Rachael Reading Main

Reading Festival through the eyes of an Oxfam staff member…

On Saturday morning I rose from my not-so-amazing, post-Green Day sleep to find that by yelling to Dookie the previous night, I had entirely lost my voice. A proper festival injury that is always kind of welcomed by me.

Despite striking it lucky with my Sunday and Thursday shifts, much of Saturday this year was spent at the ever so wonderful Green Wristband Exchange, checking wristbands and welcoming people with day tickets into the festival. Oxfam mostly provide stewards with roles on stage disabled platforms and tent pits and as amazing as those roles are, I was more than happy to work in a not so excitable place just to have the time off to see most of the bands that I love.

No matter what though, I find there is always time for bands, and Saturday morning began with a rather upbeat but chilly set from the emerging Childhood. But before the band take to the stage, I get suddenly very confused as an equally confused looking lady holding a cardboard sign reading ‘Congratulations Mr & Mrs…’ stands in the middle of the stage for a full ten minutes, creating possibly the most awkward banner holding experience of my life. Despite never having heard any music from these lads before, there was a warm familiar feeling always present in their catchy melodies and energetic style. The tent may not have been the fullest it’s ever been, but Childhood are definitely ones to watch for fans of a little indie pop tomfoolery.

I first saw Theme Park supporting Florence & The Machine at Alexandra Palace last December and I will freely admit that I had all but totally forgotten about them, failing to realise that since then they have released their debut record and earnt themselves some serious kudos from music industry trendsetters. Every song is thunderously well received; they’re the musical ice lolly for a raging hot summer’s day. By the end of a set there isn’t a single person not dancing along in their own little way, a sure sign of big things to come.

Eminem - Reading Festival (Live) 2013

MIMING?: Rumour mill favourite Eminem performing on the Reading Mainstage on Saturday. Photo (c) PA via Telegraph.co.uk

I have history with Darwin Deez. Not in a romantic sense, but in the sense that when I was 16, the first ever gig I went to without parental supervision was from this very man in a dingy smelly basement somewhere in Brighton, which ended in Darwin burning my arm with his laptop but subsequently making up for it by signing my NME Cool List. Not much noise has been made from Deez for over a year, but new album Songs For Imaginative People won a lot of critical acclaim. Despite him being the oddest, weirdest and most random looking man on the planet, I can’t help but love him just a little. What he lacks in any discernable musical talent, he makes up for in stage presence; fully choreographed full band dance routines and punchy stage banter that seem to have opened more people up to the colourful mind of Darwin. It’s fair to say he won a lot of new fans today and to me that is such an important part of any festival experience; finding something new and a little out of your comfort zone.

Tonight’s big headliner is Eminem and I was very gutted to be working through his set which I thought had the potential to be a real festival ‘moment’. However, it seems a lot of people were turned off by the super polished stage production which contained barely any onstage chat from a man famed for being outspoken. Sound problems plagued the set causing a giant chorus of ‘TURN IT UP’ from the huge crowd. Now with claims that he was also miming floating around, it (and I don’t want to say it, I really don’t) seems that Eminem has lost who he was. I mean, would a Slim Shady era Marshall Mathers have ever covered ‘Aeroplanes’ by BOB? No he would not. Fortunately though, for one man from Bristol, he is now the proud owner of a recording of two Oxfam stewards rapping ‘Lose Yourself’ along with Eminem himself. If that’s not a claim to fame then I don’t know what is.

If you have a couple more minutes to spare, why not check out the past week’s other content?