Pack your tent, dig out your wellies and prepare as the Reading and Leeds festivals quickly approach. This year the twin festivals boast a line up which is nothing if not varied, with acts ranging from Skrillex and Eminem to the likes of Nine Inch Nails and System of a Down.
Whilst the Reading festival has been running is some guise since 1971 (except for a two year ban imposed by the council in ’84 and ’85), it wasn’t until 1999 that the Leeds site was added due a continued increase in popularity and ticket demand, the like of which the Reading site could no longer sustain.
The main stage on the Friday* is headlined by pop-punk heavyweights Green Day, who make their second appearance in as many years following their ‘surprise’ slot in last years’ festival. Although I’m not a fan of their particular brand of pop-punk (a result of my general dislike for most of the genre, save for a few exceptions like Blink-182 and The Offspring), their 2004 Reading headline performance was worth watching more for the energy of the crowd than anything else; at some points throughout the set the crowd’s singing easily drowned out Billy Joe Armstrong’s voice.
The rest of the the main stage line up on the Friday follows a similar rock/metal theme, with two of nu metal’s survivors (see last week’s blog) Deftones and System of a Down, metal-reggae-punk hybrid Skindred and love-them-hate-them Bring Me The Horizon. The only act playing the main stage on Friday who doesn’t quite fit with the theme is Frank Turner, who is playing his seventh consecutive performance at the festival. Whether you have ever heard any of his unique folk-rock before doesn’t matter; I was fortunate enough to catch him (and Deftones) playing Reading two years ago, where he were simply phenomenal, managing to get the crowd to sing along to songs they had never even heard before. Elsewhere on the site, the festival plays host to Skrillex, Bastille, Sub Focus, Kate Nash and even Alkaline Trio, who are headlining the Lock Up stage.
The main stage on Saturday mellows down from Friday’s rock onslaught, with headliner Marshall Bruce Mathers III or as he’s more commonly known: Eminem. The american rapper first headlined the festival in 2001 and is the first rap/hip hop artist on the mian stage since Dizzee Rascal appeared in 2009. The announcement was in part controversial, but hip hop artists have been a part of Reading for years now including sets from 50 cent and Ice Cube. The whole of the main stage line up for Saturday leans towards a more ‘commercial’ appeal with Chase and Status (live), indie rock band Foals and The Blackout.
As fan of harder rock and beyond, the Saturday line up doesn’t really excite me. In fact I would much rather stay on the Lock Up stage where The Bronx, Sick of it All and Tomahawk are playing or even the NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage with Tame Impala, Johnny Marr and Deaf Havana. Also playing this year are two of last years’ biggest new acts Imagine Dragons and Alt-J who will probably draw some of the biggest crowds over the course of the weekend.
However if I had to choose just one day to see, it would be the Sunday. Headlining are the brilliant Scottish rock trio Biffy Clyro, who whenever I’ve seen any of their festival performances are always amazing, somehow managing to fill the stage and excite the crowd no matter what the weather. Nevertheless it would be Industrial legends Nine Inch Nails that I would be most looking forward to. Although I had my doubts to whether they will be able to give the full NIN experience in a festival setting, videos from their recent festival appearance in Japan show Trent Reznor and co. firing on all cylinders alongside a marvelous visual experience, featuring giant silhouettes and a creative stage presence.
The interesting feature to the Sunday is the one-day-only rock stage, acting as a kind of mini Download festival with performances from Enter Shakari, Crossfaith, Heaven’s Basement, Gallows, Filter and Funeral For A Friend to name a few. Those with weekend tickets who came primarily for the Friday will not doubt be inundating the Rock Stage on the Sunday, as the main stage once again caters for the lighter end of the rock spectrum with Fall Out Boy, Editors, Don Broco and The Lumineers.
Like always Reading and Leeds provides such a varied musical experience it would be near impossible to say you don’t like any of this years’ line up. Overall it looks like a great weekend and am jealous of anyone with a ticket!
- Alt-J – ‘Breezeblocks’ from ‘An Awesome Wave’
- Imagine Dragons – ‘Radioactive’ from ‘Continued Silence’
- Tomahawk – ‘God Hates A Coward’ from ‘Tomahawk’
- Nine Inch Nails – ‘Copy Of A’ from the upcoming ‘Hesitation Marks’
- Skindred – ‘Stand For Something’ from ‘Shark Bites and Dog Fights’
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*The days I have referred to in this blog are from the Reading line up. Acts who play the Friday at Reading play the Saturday at Leeds, acts who play the Saturday at Reading play the Sunday at Leeds and acts who play the Sunday at Reading play the Friday at Leeds.