Frightened Rabbit’s guitarist and keyboardist Gordon Skene kept a candid diary of his adventures at this year’s Reading Festival for us – check it out below:
We arrive at the designated field on the outskirts of Reading around lunchtime, which is ideal as we soon discover that the artist catering at this festival is a late entry into the “best of the Summer” contest. The key to this culinary excellence lies not only in well prepared, fresh food, but crucially here our stage has its very own catering tent which means low traffic and great service.
I finish up all of the salads and head onto the side of stage to witness Kodaline finishing up their set. The audience is in raptures and the whole band jumps down for hi-fives with the front row. WOW I think. Enthusiasm here is at an all time high – the crowd seems pretty young and enthusiastic, which puts me in good spirits for our set later on. It’s refreshing to arrive at a festival so late in the running order of the summer, when one might be starting to feel a little exhausted, and be greeted with such an unfettered zeal for live music.
I manage to catch a couple of songs of Deap Vally’s set before we get taken round to the NME signing tent to write our names on things for people. Before you get seated at the desk in front of the fans who’ve queued up, the organisers usually make us sign some memorabilia – a guitar or some posters. They get all of the artists over the weekend to sign these things, and then I guess one lucky winner takes it home. It tickles me a bit to think of little Johnny or Susie studying the prized artefact, deciphering all the marks of their idols, and wondering who in the hell this “Gordon” or “Andy” might be. We only ever write our first names.
We head on back to our stage to get ready to play. I watch a bit of Peace from out front. I enjoy a few of their songs but there’s a lot of familiar melodies sticking out. It’s kind of fun to try and work out which other song I’m thinking of. I manage to pick out some Nirvana, some Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, Sheryl Crow, and indeed even a hint of Bright Eyes. The crowd’s going daft anyway.
Our set went really well, I think you can see highlights on TV via red button wizardry. Immediately afterwards, Scott and I hot-foot it over to the main stage to watch Deftones. YAS. Always loved that band, and today they’re on good form. They played a good hunk of old stuff too, from the first three albums!
Later on we went to the guest hospitality bar to bump into our pals Chvrches and snoop out the rumour of a nu-metal disco (which never materialised). I ate a sausage and drank a lager from a paper cup. A man forced me to drink a potion he claimed was “vodka and relentless”, but I swear there was a chewy bit. When he told me he played drums in a band called You Me At Six I was slightly less worried I’d been roofied. I had another sausage just in case.
Next day, I’m woken up at about 10.30 by the Skrillex sound-check alarm clock. (A Skrillex before bed and one in the morning, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.) Our bus is parked right behind the stage. Looking outside, it’s a mud bath already. The internet had not lied. None of us had appropriate footwear. This was going to be interesting. We all got soaked running the short distance from bus to dressing room, and then saturated running the even shorter distance to the stage. However, the festival gods have been on our side all Summer it seems, and today we welcomed the downpour during our set because it meant that the tent was rammed.
I didn’t venture away from the Radio 1/NME tent all day really, so managed to see bits and pieces of Major Lazer, A$AP Rocky, and Skrillex. Apparently this year there was a noticeable wealth of electronic music compared to usual. It’s easy to see why – this is the stuff that the kids are going crazy for. No more the guitar band’s domain, that of theatrics and audience frenzy. Now the fists pump and the girls get topless for the synthesised music. The new rock ‘n’ roll. They’ve all got the fanciest tour buses too, those rappers.
Back on our tour bus, we’re constructing the antithesis of rock ‘n’ roll with a casual game of Tiger Woods on the Xbox. It’s pishing it down again and literally all of my clothes are now wet, the bus toilet is overflowing and the bar is miles away. So we light a nice cosy fire in the back lounge and all gather round to watch Grant hit a double bogey on the 15th at the Old Course. That’s the spirit.
Frightened Rabbit are heading out on a new UK tour in November.