What we learned during the second day of Reading 2016
Here's all you need to know about Reading day two – and why The Dillinger Escape Plan's Greg Puciato wins 'Most Relaxed Frontman' of the weekend
Hangover, schmangover. There's no time for that kind of nonsense when there's another day chock full of rock and metal to be had – although The Dillinger Escape Plan's sofa looks pretty comfy.
Here's what we learned during the second day of Reading...
Benji Webbe isn't a Justin Bieber fan
Skindred may well be one of the most entertaining live bands in Britain today. Benji Webbe swaggers on stage to the Imperial March, sunlight (yep, it hasn't rained yet) glinting off his silver scarf and trademark studded sunglasses. Their unmistakeable ragga-metal sound was made for dancing to, and Sound The Siren and Kill The Power boot the last of the morning's hangovers away. "Do you want to hear something even more satanic than Ozzy Osbourne?" asks Benji. "This is pure evil!" And out booms Justin Bieber's Sorry. A simplistic, but effective moment of comedy genius, followed by Benji instigating a mass t-shirt waving – a move known as the ‘Newport Helicopter’. Don’t ever change.
You Me At Six’s set didn't stay secret for long
The Surrey quintet's appearance wasn't announced until two hours before their set, but word sure gets around the Reading site quickly. A crowd at least the size of last night's melee of Twenty One Pilots devotees is spilling out of the Pit, and every single one – even those well outside the tent – are belting along to the likes of Stay With Me and Underdog. Despite being You Me At Six being one of the lighter rock acts in the Pit this weekend, they’re seemingly one of the most popular if the size of the crowd is anything to go by.
Are Slaves taking the piss?
Slaves really want you to know they're just a pair of normal blokes who go out in grotty places, get drunk and feel angry about the status quo. Do they mean it? That's up for debate. Songs like Are You Satisfied and Bad Machine have the political sound bites and are decent garage-punk tunes, but Girl Fight – a spoken word account of Isaac Holman eating his takeaway on the way home from a night out and spotting two women fighting in the street in front of him – sounds like a grimier version of something Mike Skinner (remember him?) would treat his listeners to. But are we meant to laugh?
You always know what you're getting with Clutch
They might dress like a dad band, but Clutch don't need fancy outfits to dish out the riffs. A 25 year career with no lineup changes has ensured their live show is a damn site tighter than their cargo pants, and bluesy grooves and lyrical phrases that burrow into the brain – like on Mob Goes Wild and Electric Worry – mean even those who'd usually write southern rock off as cheesy are nodding along. Neil Fallon always looks like he's having a lovely time on stage, and even with such a defined sound and long career, Clutch never sound like they’re just going through the motions.
Milk Teeth should be much bigger than they are
They might have had the crowd spilling out of the tent at Download, but Milk Teeth are sadly playing to a half-empty Pit at Reading. While we’re all in agreement that there’s a need for more visible women in rock, it seems that sentiment often doesn't extent to actually watching bands with women in them. Of course, that shouldn't even be a deciding factor, but with perfect vocal harmonies on stand-out tracks like Crow's Feet and a deliciously melodic bass line underpinning their accessible, fuzzy indie punk, Milk Teeth have the goods to take them out of the underground.
Eagles Of Death Metal are back to their old selves
Jesse Hughes became a controversial figure in the wake of the Bataclan attacks, when, clearly still suffering the aftershocks, he revealed some unpalatable political views. But it seems he's well and truly put the trauma behind him on the Reading stage, slipping into his Southern hick persona and prefacing I Love You All The Time with a made-up tale about how shocked his doctor was at his prolific, erm, people-loving abilities. Below the comedy and hamminess, there are also some serious grooves, with guitarist Dave Catching busting out squealing solos that wind their way through songs like a snake through Californian scrublands.
Giraffe Tongue Orchestra might be an acquired taste
For anyone wondering if GTO sounds like Mastodon, Dillinger, The Mars Volta or Alice In Chains: yes and no. Crucifixion has the speed and battling counter melodies heard in Dillinger and Mastodon, while Blood Moon is woozy grunge. It’s no surprise that five musicians already established in their own genres and abilities have created something so jam-packed with texture and technicality, but if the paltry audience size is anything to go by, it’s likely to go over the heads of casual fans.
Greg Puciato won’t let a show interrupt his chill time
Screaming is a skill in itself, but screaming while lying down and reading the paper is a fairly niche talent. Whether Greg Puciato practices this in his own home, in front of the telly with a copy of the Los Angeles Times in his hand, we don't know, but he goes seamlessly from horizontal on his stage sofa (as only he would) to upright and leaping from one side of the stage to the next without even appearing to take a breath. Greg might have a place to put his feet up, but he isn’t taking it easy. The veins in his neck bulge as he roars his way through a full-frontal punch-up of a set, and if you missed it, you missed out.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers were very Red Hot Chili Peppers
The thing about the Red Hot Chili Peppers is, you’ll know several of their songs even if you’ve spent your life pointedly avoiding them after encountering that one bellend who always cracked out an acoustic and played Under The Bridge at house parties when you were a teenager. We digress. When you’re the Chilis, even deeper cuts sounds a lot like your most played. Can’t Stop, Dani California and Scar Tissue start things off, then comes the actually-decent chilled jangle of Dark Necessities from their latest record. Chad Smith still looks like Will Ferrell, Flea does some slap bass and they end on Give It Away. Surprises? No. Consistency? In bucketloads.
Brent Hinds is a busy man
It’s not in Mastodon’s nature to make things simple. Their complex, 360 assault of wandering prog-metal is what’s maintained their status as one of the most interesting modern metal bands, and the live sound is all-encompassing. Oblivion and The Motherload have all the quirks and flourishes they do on record, and a meandering mid-set jam gives Brent Hinds – who’s made no less than three appearances on stage today as a guest of Eagles Of Death Metal, with Giraffe Tongue Orchestra and now with Mastodon – a chance to do what he does best, face scrunched with concentration. The mass exodus before the Chilis started their set may have left the tent half-empty again, but that didn't stop them delivering a crushing set.