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The Independent Recommends: Pop

COMPARED WITH some other festivals, Reading 98 isn't one of those alternative-lifestyle experiences where you stumble into a juggler or someone wearing a jester's hat every five yards. People attend Reading for the music; it's not so much a festival as the "Gig of the Year", and with Phoenix cancelled and several bands transferred onto the Reading bill, this is easily the best line-up for years, possibly ever. Today is particularly rich the whole way down the bill, with nuggets like Grandaddy, Mogwai, Gomez and Monster Magnet, while Page and Plant headline. The Beastie Boys-Prodigy double header comes tomorrow, while Sunday is another day with strength in depth. New Order play the penultimate spot on the main stage and are followed by Garbage (above); if they seem like a weak choice for headliner don't worry, as Spiritualized, Fu Manchu and Bentley Rhythm Ace play at the same time on the other three stages.

Richfield Avenue, Reading (0541-500 044/0171-344 0044) to 30 Aug.

Weekend tickets pounds 75 or pounds 30 per day