Supporting new music at the Reading FestivalBy Linda Serck
August 29, 2012
I’m writing this having spent three days at Reading, and boy does it take it out of you.
Does anyone else get ‘festival backache’?
But what another brilliant festival, the 41st by my calculations (it moved to the Reading site in 1971) though of course the BBC Introducing stage has only been a recent part of the festival’s history.
It’s that stage where I spent a lot of my time, compering and supporting the BBC’s chosen unsigned and under the radar bands.
Of course, I was loudly cheering on our two local acts: Danica Hunter from Henley-on-Thames, the 18-year-old singer with a voice that makes you stop in your tracks.
And indeed hundreds of festival-goers did stop in their tracks to watch her arresting performance, which was filled with soul, drama, mellow beats and above all heart-wrenching feeling.
Reading punk rock band Attention Thieves tore the stage apart with their energetic firecracker set, each song an adrenalin-fuelled rage and each note sung or played with raw vigour.
I chatted to both before and after their sets, which you can hear on my current BBC Introducing show on the iPlayer at www.bbc.co.uk/berkshire
You can also incidentally watch all the BBC Introducing videos via www.bbc.co.uk/readingandleeds.
But another local band who performed at Reading were Dry The River. The Newbury alt-folk band were overwhelmed to be playing the Radio 1/NME tent in front of tens of thousands of fans, chanting their lyrics back at them. Frontman Peter Liddle looked entirely wide-eyed and awestruck throughout most of their set.
I feel immensely proud of them, having seen them play in small Reading venues such as the Oakford Social Club and having had them on my show as unknowns.
And now look at em!
Chatting to the band afterwards they are going to head out on yet another US tour but then are looking to record a second album, following on from their debut Shallow Bed.
I also was lucky enough to chat to some more established artists – Graham Coxon, James Mercer from The Shins and Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys to name a few.
Chats happened outside their dressing rooms, which, I hasten to add, are not luxurious by any stretch of the imagination.
Think more a crop of portable cabins with inside a sofa, a mini fridge and a table of stuff.
James Mercer had some whiskey and, oddly, some peanut butter, amongst his rider.
Graham Coxon said he lays out his health potions such as Solpadiene, and Dan Auerbach had only fresh fruit and veg snacks such as celery among his food – but he did have some dashing orange leather banquettes to sit on.
Speaking to these artists is what I imagine speed dating to be like – you have 10 minutes to get the most out of them as you can, while having a pleasant – albeit a contrived – chat with someone you don’t really know.
Graham was pleasant, though stiffened when I asked about any Blur future plans towards the end. He did give me a nice hug though afterwards and we had a mini photo sesh.
Dan was a little reticent at first but in a very cool, kind-hearted shy manner – he said he was just a “music dork”, not a rock n roll star.
Though of course we beg to differ, particularly seeing as The Black Keys were the penultimate headliners at Reading, and festival boss Melvin Benn named the band as one of the ones he’d like to have headline one day.
James was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever interviewed, and even offered me a beer, which I heartily accepted. He said he was going to work on another Shins record, but will also be collaborating with Dangermouse on their side project Broken Bells again too.
His manager invited me to watch The Shins from the side of the main stage, which of course was a real treat, and it was a great view. Though I have to be honest and say the sound from the side was pretty poor. I’d much rather be in the main arena soaking up the atmosphere with the thousands of other fans.
And that is exactly what I did when I clocked off each evening – hunting down friends, which is no mean feat in a crowd, and enjoying a bit of music – back ache or no back ache!
Listen to Linda Serck every Sunday at 7pm on BBC Radio Berkshire and email your music news to email@example.com