After months of teasing Melvin Benn, curator of Reading and Leeds festival, has finally given us a genuine insight into what the bill will look like for this year’s festival! As of last night, another 50 acts were added to a bill already containing the likes of Metallica, Mumford and Sons and Jamie T, dipping into genres as varied as Rock, Indie, Hip Hop and Dance. As a person who has already previously attended the last three festivals at the larger Reading site, Reading and Leeds announcement day is always a day filled with excitement, and in some rare instances mild disappointment (particularly in 2013 when I discovered a rapper (Eminem) was to headline the hallowed festival grounds!?!). A festival steeped in history and possibly the oldest Rock Festival in the country (Isle of Wight has slightly lost its edge of recent years), Reading and Leeds Festival has provided the nations youth with some of the best musical talent the world has had to offer, recent headliners including the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro, Muse, Rage Against the Machine, The Strokes, Kasabian, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Killers and countless others. However the festival is more than just a place to enjoy music, it is a right passage that all festival-attending, music-loving youths must experience and often use to celebrate the end of GCSEs or A Level (in my case IB) exams. Whilst it may not have the exuberant nightlife that Glastonbury does, it does undoubtedly have the best atmosphere (The Black Keys openly criticised the ‘tame’ nature of the Glastonbury crowd last year), many acts will tell you of how Reading and Leeds crowds are some of the most crazy they’ve ever experienced, with mosh pits opening to some of the most unlikely acts (in 2013 I witnessed moshing to Kodaline)! It also, unlike many other festivals, has depth as well as breadth in its lineups, rather than festivals such as Isle of Wight Festival, Reading hosts a bill which isn’t top heavy having blown the whole budget on a few big headliners. You can always count on there being someone you like playing at some point on one of the festivals many stages, whether its a rising star playing on the Festival Republic Stage or your favourite band making there big break in the NME/Radio 1 tent.
Being pressed by many of my friends to look beyond the sweaty mosh pits of the Reading Festival and experience a new festival environment, with Bestival, T in the Park, Latitude and Benicassim all acting as likely replacement given the impossibility to acquire Glastonbury tickets, this year I was aiming to be more critical of the year’s lineup. I can’t see Mumford and Sons early inclusion on the bill was much to be taste, so this had to be a big one. As it turned out, I was in luck as not only had one of my favourite bands been announced but also one of the best live acts the country has to offer, The Libertines! Pete, Carl and the crew are coming back to their much loved festival as a reformed act, closing the festival in what is sure to be a chaotic, yet epic headline slot. A booking that would impress those underwhelmed by Mumford & Sons yet not quite hardcore enough for the thrash metal of Metallica. Anthems such as Don’t Look back into the Sun, Can’t Stand Me Now and Time for Heroes will be sure to evoke some of the weekend’s loudest sing alongs and get the Reading and Leeds crowds bouncing.
However, in all honesty this was the best yesterday’s announcement had to offer… The sub-headliners were disappointing, with Bring Me the Horizon playing irritatingly high up the bill and Kendrick Lemar taking the part of the Main Stage’s token rapper, also playing unusually high on a day in which he sticks out like a sore thumb amongst an otherwise strong main stage bill on the Sunday (The Libertines, Jamie T, The Maccabees and The Cribs also on the main stage that day). Furthermore, the NME/Radio 1 stage’s headliners were downright appalling, offering limited indie alternative to Mumford’s folk or Metallica’s thrash and instead giving us dance shite in the form of Knife Party, Rebel Sound and Deadmau5. Even worse in my opinion is for some reason bringing back early 00s nu-metal pioneers Limp Bizkit, a band so dumb and talentless they shouldn’t be let in through the gates. Further disappointment ensued when looking at the Friday Main stage, giving us a bill tailor made for the teeny bopper, ‘not too fussed about the music’ kind of punter who likes the look of the indie pop/ punk pop heavy day, which includes the likes of Bastille, All Time Low and Panic! At he Disco, because they heard them being played on BBC Radio 1 breakfast show a few times.
However, despite my harsh judgement of many of the acts on the bill, there is still more than enough talent on offer for the more avid music fans to tuck into. Royal Blood’s fast track into popular culture and mainstream consciousness is highlighted by their 3rd place billing on the Saturday. As I mentioned earlier the Sunday Main Stage lineup is looking particularly strong, as is the NME tent on the Friday and Saturday which is showcasing some of the best upcoming acts that are pushing to be the next big thing, with acts including; Peace, Swim Deep, The Districts, Catfish & the Bottlemen, Everything Everything, Wolf Alice, Circa Waves and Slaves. 2015 should be a big year for all of those acts and offers them a great platform to prove why they are some of the hottest talent out there. the ascension of Peace is particularly pleasing, despite them perhaps warranting a higher billing. Also, examination of the finer print of the Festival Republic Stage proves as to why Reading and Leeds is so popular due to its depth of lineup, with the stage hosting some of the very best newcomers including; Darlia, Pretty Vicious, The Bulletproof Bomb and Radkey. This stage is one of the very best things about the festival and is often a place I reside to spot new talent when the options on the bigger stages are limited. It also boasts a sting set of headliners with Frank Turner’s solo set sure to attract huge crowds and the weirdly low billing of The Wombats’ big return, which also acts as the anti-Metallica offering, sure to provide huge singalongs. For those with heavy tastes the Lock Up/ The Pit boasts, as per usual, a lineup that is sure to get pulses rushing and mosh pits started.
The return of the Libertines, is a big pulling factor towards Reading and Leeds festival for me, however seeing as they are also playing T in the Park in Scotland, the next wave of acts to be announced needs to be big! The to be announced special guest sub-headliner needs to be good, with sting rumours associating Alt-J with the role and similarly there needs to be big advancements on Friday Main Stage and Sunday NME tent. However, with great depth and a set of headliners, none of whom I’ve seen before, there is still a strong chance that I may be revisiting the hallowed ground of Reading Festival for a fourth year in a row!