Reading Festival 2023 Live Review

As a festival that has become filled with more mainstream and chart topping acts over the years, Reading and Leeds Festival still always ensures there’s a heavy offering of the best alternative and rock available for its fans. We checked out what Reading Festival had to off on the Friday…

Taking to the Festival Republic stage, Welsh rockers Himalayas drew in a sizeable crowd with their clashing slot against Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls on Main Stage West. With the tent featuring dedicate fans at the barrier, as well as a mixture of more casual or new fans hanging out toward the back just to check things out, it was clear noise coming from the tent peaked the interest of those floating about outside.

Leave This Place kicks things off with a guitar riff that belts out to the back of the tent before lead vocalist Joe Williams’ vocals smoothly come through. With an insane 39 million streams on Spotify, it’s no wonder Thank God I’m Not You is a stand out track for the crowd. Drenched with fuzzy guitars and an angsty energy, Himalayas deliver a punch to make sure everyone knows alt music is still alive and well at Reading and Leeds.

Closing things off with From Hell to Here / Gangsters Paradise (Coolio cover) this was a great band to have caught from start to finish. With infectious hooks and guitar riffs throughout, Himalayas made their mark with an incredibly slick set. Earning a host of new fans, and sparked their question if they’ll be moving up onto the main stages for future performances. For fans of the like of Royal Blood, Mallory Knox, and Young guns, this is a hugely worthwhile band to check out.

Another festival regular, and favourite, You Me At Six last played the festival in 2021 and this year they drew in another huge crowd. Opening with Deep Cuts, You Me At Six came in with a real punch and a stand out track that has hints of their Sinners Never Sleep album as well as Take Off Your Colours

Giving us a heavier throw back and huge fan favourite early in the set, vocalist Josh introduced this next part of the show as simply the mosh pit, before diving into Bite My Tongue. With many bands known for bringing their collaborators on stage for guest appearances at the festival, there was a moment where things slowed down with a few people wondering if Oli Sykes may pop out for his part, which sadly wasn’t the case. However, going right into No Future? Yeah right, we got another legend of a special guest as Enter Shikari vocalist Rou Reynolds took the song to another level – a true match made in heaven collaboration

Giving fans their chance to crowd surf, Mixed Emotions (I Didn’t Know How To Tell You What I Was Going Through went down a storm. As one of the strongest tracks from their latest album, this hit transpired so well live to a festival crowd, so much so the band took the time to give a shout out to the security team working non stop to catch the wave of crowd surfers. 

YMAS are a great example of a band that want to ensure they feel connected to their fans, and the fans can feel that mutual adoration. Getting the crowd to climb onto each others shoulders and dedicating the track to the LGBTQ+ community, the announcement of Take on the World got arguably one of the most excited cheers of the day so far. 

Easily one of the most beautiful tracks in their discography, this heartfelt performance, was one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments to really feel and understand the impact. Sending chills down your spine, and hearing the lyrics sung back from fans even right at the back of the crowd perfectly showed off the powerful community spirit and connection music can create. 

Having a quick break to interact with the audience, Josh picked up on the huge amount of bucket hats in the crowd and noted how there was people who might like to rave. Giving the audience a bizzare experience of moshing and raving, there was also a nod to GCSE exam takers and music lovers of all genres for SUCKAPUNCH.

Giving another throw back for the older fans, Underdog, as expected went down a treat. Feeling like a right of passage for the setlist, it’s a song that will always be special for fans and works so well in a festival setting. Across the audience, thee was a clear mix of fans who have been there from the start (and maybe retiring their moshing days to be just enjoying the set at the back) to younger fans just discovering what could be their new favourite band.

Closing their set and demanding a feral reaction from the crowd at Reading Festival, Beautiful Way closed a truly nostalgic and incredibly fun set that had the perfect mixture of old and new hits. What’s so great about YMAS is that they really have a timeless feel about them. Their older tracks still go as hard as when first released, while newer songs feel just as iconic. 

American rock band Magnolia Park were unfortunately struck by some technical sound issues but they didn’t let this rocky start slow them down. Although the vocals were inaudible on the first couple of tracks you could still clearly pick up on the energy and excitement from vocalist Joshua Roberts. Across the Festival Republic stage, this band stood out as one offering something more diverse from the rest of the line up.

Their sound ranging from punk rock energy to heavier screams and more electro vibes, you were kept on your toes throughout, not knowing what sound the band might take you to next.

Covering enormously famous and beloved songs is always a mammoth task. Magnolia Parks looked at this challenge and so smoothly pulled it off. Closing their set with Fall Out Boy’s iconic Sugar We’re Goin Down. Perfectly done, it was a great way to end their set, with everyone singing along like teenagers, the band demonstrated just how you do a cover at a festival.

Next year’s Reading and Leeds Festival will take place 21st to 25th August 2024. Special exclusive tickets will be available to buy through the loyalty scheme, but you need to sign up by September 12th to get access!

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