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Editor’s note: John’s written about this from the viewpoint of Reading, but I’m sure if you’re reading this, chances are you know how the rotating band schedule of Reading/Leeds weekend works. If not, comment here and we’ll explain. Cheers.
Dave Grohl first unleashed his ferocious talent on an unwitting Reading Festival audience in 1991. Now 21 years later he is back, AGAIN, to close the Reading Festival on the 26th of August with arguably the biggest and best rock band of this generation, Foo Fighters (pictured above). Joining these already battle hardened festival veterans are relative newcomers to the headlining rounds Kasabian, who with the release of the extremely pleasing ‘Velociraptor’ (review here) are sure to bring a massive crowd to the main stage, even if they are fighting it out with post-hardcore heavyweights At the Drive In for a share of the crowd. I, for one, am torn in this instance but a first time headlining slot at Reading for Kasabian is just sounding a little too tasty to miss.
Filling the final headlining slot on this bill was never going to be an easy feat, so it had to go to a band of hugely talented legends, which go by the name the Cure. You’d be hard pressed to find a band on the roster for the weekend that doesn’t cite Robert Smith’s band of heroes as their influences. However, if these veterans of the stage don’t exactly float ya boat then take a look at the NME stage, where the Maccabees will surely produce a set to remember in the tent.
As with every year at Reading Festival though the fun is by no means over with just the headliners. Over the weekend the hallowed Richfield Avenue site will be graced by acts including the massively popular Florence and the Machine, who’ll be looking to ‘Shake It Up’ in the south warming up for Kasabian. The unenviable task has of opening for the Cure falls to that ginger haired beauty Hayley Williams and her pop punk band of miscreants Paramore. Joining Foo Fighters on the final day are the Black Keys, who after a UK tour will be fired up and ready to rock the Main Stage’s socks off.
However, if you thought those boys at Festival Republic were spoiling you already, just wait until you see the host of other bands announced. ‘I Predict a Riot’ on the Sunday with Kaiser Chiefs and for those of you wanting that guilty pleasure look no further than Welsh metallers Bullet For My Valentine on the Main Stage. For nostalgia’s sake, Coheed and Cambria are being welcomed back to Reading for some proggy goodness. If you want to stay current, check out Main Stage slots for Bombay Bicycle Club, the Vaccines and Reading (and The Boss) favourites the Gaslight Anthem.
The surface has hardly been scratched here, with the Lock Up Stage, the Festival Republic Stage and the rest of the NME Stage yet to be announced. Undoubtedly though, this promises to be the festival event of the summer and with weekend tickets still available, my question is, will I see you in the mosh pit?
Weekend tickets for Reading or Leeds Fest (24-26 August) are £197.50 plus booking and include camping. Day tickets are £85 for Friday, Saturday or Sunday (Leeds only; Sunday at Reading is sold out). Buy tickets from Seetickets from here for Reading and here for Leeds.
These boys are close to my hearts, not just because they all hail from the tiny little island of Guernsey as I do, but because three of their members were part of the Mid Carson Coalition, the first band I ever moshed too. Yes, I know, what a memory, one I will always have those three boys to thank for.
Courage Have Courage were formed last summer when the group of friends who had known each other, lived with one another and at one point or another played music together decided to record some tracks. The writing and recording took them a few months, and it was in March that Courage Have Courage finally stepped out of the studios and began to play live. Frontman Luke Vidamour said to me, “you only really become a band when you play your first gig.” Indeed.
This is a band who already have shared a stage with acts including Primal Scream, Example, Frank Turner and the Gaslight Anthem. At Leeds, they were on the BBC Introducing stage, where they were hoping to stamp their authority on the UK audience arrayed in front of them.
The boys describe themselves as “a British brand of pop/rock, which is fun, energetic and summery”, and after seeing them, it wasn’t difficult to see where they got that view from. The entire crowd all wore beaming grins towards this group who most of them probably wouldn’t have heard of before then.
But has the success gone to their heads already? No, not these humble Guernsey boys. They travel to gigs in what they call their ‘tour bus’ but they ended up admitting to me that it was a ‘Red Renault Scenic’. They also admitted that the reception has been surprising on their first stint touring: “there’s been someone at every gig we have played and sometimes a few people have gone, so it was just such a good experience to see how people react.” Vidamour continued, “it was nice to see how the songs went down, because until you play them live you just don’t know how people are going to react.”
‘Courage Have Courage’ are obviously then, a group of grounded lads who just enjoy playing their music and hope others will enjoy them too. With magazines like Kerrang! featuring them as well, it’s only a matter of time before acts like Frank Turner will be saying that he shared a stage with Courage Have Courage and what an experience it was.
The final day of Leeds Festival 2011 brought with it dryness and a relative calm that I hadn’t seen all weekend, no frantic rushing to tents. Just good music. Well, for most of the day anyway… Speaking of music that just is not good in the slightest, my first port of call for the day was the Main Stage to watch Pigeon Detectives. Beginning with their set with arguably their most popular track ‘I Found Out’ was their first mistake, as they had my attention for that brief point. But from then on though, it was as I expected. A set as tragically flawed as the band themselves, riddled with album tracks that nobody cares about at home, let alone at a festival. Truly a thoroughly dour start to my final day.
It was only fair that after such musical torture, I was gifted with the brilliant music of Seasick Steve, doing what he does best, getting crowds to love him with his brilliant style of DIY bluegrass rock ‘n’ roll. Halfway through his set he does what anybody who is third on the Main Stage at a festival wishes they can do to get the crowd going: nothing huge, just something like bring on a member of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band of all time, Led Zeppelin. Yes. John Paul Jones. With JPJ on bass, Steve hammering his bizarre instruments and a drummer with a longer beard than Steve himself, the trio on stage was a force. ‘Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks’ sounded positively fierce and ‘Thunderbird’ was easily the highlight of the first few bands of the day.
Two Door Cinema Club strolled onstage, and within seconds girls all around me were clambering over each other to be as close to these Irish charmers. Two Door surely could not have anticipated what a success ‘Tourist History’ was going to be, so the thousands upon thousands of people mimicking every track back at them must have been quite a shock. [Editor’s note: not really to us at TGTF. We wrote about a couple of their songs in a Kitsune sampler in January 2010 and then mused on the actual album 2 months later.] Their delivery was fantastic though, and throughout the gig they had the crowd placed firmly within the palms of their hands.
To follow Two Door in the form they are in can hardly be seen as an undaunting task. So it probably helped that the guys to do it are the most seasoned pros on the bill: enter Madness. Beginning with classic ‘One Step Beyond’, the crowd were already in full swing, gone were the attempts at mosh pits and in their place, everyone doing a strange minimalistic rendition of the running man. Their set was riddled with classics: ‘Baggy Trousers’ was greeted to a huge reception and ‘House of Fun’ was literally the most ‘fun’ song of the day.
From a band centred on dancing about like there’s no tomorrow to a band who in all honesty aren’t exactly the jolliest fellows around, this of course was the pioneers of emo kids Jimmy Eat World. Their set was by far too long for the amount of material they had; while ‘Bleed America,’ ‘The Middle’ and ‘Sweetness’ were fantastic, nobody cared about ‘Coffee and Cigarettes’, let alone enough to hear it when you could be heading over to see Bombay Bicycle Club…hey, wait a minute. That sounds like a good idea! So I did!
Bombay’s crowd was, as expected, huge, as is the hype around these nervous little boys. While they may not look the most confident bunch, they still manage to capture the crowd brilliantly. Sure, it helps that they have some seriously solid tune,s but I think the nervousness plays well for them. New single ‘Shuffle’ from their new album ‘A Different Kind of Fix’ (review here) sounded note perfect live and could easily grow into one of the biggest strings on their live bow. They finished with ‘Always Like This’ to bring an end to a set which they breezed through, the crowd hooked on every word.
Next up were co-headliners the Strokes (pictured at top), who turned out to be truly awful. They are a band with such a reputation but who managed to look as uninterested from the beginning as I became halfway through their dry, unimaginative set. Julian Casablancas looked as if he wanted to be anywhere else but here and that was how I started to feel as the hits faded into plugging of the new album. The one highlight had to be ‘Juicebox’, which added some much needed energy to the proceedings. Bar that, disappointing is the only word I can use to describe their set. Devoid of any showmanship, any invention.
Five minutes of rain was all the heavens had in store for us on Saturday at Leeds. On a day which promised to be the heaviest of the weekend, with acts like Bring Me the Horizon, Rise Against and headliners My Chemical Romance gracing the main stage, the weather held off and it was primarily dry.
To kick off the day of music were the Blackout, who brought by far the Welshest set of the weekend. ‘STFUppercut’ was loud and hit with the ferocity of a festival goer with a full bladder running to the loo. ‘Children of the Night’, which in my humblest of opinions is their most solid track, sounded weak and laboured, no matter how much front men Sean Smith and Gavin Butler bounced about the stage.
New Found Glory were up next and found themselves in a familiar position to last time they played in 2009 where they were 3rd on the main stage once before. They opened with easily their best offering ‘All Downhill From Here’ and well… It really was. Nobody was expecting a set full of hits, because the band doesn’t have any. ‘My Friend’s Over You’ simply sounded like the whines of an unwanted child and the rest of the set just isn’t worth explaining. Poor throughout. As expected.
The failure of the Main Stage bands to whet my appetite led me to fresher pastures. My first port of call was the Festival Republic stage, where acts like Franz Ferdinand have cut their teeth and gone on to headline. A band familiar to TGTF were next up; they played 2nd on the bill on TGTF’s stage at Brighton’s Great Escape this year. Foster the People are currently riding on the crest of a wave with their hit single ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ that has been played to death on Radio 1. This has done them a world of good though, because as with all hotly-tipped acts on the stage the tent was bursting to the brim. For good reason, these boys were fantastic and thoroughly deserve all the plaudits being given to them by the press at the moment. Even with the briskly cold weather Foster the People managed to create a ray of sunshine in the tent.
Back to the Main Stage I ventured then. Up next was punk rockers Rise Against, who immediately came out with a mission, it was going to be mosh pit central and I don’t think we had a choice about it. To go from Foster the People to Rise Against was a bit of a culture shock, but festivals are about diversity in music and I think there can be few similarities seen between these acts. Rise Against’s set was frantic, with guitars roaring above the wind, with ‘Savior’ sounded positively epic in the Main Stage’s surroundings and ‘Prayer Of The Refugee’ had the entire crowd singing along.
Booze by this point was taking its toll on my body and my decision making capabilities, so it was to no surprise that I was convinced by my fellow festivalers that going to the Dance tent for some sweaty raving was a fantastic idea. Nero were playing a DJ set and with hits like ‘Promises’ and ‘Guilt’, they were going down an absolute storm in the confines of what the day before was the Lock Up Stage. It was the set afterwards that really, excuse the cliché, blew the roof off though. ‘Sub-Focus’ took the crowd in the palm of their hand and easily had people skanking to their will. The beats were infectious, dirty and the perfect mix for a bunch of booze infused teenagers with 90% attempting to pull.
With a quick dash/stumble across the site to the NME stage I was able to catch the spectacle that is Noah and the Whale. The nu-folk dealio had been done last year with Mumford and Sons, but while nobody can fully excuse Noah from being mainstream there was by far a more eclectic crowd gathered than for the heaving mob created by Marcus Mumford and co. The tracks from their new record didn’t seem forced upon the crowd: the masses received them with joy and while movement was low, the joy amongst the fans was apparent to all. They are a band on top of their game at the moment, playing beautiful music to fans who adore them.
Up next were gloom rockers White Lies. Opener ‘Farewell to the Fairground’s’ trademark drums got the people in the tent excited, and for good reason, as this was surely to be one of the sets of the festival so far. White Lies didn’t fail to disappoint; Harry McVeigh’s voice resonated among the punters with an eerie gloom, while the bass roared to life in the background. Set closer ‘Bigger Than Us’ for sure has to be nominated for the loudest song of the festival award, as I was surprised the people at Reading couldn’t hear the drum beat blasting along.
Headlining the evening was My Chemical Romance, another band with a troubled Reading and Leeds history. MCR were bottled off during their last visit to the Reading site in 2006 and vowed that they would never return to the festival unless they were headlining. Five years later and the emo pin-up boys had done it. They were headlining the Main Stage and wow, you could tell they loved it.
‘Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)’ was greeted to roars from the crowd, as Gerard Way patrolled around the stage akin to a general directing his troops. The energy was frantic during the opener; you could tell the boys on stage were playing like their lives depended on it. It was paying off though; naysayers and MCR skeptics all about the Main Stage crowd surely were having their heads turn by the display of blasé rock ‘n’ roll on show in front of them.
If that wasn’t enough they followed it up with their now classic ‘I’m Not OK (I Promise),’ fists were already pumping all around the crowd, flares being lit left right and centre. The band powered through a set with all the hits and songs from their newest record, with the highlights including the glorious sing-along that is ‘S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W’ and a ferocious rendition of ‘Famous Last Words’. To finish the set though there could only be one song. The anthem that saw them loved my millions, yet tarnished by the brand of a suicide cult. ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ was everything it was meant to be though that night, a triumphant call to arms, awry with guitar solo’s that Queen would be proud off. A successful set then for MCR, one which can leave few doubting that this band deserves to headline bills like this.
The heavens were open. The ground was softening. It looked to be another washout festival for me and my poor £10 wellies! My spirits would not be dampened (soaked) though. There were bands to be seen at Leeds 2011, and cider to be drunk out of silly paper cups.
First on my list was American band Taking Back Sunday. Don’t ask me why! The veteran pop-punkers have been here before, on this very spot at the very same time, hardly a fact that Taking Back Sunday will be proud of. However the Long Island boys jumped into ‘Cute Without the E’ with gusto. The crowd reacted well; regrettably, this reaction was to be short-lived. After the initial hit, the impetus was lost and the band sunk into album tracks and new record promotion, contributing to their own demise. The response was little more than silence or more turning around and scampering for another stage. Singles ‘Liar’ and ‘Make Damn Sure’ provoked some reaction from the subdued masses but it was too little to late and Taking Back Sunday skulked off stage to almost silence. Bar a few Alans and Steves.
To follow that was folk-punk troubadour and TGTF favourite Frank Turner, who immediately stated his intention with 1 and a half minute belter ‘Try This At Home.’ There really is nothing better then joining in with thousands of people and shouting the word ‘Dick’ at the height of your voice! It *is* part of the song, eh? Eton-educated Turner and his band the Sleeping Souls’ had the masses of muddy teens in the palm of their hands from the word go. With old favourites like ‘Photosynthesis’ and ‘Reasons Not to Be an Idiot’ being joined by new single ‘If I Ever Stray’, Turner’s set went down a storm. “I’ll be hanging round the Lock-Up Stage the rest of the day”, he says as he leaves. The crowd thinks, will you really? Secret set to follow.
A change in pace was in order after that. None better then UK DIY rockers Enter Shikari. If they can’t get you splashing around in the mud, it’s hard to tell what will get you shifting! For sure they delivered one of the surprises of the weekend: their wild mash-up of metal, dance and some cheeky dubstep made for essential festival listening.
Off to the NME tent next to survey whether Panic! At the Disco had recovered from their Reading Festival nightmare. For those who can’t remember here is the short version: “Band leave. Play songs. Be a bit whiny. Crowd not happy. Bottle of wee thrown. Bottle hits Brendan Urie. Urie knocked out cold. Set over.” So for them to return to the festivals was obviously a very brave move for the band. The move paid off; the band was greeted to rapturous applause and shouts of “Panic, Panic!” Urie immediately began to strut about the NME/Radio 1 stage as if it was his own back garden. The crowd loved him, screaming the words to ‘But It’s Better If You Do’ and lifting the roof at set closer ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies.’
One of the biggest success stories of this year has been the remarkable rise of Ed Sheeran, the ginger haired rap/acoustic/beat boxing/anything else cool kid of the moment has hit the ground flying and looks like a force to be reckoned with. No surprises then that his set in the Festival Republic tent was already spewing people out into the open air when I arrived. The audience was, as expected, composed primarily of young girls who all desperately “want to be Mrs. Sheeran” and other such morons. Hits ‘The A Team’ and ‘You Need Me Man, I Don’t Need You’ sound good. The remainder of the set plunges into obscurity. The loop pedal trick is cool, we know; Joe Driscoll did it about 5 years ago and was 1000% more interesting, just not as in such a “handsome” and “gorgeous” package. (Cue vomiting.) The rise of this ginger pop star is set in stone already: major label contract signed, videos out. So expect a number 1 this Sunday from Sheeran. Yes you heard it here first. (Yawn! Next please!)
Finally there was the spectacle that many had been waiting all day crushed at the barriers of the main stage for. Muse. It’s the 10th anniversary of ‘Origin of Symmetry’ and in celebration the Devon powerhouse played the album in its entirety. Too many punter faces were confused, wondering “Where’s ‘Supermassive Black Hole?’ Why aren’t they playing ‘Undisclosed Desires?” Answer to the latter: it’s garbage that’s why, OK? Answer to the former. Because it’s coming in the second half, along with ‘Desires.’ Philistines.
The first half of the set was majestic, as if they had been playing these songs on every tour, not just resurrecting them for these shows. ‘Dark Shines’ was triumphant, ‘New Born’ epic and ‘Plug in Baby’ thoroughly spellbinding, while ‘Feeling Good’ was one that everyone in the crowd could sing along to. The second half delivers hits and the same ol’ encore; a harmonica plays, Matt Bellamy spins a weird box and they tear into ‘Knights of Cydonia’. Queue the madness in the crowd. A successful set for Muse ends, but need I even write that. They’re always good. Guaranteed to tear the roof/stage/arena apart. True rock legends and they’ve got more to come.
By CoCo Wong
on Thursday, 24th March 2011 at 11:00 am
One of the most highly-anticipated music festivals in the UK is returning to Richfield Avenue and Bramham Park this summer. Yep, it’s Reading and Leeds, held during the August bank holiday weekend.
Apart from the headliners, this year’s line-up looks not too different from the one from last year. The Strokes, who have just released their new album ‘Angles’ (TGTF review here), seem to be one of the biggest names this year. Elbow will be a blast as well as they will no doubt play tracks from ‘build a rocket boys!’ Other headliners include Muse (pictured above), My Chemical Romance, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Pulp and Interpol.
Let’s move on to the NME/ Radio 1 stage, the stage I’m most interested in. Metronomy and Patrick Wolf will definitely be highlights. I personally think that Reading’s second day on the NME stage line up is the best for Ilike all the bands playing; I’m particularly looking forward to Everything Everything’s performance, and Kiwis the Naked and Famous are going to be fun to watch as well. Other great acts include Noah and the Whale, White Lies, Crystal Castles, Bombay Bicycle Club, Warpaint, Chapel Club and Cage the Elephant.
The Festival takes place on the August Bank Holiday weekend – Friday 26th to Sunday 28th August 2011. The tickets are available from SeeTickets (0870 060 3775). As for purchasing in person, tickets are available at the following 3 HMV stores: Reading Oracle, Southampton (weekend tickets only) and Oxford (weekend tickets only). Tickets are £199.50 for the weekend and £89.50 per day.
The line-up as announced so far is after the cut.
Continue reading Preview: Reading and Leeds 2011