It’s been a long time coming for music festivals to gear up again, and after 18 months without them it truly felt like being home. Reading Festival was always going to be a surreal experience personally due to it being the first time I’d ever attended the iconic music event.

The anxiety of attending such a huge event took a while to shake off, but walking up to the gates for accreditation it felt like no time had passed since I last found myself at a festival. The measures in place for staff and attendees alike that were put in for Covid-19 hugely put my mind at ease. It was a strange feeling, due to it being such a long time, while also feeling like I’d fallen right back in where I left off. One of the best parts for me was seeing the excitement oozing out of everyone for the return of live music and dancing in a field without a care. For many in the music industry, the first few events back have been hugely emotional and this was no exception.

© James Bridle

Arriving on site and setting up for the evening myself and fellow writer Caitlin were discussing which songs we hope’d we’d get to hear live, fuelling our excitement to get to the arena as soon as humanly possible. After coming straight from our day jobs; Friday night at Reading was exactly what we needed.

With Caitlin a huge fan of Ashnikko, The Lock Up Stage was our first stop. The tent was packed out for the American singer who rocked the confidence and energy of a headline performer. Not only did Ashnikko impress with both classic tracks and new tracks, the artist also made a speech about not making herself small within the industry.

Next to The Lock Up Stage American rapper, Jack Harlow was performing to an overflowing crowd at the BBC Radio 1 Xtra stage. Even with only knowing one popular song, it was a great experience and Harlow knew how to get the crowd going. Even watching from afar at the back of the tent, the sound of the performance was great.

The highlight of our first night at Reading came from none other than headliner Stormzy. The excitement and anticipation for this performance was on another level for both of us. A headline set from Stormzy was always set to be incredible, but after such a long time away from live music it truly was a show stopping party. The atmosphere from the crowd only added to an already outstanding performance. There was a huge sense of coming together to finally be living this moment and Stormzy wanted us to indulge in every last second of it; the most iconic moment being the entire crowd chanting along to Vossi Bop and letting out all the frustration.

© Linda Borscika

As the first night came to a close, it was clear silent discos were something everyone had missed over the last 18 months as this was the priority on everyones list once headliners finished their sets. Even with the anxiety of being at a huge festival still floating around, by the time Friday drew to a close I felt more at ease and ready for what the weekend had in store for me.

Watch this space for reviews and highlights of Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets for Reading and Leeds Festival 2022 are on sale now!

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