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Preview: Reading and Leeds 2016

 
By on Thursday, 4th February 2016 at 9:00 am
 

Header photo: Red Hot Chili Peppers by Ellen Von Unwerth

Along with Glastonbury and Download Festival, there is another festival, or pair of festivals rather, that are a staple of the UK festival scene. Reading and Leeds take place in the August bank holiday weekend, which this year falls on the 26th-28th of August.

Reading Festival is actually one of the UK’s oldest popular music festivals, having been around in its current format since the 1970s. It’s become one of the prime festivals in the indie/rock scene due to its ability to gather some of the biggest names in the industry, as well as the occasional controversial headliner.

This year proves to be no different. The first of the headliners announced were Red Hot Chili Peppers, who need no introduction. They’ve been around for over 30 years, had multiple successful albums and have transcended from hard to funk to rock and everything in between. As a festival exclusive, this is the only place you can see them on the festival circuit this year. Along with the Chili Peppers’ exclusive appearance, Reading / Leeds also have the poster boys of peace and rock Eagles of Death Metal, who after the horrendous events in Paris last year have powered on and united the music world more than ever. Along with ‘Eagles…’, Imagine Dragons and Two Door Cinema Club are also exclusive to Reading / Leeds.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DyziWtkfBw[/youtube]

Recently announced to join the bill with Red Hot Chili Peppers, we have a joint headline act with Foals and Disclosure, meaning one act will be the main headline at one site, and at the other site the roles will be reversed. This is particularly exciting because Foals, who have worked from house parties to festival headliner, are infamous for live shows that turn to a frenzy, with leading man Yannis Phillippakis ending up hanging from some form of metalwork or walking above the crowd. This spectacle will be paired alongside electronic brother duo Disclosure, who have had a string of hits that have created a boost of momentum in the dance/electronic movement and brought it back into the minds of the mainstream. It’s worth noting that this pairing is not under festival exclusivity, which means we may be seeing these names elsewhere.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuQQIawCqBA[/youtube]

Other notable acts for this gigantic festival are the Brit indie group The 1975, who by August will be on their second album, with their fanbase growing faster and faster. We also have The Courteeners, the Mancunian band keeping the spirit of Britpop and the attitude of Oasis alive, while also keeping it fresh. In fact, calling it Britpop would to be selling their sound short: it’s developmental and massive. They have rousing choruses and songs that can get anyone moving, it’s always a great pleasure seeing The Courteeners on a lineup, and they never disappoint.

With these latest additions, this lineup is certainly looking strong. The newly announced acts have given the festival a much more varied approach, with multiple genres being represented, including hip-hop with Fetty Wap.  Now we await the final headline announcement – the safe bet is on Biffy Clyro – and we hope Reading / Leeds keep up the quality and quantity they need to stay ahead of the game in this festival monopoly.

For more information and tickets visit http://www.readingfestival.com or http://www.leedsfestival.com.

 

Live Gig Video: The Libertines play ‘Up the Bracket’ headlining the Main Stage at Reading 2015 (Sunday)

 
By on Friday, 4th September 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

Today marks the release of the Libertines‘ third album, their first major release since ‘The Libertines’ 11 years ago. (Read my review of the surprisingly good ‘Anthems for Doomed Youth’ here.) For the faithful who trekked out to Reading / Leeds 2015 over the weekend, however, I’m sure they were more keen on hearing the band’s classics, including ‘Up the Bracket’. Well, you’re in luck. Sunday night when the band were headlining at Richfield Avenue, the BBC preserved the performance of that very song for posterity, and you can watch it below.

If you live in the UK, until the 29th of September you have access to over 40 full sets of action from Reading/Leeds 2015 through the BBC’s Web site for the festival weekend. For full details, go here. If you like outside the UK, you’ll be able to enjoy selected highlights from the weekend on BBC’s YouTube channel, including coverage from the BBC Introducing stage.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kED9ZNBeuLw[/youtube]

 

Live Gig Video: Everything Everything perform ‘Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread’ on the Radio 1 NME Stage at Reading 2015 (Saturday)

 
By on Thursday, 3rd September 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

Everything Everything released their third album ‘Get to Heaven’ back in June (read my review of the LP here), and they wowed crowds at Reading / Leeds 2015 this past weekend. Below is footage of the Manchester band performing current single ‘Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread’ on the Radio 1 NME Stage Saturday at Richfield Avenue.

To watch the promo video for ‘Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread’ that was released in early August, head here. To read more on Everything Everything on TGTF, go here.

If you live in the UK, until the 29th of September you have access to over 40 full sets of action from Reading/Leeds 2015 through the BBC’s Web site for the festival weekend. For full details, go here. If you like outside the UK, you’ll be able to enjoy selected highlights from the weekend on BBC’s YouTube channel, including coverage from the BBC Introducing stage.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J_CCdUqFRg[/youtube]

 

Live Gig Video: Royal Blood play ‘Little Monster’ on the Main Stage at Reading 2015 (Saturday)

 
By on Wednesday, 2nd September 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

As an American music editor who loves UK music, it’s sometimes unreal to me that I get the opportunity to see British bands who have already generated huge buzz back in blighty in tiny little places. Last summer I saw Royal Blood play a a packed out 200-capacity DC9. And now they’re throwing the entire viewing population of a massive festival like Reading 2015 into a frenzy? Incredible. Watch the hard rocking duo perform their single ‘Little Monster’ last Saturday at Richfield Avenue below.

Want to read more about Royal Blood on TGTF? Right this way.

If you live in the UK, until the 29th of September you have access to over 40 full sets of action from Reading/Leeds 2015 through the BBC’s Web site for the festival weekend. For full details, go here. If you like outside the UK, you’ll be able to enjoy selected highlights from the weekend on BBC’s YouTube channel, including coverage from the BBC Introducing stage.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fkpl5p4BVEA[/youtube]

 

Live Gig Video: alt-J perform ‘Left Hand Free’ at the Main Stage at Reading 2015 (Friday)

 
By on Tuesday, 1st September 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

My my, how the mighty alt-J have risen. If you don’t believe me, check out their Main Stage appearance at Reading last Friday, performing the incredibly catchy ‘Left Hand Free’, from their sophomore album ‘This is All Yours’ released in autumn 2014, embedded below.

To watch the promo video for ‘Left Hand Free’ that debuted last summer, head here. Want more on alt-J on TGTF? Right this way.

If you live in the UK, until the 29th of September you have access to over 40 full sets of action from Reading/Leeds 2015 through the BBC’s Web site for the festival weekend. For full details, go here. If you like outside the UK, you’ll be able to enjoy selected highlights from the weekend on BBC’s YouTube channel, including coverage from the BBC Introducing stage.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XeG29Qtang[/youtube]

 

Mumford and Sons at Reading/Leeds 2015 – uninspired?

 
By on Wednesday, 25th March 2015 at 10:00 am
 

Do you remember between the ages of 15 and 18(-ish) when you’d sit glued to the antipodean drawl of Zane Lowe on a dark night around the middle of February? Waiting in awe to discover which titan of popular culture would be gracing the Main Stage at Reading and Leeds? You sat there ready to tweet, Facebook and text your friends about which clashes you were gutted about and which ones were glaringly obvious: I mean who WOULDN’T want to catch Black Flag over Arcade Fire on the Main Stage? They’re a punk rock institution, for god’s sake!

Now, regrettably in drips and drabs, before the bill is inevitably leaked by some cretin on Reddit, the line-up seeps out producing excitement levels tantamount to that first sleet of February. The kind of sleet where it starts and you think it’s going to snow, but instead it just dusts your porch for 5 minutes, then just goes back to being incredibly cold. That kind of faux-excitement.

Now coupled with the lack of a spectacle, we’re subjected to the damp squib that are Mumford and Sons headlining the Main Stage. A band who’ve released two mediocre albums that has led to them headlining Glastonbury and making inroads into the U.S. market that only Harry Styles and co., alongside Mumford, could dream of. Yes, I liked ‘Little Lion Man’, and it’s sure to provoke a pretty good reaction. But did anyone see the tame, lacklustre set the band threw out at Glasto? I did. You can drag out as many string quartets as you want, but when you’ve only got two records of material to run from, it’s never going to shock or surprise, let alone entertain.

Yes, Marcus Mumford has been brushing shoulders with Elvis Costello and Jim James of My Morning Jacket, but are the band any closer to releasing any new music? It doesn’t look that from where I’m sitting… In fact, coupled with Metallica’s booking, that’s two artists headlining the Main Stage who are likely to release a grand total of jack shit this year. Quite similar to Blink 182 last year as well; this smacks of bands being booked simply to bump up the bank balance before other projects. Is that what we should be expecting from £200+ worth of tickets? It’s an example of where those behind Reading and Leeds have fallen into the same trap that other festival bookers have done in the past. Going for what they assume is a safe booking over a genuine wild card contender, someone who can come on stage and be THAT SET that people are still talking about a decade on. Can you really see yourself in 10 years’ time telling friends and colleagues about a rousing rendition of ‘The Cave’? No, me neither. We all know that Sonisphere are just treading water until they can justify booking one of either Slipknot, Iron Maiden or Metallica again. It’s all just very safe. But why should festivals stick to what’s safe? (OK, so yeah, profit margins, but they aren’t cool.)

It’s probably unfair to just focus on where the institutions that are Reading and Leeds have just gotten it wrong. In 2013, the bookers got it ABSOLUTELY right. Biffy Clyro topped the bill on the Sunday, off the back of the incredible success of their most recent release, their double album ‘Opposites’.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdifHR-hKRw[/youtube]

Up until then they’d punctuated the middle of the roaster, teetering on the edge of doing better, but never receiving the backing to rise farther up. In 2013 though, the bookers at Reading and Leeds after a few 7/10 shows at recent festivals took a gamble; they elevated Simon Neil’s threesome of slippery pliant Scotsmen to the lofty heights of headliner. The result was arguably the best headline performance at Richfield Avenue in 2 decades. Every song was an anthem, every ballad a soulful sing-along, every riff a rollicking ripper (try saying that at the end of a festivals worth of stale Strongbow and warm vodka). It was a rousing success and elevated The Biff to the kind of heights that now has them touted as potential Wembley Stadium headliners. Now of course while Noel Gallagher “can’t live in a world where Ed Sheeran sells out Wembley Stadium”, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind seeing this sweaty topless threesome – what an image – screeching their balls off at the venue.

That’s the kind of effect a strong, edgy booking can have. That’s what can be achieved by going against the grain. It can stick in your memory and affect the careers of the artists involved. What does Mumford and Sons headlining Reading and Leeds mean? Probably a better turn out for the NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage, if I’m honest.

The head honchos at Reading and Leeds should take a leaf out of the books of groundbreaking festivals books like Bestival, Secret Garden Party or Latitude. Exclusive sets from out-of-the-ordinary acts like OutKast or The Chemical Brothers are far more likely to excite and inspire sales. In a time where pockets are pinched and times are tight, you’ve got to do a lot to encourage your average tweenager to spend £200 on a festival ticket and not a week-long blowout in Malia spent grinding on strangers whilst sipping on buckets of Red Bull mixers.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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