Reading Festival August 24-27 2006 For Saturday and Sunday click here
An earlier-than-the-crack-of-dawn start sees Dan and I on the road at 5am in a bid to avoid any queuing on the M25 and in Reading. Apart from some brief hold-ups on the motorway we make good time and get into Reading at about eight in the morning. There's no traffic, and we're on-site with no delay, and parked just inside the car parking field, which looks flipping miles from the campsite. We unload the basics (tents, sleeping bags) and set off. Already the campsite looks pretty much full (how many Wednesday early entry tickets were sold?!), but amazingly we're able to find space in our preferred area (even more amazingly, almost next to the same people we've camped beside the previous two years), pitch camp and set off back to the car for beer. Despite the distance it looks like we'll be able to leave on Monday with no delay as we're right next to the exit.

An encouraging sign is the absence of Portaloos, replaced by steel toilets raised up above large metal vats - hmmm, they're going to smell nice after a day or two, but at least the more destructive festival-goers won't be able to tip them over or burn them come Sunday night. Full marks to Mean Fiddler there!

Then it's off to town to meet Quayley - in the pub, naturally. A couple of beers, then back to pitch his tent while there's still space. A couple more beers and we're off in search of food. We can't be bothered with eating on-site - £4+ for a crappy burger in a limp bun? No thanks! - so we resort to our favourite Chinese restaurant and tuck into a delicious meal that will set us up nicely for the evening's (and tomorrow's) drinking.

But first, there's the forum meet-up. It's a real pleasure to meet Ali P, DaveyC, their mate Ali W, Nik and Kirk. Especially after I slept through last year's arranged meet-up. Ahem...

The early start means we're knackered, so it's a relatively early night - should avoid too bad a hangover that way, too.

A trip to town in search of a decent veggie breakfast is rewarded with a pretty decent (and massive) meal at our favourite bar (which was closed last year), then we head back for the first band of the festival. And Towers of London turn out to be one of the highlights of the weekend. Last year they flopped badly on the Radio One Stage, overwhelmed by the acoustics and displaying a lack of killer riffs, but this time, they've raised their game and are much more like they are when they play in a small venue - a sleazy metal band. And, in a truly inspired touch, they close with a spirited run through of Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Freebird', releasing a couple of dozen pigeons half way through. The birds make a pretty hasty exit from the arena!

Fightstar are exactly what you'd expect if you saw them last year: just another dull screamo band, lacking anything to set them apart from hundreds of others - apart from the obvious presence of Charlie Simpson from Busted. At least they don't come on to a hail of bottles this time.

The afternoon is enlivened by the punk-folk of Gogol Bordello in the Radio One tent. They're a hyperactive sight. You probably wouldn't want to listen to it at home - and they are, essentially, and Easter European Pogues - but they'd be a cracking night out. Especially if huge quantities of beer were involved...

The biggest disappointment of the day is Bodycount. Firstly, what was it with the sound engineers at Reading this year? Don't they like guitars? Almost every act suffered from being too bass and drum heavy in the mix. Worse, Ice T's vocals are almost inaudible. Oh, and they're just a bit dull, too, which shouldn't be the case at all. We were going to see Eagles of Death Metal part way through until we realised it was pouring with rain, so had to endure all of Bodycount, including the frankly cheesy experiance of Ice T bringing on 14-year old Little Ice for a tedious rendition of 'Hey Joe.' Still, thankfully the kid's mike was turned off throughout!

We were expecting Dizzee Rascal to be interesting, at the very least, but he can be summed up in one word: shite. Two songs is as much as we can endure. It's a bloke talking while another plays records. What's the point?

On the Carling Stage Twilight Singers do effective mid-90s American hardcore. Nothing new, but it's well done, then it's off back to the Radio One tent for Primal Scream, who have drawn a big crowd. They're going through another Rolling Stones phase, but it's hampered (again!) by the crap sound. Come on, can't the sound men sort it out? After all, there have been enough festival to know the baseline settings, surely?

Campsite, fire, talking shite, bed. You know the score by now.

For Saturday and Sunday click here

Click on pics to see them bigger
OK, ladies, don't all rush at once. Quayley's already spoken for
Forum users Ali P (left) and Davey C (right) had their own sweatshirts printed. Awesome work!
They even had backprints. I salute you
Forum users Kirk (left), Davey C (at back), Nik (front) and Ali P (right) showed up for a pre-festival drink
This is the only cricket that Dan saw all weekend
Good things about Reading 2006
• Massively improved toilet facilities
• Lager
• Fine food
• Sunshine
• Good friends
• Vegetables
Bad things about Reading 2006
• Overcrowding on Sunday afternoon
• Terrible sound quality
Sunshine and lager is what it's all about really
Gogol Bordello whipped up a storm in the Radio One tent