Keith Flint RIP

Keith Flint of The Prodigy took his own life at the age of 49 and it is an utter tragedy for so, so many reasons. If one assumes he was suffering from depression then he’s another victim of how men especially find it hard to nearly impossible to speak about something that can be crippling or worse. 49 is no age these days and Flint had decades ahead of him.

And it can’t be said often enough that The Prodigy emerged from a scene in the early 90’s where rave bands were ten a penny and novelty dance tunes were chart fodder, which brings me my first encounter with the band in the form of Charly.

In these early days Flint was a dancer. Basically he was there to dance to LIam Howlett’s tunes as The Prodigy was purely a vehicle for Howlett back then but then came Music For A Jilted Generation and fuck me, it was like an entirely different band.

I first saw them sometime in 93/4 at the Astoria in London and it was clear the band wasn’t just actually becoming a band, but Flint was developing a presence onstage, and not just that the band were getting harder. Sometimes even moving away from the rave sound which by the mid 90s was becoming increasingly commercialised and well, shite.

Then Firestarter came out in 96 at the height of Britpop when British bands were supposed to be inspired by The Kinks and writing songs about going to the seaside or getting drunk, The Prodigy turned out something that sounded nothing like any other mainstream band at the time.

Sure, others had blended dance with Punk before, Sheep on Drugs for example, but nobody really made a success of it til Keith Flint decided to have a serious makeover which ended up scaring the shite out of people’s mid-90’s complacency when the video first appeared on Top of the Pops.

Summer 96 saw The Prodigy tear up the Phoenix festival, but it was 1997 at Glastonbury when they landed fully formed as something extraordinary.

It was Friday night. It’d been raining so hard in the run-up that stages were sinking into the mud. Conditions were miserable. Everywhere had this sucking, sticky mud that clung to everything, and if you stayed still for too long you either locked into place or sank. People were fucked off and waiting for something to kick the festival’s arse into gear. A lot has been said about Radiohead’s set on the Saturday over the years, but without the Prodigy kicking off the Friday night  and giving people a spark, then the crowd wouldn’t have been so up for it. We’d have given in.

By now at the scabby dogend of Britpop bands were dropping off fast, but The Prodigy sailed through the storms, not to mention controversies like the argument with the Beastie Boys about Smack My Bitch Up.

After 98 I sort of took the Prodigy for granted. Subsequent albums never hit the heights of Fat of the Land, and a decent headliner spot in Reading in 2002 was the last time I saw them live, and now I’ll never see them again and that is nothing compared to the tragedy of Flint leaving us at such a relatively young age.

Today’s Reading Festival is a big pile of shit

I spent years going to the Reading Festival. I used to utterly love it. Then it became the place where middle class kids celebrated exam results by taking shit drugs, drinking shit beer and watching shit bands.

Don’t believe me about the shit bands? Here’s this year’s line-up.

You need thigh-high waders to walk through this line-up. Sure, there’s the odd decent act, but the entire weekend is full of fading stars and just shite Indie. I suppose this is mourning the death of the festival for me, but a few hundred quid for this?

Reading used to be a weekend of debauchery and great bands. Now it’s just an extended episode of Love Island with a shitter soundtrack.

And this I suppose is me finally entering Grumpy Old Man mode…

A moment of appreciation for Pretty Girls Makes Graves

Back in the early years of this century music was actually a bit exciting as acts tried doing things that were different, exciting, fun or all of the above. The likes of the White Stripes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Strokes, and many more were flooding into the UK with some of them being to my taste (I still adore the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and some not (fuck The Strokes) because they were a bit shite.

One of the bands that came over from the US that have sadly faded into obscurity were Pretty Girls Make Graves, a Seattle band named after The Smiths song of the same name.Unlike The Smiths, Pretty Girls Make Graves were energetic punk with a poppy feel and from the first time I hear them played the new band tent at the 2002 Reading Festival I was utterly hooked. Their first, and best, album Good Health (the opening track Speakers Push the Air is as glorious an opening track as you’ll hear) is a classic of early 21st century music that matches any one of the albums by vastly more successful bands of the time.

Sadly they broke up in 2007. Later albums never matched that first one, but they still produced some cracking stuff, but here’s their first album. Go listen to it as loud as you can!

Live Bed Show: A short tale of the Reading Festival 2002

In 2002 Pulp were in an odd place. The stratospheric success of 1994/5 had passed to the extent where their latest album at the time, We Love Life, barely made a ripple in sales or make that much on an impact at the time critically. Personally, I love the album because of it’s melancholic tone though it’s tempered with a curious optimism but creatively it seemed like an end, and it was. This was certainly the case as Britpop was truly dead even though Pulp were never like bands like Gene or Kula Shaker who leaped into the scene to cash in on a genre, but Pulp were dragged into the sucking whirlpool of the mid 1990’s British music scene and for a few exhilarating years so were people like me who went along for the ride.

By 2002 though music was moving on. American music from the likes of the White Stripes was starting to dominate, and Pulp were fading to the extent that at the Reading Festival that year they were bumped from a headlining slot from that year’s Hip Young Things, The Strokes. In retrospect it was just the usual cycle of music as one phase moves out, another comes in.

Pulp played their set and few guessed that this would be their last ever festival set (until the band reformed a decade later) as most of us were having a fantastic time but that Pulp set is something of beauty. Sadly little of it exists online but what does tells a story. Common People especially has something lugubrious about it, and although those of us in the audience were loving it, there’s a feeling that Jarvis and the band are going through the motions here. A few months later they released a Greatest Hits, and proceeded to vanish into the ether with all the band members doing their own things.

Enough wittering though, have a shufty of it for yourselves…

Oh Yeah, It Was the Start of the Summer: A Short tale of the Reading Festival 1996

The Reading Festival in 1996 is still one of the best festivals, and best times I’ve ever had or spent in my life. Every single thing about it just slotted perfectly into place, and I didn’t even mind the rain that much. Of course most of the media and music press think only of that year’s simply disastrous performance by The Stone Roses as the only memorable thing about it but in reality every day had a succession of bands at the top of their game, or just starting out and this was the year when they hit the ground running.

One of those bands were Ash, who’d been just released their first album 1977 earlier in  1996. It instantly became a favourite of mine so when I saw that Ash were going to play before The Stone Roses on the Sunday night of the festival I was wetting myself in anticipation. As it turned out I stood there with my mate Zeb and all the people we’d gotten to know and hang out with all weekend having the biggest fucking joyous laugh you possibly could for most of the evening of that last night in August 1996. Then Ash came out to the opening sound of a TIE Fighter from Star Wars and that was it. They totally stole the hearts and minds of thousands of people in that field at that time.

Watching the sun set behind us, Ash in front of us and Concorde pass above us all it felt like some sort of film script made real as it was one of those moments that can’t ever be repeated as you have to live in it there and then. You get a small fragment of what it was like with the snippets of video that exist of the gig, but nothing gives a feeling of the glory of it all as when the band did Oh Yeah in a golden sunset. What came after with The Stone Roses was pathos but this was sublime….

The unexpectedly brilliant return of Daphne and Celeste?

Last week i was drunkenly telling one of my stories about festivals seeing as it’s nearly festival time again, and the story I was telling was that of Daphne and Celeste playing the Reading Festival in 2000.

For those that don’t know, Daphne and Celeste were a pop band that had some annoyingly catchy pop songs that were on one hand brilliant in their terribleness, but at the same time, utterly dreadful. They were very much Schrodinger’s pop group. People utterly loathed them but I thought, and still do, that their version of Alice Cooper’s School’s Out is just utterly fucking brilliant.

But generally in those post-Britpop/pre-Simon Cowell time this sort of manufactured pop suffered a massive backlash mainly due to most of it being pretty awful, but compared to the dismal pop of today, Daphne and Celeste’s bubblegum pop really was part of a Silver Age before the Shit Age of Pop Idol and X Factor made pop something to endure, rather than laugh at, enjoy and move onto something else.

Anyhow, some genius at their record company decided to get them on the bill at Reading, just before Slipknot if I remember right. To say that their 15 or so minutes went down badly with a crowd of angry teen Slipknot and Fred Durst fans is a tad of an understatement as this footage shows.

The legend goes that a wheelchair was thrown at them. A bloody wheelchair! That shows serious commitment to the cause, but for me that’s one of the most punk things I’ve ever seen Two wee girls standing up in front of a crowd of thousands of people that hate them singing and dancing their annoying/brilliant bubblegum pop. Sadly this was their high point as the pair split not long after this due mainly to crap sales, but really the venom thrown at them (some of which I remember being massively misogynist) ensured an end for them but they did have fans. An ex-girlfriend of mine just adored the pair so that’s why I have Daphne and Celeste CD’s in my collection as she didn’t take them with her after we split.

Honest, really.

So I was spinning this story about Reading, people were laughing and a wee voice at the back of my head wondered what happened to the pair. A check of their Wiki page shows that they did various acting jobs, and most bizarrely did a tour with Lolly (and there’s a story I have about her for another time) in 2005 in what seems like a desperate attempt to have a mini-revival.

And that should have been that for Daphne and Celeste. Forever to be a source of a good festival story from people like me, but no. Yesterday they sneaked back with the Max Tundra produced song You and I Alone, and it’s actually just bloody brilliant. In fact any song that references Twin Peaks is brilliant.

Nobody expected this. There was as far as I know, no announcement, no nothing apart from a Tweet, and a link to their website and this new song. I do hope this isn’t all there;s going to be as if this is the quality they’re going for I’d listen to more, and I hope they return to Reading, if only to get a better response this time.

Now, 2015 would be great if we could get a Shampoo reunion…..

Some words about Nashville Pussy

Back in 1999 on the Friday night of that year’s Reading Festival I saw an act called Nashville Pussy play one of the smaller tents in the festival. The Charlatans were boring people to death on the main stage and in the NME Tent Elastica were falling apart in front of everyone’s eyes, so this meant that Nashville Pussy got a bigger crowd for what was a pretty unknown band. Thankfully, people who were there had a treat as they were the best rock/blues/punk band I’d seen in a long, long, long time. Considering that the lead singer look like a serial killer, and guitarist was causing young boys groins to explode in a way they never had before, it really was an extraordinary gig.

They’re still going but their height seems to have been the late 90’s to early 00’s, and here’s a video of them in Paris in 2002 being fucking filthy and awesome.

Enjoy.

The Life and Death of Kurt Cobain

20 years ago today the singer Kurt Cobain killed himself, and seeing as it’s a 20th anniversary this means the media is alight with retrospectives of Cobain and Nirvana, and what they meant to the world. Much of this retrospective is bollocks, and the comments sections of these articles are full of people saying Nirvana were ‘rubbish’, or that they weren’t as good as <insert vaguely shite band few people know about or The Pixies here> or that Cobain was a ‘sell out’, and on and on.

Anyone who was alive at the time will tell a different story from the modern version which is trying to rewrite history. Nirvana were a vastly important band because it broke the bland mainstream of what was American music at the time, plus it gave a well deserved kick up the arse of British bands who were too obsessed with playing to halls of students staring at each others shoes. Nirvana were one of those bands who did define a time and in many cases, a generation because they were a fucking good band who made fucking great music who were fucking great live. Dave Grohl may have turned into a cliched rock god and Krist Novoselic turned into a politician but the impact of Nirvana is not diminished because of it.

As for me, I adored Nirvana. They are still one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen, or are ever likely to see. This is due mainly to the three members bouncing off each other perfectly but Cobain was an astonishing charismatic frontman, not to mention he was genuinely quite funny. I saw them a few times, but notably at the Reading Festival and at Rock City in Nottingham just as they became utterly massive across the planet. That to this day was an amazing gig, and I can still remember it well.

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I’d been living in Nottingham for not too long and I’d spent the day sorting some comics out for a mart in London that weekend, but the evening was about Nirvana so after work, I got into town about 4ish and headed to the Tap and Tumbler, a pretty famous Nottingham landmark to get a few beers, before grabbing something to eat. Walking down the High Street I saw some lads in lumberjack shirts, smiled at them, which got a nice grin back and thought ‘ah, these lads must be coming to the gig and getting up to Rock City early’, so I thought nothing of it til I got to the pub. In the pub I bumped into some mates who were all frantic and excited. I asked what was up and they told me that they’d just been into Selectadisc (famous Nottingham record shop) on the High Street and all three members of Nirvana were in buying stuff, chatting with fans and generally being nice. Then it dawned that the three lads I thought were fans from earlier were actually Nirvana!

So after this excitement we were pumped up for the gig. After a few more beers and a bite to eat, we headed up in the dark to Rock City, which was then still a  venue which had a reputation for being a wee bit tasty for a variety of reasons but I loved the place.

As we entered it was empty, but I wanted to get there early to see Captain America (the band), and Shonen Knife, which is when the venue started to seriously fill up. The venue was in fact, really, really full but what the bouncers at Rock City used to do was cram people in, and we were crammed in tight as I’m sure the venue broke what health and safety laws there were in 1991. I’d bought

At this point it’s really hard to explain what happened next as it’s still a blur, but Nirvana came on stage and every single human being in Rock City exploded. Yes, there were a lot of people in fresh Nirvana t-shirts who’d not bought tickets six months earlier like we did, but so what? Everyone was there for the band and they turned out a blinding performance.

For years I’d thought I’d seen cameras at the venue, and in fact, I’d spent years telling people this night’s performance was filmed. Nobody believed me. They were wrong. The gig was filmed as part of a Japanese music programme along with some interviews after the gig which is what I remember seeing being filmed on the way out that night. Somewhere in the raw footage, I’m there looking sweaty and buzzing….

It’s amazing watching those post gig interviews as all the fans aren’t cynical, or desperately trying to be wankers. They just fucking love Nirvana. It’s amazing I stumbled across this as it’s brought back memories of better times when music fans loved the music and didn’t go to gigs or festivals because it was a fashionable thing. It’s also worth noting the mix of working class kids and middle class students which isn’t as common these days.

Anyhow, back to Nirvana and Cobain. By 1994 Cobain was a known mainstream figure to such a degree that he was a household name; something you’d expected from what was an underground band only three years earlier. On April the 8th 1994, I was still in bed when my then girlfriend Amanda, went downstairs to make some tea. She’d turned on the TV, flicked the channel to MTV and it was all over the channel that Cobain had killed himself. She dived upstairs to wake me up, tell me the news and I dragged myself out of bed to join her on the couch watching the news slowly unfold in those pre-internet days.

Cobain’s death affected us, it affected me. It was utterly pointless as Cobain had everything to live for, though if someone is suicidal enough they don’t see it that way. In fact much of the commentary aimed towards Cobain after his suicide showed a massive lack of understanding of mental illness or drug addiction and that ignorance still goes on today.

I’m not going to go into the conspiracy theories around his death, though I will take a bit of time to recommend Nick Broomfield’s Kurt and Courtney which is more an exploration of junkies, nutters and Courtney Love’s hypocrisy than conspiracy theories. It’s a weird little film that makes you want to have a shower after watching it.

It’s best to remember Cobain as what he was-a fantastic sing/songwriter of a band that changed the music scene for the best. He and Nirvana made things exciting and dear god, we need a Cobain or a Nirvana now more than ever to shake up the dreary complacency of the music scene.  That’s how I’m remembering him. Maybe everyone should do the same.

Gerard Way’s reply to that Alan Moore Interview.

Gerard Way, lead singer of hilariously self-important noughties Emo boy band My Chemical Romance went and Tweeted this in response to the Alan Moore interview that’s causing a lot of angst online.

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I’m sure Way’s Photoshop skills are going to terrify the regulars at B3TA and other such sites and although this did raise a wee smile, not because it’s especially funny (it’s not) but because it drives home a point Moore was making in the interview that must have skimmed over Way’s head.

 I would also observe that it is, potentially, culturally catastrophic to have the ephemera of a previous century squatting possessively on the cultural stage and refusing to allow this surely unprecedented era to develop a culture of its own, relevant and sufficient to its times.

Now it may well be that Way is being ironic, but I somewhat doubt it having once endured My Chemical Romance at a Reading Festival in the early noughties, but being gladdened by the hail of bottles full of piss being aimed his way.

At least Way has the excuse of sticking up for his mate Grant Morrison in what has become a bitterly personal slagging match. Some of the responses to the interview have been utterly baffling in the way they’ve completely been unable to actually read Moore’s words and understand them. For example, here’s this excuse for ‘reporting’ at something called ”Nerd Bastards” with the headline Moore Blames Morrison for Terrible State of Modern Comics.

Except as anyone who’d read the interview will find out, Moore said nothing of the kind, but that headline gets the hits and hey, who needs to even try to discuss what Moore’s raised in the interview when you can get hits! Then there’s articles like this where it has to mention that the interview is a long one because one assumes their audience isn’t intelligent people who can hold their attention span for longer than it takes to breathe while stuffing your face full of crisps.

If it sounds like I’m being hard then you’re right as frankly, a large chunk of the reaction, including from places like The Beat which should know better, is proving several of Moore’s points. It’s saying something about this story that Bleeding Cool’s coverage is on the whole, the most even handed and reasonable while almost overwhelmingly everyone has mainly concentrated on the comments made by Moore towards Morrison and I firmly include myself in this as well as contributing to this imbalance in my own small way.

This is a story that’s far from over, but until the next eruption there’s a lot to discuss in this interview, and perhaps if comics journalism is to prove itself wrong to me, it’d be really, really nice if the established sites either did that, or stop trying to coax clicks by printing half arsed articles, or just plainly lie about what Moore’s said, which is fucking ridiculous. If you run a site saying you report the news, then report it fairly. Don’t make up headlines. If you want to create a discussion then grow a spine and engage the reader in that discussion with an informed viewpoint of your own. If you want to take the piss, then do it, don’t just sit there wheeling out the sad and tired meme of ‘oooooo, what if Moore and Morrison had a wizard fight?’ as if you were the first people to think of it.

Bring something to this debate because right now things are raw, which means there’s a genuine potential for honest debate about racism in comics, or sexual politics, and that comment Moore made about 21st century culture wallowing in the remnants of the past is a debate waiting to be had. Prove that people who read comics are intelligent people. Prove a point, rather than just stick Photoshopped images up to say ‘fuck you’ to someone rather than engaging the debate. Let’s be having a conversation, of any form, rather than what we’ve got now but this isn’t productive at all.

 

The Rise and Fall of the Reading Festival part five

Part one. Part two. Part three. Part four. 

After last time at Reading in 2001 I was unsure whether  to go back as I was single, fed up and couldn’t be arsed, however the lineup was a cracking one.

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I was prepared to go by myself but I’d gotten to know a few people from an online forum I was part of at the time, and in particular I’d gotten to know a girl by the name of Nat pretty well so to cut a long story short (and a long story probably for another time) we’d arranged to camp together at the festival as we were getting on well considering there was a largish age difference (she was 19 and I was 35) and she was in Welwyn Garden City and I was in Bristol.

Regardless we’d made a plan to meet at Reading train station on the Thursday afternoon with myself turning up early to grab a good camping spot while she struggled to get through London. This meant I turned up amazingly early but found the site was already heaving, so as I got into the site I headed as quickly as I could to find a good place but the campsites were full from the arena outwards, and I didn’t want to go too far out as Nat wanted to be close to the arena so I found a good place near a corner of one campsite that would fit her tent as well. After pitching up my tent and asking my neighbour to try to keep a space, I headed to the train station to meet Nat in a sate of being still amazingly sober.

At the station I walked back into the crowd of people pouring into Reading for the festival and spent the next half hour waiting for Nat to pop up in the crowd, when I got a text from her saying she was on the next train and would be in. Thankfully there is a bar next to the station, so I slipped a beer down my neck quickly and before I knew it I waited no longer as she finally managed to get to Reading. After we met up we considered nipping into town to stock up on beers but the priority was getting her tent set up in a very, very full festival. We threw her tent up quickly once we got to our campsite and we didn’t fancy going into town, so we went to get her wristband when Nat noticed there was a Carling stall selling cases of Carling, a crap beer but it’d save a walk into the Sainsbury’s in the centre of Reading, so we got a couple of cases, headed back to our tents and proceeded to neck as much as possible while wandering around the site.

Here’s the thing about this year. The site was rammed even though it’d split into two with another leg in Leeds with Guns And Roses playing exclusively in Leeds, so it actually had a stronger lineup than the parent leg of the festival but Reading was utterly rammed with a crowd much, much younger than even the previous year and much rowdier, and even though there’d been a rape in 2001 not far from where I camped, the feeling of insecurity in some parts of the site on that wander in 2002 was scary, especially since I was supposed to be sort of looking after Nat, even though she was perfectly able to look after herself. The festival however was in a state of flux as it was moving from a festival full of kids to adults wanting to indulge in music one last time in that summer, to one where lots and lots of very middle class kids wanted to turn up and make themselves very ill while smashing a load of things up. The atmosphere in parts of the site was dark, and even being a veteran of raves 12 years earlier, or those early Glastonbury’s I did which were still edgy, this was different and somewhat scarier at times. Still, where we’d camped seemed ok and Nat and myself were getting on well, so that first night we got horribly, horribly drunk and talking bollocks before ending up in the same tent together.

Next morning we got up in a very, very hungover state to sort ourselves out and wander off to get some breakfast in Reading, so we ended up getting some food, drinking more and staggering (and I mean staggering) back to the festival and into the arena to plant ourselves by the beer tent to drinking heavily and generally muck around while watching the White Stripes. After this we wandered round the arena for a few hours drinking heavily while waiting for Pulp to come on and seeing as we both adored them, this was our main thing to watch on the first night. Sadly it was also the last gig they played for nearly a decade, but it was a spectacular gig we both loved in our by now amazing pissed states. After Pulp, we legged it across the site to watch the Aphex Twin play a set which to be honest I don’t remember much of apart from the fact by now we were hammered and falling over each other. After that we staggered back to our tents to crash out in a heap.

Saturday came as a shock, and we took it easier on this day mainly because we’d broken ourselves the day previously and we wanted to make it to Ash and Muse.We both loved Ash, but whereas Nat wanted to see Muse, I wasn’t convinced but fuck it, I was having a great time so I went with the flow as we were getting on like the proverbial house on fire and then some, so we had an amazing time watching Ash who played probably the best set I’ve seen them play, and as the rain came down I was more convinced about Muse, but to this day I’m still dubious of them as they still remind me of those prog bands from the 70’s who went on and on and on and on…

The Saturday night was closed by Foo Fighters who played a good show but seemed like they were clocking on for a days graft rather than anything else, so we decided to go back to the tents to drink vodka and fall over, which we did and by now we were sharing the same tent and using Nat’s tent to store beer. As it was we were running low, so we made a good night of it and that Saturday night was one of the best days/night at a festival I’ve ever experienced. Next morning was about getting up early, having a wander into town and getting breakfast before heading back into the arena for a quietish day of music.

There’s not a lot I remember about the Sunday apart from noticing that suddenly we seemed to be the tallest people in the field as kiddie Slipknot fans poured into the arena to see them play. Later on we decided to leave after watching the Prodigy try to capture old glories but fail horribly, so we wandered by to our tents to finish off our beer and discuss what we were going to do next in our lives. Monday morning came, we woke up, packed up our tents after a cracking weekend, walked to the train station where she stood on the London-bound platform and I was on the westbound platform looking at each other being quite miserable we were splitting up. A few weeks later Nat moved to Bristol and this started an odd few years.

In 2003 Reading rolled round, and Nat had moved back home, but we were going to go to Reading together as again, it was a good line-up.

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We were both by this time utterly obsessed with Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and if you squint we’re in this video somewhere, but again this year was a blur, though I did watch a great set from the Polyphonic Spree, Scissor Sisters and FC Kahuna. We both watched the Libertines collapse and Blur go through the motions, but we did join in with building a mountain of rubbish on one of the many casualties Reading throws up each year.

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That sadly, is the only picture I can find that we took from that year and we took loads, but all seem to be lost, though I do have a load of floppy discs with pictures on them but sadly no way of reading the discs!

Oh progress…

Anyhow, 2003 ended with me being very, very, very drunk on the Monday morning fighting my way back to Bristol smelling like a tramp, before staggering into my bed for 12 hours sleep and a vow never to go back to Reading. The reason being things had changed. It was no longer a music festival per say, but rather another box for teenagers to tick before starting university, which festivals kind of had been but with working class kids mainly priced out the festival was pitched towards the sort of person the festival previously wouldn’t have allowed near the site.

2004 though saw myself buy a ticket more out of habit than anything, so did Nat, but I wasn’t working full time at this point as I’d decided to make my money from low-level dealing of comics and mushrooms, which was actually more profitable than it sounds. We’d done Glastonbury together that year, but Reading was something we really wanted to do out of habit as this year the line up was iffy to say the least.

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It was an ok lineup, with Friday standing out, but Sunday was awful, but hey! It was Reading!

August came that year and for those who can’t remember it started raining at the start of August and didn’t finish til September, which seeing as the Reading site is right next to a river then this means that you should expect serious flooding and we got serious flooding. In fact up til the Thursday morning when the gates opened they were still pumping water out of the campsites around the arena, so when I arrived on site I struggled to find a dryish bit to camp our tents on. Eventually I found a reasonably dry bit though it was not too far from what was a swamp. I just had to wait for Nat to show up and she  was stuck trying to get through the swamps which were now the carparks. Eventually she turned up and we struggled to be cheery in a what were conditions which were dry, but were threatening rain and next morning on our way into the centre to get stocked up it rained, and rained, and rained.

We stopped at a pub to get a breakfast, not to mention tidy up a bit before heading back into the swamp. The barmaid took sympathy at us as we must have made a pitiful pair sitting there dripping wet covered in mud. She kept bringing us tea and tried to cheer us up but that couldn’t last all day so once the rain died down a bit we headed back to the festival site hoping it’d not been washed away.

We tried to have fun. Really we did. We found the mushroom stall that had served us so well a few months earlier at Glastonbury to supplement my mushroom supply. Once ingested, we proceeded to enjoy another cracking performance from Ash, letch over The Distillers before Nat went off to see Graham Coxon and I laughed at The Darkness who were, briefly, the biggest band in the world for around a fortnight.

Saturday was dry, but we were knackered from being soaked the day before, plus the comedown from the shrooms hit us hard, so we tucked into more shrooms to try to make the day better. It was all good fun, but Nat went back to the tent to have a kip as I stayed to watch a Morrissey set vastly better than the one he’d played a few months earlier at Glastonbury. I couldn’t help feel that Reading had changed for me and that all these people burning plastic, or talking over songs they didn’t know weren’t people I wanted to be at a festival with. Maybe it was the comedown mixed with the rubbish weather but I wanted to go home so when I got back to the tents after The White Stripes, I mentioned to Nat that I might go home on the Sunday afternoon to which she said she was thinking the same so we decided to leave it til the morning to decide.

Sunday morning saw Nat decide to go home early afternoon, while I fancied stayed a bit longer after waking up a bit cheerier, so I helped her pack up and walked the long walk to the train station to see her home. After we said our farewells I popped into the pub next to the station to have a couple of beers and watch the Olympics which were on at the time. At this point I really just fancied going back to Bristol to sit down the legendary Cat & Wheel watching the Olympics and drinking from a glass while sitting in a comfy seat.

I headed back, watched the Loose Cannons, wandered round the arena for a bit, before going to my tent, packing up and fucking off before 50 Cent came on. In fact as my train was passing the site on the way home I could see the hail of bottles aimed at him as he was on stage and I partly wished I’d stayed to see it, but that would mean staying to see Green Day who are pish, and staying another night in a swamp. The prospect of a nice pint in a pub after a shower was too attractive.

That was the last Reading I really did for a full weekend.  I’ve been back to do the odd day to see Rage Against the Machine, but there’s nothing to attract me. The crowds are full of joyless, empty kids burning tents and acting like thugs and I can’t be dealing with that acrid smell of burning plastic and faeces as another portaloo goes up in flames.

So here we are and as I write this coverage of Reading 2013 is on BBC Three with a faceless pair of middle class presenters who look like they’ve been genetically bred to be as bland and empty as possible. Bands like The Blackout wander round the main stage throwing empty poses while saying nothing to an audience lapping up the empty words because they fit the current style of the day. Having an opinion or actually saying something is frowned upon now as it’s all about empty statements from empty vessels. A$AP Rocky prances around singing about ‘niggers’ and ‘bitches’ without being pelted off stage for being the prick that he clearly is.

Reading still has the odd shining diamond, but the Indiefication of the festival to become the festival current NME readers deserve is sad to see. I may well return should the right band turn up and of course, should the inclination and finances be there, but the festival is no longer for me, although I do appreciate people and festivals change, seeing Reading become what it has and the carnage left by those attending it is a pity. It deserves better.