"Glastonbury, its flighty audience mused, was 'about more than just the music'. [Reading] is all about the music, and not much else. It is an utilitarian operation, which simply delivers the best bands across one weekend, without the idealistic claptrap." Daily Telegraph
Lest you should forget, thanks to their two year ban, it's Reading's Conservatives who are responsible for the rise of that particularly grotesque bean-curd munching, crystal healing, green wellie wearing, middle-class field fest where accountants commune with nature for a few days before driving back to London in their 4x4s. Okay Yah!
It's 22 years since I first cadged a backstage pass to Reading. I got it as a payment for working for 'free' building lighting racks and doing light shows at rave gigs at weekends. I blagged my way in in similar style for the next few years!
In 1987, Friday night was goth night with The Mission, Fields of the Nephilim and All About Eve. I caught the train straight from work at which I'd spent the day in my finest goth gear and carrying a metal flight case covered in stage passes. The finest beer smuggling device I ever possessed. It was never checked on entry!
1988 was one of the funnier Reading Festivals, even now. With a pretty poor line up, bottle fights were the order of the day. On the Sunday afternoon Janice Long announced: "If you don't stop throwing bottles, the Hothouse Flowers aren't coming on." Cue 25 minute rain of bottles!
1990 saw a major mud bath, where we discovered that Mudhoney didn't like mud. I'd hazard a guess that they didn't like honey either.
1999 had the 'funniest use of a flag' winner during Catatonia. Half way though 'International Velvet', the biggest flag of St. George ever seen in Reading started making a stately procession from the front of the mixing desk to the front of the audience causing Cerys to almost crack up with laughing. It is to be seen whether the ban on flags will also extend to foilage. British Sea Power would not be the same without it.
August 2000 saw the inspired choice of "We Hate Tottenham" to open the Sunday on the Carling Stage.
Even the dual-festival hasn't diminished the pull with the BBC forced to add "and Leeds" under their breath during their coverage. It'll will always be Reading Festival because: it's all about the music.
This year I am looking forward to seeing: The Horrors, Placebo, Kaiser Chiefs, White Lies and Glasvegas. If you want a laugh check out Crystal Castles and Anti-Flag!