Once one has cleared the gynaecologically thorough bag check and found a dry patch on which to erect a tent, the Reading Festival goer arriving on Friday having missed the opening acts will swiftly catch up with the vibe at one of the six stages spread out across the parklands.
Gogol Bordello take to the main stage for an early afternoon set and showcase some of their recent album Trans-Continental Hustle, mixed with old favourites like Start Wearing Purple. The gypsy punks work a big crowd very well, but they’re ubiquitousness over the past year demands that lesser known bands get some attention. There’s just enough time to head to The Lock Up Stage to catch The Skints and a flautist front-woman leading the young reggae/punk/dub outfit. The growing crowd and band are enjoying the early hours of the festival in equal measure.
Two Door Cinema Club fans cram in to the NME/Radio 1 Stage along with new arrivals who are looking for somewhere away from the mud. The rain over the last week has turned large swathes of the parkland into a bog, but the opportunists are happy as pigs in the proverbial to have stumbled into a disco indie pop paradise for an hour or so. Making peace with the mud and trudging over to the Festival Republic Stage, the ridiculously young Egyptian Hip Hop seem to be having a great time in front of what is probably their biggest audience to date; essentially a large group of people who are drinking all the booze the young band members aren’t allowed to touch. There might be time to wolf down an ostrich burger and a cider before heading back over to the Lock Up to watch Streetlight Manifesto and their epic ska-ness. The fans are out in numbers, belting out sing-alongs with the band and jumping around like Masai warriors.
Over at the NME/Radio 1 stage only the very brave and very early are able to get more than a distant sighting of new folk heroes Mumford And Sons. Even from a distance it’s easy to see the band, climbing up the next rung to a headline spot, are in competition with the crowd to see who is having more fun. Hugely popular faves Little Lion Man and The Cave send the onlookers wild.
While the appeal of the percussive highs and catchy electro-pop of LCD Soundsystem is alluring enough, for sheer train-wreck curiosity it is Guns N’ Roses who draw the lovers and the haters out to watch. Much has been made in recent days of this controversial set. Certainly The Axl Rose Show do turn up an hour late and there is much jeering from the crowd, but after a few bars of Welcome To The Jungle the majority are on side and, by the time the power is cut at just before midnight, they are chanting not for blood, but for more GNR. At the very least, Axl seems to have shed his ridiculous corn-row hairstyle, if not his ber-brat attitude.