Centrefold: Heading for Reading: Mud, sweat and tears at the South's answer to Glastonbury

If jugglers, aromatherapy and patchouli oil get your engine running, you're out of luck because Glastonbury was two months ago. Tomorrow, the 1994 Reading Festival kicks into gear with a hard-as-nails line-up that should guarantee Henry Rollins (appearing on Sunday) a sizeable bunch of sparring partners to choose from. None of your Rage Against the Machine 'F*** you I won't clean up my bedroom' rich-kid whinging here, that's for sure. Glastonbury is where the hippies chill. But Reading is for rough kids.

That should be plain from most of the bill, although a few more sensitive types have wangled prime placings: the Lemonheads, for example, still riding the tide of It's a Shame About Ray after their last album, Come On Feel the Lemonheads, proved a tad scrappy; and the Manic Street Preachers, who released the best single of the 90s so far ('Motorcycle Emptiness') before turning into a humourless Ramones, a concept akin to Elvis without his shag-me eyes or Isaac Hayes singing soprano.

Prime movers on the main stage are likely to be Therapy?, Cypress Hill, Ice Cube and Primal Scream (right), with Pulp, the Verve and the fabulous Afghan Whigs all doing their bit. On the smaller stages, you'll find comedy (Jo Brand, Mark Thomas), erstwhile indie faves (Lush, the Wedding Present), and some of the best new bands: Echobelly, whose Everyone's Got One album is a modest little corker; Gene, who should be bored enough with comparisons to the Smiths to lay on a belting set; and Shed Seven, perhaps the spunkiest new British band. It seemed unlikely that they could top their horny debut single 'Mark', and they haven't yet. However, they too are poised with an album - Change Maker, out on 5 September - so don't consign them to the subs bench yet. And if you really must mention 'New Wave of New Wave', you'll only have yourself to blame when your tent gets firebombed.

Reading Festival 26-28 Aug, pounds 55 three-day ticket, pounds 25 single-day

ticket. Information: 0336-404905. Credit card bookings: 071-284 2200

(Photograph omitted)

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