While Britain’s Carling Reading/Leeds Weekend has been known for rowdy crowd behavior — two years ago fans famously rioted at the Leeds Festival — this year’s event, featuring performances by the Darkness, Green Day, 50 Cent and the White Stripes, offered little to rile the crowd.
The weekend’s wildest moment came during rapper 50 Cent’s set. He was sent packing Sunday night at Reading after only thirty minutes when attendees pelted him with bottles. Leeds festival-goers, who caught the rapper Friday, preferred instead to simply ignore him. Many fled the main arena for side stages which hosted many of the weekend’s most inspiring performances.
Back on the main stage, Green Day trotted out a line-up of their greatest hits and tricks of yore (like inviting fans on stage to play with them). The band even peppered the set with covers of The Isley Brothers’ “Shout” and Queen’s “We Are the Champions.”
Too bad the Darkness did not have any covers to play. After a year of accolades and sold out world tours, the spandex clad rockers took top billing Saturday night, but whipped out one of the weekend’s most disappointing performances. Singer Justin Hawkins’ usual jovial stage demeanor seemed muted and the group rushed through hits like “Love on the Rocks (With No Ice)” and “Get Your Hands off My Woman.” They struggled to fill their large set time, performing unfinished, lyric-less material.
Fans who left the main stage area for shows in the four smaller tents found generally rewarding sets. Arty disco rockers Bloc Party performed in the Radio One tent, winning fans over with their sound, a mix of early Blur and Gang of Four. Later, the same stage hosted splashy crooner Har Mar Superstar who half-stripped, ran through the crowd and taught revelers new dance moves. And rap sensation Dizzee Rascal wowed fans with new material from his forthcoming album, Showtime.
The White Stripes closed out the weekend after an accident forced singer Jack White to cancel last year’s appearance. The duo marked its last show of the year with a rainy set touting hits “Seven Nation Army,” “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,” and “Fell in Love with a Girl.”