Carling Leeds Mini-Site
Eminem Day - Friday 24th August
It wouldn't be a festival without torrential rain, but today its almost understandable with dismal goth rockers Fear Factory droning on the main stage. Its not that it particularly bad, its just that it never raises above the average. It just seems so fake - all the American rock bullshit of "Fuck You" will change the world - and in truth is little more than a tired cliché. Thank god for Xzibit who with his brand of Dre produced hip hop brings the sunshine out for a while. Crisp beats, intricate melodies and lyrical rhymes collide in way that can only come from the master of hip-hop.
Back over to the Carling Stage where indie poppers Gloss bring some light relief to the proceedings. With all the angst ridden rock music and aggressive hip-hop styles it is under the doctors strict orders that at least once a day we take time out, have a little fun and get our dancing shoes on. Not that Gloss are just another disposable pop band, Gloss are this years essential pop band following on in the footsteps of St. Etienne or The Audience. And if the music doesn't take your fancy then there's a nice bit of eye candy in the form of frontwoman Heidrun - watch her swamp home with the Sexiest Indie babe 2001!!!!
A brief dose of Godhead dampens the spirit with their Marilyn Manson pastiche, but fear not because So Solid Crew liven things up in the first real highlight of the day. The kids love it, the ageing trendies love it in only a way they can. Just 2 of the 30 strong crew up on stage with lyrical banter and a few modern classics thrown in the big up the crowd. It goes to show that a with a human touch, dance music can really touch the masses in the same way rock music has over the years.
On the way to check out Papa Roach, Mark B & Blade give us some hip-hop UK Style. Maybe it would have been wiser to give our UK brothers a little support as the Nu-metallers increasing hit and miss live performances are just getting on my tits. It may be rock & roll and we all like it a little unpredictable but if you're a punter paying hard earned cash you want to spend it on a band giving 100%. A warning from the UK to Coby Dick - you have one more strike and its out!!!
Ultimately the band of the day award goes to none other than Gene. A strange choice I hear you say but when these guys are on form they can blow anyone of stage - "We Could Be Kings", "Fighting Fit", "Olympian" - so many tacky headlines and yet all of them true. One suspects that Martin Rossiter would dearly love to be headlining the mainstage tonight and with several new songs thrown in amongst a plethora of classic singles you can't help but feel that the band may just be on the way up again. To paraphrase old Rozzer "if this doesn't move you, you have no heart".
At a festival Marilyn Manson and Eminem can only disappoint. With none of the thrills of their usual performances (Marilyns total command of the stage / Eminems chainsaw routine). The formers set has become a little too familiar and where at first it amused, tonight its just seemed like one joke stretched to a full one show. Where were the blood hungry christians praying for the devil to be sacrificed? Where were the fans begging to be abused? Where was the controversy? The biggest shock tonight was that Manson just can't shock anymore and that is the time when everyone just walks away.
Much of the problems that hindered Manson are only amplified by Eminem. A limp set with his so-called protégés D12 only go to show just how weak he is as a rapper. His gang may not have the tunes but they sure as hell make him look like a whining little white boy. I came expecting to be entertained - to forget he was a homophobic, sexist ignorant little bit of white trash - and all I got was a half hearted show which revolved around the ego of a half-wit. Whether it be Eminem, Slim Shady or Marshall Mathers this week all he had to was give us a greatest hits set, his chainsaw set-piece and fuck off. Ultimately he made the serious mistake of taking himself to seriously as an artist and decided to play us some of his less obvious material. The sooner everyone realizes that Eminem is just another white boy rapper who can't rap for toffee the better. Now MC Tunes that was a white guy who could rap - whatever did happen to the Dust Junkies anyway.
Travis Day - Saturday 25th August
Sun, sex and sangria - well the first 2 anyway are up on offer today and none offer it better than the Moldy Peaches. A sexual country blues act for the 21st century with rhyming couplets like "You want to fuck me, You want to eat my Pussy" - made all the stranger for the fact its sung and played by people in Robin Hood, rabbit and Spiderman costumes. It hilarious, perverse and a anti-dote to all this 20 something rock angst that makes up the majority of the festival bill. Get these guys to write for Britney and you've got the most overtly sexual record since "Je Taime".
Followed perfectly by the Lo-Fidelity Allstars. If the Peaches were the foreplay well Lo-Fi Allstars are the real deal - the wham bam thank you mam!!! With hard house disco beats made for that drunken fuck the only thing holding us back are the limp big beat / hip hop instrumentals which spoil an otherwise perfect set. Moving on eventually from the loss of The Wrecked Train and finding that music really does mean life. They may be veterans but that doesn't stop Run DMC for putting on a pretty lame show. Going through the old skool motions maybe its time that Adidas' most famous patrons give up the day job. Much better are new skool / old skool rappers Ugly Duckling who by this time next year will be the names on everyone's lips. Like Jurassic 5 before them they take life by both hands and set to make it one long party. They got the gold chain and it says it all!!!
Mull Historical Society are everything Travis should have been had they not lost it after the first album. Take "U16 Girls" or "Happy" and times it by 10 and you end up with the MHS. Harking back to the days of Brit-pop (but at the same not being so referential), along with Gloss and Haven it could see a return of British guitar music to the top of the charts. John Peel has backed them as have Lamacq, Radio 2 and MTV. Trust me check these guys out before they hit the big time.
From the fantastic Big Dog to just a big disappointment with The Strokes. Looking seriously out of place after being moved from the Evening Session Stage to The Main Stage at the last minute (ok it isn't their fault and to be honest we can pin the blame at NME's door for this one). Despite some classic singles "New York City Cops", "The Modern Age" and "Sometimes" you just can't help but get the feeling that by this time next year they'll have gone the same way as Gay Dad. They may be cool. They may be sexy - but would you still love them if they came from York instead of New York. You've got to ask yourself these questions haven't you.
For the 1st time ever Amen don't do anything for me, but its not been the same since he ranted about destroying the American Dream and then was seen walking around with a typical American blonde the day after. Surprising or unsurprisingly depending if you're one of the few people to hear the album, Proud Mary, really do put on a fantastic show. It may be retro but it makes you feel all warm inside and ultimately if you music can make you smile its all you need. The crowd loved it as well so maybe we haven't seen the last of these guys. Straight after the soul train rolls into town in the form of Mo Solid Gold and boy do these guys know how to entertain. One moment K is a motown hero, the next he turns into a mad Mick Johnston (Ed: Obscure Brookside reference). Even Robbie Williams could pick up a few tips from these guy and I mean that as the highest possible compliment.
Green Day do their tired punk rock work out very badly and we all leave. Taking us back to our child hood was floppy haired gorgeous pin up Evan Dando. Rolling out the classic Lemonheads songs like "Its A Shame About Ray" while interspersing it with a few of his solo efforts. It may be cruel to say so but stick to the oldies, pout a bit more and play the new songs in the privacy of you're own bedroom. Apparently he's without a record deal at the moment and its not hard to see why. A Calvin Klein modelling contract awaits!!!
A night with Travis isn't everyone's idea of fun, but the camp fires burning and the tent is packed for Ash so we might as well give them one more chance - its the biggest mistake of my life!!! By the time they've played 3 songs I'm not sure which is worse - the actual songs or Fran's ever so amusing anecdotes which flavour the evening - whatever it doesn't matter because after "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" everyone buggers off to their tents. And Fran that ever so punk rock haircut of yours, Roy from Emmerdale (The one looking like an extra from Planet Of The Apes) was sporting one earlier - is that the sort of attention you really want to attract?
Manics Day - Sunday 26th August
Its the day everyone's been waiting for and the rumours are flying around. Will they split? Won't they split? Does anyone care if they split up? Reports from Reading suggest that they put on the career defining show but until later how can we separate our truth from their truth. Kicking off proceedings are fellow valley boys Terris who many tipped to be the next big Welsh band for 2 years on the run. Chart success may not be theirs just yet but Gavin has the confidence to take them to the next level. A few oldies for their cult fanbase and a splattering of newies suggesting that chart success is just a footstep away. He walks and talks like a preacher man. Join the congregation!!!!
Long before the phrase "NAM" was even coined, Gorky's were a band you good rely on for a good foot tapping tune that the milkman could whistle to. They could have been big you know but alas they look set to continue the tradition of Mark & Lard singles of the week while narrowly escaping the lower reaches of the top 40. New single "Stood On Gold" has all the Gorkies trademark sounds - gentle strummed acoustic guitar, lush violins and vocals that warm your heart. Euros an unlikely hero, but an hero all the same.
As far as Reading / Leeds core audience goes you just can't help but feel that the rock scene is just getting a little stale. Take Rancid for example who are just the archetypal shite garage punk band. Guys, it may be commendable that your the only truly independent rock band on the bill but have you ever thought this might be because you actually only have one recognizable tune. If I found one good reason to "Stop the Rock" I'd need look no further than this band. Back on the Carling Stage rock doesn't fair much better with scouse band Voy. Out Mansun-ing Mansun on a good day but today simply lame in comparison to their heroes.
Supergrass take time out from being extra's in Planet Of The Apes to play us some long awaited new material. "Can't Get Up" and "Beautiful People" returning to the youthful thrills of the debut with enough muso-twiddling to please the Mojo readers. Sadly though the 'grass will never see a return to that blinding first tour with the Bluetones. Maybe its just nostalgia but these Monkey boys just seem to have grown up to quickly.
"Hi, I'm Karl Marx and this is my favourite rock & roll band ever" - its the sort of intro that would be laughed at had it been done by anyone else but the Manics just get away with it and rightly so. Forget the Glastonbury toilet incident, forget the Coca Cola / Cuba press conference situation and please put an end to this whole Old Manics / New Manics nonsense. Tonight they blew all the competition away. "Little Baby Nothing", "Archives Of Pain", "Motown Junk" alongside "Tsunami", "Everything Must Go" and "Design For Life". An almost flawless set with the only low being current single "Let Robeson Sing" but for all the shock tactics of Marilyn Manson and Eminem the band that won through at the end of the day were the ones with the tunes. They may be old but they're still beautiful as Nicky Wire proved with knee length socks, a nurses uniform and a bright pink hat - simply gorgeous as grown men were heard screaming to their girlfriends. People say its the end. I say its just the beginning of a new phase.