Over the course of the August bank holiday weekend 100’s of bands and artists played at the Reading and Leeds Festivals. Unfortunately, its not possible to review very single band that played the festival. Here’s my pick of the 5 best bands of the weekend.
Although I can count the number of Weezer songs I know on one hand, this has to be the defining set of the weekend. Rivers Cuomo puts Weezer on another level to every band I saw: No speaker unclimbable, no instrument unbreakable, you get the idea. Rivers is a man who can put on a show. At one point the band goes into an MGMT cover, which is then mixed into Lady Gagas ‘Poker Face’. Rivers then emerges from the side of the stage with a wig on to imitate Lady Gaga. They even threw a cover of Wheatus’ ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ in there too, just for good measure.
Along with this is a well-balanced set list. One that delivers to fans and non- fans alike. All the hits are there: ‘Buddy Holly’, ‘Island In The Sun’, ‘The Sweater Song’. The hits are spread throughout, this works very well when combined with Rivers antics. Weezer were easily the most entertaining band of the weekend.
Zebrahead mix hip-hop and pop punk and make it sound surprisingly cool. The set list drew from older albums as much as newer material (but disappointingly didn’t include ‘Juggernaut’). Despite this Zebrahead put a lot of energy into their set and made it enjoyable for newer fans with a fair amount of fan interaction and banter. ‘Playmate Of The Year’ is the highlight of the set. It’s an immature but fun song. Before they play it they ensure that the majority of the audience is ‘throwing up the rock’ a la Jay-Z, before kicking in. At one point everyone is encouraged to sit down then jump up at the same time. Calamity ensued. From the point of view of a Zebrahead newcomer, its made the performance even more memorable. Ending with ‘The Set-up’ the set was enjoyable and put me in the mood for their November tour.
The King Blues
The King Blues brand of punk folk was one of the highlights of the weekend. Iggy and the band don’t forget their politics once they’re on the main stage. ‘The Streets Are Ours’ was delivered with a rousing Anti-fascist message. The King Blues want everyone to know that they are punks with a message. ‘I Got Love’ turned into a big sing along and was definitely one of my favorite moments of Leeds 2010. Overall, The King Blues might not be big on stage antics but that doesn’t really matter when they have solid songs and a message to deliver.
Early Sunday afternoon Crazy Arm delivered their own brand of hardcore ‘roots punk’. They’ve got a sound that’s unmistakable, one that’s easily identifiable and unique. Performance wise there was a lot of audience interaction. Tons of clapping and singing along, something that can’t be helped when listening to these guys. With only one album released the set list was fairly predictable, but that’s not a problem. ‘Asphalt’, ‘Still To Keep’ and ‘Blind Summit’ were the jewels in the set and made Crazy Arm stand out from the rest of the bands on Sunday morning. Without doubt, the Plymouth foursome definitely have a promising future.
One of the few ska bands at the festival this year, Streetlight Manifesto didn’t disappoint. Streetlight have 2 albums are an enjoyable listen to in their entirety, seeing them performed live is even better. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something cool about seeing a great ska horn section playing. Although streetlight have great songs the performance doesn’t seem to be on the same level as some of the bands playing that weekend. It lacked a lot of the audience participation that made a lot of the sets memorable but, whilst feeling a little average, there were definitely worse bands at the festival.