I’ll begin with a potentially controversial statement: Reading is boring. A drab, redbrick residential, middle-class commuter town. Nice train station. Good shopping. That’s about it. On the surface. But something’s bubbling up underneath.
Do you ever find yourself sitting around in Park Bar, like every other night, bored of basic MNQ and Union nights, craving something… more? Sure, there’s stuff going on, there are always nights out, but what Reading needs is a proper, tangible music scene. Sitting right between London and Bristol, there’s really no excuse. We need some creativity, some youth, some rebellion. We need to paint the old red bricks over with pretty colours.
Fortunately there is at least a foundation. Pre-00s Reading had a fairly solid reputation held up by venues such as The Hexagon and The After Dark, which previously hosted bands such as Radiohead and Manic Street Preachers. And of course there’s Reading Festival, but that only comes around once a year and doesn’t really count. Current promising spots are Purple Turtle, Facebar, Oakford Social Club and SUB89, which all host an array of exciting music and arts events. These venues are currently being utilised by the growing electronic music scene amongst Reading’s student population, governed by groups such as REMS and La Bonne Musique. Not to knock these, they’re really, really good and have quickly and successfully established a reputation for themselves. But there lacks a real alternative music scene; at the moment everything is sparse and messy – nothing has come together.
Not to sound too gloomy though: things are looking up. Independent live music promoters Heavy Pop are doing beautiful work to bring artists to Reading. Having founded the annual Are You Listening? Festival in 2013, which has seen acts such as IDLES and the wonderful Her’s, they continue to host events on an almost weekly basis across Reading. One to look forward to is Beat Connection, an all-day extravaganza of cutting edge artists including Matt Maltese and FUR, taking place at South Street Arts Centre on November 24th and hosted in collaboration with Dork magazine. In February next year Heavy Pop will also be bringing The Orielles to Facebar, a bubbling, beautiful concoction of fuzzy psychedelic garage delight and one of the most exciting bands on the scene at the minute.
So as Reading more and more frequently pops up on tour dates, those who are interested must take action! Get talking, get shouting, get making music! Support events and local bands, and look forward to a brighter future for Reading’s music scene.