Funeral for a Friend In the Concrete Jungle

Funeral for A Friend
Reading Festival: Concrete Jungle Stage
August 23, 2003
Boasting a line-up that reads like a Warped Tour list with the crap filtered out, Mean Fiddler got the Concrete Jungle set-up at this year's Carling Weekend so right but simultaneously so very wrong.

The sheer endurance and guile required to maintain a decent place in the pokey tent for the full one day mini-event gave a whole new meaning to being a hardcore (or post-hardcore, as it may be) fan.

Shoving a selection of some of the biggest and best bands across a genre, including Alkaline Trio, Thrice, the Movieflife, and Pennywise, into one tent with limited tiny exits for overflow, and a crowd-drawing halfpipe outside, screamed a lack of foresight, or maybe just concern. Whoever dealt with the space logistics here clearly went to the Stupid Asshole School of Crowd Control.

In the organizers' defence, Funeral for a Friend shouldn't by rights command such a massive, and passionate, crowd this early in the day, or their careers, with the enclosure bursting at the seams well before the Welsh quintet are scheduled to commence proceedings at noon.

But after just over a year together, two EPs, and one UK top twenty single, FFAF aren't interested in rules. Twelve months of incessant touring has seen the band's profile and fanbase sky-rocket, building on a reputation for electrifying live performances, which is not betrayed in today's festival surroundings.

Having just recovered from a bout of glandular fever that resulted in the cancellation of the final dates of a recent tour, lead singer Matt Davies' heartfelt vocals really shouldn't sound this great, but they do.

In a just and sane world, the constant presence of drummer Ryan Richards' furious goblin-like backing screams would result in a burnt out larynx and possibly heart failure, but still he persists, combining his unique vocal prowess with superbly energetic bass-heavy drumming.

Serving-up a brunch of angst-ridden emotional outpour, FFAF prove the perfect way to start the day, failing, as ever, to deliver a single song poorly, cementing their position as Britain's main answer to the punk dominance of US counterparts.

Opener 'This Year's Most Open Heartbreak' is met by a worthily raucous reception, newbie 'Bend Your Arms to Look Like Wings' is taken to by the crowd like a classic, and singles old and new 'Juneau' and 'She Drove me to Daytime Television' stick out as early hits in a catalogue that will flourish for years to come.

Maintaining an affinity full of praise and gratitude with the crowd throughout, betraying an arrogance they have probably earned, the screamo upstarts are clearly keeping their feet on the ground, but it seems inevitable that they will soon fly to headier heights. Let's hope there's some space at the top.

Writer: Tim Newbound

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