Reading 2015: The Keith Harewood Report
An alternative view from a Birmingham-born security guard
My name is Keith Harewood and I'm a part-time security guard. The first time I attended the Reading Festival was in 1994 with my friend Stephen Roberts. 21 years later and I’m back – in a yellow tabard.
Back then, we were young and hadn’t a clue about the world. The only time we’d been outside of Birmingham on our own was to see Therapy? in Wolverhampton. Stephen chipped his tooth on a can of Top Deck shandy that he'd smuggled in and lacerated his lip during Screamager. I couldn’t tell if he was crying in pain or just loved the song. Either way, he bled all over his new tour T-shirt. Did that spark the need to protect people at concerts? Unlikely, as I was too busy laughing at him until I realised I’d lost my bus pass in the pit.
But I still look back on that festival as one of the best weekends ever. We basically lived on garlic bread and nursed pints of warm lager, which would gradually collect pieces of straw and bits of gravel. I can’t remember many details apart from being dragged over the barrier during Rollins Band, being sick on a deck chair during Senser and attempting my first – and only – human pyramid. Shout out to the St. John’s Ambulance people.
Anyway, I’m not being paid to tell you my life story. Here’s my account of Reading Festival 2015.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 28
Just having a mooch about. I appear to have no fixed job today so will see what I can before my boss realises puts me on bog watch.
Neck Deep are on the main stage. This lot are from Wrexham, apparently – and if my uncle Rhys is to be believed, that’s the ‘proper part of Wales.
**Panic! At The Disco are up now. Even from the massive screens, you can tell their singer has good teeth. But that’s America for you. It must be a law or something. Plus it takes guts to do a cover of Bohemian Rhapsody but they pulled it off. Take note, Kanye West. I still think his version was rubbish.
All Time Low seem pleased with themselves despite the name. Someone tells me their singer is originally from Essex and his family then moved to Baltimore, where The Wire was filmed. What part of Essex was so bad his family felt the need to move there?
Don Broco are on the NME/Radio 1 stage now. I met them backstage earlier and they were very polite. Their singer has ridiculous arms and looks like he could tear a phone book in half. But he’s so nice, he’d probably apologise to it afterwards and try to stick it back together. With his big manly tears.
The Bronx were excellent over on the Lock Up stage, even though their singer looks like my mate who got banned from Birmingham city centre. He threw half a burger at a police horse. The tosser.
Thought I’d check out Limp Bizkit for old time’s sake. The tent is rammed for this lot. I gave nu metal a go when it was fashionable but felt like an idiot in those massive jeans. I felt like some sort of denim MC Hammer. I tried wearing a cap one summer and got a rash on my forehead. No wonder Fred Durst never seems to take his off. So angry.
I’ve spent the last 20 minutes trying to work out what the hell Wes Borland has come as.
No idea. Something to do with Hawaii?
When I saw Knife Party were up next, I called for back up as I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Turns out it’s just some DJs. Thinking back, a knife party in a heavily populated field would be carnage and quite bad for publicity. It’s been a long day. I'm going to bed.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 29
Yes! I get to stand near the barrier today because someone called in sick. I’m not moving from this spot all day. Apart from when I need a piss.
Babymetal are on now. I have absolutely no idea what is going on here. No idea, at all. Kids at the barrier are making some sort of dog shadow puppet thing with their hands. What the fuck's a fox god?
I liked Marmozets, partially because I’ve always wanted a tiny pet monkey to dress up. What monkey? Good question. I’d go for the sort of monkey that was in that film Outbreak. I’d get it checked at the vets first. The last thing I want is a deadly virus. I've got my kitchen to finish.
Modestep now. I only caught the end of their set as I got a free meal ticket and was starving. I’d have waited though, because I’m partial to a bit of dubstep. I have to be in this business. If you don’t like a certain genre in this game, you’re finished. The anger will cloud your judgement and the next thing you know, you’ve got a coat stand in a half-nelson for smoking indoors. God, that was a rough week.
Pierce The Veil seem nice enough. I thought the singer said he was called Vim Fuego at one point, then I'd realised my cousin borrowed my Bad News video last year and never returned it. The singer is actually called Vic Fuentes. I’d love to see Bad News instead though. 'I'm a warrior, the blood won't wash away...'
Alex Is On Fire? Alexis On Fire? Who knows who was on fire, but they were great. Their guitarist looks just like the singer from Gallows. Fact: I’ve never met a Canadian I didn’t like. I went to Toronto once. Passed out at a Maple Leafs game. Those beers they serve are gigantic, and I’d love one now to tell the truth.
Royal Blood are on now. I don’t think I’ve gone for a day without hearing them on the radio. The singer looks like Jon Snow from Game Of Thrones. I’d have shouted ‘You know nothing’ at him but he’d just been on tour with the Foo Fighters, so that would be a lie.
I bet he doesn’t know how to fragment my hard drive. I’ve been trying for weeks. Might have to buy a new one.
Taking a break to see Bring Me The Horizon. I believe they’re “killing it” as my new friends on Metal Hammer would say. Not exactly sure what that means, but only guess they’re doing alright.
Metallica are on in 30 minutes. When I’m working, I try to stay focused and not give away too much. For instance, if I see a bloke in one of those jester hats fall headfirst into a bin, I don't laugh. I'm like a guard at Buckingham Palace. But right now, I feel like a caged tiger waiting to devour a plump deer made of riffs. Where did that come from?
I think I saw Lars Ulrich in a dressing gown. Fuuuuuuck.
This is going to be amazing. The gig, I mean – not seeing the little Dane take his gown off. Still, it’d be something to talk about in the pub.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 30
I’ve just woken up in my car. Metallica were amazing – although I don’t remember much after getting a beach ball in the face during Enter Sandman. There’s 80 odd video clips on my phone though, so I can always catch up before my shift.
Couldn't make a thing out. I’m on perimeter watch now. I’m trapped between a henna stall and the men's toilets. They say I can swap at 4pm but that feels like a lifetime away.
Just saw Milton Jones the comedian walk past. I told him, ‘I love toasted sandwiches and hate God. I worship the Breville’. He looked straight past me. Gutted.
I’m already bored out of my mind. Nothing to report. But that’s the safe world of henna art for you. I think I can hear a band starting on The Pit stage...
Someone tells me they’re single mothers or something. More power to them.
Going for a wander. It’s hardly going to kick off at the henna stand, is it?
Against Me! are on – I knew there was a band I’d wanted to see this afternoon. Their singer appears to be wearing just one sleeve on stage.
Right, it’s a tattoo covering her entire arm. What’s wrong with some sweet tribal? Or a blurry Birmingham City badge? Maybe that’s why she had it covered over.
Nah, why would she have a Birmingham tattoo? The team aren’t that good.
I’m working the barrier at The Pit. Should be interesting.
Frank Carter’s on soon. Shit, shit, shit.
I knew it. He used me as some sort of stepping stone to get into the crowd. Thanks for that. I’ve always wanted to have a Nike trainer sole imprint on my neck. Looks like I’ve been attacked by a waffle. Beartooth next.
At Download, I wrote about Beartooth’s singer sounding like an actual bear. I met him just now. He’s called Caleb and was very nice. Declined my offer of some salt and vinegar Chipsticks – an essential on a day like this.
**Cancer Bats are on now. I like them a lot, but I can’t tell exactly where they’re from. My money is on South Wales.
Or Sweden? I really can’t tell. The singer reminds me of Otto from The Simpsons.
My shift is over. I’m going to watch Frank Turner. I’ve not seen him since I travelled all the way to Weston-Super-Mare to see Million Dead play Hobbits. I got my wires crossed and thought it was some hardcore LARP all-dayer. Still a good laugh, despite my costume.
Heading back now but trying to work out the best way to get to the staff car park without hearing The Libertines.
Balls, there’s no other way out. Time to make a run for it...