Speaking with Kerrang!, Dave Grohl told some stories of his previous Reading performances with both Nirvana and Foo Fighters.
Back in 1992, Grohl headlined Reading Festival with Nirvana. He recalls: “Reading changed me. I grew up with it, so headlining was unbelievable. When I first joined Nirvana, like the day I fucking moved up [to Seattle], Krist [Novoselic, bass] was having a barbecue in his back yard, and Dan Peters, the drummer from Mudhoney was there.”
“He was talking about just getting back from England, and I said to him, ‘What’s the biggest audience you’ve ever played to?’ He said, ‘About 35,000 people,’ and I said, ‘Where the fuck was that!?’ He told me there’s this festival in England called Reading, and it’s huge. Then I saw it on our itinerary in ‘91, that we’d be halfway up the bill with Sonic Youth and Iggy Pop, and from the day I saw that on there, to the minute I walked out onstage, I would wake up every fucking morning in a panic attack that I had to go and play in front of that many people.”
“The show was a really reassuring, genuinely magical moment of everything coming together at the right time. I think we had practised once, the day before, and I just didn’t know if we could pull it off. That happened a bunch of times in Nirvana, where you’d think, ‘God, this is going to be a fucking disaster,’ and then it would turn out to be something beautiful.”
Grohl returned to the iconic festival in 1995 for his first Reading show with Foo Fighters. “That was a riot – it wasn’t our idea! We’d played a show at King’s College in London, then came back to do Reading festival, which was kind of our first proper gig in England. They had us headlining the side stage, and I felt weird about that. I felt like, ‘Nobody’s even fucking seen us!’ I think the record [Foo Fighters, 1995] had been out for maybe a month or something, not long.”
“When you see the security guards starting to pass out, that’s a problem. There were people climbing up the poles and hanging from the fucking rafters, and as far as you could see it was this tight, packed wave of sweaty fucking lunatics with us just trying to get through every song. Maybe after three or four songs the promoter was on the side of the stage going, ‘You guys have to stop. Just stop!’ I turned to the audience and said, ‘I’m sorry, this guy’s telling us we have to stop,’ and there was this roar of ‘Noooo!’ And he looks at me and says (urgently) ‘Keep playing! Keep playing!’”
Dave Grohl will be headlining Reading and Leeds Festivals with Foo Fighters on 23-25 August – other headliners include The 1975, Post Malone and Twenty One Pilots.