Reading Festival 2004 Review – Part II

The Radio 1 tent was home to some of the more established indie acts and ‘technical issues’ that hit them every year. At the last Reading I was at Emo was king and the Radio 1 tent was overflowing with turgid, moaning, four piece depressives. Things were far better this year.

In no particular order, here are my highlights.

First up is Stereolab, the off kilter group of English and French musicians that pay scant attention to trends and fads; instead they create marvellous tunes that blend everything from eurobeat and house to horns and synths. Live, they are endearing and cover a wide variety of moods without being indulgent. There were some blissfully great moments in this set; sadly I do not know enough Stereolab tracks by name to tell you what they were.

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I will briefly skip over The Stills as they were quite dull and I left to find something better. A much more impressive set was provided by The 22-20’s. They are a quality Garage/Blues rock band that played their hearts out and you can’t ask more than that.

The rise of the more prog rock style of indie has a new star in the shape of The Open. The music they play is expansive, emotive and engaging and held the crowd willingly in their thrall.

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The Von Bondies had improved hugely since the last time I saw them, where they were less than impressive. This time they launched into their set with gusto and kept the energy up. Proving that old rock bands never die; they just slip a few places down the bill were The Wildhearts. They bravely played a mixture of old and new songs through a raft of technical hitches. The Wildhearts were determined to rock and nobody was going to stop them. Scottish blues rockers, Eastern Lane, showed themselves to be far more dynamic in the flesh than they are on their excellent CD. I was expecting a much lower key affair but was won over by their spirited set.

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I was expecting Auf Der Maur to sound a lot like Hole or Smashing Pumpkins. She did. If you like either of those bands then you’d have loved her. I wasn’t won over but the rest of the crowd loved her. Moving on to the glam tinged Ikara Colt, who create an impressive noise that is a satisfying assault of heavy guitars.

Despite issues that meant the keyboard kept cutting out The Fiery Furnaces treated the Radio 1 tent to their off kilter cocktail of seventies rock and experimentalism. They were criminally low down the running order for my mind, but those kids that had managed to get out of their tents for them had an excellent show.

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Finally, there is always one band at a festival that I know I have seen but cannot recall. This year it Interpol count amongst their number. Really, I only know I saw them because I have a photo of them.


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