[FESTIVAL REVIEW] Reading Festival 2017

 The first thing to realise at Reading Festival (or any other big festival) is that it’s impossible to see everything and it’s a dead cert that several bands you most want to see will clash! As the dust settles over this year’s Reading Festival we look back over some of the bands we did catch across the many stages.

So, guest appearances and secret sets were a theme continuing from previous years. Drake appeared with Riggs, Brian Johnson (AC/DC) appeared with Muse and there were secret sets from Wolf Alice, The Hunna, Fickle Friends, Willie J Healey and Queens of the Stone Ages.

The newest and best stage (arguably) at Reading 2017

Main Stage headliners at Reading 17 were Kasabian, Eminem and Muse and as you’d expect they smashed it! Each played 90 minute sets with extraordinary light shows and pyrotechnics. Sound quality was hotly debated particularly for the Eminem set, it varied considerably depending on position but with the majority of the 80,000 attendees watching the main stage it wasn’t easy to find the best acoustic points. Performance wise Eminem was untouchable.

The NME/R1 Stage was the second largest stage with the most anticipated secret (not so secret as they’d played at Leeds earlier in the day) set from Queens Of The Stone Ages. QOTSA stormed through a short set of 7 songs mixing old and new with only 2 songs coming from the latest album ‘Villains’. Josh Homme’s advice to the crowd was “Don’t wait for anything. Do everything you fucking can this weekend and we hope we gave you a night to remember”.

Last year’s R&L’s big secret set artists You Me At Six were the Friday headliners on the NME/R1 Stage. The first song was played behind a semi-translucent curtain with lead singer Josh Franceschi’s silhouette visible before the curtain came down. YMAS know how to get a crowd going and the moshers were in their element! Franceschi told the crowd the band had been coming to Reading since they were 15 and never imagined they’d be headlining the NME Stage. He promised new music next year and they finished the set with the classic ‘Room To Breathe’. Franceschi was visibly touched by the crowd singing the lyrics back to him. “Incredible, life changing” were his final words. Awesome set!

Saturday on the NME/R1 stage saw the return of Marmozets. After a 2 year absence Marmozets have a new album. They were immense!! Becca MacIntyre is everything a front-woman should me. Loud, charismatic and watchable. One of the most exciting sets at Reading 17.

Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes are known for their live shows. Frank’s epic leap into the crowd at Reading was typical. It’s impossible to follow everything that’s going on at one of Frank’s shows but this performance was a massive highlight of Reading this year.

The Sherlocks were on the NME/R1 Stage on the last day at Reading. They’ve had an amazing year, including support slots for Kings of Leon, and with their album ’Live For The Moment’ at no 6 in the album chart (at the time of writing) the future is looking exciting for the Sheffield boys. Last year they played Festival Republic Stage and this step up is testament to their stunning year of gigging up and down the UK. Great show!

The Festival Republic Stage is often the place to catch some bands that will be playing the bigger stages in future years. On the first day of the festival The Amazons (local Reading boys) played an amazing set to a packed crowd spilling out way beyond the tent. Arguably this was predictable and the larger NME/R1 Stage would have accommodated this better. The Amazons have become massive over the last 12 months with the release of their debut album. Huge riffs, heavy drums, catchy hit songs like ‘Black Magic’ these guys are rock superstars. Future headliners no doubt!

Saturday on the Festival Republic Stage opened with a secret set from Wolf Alice which lured a big audience for an early session! Wolf Alice are super-cool and they blitzed their way through a solid set.

On the final day of Reading Festival the Festival Republic Stage late sets were up against Muse on the main stage. Tom Grennan was the penultimate act and bounced onto the stage though worringly clutching his throat. Grennan is one of the most exciting singers to have emerged over the last 12 months but he was clearly struggling with a sore throat. He apologised profusely throughout the set but even with reduced vocal power Tom Grennan was incredible. His rapport with the audience had them totally on his side and each song became a sing-a-long. It might not have been the performance Grennan was hoping for but he marked his place for future festival headline slots!

Having already played a secret set on the BBC Introducing Stage The Hunna headlined the Festival Republic Stage on one of their final live sets for some time whilst they concentrate on their second album. They remain one of the best live bands of the last couple of years. ‘She’s Casual’ is always the songs that has the crowd singing back to the band and I expect The Hunna to be scaling the bigger stages over the next few years.

The Radio 1 Dance Stage featured Fatboy Slim and Charli XCX over the festival and seemed to be bursting at the seams at times. HAUS opened up the stage on the first day and set the bar high. This North London band is building up legions of fans who love the hip-hop/rock/electronic vibe.

The hidden jewel at Reading Festival was the Jack Rocks (This Feeling) Stage. Hidden because it was literally outside the main arena and a jewel because it was packed with some of the best upcoming bands in 2017. Honestly it would have been easy to stay at the stage for the whole festival! Many of these bands are touring in the autumn and will be selling out venues.

The Shimmer Band gave a massive performance, songs that stay in your head for days combined with what feel like a huge production. Lights, colour, the whole works. ‘Freedom’ is the biggest song and The Shimmer Band’s high energy set with Tom Newman’s powerful vocals makes them a bit special.
The Wholls is a band who has featured highly on the Jack Rocks (This Feeling) stages this year. Rock ‘n Roll tunes, grimy and brash and brilliant. Lead singer Tordy Cocchiarella has a voice to die for. These boys are heading for the stratosphere.

The Wholls
The Shimmer Band

Himalayas is a Cardiff based indie rock band. Strong, shared lead vocals give Himalayas that extra facet. Combined with a gripping stage presence this is a band to watch.


SISTERAY played the Jack Rocks stage shortly before Eminem came onto the main stage. They still drew a sizable audience! FFO The Clash SISTERAY is one of the most refreshing bands on 2017. Opinionated, current and relevant this was one of the top sets across any of the stages.

The Blinders are the masters in capturing attention. It’s fast, vibrant punk combined with extensive body paint. What’s not to like! There’s drama and poetry and a visual assault that makes you want to see them again and again! Stunning Reading Festival set from The Blinders.

Trampolene is another quality band to emerge this year. Mesmerising, deep brooding prophetic lyrics. It’s sometimes spoken word combined with music sometimes pure, unadulterated rock. Lead singer Jack Jones is also Pete Doherty’s lead guitarist and there are inevitable Libertines-esque comparisons. Another great performance at Reading.

Roll on Reading Festival 2018!

Written by - Rhona Murphy
Photos by - Rhona Murphy