It’s one of the biggest festivals in the United Kingdom outside of Glastonbury, often regarded as the closer to the summer season of music weekenders in the country and always, ALWAYS has a diverse range of acts on show, yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s Reading and Leeds festival and here’s why it will rule again in 2015…
1. Metallica…just Metallica
One of the world’s biggest bands without a doubt, ‘Tallica return to more familiar territory following the controversial showing at Glastonbury last year. No, the metal American band will play Reading & Leeds for a fourth time, when they top the bill in August, but what do a bunch of ageing Americans in shorts bring to such a festival. Well they are trailblazers, from a Hollywood film that’s not your typical concert film, to playing a gig in Antarctica, for which attendees listened through headphones to protect the environment, there’s always something up their sleeves. The sly way they had fans holding up Glastonbury ‘flags’ when they performed was their own way of embedding themselves within the culture. It’ll be interesting to see how they go down, performing at the festival for the first time in a number of years, and as we’ll see it’s a festival that’s much changed since their last appearance, but you can be sure the sheer power and energy these guys put forward every time they take to stage will see them heralded in all quarters.
2. Hip Hop and Rap are becoming very interesting at the festival
There was always some element of both hip hop and rap at R&L, but it’s really coming alive in 2015. Before we make it to the 1Xtra Stage, just look at the megastar on the Main Stage: KENDRICK LAMAR. Yes, the announcement came before he dropped his third LP, but Lamar is a true star and his set before the Libertines is my most anticipated of the weekend, for sure. Another major player in the genre, Tyler, the Creator, looks set to steal the NME stage, with a expletive-ridden set, while the aforementioned 1Xtra tent is a stunner this year, between Azealia Banks, A$AP Ferg and Krept & Konan, some of the hottest talent around right now is present. Throw in the Boy Better Know collective and grime legend Lethal Bizzle and at present it looks perfect for all, newcomers and established hip hop and rap fans. A sign that R&L is gradually diversifying for the better.
3. Exciting Comebacks
A more historic tradition is that of musical comebacks at the festival. In more recent times, the likes of Eminem, Fall Out Boy and blink-182 have marked returns to live music with gigs at the festival, but this year, there’s way more emphasis on ‘comeback kings’. For starters, the Libertines are back! The indie-rockers have been hitting the touring circuits for the past couple of years, but have confirmed a new album is on the way, and the headline slot at R&L looks the perfect place to showcase some of that new material. Now the boys might have grown up just a tad too, there should be no worries about a potential no-show. Fellow headliners Mumford & Sons have had less of a hiatus since their Glastonbury set in 2013, but nonetheless they’ve dropped the banjoes for their new album and again promise to debut some new material as they headline the festival for the first time. And alexisonfire are back too, having split in 2011, the hard-rockers are back, featuring on the Main Stage.
4. Secret Sets
Yet another tradition is the theme of secret sets. Every year there are rumours of secret gigs that aren’t listed on the line-up sheet, some years there are some, others there’s not, it’s all part of the fun! Some like 2012’s Reading exclusive Green Day set, preempt future headliners (the American pop-punkers went on to headline the following year), while others, see Jamie T last year are just fun blasts for those that happen to be in the right place at the right time. Reading tends to get these secret sets over Leeds, for whatever reason, but that won’t stop rampant rumours spreading like wildfire across both campsites as speculation becomes confirmation and the real deal is right infront of fans eyes!
5. The Setting
Another interesting thing is the diversity of the two sites. Leeds is situated in the Yorkshire countryside at Bramham Park, with acres of leafy greenery, being transformed into a mucky cesspit as close to 100,000 revellers descend upon the site. It’s a wonderful sight to see the transformation and operation that gets put into place every single year, that’s for sure. Reading, on the other hand, Richfield Avenue, is just a stone’s throw away from the city itself. Festival goers can gain access to the site on a ferry across the river, and even nip home for the night if they’re local to the area, such is its close proximity to the city itself. Both offer great options, one feels like you’re on a distant part of the planet for a weekend, while on the other you can stave off the dreaded threat of a whole weekend without a warm shower!
6. Newcomers and Breakout Acts
One of the best things about Reading and Leeds is catching hot new artists on the scene. Last year it was Royal Blood and Jungle, this year it’s Royal Blood again on a bigger scale. They’ve elevated to the Main Stage, third from top on the bill. Sure it’s an exaggerated slot, but one that the rock duo deserve given how their debut album shook up the business and brought in new fans to the genre. They’ve sold out various tours, and this slot could be anointing them to the high table of British rock. Alongside them are elevated slots for the likes of Catfish and the Bottlemen, Bastille and Bring Me the Horizon, but 2015’s hottest new acts are there too, no need to worry. Slaves, Years & Years and Circa Waves have hit the top of many critics list’s this year and by August all three debut LP’s should be out there, and the NME stage will see just how well they’ve gone down with fans. It’s an exciting thing to see a brand new band have a whole tent sing their hits back at them, that’s for sure.
7. The DJs are coming...
Alongside the new rap influences are a wave of DJs to the two sites, too. With the introduction of the 1Xtra tent, came the Radio 1 Dance tent in the same year (2013). At first the line-ups for both were pretty sparse and low-key, but ever since the inception of both, the growth of acts on each individual stage has grown immeasurably, and the influence has seen more and more infiltrate other stages, previously unheard of places for dance music to harbour a home. Look at this year’s Radio 1/NME tent, the line-up for this year sees arguably three acts that could be classed as ‘dance’ playing the final sets on each, Knife Party, Chase n Status collective Rebel Sound aswell as he of the famous mouse’s head Deadmau5. Throw in the likes of Gorgon City, Years & Years and Jamie XX and it’s pretty clear the genre is making its mark on the festival. More specialist acts like Hannah Wants, Porter Robinson and Hudson Mohawke will also appear on the Dance Stage, as the festival really aims to cater for dance music fans, interesting given that the festival shares its weekend with legendary dance festival Creamfields.
Been to Reading or Leeds in the past? What did you make of it? And how will this year’s festival go down in the history books? Comment below and let me know!