published: 17 /
...while on the third and final day he watches sets by the All American Rejects, Primal Scream, Sum 41, Grandaddy and Metallica
Biffy Clyro weren’t the first band on, but to all purposes they started the day (though deciding to miss the promising Kinesis was a tough decision). Biffy are a great band, though, with some top tunes and a nice attitude. Alhough they clearly listen to Sonic Youth, Pavement, The Pixies and so on, they are quite tough to pin down.
All American Rejects come from an entirely different angle. Where Biffy have received little press attention yet have won a devoted fanbase, the Rejects have already been on Top Of The Pops with their first single. Ignoring the hip factor, truthfully, All American Rejects are the better band. Catchy, but not trite and with a lot more stage presence, I tip them to go far!
The Used, on the other hand, are a band to avoid at all costs. The fact that they saw the need to announce that they “worship Satan, hate Jesus”, and managed to say “f***” at least times per sentence might give you a clue as to how worthless they are.
I moved temporarily away from the main stage, and caught the latter part of Blak Twang, whose invigorating hip hop would get a lot of attention in all areas if he was American. Despite the prejudice against British hip hop, he still drew a large crowd into the Dance arena. As a contrast, Radio Four have received attention far in excess of record sales, or the crowd they are able to draw, and yet their punk-funk (or whatever the hip crowd calls it today) is entertaining, if nothing particularly outstanding.
Primal Scream was next on the main stage, and I set I’m still thinking about thier set a lot. I enjoyed it at the time. Several things worried me later, however. Firstly, the music was good, but it was a weird mix of alarming, innovative guitar playing and tired boring clichéd rock ‘n’ roll. The good stuff was all played by Kevin Shields, and though Scream fans may disregard this, he’s not a real member of the group really. The boring music was played by the band. It could have been any garage rock combo, anywhere, albeit a well rehearsed one. Then we come to Bobby Gillespie’s singing, which could only be described as average even if we were being very kind. The setlist was disappointing, with far too much of the last mediocre album and the already ageing 'Exterminator' and too little from 'Screamadelica' and 'Vanishing Point'. In fact, it would be a lie to say that Shields’ guitar work has moved on from 'Loveless'. Primal Scream, despite their own belief in themselves as rock gods are best when they chill out and merge genres, not go straight for the rock, at which they can only imitate their heroes the Stones, who greatly out class them in every area. Still, they did play some good music and I was nodding along for much of the show.
The part that really bothered me, in retrospect, was this on stage ‘attitude’ they have. Mani regularly insulted the crowd. Apparently, this is ‘rock ‘n’ roll’. Well, we can kick THAT right out the window. We’ve paid money and we have worked hard to earn to allow you bunch of druggies to live out your childhood dreams. The least I can ask is that you show us a little respect. Then Gillespie stepped up to the mike, and gave a little rant, called Metallica "s**t" – we’ll come to that later – and called the crowd "slaves, spectators”. From a true genius, Kevin Shields say, that comment – if stupid and rude – would be vaguely understandable, but from Gillespie, with no musical talent as such, just an appreciation of music, a fan's perspective that he’s used to make records, it's insulting and arrogant. And wrong. This from a performer who has a bunch of worthless fashion types lined up dancing at the side of the stage just to show how "cool" they are.
It became quite apparent later in the day that Gillespie’s comments were the result of a realisation (having played on the same bill at Leeds the day before) that some bands have achieved the position of true rock gods, and will go down in music history, and that his band were playing to a largely indifferent and very small crowd. Primal Scream is still a good band, but they’re going in the completely the wrong direction, and should either drastically reform their act (Primal Scream SHOULDN’T be in tune with garage rock and listening to MC5. They should be the opposite of whatever the current fad is, that’s what made 'Exterminator 'great) or break up. And nobody should be arrogant, but especially if you’ve little to be arrogant about.
Moving on, next on the same stage Sum 41 were up. Wahey! After slagging one of the trendiest bands in indie-ville, I’m about to give a good review to one of the least cool bands on the planet. Sum 41, however, have a stack of classic songs, 'Still Waiting', 'No Brains', 'Rhythms', ''The Hell Song', not to mention the fantastic 'Anna-Nicole Smith Is A C***!'! They have one of the world’s best guitarists. They have a great live act and they seem like the sort of people you’d want to be friends with. There is a good reason why they played to twice Primal Scream’s crowd, and that is NOT marketing. It’s because they are better!
We caught the tail end of Hot Hot Heat in the Radio One tent, but – with the exception of the classic 'Bandages'- they were merely alright. The same cannot be said of Grandaddy, whose set was outrageously good. They seemed completely touched that the crowd had even bothered to watch them, and that was enough to charm me into loving them. I heard a guy in front of me say before the set, “okay, it is a small crowd in relation, but System is a big draw, and everyone in here loves Grandaddy”. He couldn’t have been more accurate. Rarely have I experienced such a loving audience, but if anyone deserves that kind of response, it is Grandaddy. Mixing classics like 'The Crystal Lake' and 'A.M.180' with soon to be classics (particularly '“The Go In To Go For It') from the new album, 'Sumday', Grandaddy stole the festival from everyone except the Ataris. The nicest thing was, I really didn’t expect them to.
METALLICA, musically, are not my favourite group. But they owned the Sunday of Reading. Boy. This was the biggest crowd of people I’ve ever seen, and the tension pre-gig, the rush, the euphoria, when they came onstage was the most I’ve ever experienced at a gig. I was quite sad I couldn’t truly feel it myself. For a fan, this was the perfect headline show, a greatest hits show with a little from the new record and plenty of showmanship (especially the unschedualed appearance of the Black Stripes!!). Sometimes you just have to accept that a band you yourself actually struggle to enjoy are the biggest and best in the world. That band is Metallica.
The second bottom photo that accompanies this article originally appeared on the website www.virtual-festivals.com