - it was almost disconcerting how in tune and locked into the grooves the audience were. Wolf Alice stopped being a quartet and grew into a thousands-strong musical group.

The set ended with a ‘Giant Peach’/‘Moaning Lisa Smile' double, rife with feedback-driven riffs and breakdowns. If we learnt anything from Wolf Alice’s set, it’s the importance of keeping the energy levels peaking, even when the Saturday afternoon lethargy strikes.

- MORE: See photos of Wolf Alice live at Reading here
- MORE: See photos of Wolf Alice live at Leeds here


Photo: Danny Payne

15. Atreyu - short, sweet and brutal
Playing a short but sweet set, Atreyu joined us ahead of their US and Canadian tour kicking off 18 September. Greeted by a roaring flock at the Pit stage, ‘Becoming the Bull’ sent the atmosphere stratospheric. From there, we travelled back 11 years to the album every true Atreyu fan has - The Curse with ‘Bleeding Mascara’. Rewind once more, almost to the very beginning with ‘Lip Gloss and Black’. Obviously, this saw the hardcore horde surge for the pit with immeasurable force. New album Long Live comes out 18 September.


Photo: Richard Gray

16. Spring King are going to own 2016
Spring King are emblematic of shambled lifestyles, sleeping on your friends sofas and having a great time doing it. They’ve become the forerunners for new UK garage-rock, their slacker aesthetic is just a deterrent from how obviously hard this quartet work on their craft, this became evident as drummer/vocalist Tarek Musa asks the crowd, “How’s it sounding?”, he genuinely wants to know.

The band emanate a nervous energy as if this Reading show is the last they’ll ever do, pulling out all the stops to create some memorable moments including bringing guitarist Pete Darlington’s Dad, Steve, onstage for some sensational saxophone accompaniment.

Embracing their inner surf-punks, the band’s last three tracks lasted a total of six minutes of blissful chaos - Spring King represent organised noise at it’s most proficient.

17. Metallica never get old
"We are Metallica and this is what we do," grinned frontman James Hetfield before rushing the high octane opener 'Fuel', kicking off a career-spanning set loaded with fan favourites, as the band effortlessly tore through 'For Whom The Bell Tolls', 'Battery', 'King Nothing' and 'Ride The Lightning' at the very top end of their performance. 

Rob Trujillo's seemingly never ending bass solo baffled many, but true highlights included a laser show and fitting tribute to fallen troops during 'One', and an extended outing of the sprawling rock masterpiece 'Master Of Puppets', before 'Seek And Destroy' ended the first part of the set in a fit of circle pits. 

They returned with a perfect trio of tracks for the encore, in the form of the feel-good favourite 'Whiskey In The Jar' by Thin Lizzy getting Reading's hips a'swaying, before 'Nothing Else Matters' bloomed beautifully into the evening sky and the iconic 'Enter Sandman' united the vast audience in song and headbanging as hundreds of balloons fell over the crowd and fireworks lit up the night. 

There were no real surprises or tricks hidden up their sleeves, just a group of legends reflecting the love that they still have for the game - a game that they invented, and still dominate. As long as the world spins, Metallica will be there to rock. They are Metallica, and this is what they do. 

- MORE: See photos of Metallica live in Reading here
- MORE: See photos of Metallica live in Leeds here


Photo: Richard Gray

18. Gengahr could be your new favourite band
Emerging in a woozy haze, the crowd lose themselves to the site of the London quartet. Gengahr have been operating with a rarified inertia for a band of their stylings. Without even an album in the can, they supported Alt-J at the O2.

The success hasn't seemed to have gone to their heads as frontman Felix Bushe lets the crowd know, "this is our first Reading" - you wouldn't have guessed from their performance. Equal parts combustion and calm, Bushe's falsetto is the strongest in the game while guitarist John Victor's dynamic playing churns out searing solos the type Nick Zinner would be proud of.

Tracks like 'Heroine' and 'Fill My Gums With Blood' are the summer anthems we didn't realise he had and, while they sound endearingly soft on record, the live renditions are amped with a more confrontational tempo and high-octane instrumental breakdowns.

Watch out interview with Gengahr below

19. All Time Low
“This is beautiful, this is art”, announces All Time Low frontman Alex Gaskarth from beneath leopard print sunglasses complete with vibrant blue tint. “I wanna see you motherfuckers dance to this next one”, it’s 'Weightless', first track from 2009 album Nothing Personal. Both old and newer fans quickly found that All Time Low included everyone at every entry point, playing hits from all studio albums.

“This song goes out to anyone that's having a shitty time but everyone here's got your back”, says Alex, the tone shifts but the mood stays high as 'Missing You' builds. 'Time Bomb' sees front row teenage girls experience their wildest dreams, "I need some singers”, demands Alex. Making his way back and forth along the front row of the crowd, he selects the lucky participants, pulling them out of the mass and on to the stage. Lead guitarist, Jack Barakat, adorns a girl with his guitar - playing it over her shoulder.


Photo: Richard Gray

The pair make the perfect front team bringing boundless and unparalleled vivacity to a muddy field, tearing up the main stage with faultless vocals, cheeky attitude and relentless entertaining from Jack and Alex.

As 'Dear Maria, Count Me In' rings from the stage and through the crowd like a ripple, deafening chants and claps erupt. “Thank you! We’ll be coming back to headline all the arenas in February on the Future Hearts tour”. As the applause builds, a sweaty Jack peels off his tee shirt, and furiously swings it his head like a rock God.

- MORE: See photos of All Time Low live at Reading here

Watch our interview with All Time Low from Reading below

20. Run The Jewels are hip-hop's greatest bromance
Run the Jewels walked on-stage to the sounds of life-affirming rock anthem ‘We Are The Champions’, and you know what? They’re damn right. For the last three years or so, the hip-hop duo, consisting of New York’s El-P and Atlanta’s Killer Mike, have consistently proven to be the hottest and most captivating group working in the music industry today.

“We are going to fuck this motherfucker up”, announced Killer Mike before launching into the duo’s self-titled track ‘Run the Jewels’. At some point during live shows, there’s a moment when everything clicks, when grooves are locked and everything falls into place. For most bands, this will happen once or twice a set - for Run the Jewels, it’s an immediate phenomenon.


Photo: Richard Gray

The on-stage chemistry between the two rappers is unlike no other. They genuinely care about each other and the music they've created, which just superposes the energy they emit. Tracks like ‘Blockbuster Night 2’ and the politically-charged ‘Early’ reinvigorated the crowd warranting hundreds of raised ‘guns and fists’.

Trading verses seamlessly, Run the Jewels’ live show is one of incomparable proficiency, “This guy makes me happy every day”, stated El-P before starting their final track of the night ‘It’s a Christmas Fucking Miracle’. Run the Jewels is a bromance project, one that has yielded some of the most impactful and mind-blowing hip-hop this century.


Photo: Richard Gray

21. We don't know what Alexisonfire are doing, but we like it
We look up at the main stage expectantly. A black banner with an intricate white logo slowly unfurls, as if a band are being monumentally resurrected. The sound from the crowd swells as Alexisonfire take to the stage.

The first track from Watch Out, ‘Accidents’ cries out, slingshotting us back to 2004, then on to the infectious beat of ‘Boiled Frogs’.

“For those of you who don't know who we are, we’re Alexisonfire,” shouts guitarist Wade MacNeil. “For those of you who do know, push everyone else out of the way and get to the front. This one’s called ‘The Northern.’” This song divides the crowd, allowing new and long standing fans to identify one another but enjoy regardless.

Between the menacing growls of frontman George Pettit, ripping and dragging the collar of his tee shirt away, bassist Chris Steele’s sultry stomping, psychedelic dancing and arm waving - there is never a dull moment with this band.


Photo: Danny Payne

“This is a circle pit starter”, yells George. Yes it is. ‘Dog’s Blood’ causes an eruption from the crowd, the likes of which harked back to the band’s heyday, fuelling everybody to jump, bounce and throw fists to the sky.

In December 2012, heavy hearts made their way to Alexis farewell gigs across the country, sad times indeed. We love that Alexis have reunited for Reading and Leeds, but is there more to it? “There’s been a lot of speculation about what this means, about why we’re here,” admits George. “I'm gonna clear that up for you right now.” The clarification is 2002 classic ’44 Calibre Love Letter’ - more cryptic than clear. Watch this space.

Watch our interview with Dallas Green at Reading below

22. Hippo Campus
Baggier than their predecessors, Minnesota’s Hippo Campus rely more on harmony than they do propulsion. Frontman was born into the role, his shaggy exterior and classically handsome looks disarm the crowd excusing his overly-confident manoeuvrability onstage - it’d be easy to mock but he’s having so much fun with the performance, you have to admire it.

Hippo Campus’ tunes are solid, the vocal patterns often unpredictable and, in the end, it’s the early performances like this that will cement Hippo Campus as a Reading staple.


Photo: Richard Gray

23. Bury Tomorrow
“Reading. Now is the time to fucking move!” commands fierce frontman Dani Winter-Bates as Bury Tomorrow whip up a frenzy on the Pit stage. The rising temperature of the moshing mass radiates beyond the tented setting and across the fields of Reading.

‘Man on Fire’, first track from their current album Runes, starts proceedings and the crowd live up to the name of the stage, creating pit upon pit of messy madness. On the stage and pit alike, a swell of heads crash back and forth like a wave, all sporting the uniform of black tees and black jeans.

“I understand that everybody here is into heavy, aggressive, abrasive music”, growls Dani. “Put your arm around the person next to you. This song is called ‘Of Glory’” - another perfectly selected addition from Runes.

‘An Honourable Reign’ unleashes chaos. The band demand a girls vs. boys circle pit on opposing sides of the stage - it happens. The unfathomably energetic crowd are rewarded for their participation, “this is a brand new song.” ‘Earth Bound’ will feature on their fourth studio album which is in the process of creation right now. This new track is bold, invigorating and is getting us very excited about this band’s future.

Wanting to go out on a bang, Bury Tomorrow instruct crowd surfers to make their way over the barriers to the edge of the stage - putting the strength of the security team to the test. “Let’s play the high-five game”. Bodies pour over one another to make hands meet, high-five complete, these exemplary fans run to the back of the surf and repeat. This mass participation is accomplished to the tune of ‘Lionheart’.

Watching Bury Tomorrow as a passive observer is not an option - you must get involved. This might just be the band to headline this stage in the not too distant future. Until then, we look forward to the next album.


Photo: Richard Gray

24.Sundara Karma
Fresh-faced and seemingly swallowed up by the Camden market, Sundara Karma kicked off this afternoon’s marathon of up-and-coming bands with neon glazed indie-pop that’s been making waves in the indie scene for only a few months now. The band have two EPs under their belts and 18 years on earth, respectively.

Lead singer, Oscar Pollock, played the role of frontman expertly, sauntering about the stage in an army jacket and androgynous flare, if he wasn’t so magnetic it would be close to a parody of the expected and outworn mid-noughties frontman behaviour.

Pollock’s vocals are tinged with Americana, bringing the whole performance out of the lurch of atypical secondary-school band sound. Their strongest track and single ‘Flame’, warranted a mass reaction as the primarily under 18 crowd stubbed their half-smoked rollies on the ground and clambered upon each other’s shoulders - an energetic and obviously well-received Reading debut.

25. Beartooth 
Beartooth, what can we tell you about these melodic hardcore heroes? Well, for a start, it's go hard or go home. “If you wanna open it up in the middle,” frenzied frontman Caleb Shomo announces, “this would be a very good time”. ‘Dead’ erupts from the front to the back of the domed Pit stage, riotous reactions blossom.

Having appeared at Download Festival in June, Beartooth bring beautifully dirty beatdowns, divided by deceptively catchy choruses thanks to the former Attack! Attack! vocalist.

Compressing key tracks from their debut album Disgusting, including ‘Body Bag’, ‘In Between’ and ‘Beaten In Lips’, they deliver life-threatening, palpable energy to a ready and raring crowd. Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, lead guitarist Taylor Lumley abandons the stage to stand aloft in crowd.

“To all you out there on the floor keeping it real, thank you so much” assures Caleb. With dangerously infectious beats and cutting vocals, this band have stunning promise and potential. Beartooth will be back in the UK for a very limited time from 24 November. Miss them at your peril. 

26. New Found Glory
The Lock Up stage pulled a fair crowd throughout Friday at Reading. But this was nothing compared to the masses who gathered to stand, what seemed like miles away, just to hear the headliners New Found Glory. Getting straight to the core of the crowd, NFG delighted all with 2004 Catalyst classics 'All Downhill from Here' and 'Failure's Not Flattering'.

Feeling cramped at times, Jordan answered the question we were all thinking; “We got asked to play the main stage, we said we want to take it back to where we started.”

Rare though it is to see such a big band on a small stage, it really was incredible. The energy reverberated from the partial walls and ceiling of the tented stage making it impossible not to smile and sing louder than the band themselves. 'Dressed to Kill' and 'Head on Collision' making a much appreciated feature in a setlist that truly transcended all sense of time, taking us back to the start of the millennium. Personally, we hope people will still be listening to them come the next millennium.

Watch our interview with New Found Glory below

Issue Four of the Gigwise Print magazine is on pre-order now! Order here.


Photo: Richard Gray