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U.K. rock fests: Summer's last hurrah

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Billy Corgan: Mark Allan/WireImage.com

As August rolls over and we resign ourselves to another eight months of damp darkness and the fact we just didn’t get a summer over here, two long-running events sign off the bulk of our festival season: V Festival and (to give it its full name) the Carling Weekend: Reading and Leeds Festival.

These two are chalk and cheese. In the V corner, you have Pink, Proclaimers, KT Tunstall. You have stringent rules, an ominous cloud of corporate sponsorship, and what we might call ”part-time-punters,” those music fans that only venture out into the field once a year, and then only if they are armed with hiking boots and a cagoule wrapped around their waist. In the Carling corner, you have a much younger clientele, heavier rock (think Smashing Pumpkins, Lostprophets, Brand New), and a traditional Sunday-night riot during which local teenagers push each other over in chemical toilets.

V had its moments: Kanye ripped through a sample-splicing set in front of thousands of people wearing promotional paper glasses, and national treasure Jarvis (Cocker, of Pulp) was awesome too. ”When I played the first V in 1996,” he announced, ”I had to dress as a giant banana to avoid being noticed. This year I’m wandering around as a giant dildo.”

By the time you read this, we’ll just be getting over the Carling Weekend (Aug. 24-26). Pretty much the entire office went to either Reading or Leeds, and as it was the last hurrah and a bank holiday weekend to boot, it was generally regarded as the Big One. We booked hotel rooms by the site where all the bands were staying, and the bar stayed up til stupid o’clock. See NME.com’s coverage — and check back next week for a full report on the carnage.

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