Reading Festival 2016 – Full weekend review

Reading Festival, music, culture, Nathan Price, Kettle Mag
Written by Nathan Lee Price

Well, well, well. Where do we start with reviewing such a large and diverse festival as Reading Festival? The combination of Reading and Leeds festival provide a bank holiday weekend of music to over 150,000 people. Thankfully, This Festival Feeling were within that number.


Starting the weekend with a special opening set from Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls was a perfect way to start. Still one of the standout sets of the weekend, Frank’s 10th successive performance at Reading Festival got the singalongs started in the lunchtime sun. Closing by jumping in the crowd during dance-promoting Four Simple Words, it was a resounding way to celebrate his 10th year.

Bringing even more passion and energy to the MainStage was Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes. As Frank said “It’s took me 17 years and 3 bands to get here but I’m finally on the big boy stage” and boy did he take the opportunity. Screaming through material from 1st album Blossom as well as new song Snake Eyes, Frank spent more time in the crowd than on the stage and whipped up a frenzy.

From there we went over to a packed The Pit stage to check out Creeper’s first appearance at Reading and Leeds. The large amount of Creeper shirts we saw over the weekend resulted in a packed tent with fans signing back every word to the Southampton rockers. They’ll be playing much bigger stages in the near future.

We caught the end of Nothing But Thieves main stage debut, including our favourites Trip Switch and Ban All The Music. They looked at home on the stage and had gained a decent crowd. Another band who looked at home were Lower Than Alantis, who impressed with a set full of their biggest hitters, that went down well with the Reading Festival audience.

Next up on the main stage was one of the most puzzling things I’ve ever witnessed. Die Antwoord’s performance included multiple costume changes, a random dancing pair wearing morph suites covered in expletives and a stage show including ghosts with giant penises flying across the screen. Though the crowd ate up the performance of Ninja, Yolandi and DJ Hi-Tek.

The next band we saw were CHVRCHES, whose synth pop bridged the gap well between Die Antwoord and Disclosure. Though we headed over to the NME stage for Twenty One Pilots sub headlining performance. Despite technical issues and crowd problems ruining what could have been a historic set for them, Twenty One Pilots still played to packed tent and did all they could to overcome the problems. Expect to see them high up the main stage in the near future.


Choosing to start off our day with one of our favourite bands to see at a festival, Welsh reggae metallers Skindred. Their typically energetic and crowd participating set got our day off to a great start, the Newport Helicopter looking as impressive as ever on the main stage.

Next up was the worst kept secret of Reading and Leeds, the surprise appearance of You Me At Six. Rumoured before the festival and eventually confirmed, the set took the usual arena selling rockers to the sweaty confines of the pit. Premiering new material as well as fan favourites, the set was a highlight of the entire festival. They’ll be sure to be back next year and will rightfully command a high spot on the main stage.

Running back to the Main stage allowed us to see the last 2 songs of a passionate Slaves set. The two piece causing chaos and making a racket with their simple set up. We also later caught them playing rare cuts over on the introducing stage, they looked comfortable on both stages and feel like they will work their way up the line up similar to Biffy Clyro and Foals, can they get to the top of the bill? Time will tell.

Back over to The Pit to an unfortunately less full tent for Milk Teeth. Still attracting a respectable audience, Milk Teeth ran through songs from debut album Vile Child and E-P Sad Sack to sing alongs and mosh pits from the lively crowd. We’re big fans at Kettle and would love to see them play larger stages in the near future.

Returning to the main stage for a phenomenal sub headline performance from Imagine Dragons, despite only having 2 albums, the wealth of singles they have amassed lead to a victorious performance that could be considered headline worthy. Radioactive was made for stages like this and unsurprisingly went down a storm with the Reading crowd.

Last but certainly not least, Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Opening with a showcase of the musical talents via a jam straight into classic hits Can’t Stop and Dani California. Hits are something their set had plenty of, recent single Dark Necessities, Snow, Californication, Under The Bridge, By The Way and Give It Away all appearing during their 2 hour set. The band sounded great on the main stage, though communication was difficult to hear between the band members between song. Due to this the performance lacked a bit of life and didn’t generate the atmosphere you’d expect from a headline performance of a band with such a high calibre.


The closing day of Reading Festival started off with a couple of songs of guitar riffs galore courtesy of Cohered & Cambria. We were impressed with what we managed to catch of their performance and wish they had a bit longer to play more material from recent album The Color Before The Sun.

Next we ran over to the NME to catch the double header of Deaf Havana and Tonight Alive. Deaf Havana have had some time away from the limelight but returned with a great career spanning set bringing us up to date with what they have been up to, by announcing a new release in January 2017. Tonight Alive meanwhile arrive on the wave of success from recent album Limitless, Jenna McDougall had the crowd in the palm of her hand during their powerful set, a return to the main stage is set for both bands.

Bringing a bit of mayhem to the stage next were Five Finger Death Punch. Ivan Moody and co bringing their heavy metal to a sunny Reading Festival. Racing through 10 songs, the set saw about 50 vest changes and even more mosh pits. Speaking of mosh pits, A$AP Rocky sparked equally as many, possibly even more. The New York rapper demanding as many pits as possible to get the audience going.

The last subheadlinxer was The Vaccines, who have built a loyal following over their 3 albums. Playing in front of a solid red backdrop, the band raced through material throughout their career to a substantial crowd. Supplying a solid warm up to the last set of coheadliners.

Fall Out Boy, performed as part of their bloom dates, with a specially designed stage show including pyro and fireworks, adding pizzaz to their live show for this monumental occasion. Performing material from pre and post hiatus albums, Fall Out boy more than justified their headline billing. With new music on the way, there’s no doubt they can headline this festival alone in the future.

We sprinted over to the NME, as many of the crowd from FOB did, to catch the end of The Wombats set. Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves) kicked in just as we arrived, causing singalongs throughout the packed tent. New jam Greek Tragedy caused equal reactions before the thunderous Let’s Dance to Joy Division caused pandemonium in the tent.

Finally to finish our weekend, Biffy Clyro closing the main stage. Opening with the lead single of latest album Elipsis, Wolves of Winter, Biffy showed their weren’t messing around. Going straight into Living Is A Problem Cause Everyone Dies, the Scottish rockers smashed through another triumphant Reading headline set after 2013. When the bagpipe solo of Stinging Belle played out to the crowd with fireworks erupting above the main stage it was unfortunately time to draw the stellar weekend to a close. Thank you Reading Festival, we’re sure we will be back.