So... it finally happened. The best moment of my life. Imagine it yourself: you have a favourite song of a certain band that have remained with you for a significant part of your existence. You find yourself above the heights of a crowd of 90,000+, 50 metres away from the band in question. The riff that is one of the most audibly recognisable things to you on earth has started to play. Yes, you can belt out the lyrics as loud as you want, because the rest of the crowd are: “One of these days, the ground will fall, out from beneath your feet”. Cue killer chord sequence: “But it’s alright, yeah it’s alright”
EASY FOR YOU TO SAY!
Never did I fathom what Reading Festival turned out to be on Sunday the 26th August 2012. Yeah, of course it was going to be killer, this is one of the most legendary festivals on earth, am I not right in saying? But on Sunday, I managed to see a great deal more than I expected. I didn’t only see the Foos. I watched many an act, which is amazing for a first true gig experience. I feel valid now writing about music from witnessing such enormities in music industry on Sunday.
I had the pleasure of watching Pulled Apart By Horses, who turned out to be heavy in a refreshing way. This was 11am, you have to remember. Highly enjoyable and recommended. These guys obviously worked hard for their right to be on the main stage, compared with some others that I had watched coverage of over the weekend...
The Lock Up Stage was unashamedly good ol’ fun. You had the circle of death, the wall of death and anything else so scary throughout the day, but it looked just so jolly good fun even my mother wanted to join in. And some of the acts drew large crowds. Especially that band with a lot of umlauts in. They deserve more than this title, but I really only came to Reading Festival for Foos. Came away feeling a bit more musically experienced and happy to be so once I’d stood (quite close) through a set of the Joy Formidable. Finally! A girl front! So nice to see, and I don’t just say that because I’m a feminist, but say that as a musician. I needed a bit of a higher melody line after all that thrashing. They have really listenable lines throughout, mainly because guitars feature heavily in a doubtless strat sense. So much effort was put into this set, and the look of the band. It was appreciated to say the least, something which makes me smile at the support these relatively unknown acts get. I can see them on the main stage in 2-3 years, easily. This is a band that will now be proudly displayed in my ‘Recently Added’ playlist on my iPod when I eventually get round to buying what Spotify tells me is The Big Roar with some funky looking song names. All adds up, worth recommending highly. Spotify also tells me that related artists include Yuck, so this makes sense in the musical gene pool of my mind.
The Joy Formidable.
Then I finally made my way to the main stage half way during Bullet For My Valentine set to bag a good spot for Foos. Good decision, albeit they didn’t play my personal favourite “Hearts Bursts into Fire”, or maybe they did, but I wasn’t there.
Kaiser Chiefs. British Best. My personal highlights here were the obvious “Everyday I Love You Less and Less” and “Ruby”, but after the cracking closing ceremony performance “Pinball Wizard” was featured... good move. Mum said how surprised she was to find that so many ‘young people’ knew the words to Pinball Wizard. I wasn’t. It’s likely that if you go to a rock festival in England, you understand that the Who are the greatest Rock band that England have had, with Queen of course. It’s set in stone, and the fact that they still play now and then show that the mod movement wasn’t just theirs to see. Anyway, Chiefs rocked it. Highly enjoyable although nothing to completely throw me off, just a great live band. I’d say the same for the Black Keys, and I’ll look forward to seeing them again in the near future I hope. They were good enough to support Foo Fighters at least, so Festival Republic think something of their great Rock-blues beats.
And, finally, to the point of this blog post that is quickly turning into an essay on Reading: the Foos. Nothing would prepare you for them if you hadn’t seen them previously/been a member of a huge festival crowd with a popular band. I’ll do a list of highlights just to avoid the tedious sighs a whole analysis would evoke. But it’s difficult. To say they drew a crowd of 90,000+ is enough, and for each and every member to erupt when they walked on stage is a big thing. They were just suddenly there. And suddenly, everything I’d been waiting for was right in front of me. Dave Grohl looks exactly the same as I thought he would, they existed as least, which was surprising to me in my mind. A lot of teenagers recognise him as some form of deity, including me, to which my only feasible reaction was to burst into tears. I can’t have been the only one, and that’s the best part.
Foo: they had everything.
11) Their live sound is unbelievable. I could write a full blog post about this alone. There was no differentiation from the studio sounds of Wasting List, Colour and The Shape, One by One etc because this is a band that simultaneously treat themselves seriously and not at all. Seriously is the idea that Wasting Light would be recorded entirely on tapes, with no backup tapes. Butch Vig was bullied into this. And now, with such a number one hit in countless countries being made in a garage is something of a music divinity/aurora of authenticity that so many people lap up. Not seriously is that every musical interlude between songs was so effortless it could not have been rehearsed
2) Introduction of band members and proclamation of Dave Grohl that Taylor Hawkins is “so fucking sexy”. Shiftlett owned it too.
33) The presence of Pat Smear. As said so brilliantly in their music doc Back and Forth, “Pat Smear? He’s still ALIVE?” This guy was on the exact stage 20 years ago with Nirvana and then to be featured as an integral part of Foos was a huge thing for him. The smiles on his face. Priceless.
44) These Days. This song, when released, was like something I’d been waiting for my whole life. And that was a year and a half ago. So many tears were shed. It felt like Grohl and gang were almost playing to me alone, and that was worth all the bucks in the world.
55) Crowd participation. Watching with envy for years at the great reception at Foo gigs was something that you don’t understand until you sing a whole chorus of “Breakout” with thousands of others, casual fans or hardcore fans or fans that just follow after they get the idea. Amazing. “Yeah, you make me Breakout, make me BREAKOUUTOUTOUTOUTOUT”
66) Dedications. Yes, Grohl dedicated said “These Days” to Krist and Kurt. The crowd erupted in simultaneous sentimentality. And “Walk” to his daughter Violet Maye. And “Monkey Wrench” to his other daughter Harper, “This is for you, Harps”
77) Dave Grohl “story time”. I got a fantastic video which I may post later of Dave playing the casual “Times Like These” riff, but no one quite realising it yet because they were so captured by his words. When he told the crowd of the 1995 Dave saying he wasn’t going to “Fucking play the main stage when it was Foo’s first Reading”, you realised just how long this band had been around for and how much Dave Grohl deserved this success.
88) The golden oldies. I told myself “I really hope they play Alone + Easy Target and Wattershed because these are really great rock songs and Grohl is a genius” but no way did I think this wish would be granted! And in great style too, and only a slightly different take on it because this was 17 years later of course. Utter brilliance when I heard that stonker of a riff on ‘Wattershed’.
99) We knew that this was special. It was obviously a farewell gig, but farewell in a short term sense for Dave Grohl. He’s been playing Reading for 20 years now, so you expect it, but to be there on such a classic set that will go down in Reading and Foo history is special. And 20 years after the the first band I really loved. With two members from that band being in this band, being on stage, living on as legends. Really special. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
110) Everlong. Fireworks. Tears. Enough Said.
One of these days. It happened. And it was the best time of my life. Nothing means more to you when you feel so passionate about music. Of the grunge variety.
Here’s a picture I took on the night. Alas, zoomed in. But here’s the man himself.
Now I just need to see Pavement, Hole, Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. But it doesn’t matter really, not anymore.