After Brexit, death, taxes and Reading Festival occurring on the bank holiday weekend at the end of August are the only certainties in the U.K. these days.
Starting in 1989, the festival can accommodate up to 90,000 people. It’s the summertime staple that marks the end of the outdoor live music season for many fans. This year, Kasabian, Eminem and Muse headline. Two British indie-rock juggernauts sandwiching an iconic American hip-hop artist. Reading Festival is musical diversity in its prime.
So many riveting, shocking and historical things have occurred at the site of Richfield Avenue over the last 28 years, but we’ve managed to narrow them down to these eight most unforgettable happenings ever at Reading Festival:
Nirvana’s last appearance in the U.K.
Nirvana’s last-ever U.K. appearance was at Reading Festival in 1992, closing as the final act on the Sunday night. Wearing a blond wig and a hospital gown, Kurt Cobain entered the stage in a wheelchair (pushed by rock journalist Everett True) — a dig at press reports that he was too ill to perform. He even fully collapsed before the band opened with “Breed,” accompanied by Dancing Tony, an off-the-wall addition who was a constant presence at most of the grungers’ U.K. shows.
Daphne And Celeste’s cringe-worthy performance
Whoever booked Daphne And Celeste in 2000 probably didn’t anticipate the tangible animosity the pair would be subjected to as they walked on wearing their “Who the f**k is Eminem?” and “I Love Brian” T-shirts—the former a ploy for Celeste to meet Eminem, the latter never explained. The decidedly manufactured pop duo were physically targeted by hundreds upon hundreds of bottles—some undoubtedly filled with urine—from an irate audience as they tried to perform their hit single “Ooh Stick You.” The footage is still just as painful to watch today as it was back then.
Dillinger Escape Plan’s shitty performance
Perhaps the grossest-documented on-stage antic of all time was at Reading Festival in 2002 when Dillinger Escape Plan frontman Greg Puciato took a shit into a plastic bag and hurled it at a group of punters. “You’re going to see a lot of shit on this stage today,” the singer told the crowd. “You might as well see some more.” The trauma was real.
The Kill Bill band
When Kill Bill: Volume 1 was released in 2003, a one-hit-wonder was born. All-female Japanese rock trio the 5. 6. 7. 8’s were a hot item following the two-part Tarantino masterpiece, and were subsequently snapped up for a slot in 2004 when their novelty value was at its peak.