Angry crowds, moshing, and bottles of piss being thrown everywhere. I’m not describing a UKIP rally but instead Daphne and Celeste’s infamous opening set at Reading Festival 2000. After nineteen years it still remains one of the most talked about performances amongst the festival’s illustrious history of musicians. But how is it that Celeste Cruz and Karen DiConcetto (Daphne) managed to cement their names as legends alongside a line-up of Muse, Oasis and Beck?
When I say legends, I do not mean it in the conventional sense. The group had burst onto the music scene with the June 2000 release of their album, ‘We didn’t say that!’. The album had three UK top 20 hits, such as: ‘Ooh Stick You’, ‘U.G.L.Y’ and a cover of Alice Cooper’s ‘Schools Out’. Critics responded positively, with the duo seeming to find fan-bases in a thriving music scene of the early noughties.
But when Daphne and Celeste were billed as openers on the first day of Reading, the audience were clearly none too pleased. Whilst names like Billie Eilish and Charlie XCX appear in the festival’s 2019 lineup as it is tries to appeal to a wider audience, attendees of the 2000 festival were discontented by the turn to pop. Given Reading‘s history tended to keep roots in rock and metal for its selection, it was no surprise that a cheesy girl group was met with hostility. Bands like Slipknot and Blink 182 were to follow up the duo’s performance later on the same stage. With a crowd full of metalheads ready to listen to tracks like, ‘Wait and Bleed’ and ‘Dysentery Gary’ it was no surprise the duo’s music did not resonate.
They walked out to a massive ‘BOLLOCKS’ sign staring at them, a chorus of boos and bottles. An unbelievable number of bottles. What they were filled with only the throwers know but the crowd practically blotted the sun with a tirade of plastic fury. Reading has had a history of acts getting bottled off stage with artists like Meatloaf and 50 Cent facing the wrath of Nestle Pure Life and storming off as a result. Yet how did Daphne and Celeste respond to this hostility? They performed as if nothing had phased them. It was as if they took the crowd’s jeering as a call to action. Celeste even said, ‘You guys are such a good crowd!”. With smiles on their faces and urine splashing around their feet, they managed to stagger through two songs before having to call their three-song set short for safety reasons. It got that bad. Yet even in a post-performance interview they remained ever cheerful as they described how the hate had fuelled them on.
Whilst the performance marked the end of Celeste and Daphne’s careers with their label soon dropping them, their set will forever landmark the festival. It wasn’t due to how awful they were, nor the crowd’s storm of bottles, but their boldness in the face of it all. The pop-duo became renowned for their display of punk behaviour as they stood in front of an angry crowd and simply egged it on. Whilst they may have deserved some bottles for the garbage they performed, their fearless attitude toward a crowd of metal fans remains inspiring to performers of Reading to this day. Here’s to you Daphne and Celeste.