Renowned for its alternative picks and styles, the Reading & Leeds Festival has allowed thousands of young people to celebrate the end of their summers for decades now. But as the festival becomes increasingly diverse with its rap and dance stages, such does its variety of acts on offer; but just who were 2014’s stars? Here are some of the picks of R&L 2014, watch out for these guys, they’re going to be big…


With a few bleary eyes and banging heads (although I like to blame that on camping just a tad too close to the campsite DJ!), Friday kicked off for me with a slice of the ultra-cool Jungle. A mysterious act made up of an array of vocalists, guitarists, keyboardists and drummers, many of whom do some serious multi-tasking, the West London band were pretty excellent. Sure extensive falsetto vocals can wane on even the most hardened of fans after a while, but when the beats were as fresh and bouncy as they were in the NME/Radio tent, you don’t mind. After an excellent LP and summer festival shows, they have proven there worth, even getting a pre-Clean Bandit crowd to loosen up and lose themselves in the sultry grooves. I can see this collective being back next year, in a similar manner to acts like Imagine Dragons, Disclosure and the like, with a further 12 months of developing their act and producing a special, special performance somewhere on the festival site, I truly believe Jungle are to be one of those acts the world will be begging to see.

Die Antwoord, purely as a concept are intriguing. But when you get down to the dance-led hip-hop that the South African duo offer, it is truly a ‘Marmite’ act. Pumping beats are the backing for each and every one of their tunes, but it is the antics of the bizarrely named Watkin Tudor Jones and Yo-Landi ViSSer that make every song interesting and unique, at least in my opinion, although I do feel they work better in moderation, as the expletive-ridden raps can drag after a bit. A 10-song set, including an encore, just because, worked well and again, the NME/Radio 1 tent was the setting for another of the weekend’s wildcards, well R&L deserve congratulating for taking a chance where others might have ducked out. Whilst ‘I Fink U Freeky’ might be their biggest, it was the daring closer, ‘Enter the Ninja’ the first tune from them that told me these guys are worth keeping an eye on…

It can be tough trying to kick-off a festival, but that is the task that The Wytches had, and that is the task that The Wytches passed with flying colours. Their seven-song set built on the hype that had been following the Brighton-based as their dark, grungy sound filled the NME/Radio 1 tent and won over a bleary-eyed Leeds crowd by the bucketload. Upcoming tours in small venues might be the best possible stage for their terrifying guitar-driven roars, but hurry, they certainly won’t be their for long, the Autumn 2014 UK tour, culminating in a homecoming show on the southern coast, will be your best bet.


The last day of Leeds Fest 2014 saw the much-anticipated Royal Blood finally play, ahead of their just released debut LP, the self-titled album which has gone straight to the top of the UK charts, selling by the bucketload, a total revelation given the state of riff-heavy guitar music on these shores. It was a fast, frenetic set which saw the bass guitar and drum duo tear apart the Radio 1/NME tent, packing it out and then some at two in the afternoon, a pretty decent achievement at the end of a weekend chocced full of live music. Songs like ‘Little Monster’ and ‘Out of the Black’ are already being received like heroic tunes, and it’s always a good sign when a bands riffs are sung back at them, alongside their lyrics. The band who were only set up at the dawn of 2013, look like being the start of a new dawn for rock music in the 2010’s.

Superfood are a band I’ve kept my beady eye on for a while. The Birmingham band are part of the rising B-Town scene at the minute, with fellow indie-pop botherers Peace and Swim Deep a part of the city’s musical revival. Sure they only played on essentially the Thursday evening ‘preview’ night, but the band’s performance at the Leeds site, built upon the Y-Not Festival set I saw at the beginning of August. They rattled through tunes like ‘Right On Satellite’, ‘Melting’ and ‘Bubbles’ with great ease and confidence, with a LP release upcoming a strong spot at not just R&L but a number of festivals looks on for 2015, if they’re to follow their Brummie brethren.


Don Broco, a Bedford-based alternative rock band took to the NME/Radio 1 stage, were an unexpected surprise. ‘The band’s in-time dance moves, steps to the side, hand-claps, a cheeky boyband touch for the popular quartet, who’s lead singer had an Elvisy-look going on. They built on their performance on the 2013 Main Stage, as this extended set in the tent got everybody going on Sunday afternoon.The band’s rapport is cool and refreshing, they love their fanbase, and vice versa. It’ll be interesting to see where they go next, as the next big release from them could make or break their act; but on this showing, they have a fighting chance of making something amongst the sheer amount of rock bands trying to make a living.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below what you think…