Reading Festival through the eyes of an Oxfam staff member…
After finishing at just past midnight on a Sunday morning, most normal people would have been rushing to get to their bed. Not me though, for Sunday is the day that I have been waiting months for. Sunday… is Haim Day!
For those not familiar with the 3 sisters and a mister, they’re an indie group from California and it’s fair to say that I’m pretty obsessed. Reading 2013 marked my 8th time seeing the band since only November of 2012 and their set was by far the greatest I have ever seen them play. Going from standing in a not sold-out crowd of people in a Nottingham club, to hearing thousands of people chant the names of Este, Alana and Danielle, even I am overwhelmed by their success; lord knows what they felt like pre-show.
But before we get to Haim, I first had to work from 7:45am for 7 hours (normally a shift is 8 hours but I chose to work without a break so as to sprint to the front for Haim’s set like a good fan). Never has seven hours gone so slowly in my life. Decked out in my Haim t shirt, I was bouncing around the wristband tunnel treating strangers to little snippets of Haim songs until one security guard told me I was having far too much fun for a Sunday morning.
The crowd for AlunaGeorge was one of the biggest I had seen all weekend, there were people spilling outside of the NME/Radio 1 tent from all sides and they were definitely not disappointed. Hits like ‘Attracting Flies’ and Disclosure collaboration track ‘White Noise’ go down a storm, whilst the big finale of ‘YR DRUMS YR LOVE’ has become one of my favourite moments of the entire weekend. Their sound is just spectacular, and Aluna Francis has such a good and positive energy that just oozes out of her through everything she sings.
For me it wouldn’t be Reading without seeing Tribes, and this year is now the third year in a row that these London lads have dazzled everyone with their pounding guitar lines and intelligent lyrics. Frontman Johnny Lloyd was born to write songs, and every single word is hung on to by a crowd all feeling the togetherness that Tribes create.
If someone said to me “do you know who Alex Clare is?” my immediate answer would be no, but then they sing that ‘Too Close’ song at you and it all gets a bit weird. In a move that must have annoyed some other people, I spent most of his set chatting to my friends about the impending Haim-a-geddon. I don’t have a problem with Alex Clare, but it seems his sole purpose at this festival was to fill a gap until the time was right to provide lots of drunken sixth formers a chance to ‘mosh’ for a while to tire them out, so they’d all sleep and not cause trouble.
I’m not a mother, but seeing Haim walk onstage in a deafening roar of screams and applause made me swell with pride and joy. Knowing that many people there had never seen them live, I was safe in the knowledge that as soon as these girls picked up their stringed instruments, no one would ever doubt them or their talent. Ever. The sassiness, the punk attitude and the raging melodies and harmonies exuded confidence and charisma. I could talk for hours about how Haim were the festival act of the year for me, but to get the idea, everyone really needs to go see them live because you are seriously missing out.
Speaking of Haim, later on that evening I thought it would be a good idea to flash Este Haim my belly whilst she was live on BBC 3. Resulting in her almost ‘Falling’ (Haim related joke) out of the BBC treehouse studio.
Reading this year was unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was bigger, better and considerably more organised. It had gotten a bit of a bad rep as a playground for A-level students to go and try drugs and drink for the first time, but things are changing at Reading and this year, the atmosphere really benefitted from even the littlest things such as a higher police presence on site and tougher rules on alcohol. I would recommend Reading to any first time festival goer, as well as a brilliant festival to steward at. My eyes are already set firmly on next year’s antics.
If you have a couple more minutes to spare, why not check out the past week’s other content?