Guessing the Reading & Leeds 2018 Headliners

by oliver butler (@notoliverbutler)

The only enjoyable thing at the start of any year is that festival line ups are now starting to break cover, like springtime buds shooting through the freshly tilled soil. As the low winter sun burns through the clouds, bands are added to line ups, either to the excited squeals of diehard fans, or audible gulps of disappointed punters who’ve bet their summer on this.

Me, you ask? After completely blowing my load at the Download headliners for different reasons, I’ve wanted to blow chunks at everything past that. Volbeat? Fucking VOLBEAT? Furthermore, with no Glastonbury to get wet and wild at this year, I am technically festival freelance and will be calling 2000Trees my home this year.

However, what say you, dear reader? Are you holding out on the Reading & Leeds lineup being announced? To help you out, I’ve put together a little list of who you might find topping the bill over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Disclaimer: The probability for each act comes down to how likely I think they are to headline, something that is entirely subjective – I believe each artist here is more than capable of headlining.

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Arctic Monkeys

Well, it just has to be, doesn’t it? Every other fucking festival in the known universe has managed to bag these suave simian songsmiths as a headliner, so for Andy Copping to miss out on these boys as headliners would the biggest musical foul-up since St. Anger. It’s been five long years since AM, and most of the Arctics have kept busy; frontman Alex Turner dicking about with Miles Kane in the Last Shadow Puppets, Matt Helders has been dicking about with Iggy Pop and Joshua Homme in Post Pop Depression, so all in all, a lot of dicking around has been done since AM and their 2014 headline slot at R&L.

With a whole plethora of festival dates announced for AM, plus constant tongue cluckings that new material is but a hair away from being released, don’t be surprised if the Monkeys take to the coveted Main Stage Sponsored by Tuborg – Liquid Soundtrack to the sound of a new album. Do bear in mind though that the boys have already confirmed their festival dates for 2018 and R&L is weirdly absent though this could merely be a case of keeping things under wraps for an announcement extravaganza. 

Probability Rating: Andy Copping never usually misses a trick, so for him to let AM slip by would be a huge surprise. 8/10

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Guns ‘n’ Roses

The last time GnR headlined the Carling Weekender, it went pretty fucking wrong, pretty fucking quickly. A waylaid Axl Rose showed up some thirty hours after stage time and then incited a riot after they cut the power on him. However, reunited with Slash & Duff, things seem to be a lot smoother, and the ‘Not In This Lifetime’ tour seems to be the show of a lifetime. Guns are already headlining Download this year, but big mad Andy knows that booking this band is a licence to print money, and big mad Axl knows that this tour is a licence to print money. It’s a match made in heaven!

Considering that many people’s festival plans have been cemented, R&L needs to bring in some big marquee names to try and get day punters coming through the door, and a line up consisting of either GnR or Arctic Monkeys, or both, could be enough to tip the scales for a lot of people.

Probability Rating: Quite high, but should still be considered an outside bet. 7/10

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Paramore

Rumour has it that we’ll see a complete mirror image of the 2014 lineup at the top, minus Blink 182, and few bands are more deserving of top billing than Paramore right now. After Laughter was a smash hit, and they’ve been wowing UK arena crowds in 2018 already, so for them to carry that momentum forwards into an August headline slot would be of no effort at all.

R&L also needs a strong, female-fronted headliner too. Too many festival lineups these days are a boys club, and to overlook such a solid headliner as Paramore would be beyond the pale, you hear me, Copping?! Beyond the pale.

Probability Rating: 2014 was a good year, Donald Trump was just a television sex pest instead of a sex pest who could nuke Korea. Good times, lads. 9/10.

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Queens of the Stone Age

Are QotSA still cancelled? Joshua Homme kicked a girl in the face which is an objective dick move, but I genuinely think he needs some help to be less of a cunt his whole life. Either way, with the rumour being that we’ll get a mirror image of 2014, QotSA are in pole position to headline the festival, instead of a co-headline spot with Paramore, and cancelled or not, Villains was a world-beater of an album.

Further to this, Queens are holding a little festival of their own in Finsbury Park, featuring them, obviously, Iggy Pop, The Hives, Run The Jewels and many more! I see a lot of promoted ads for it, so I don’t think it’s sold or selling out. The Hives though, and Iggy Pop.

Probability Rating: 2014 was a good year, we’d not yet gone full Tory, instead of a full Tory that’s likely going to drive us off a cliff. Good times, lads. 9/10

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CHVRCHES

ALL CAPS! CHVRCHES are clearly a new band, because they’ve had to resort to alternate vowels to find a new band name, but since their debvt they’ve been vnstoppable, with Lavra Mayberry’s soothing silky voice settling like fresh snow on their ethereal beats. With a new album on the horizon, it’s a risky business to promote anyone as yet untested up to the headline scene, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Get two veterans, like AM and GnR for instance as the ‘safe bets’, then give CHVRCHES the Saturday slot to let them spread their wings.

We gave Biffy & Foals the same chances in recent years, let’s move another great British band up the ranks now.

Probability Rating: A woman?! Headlining MY festival?! It’s more likely than you think. 6/10

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Metallica

YEAHEAHEAH. As covered earlier, Copping needs some serious firepower to get people coming through the gates, and who better than 2015 headliners Metallica to add that star power? Metallica sell arenas out worldwide and could sell a day at Reading & Leeds out with the first bar of Enter Sandman. Metallica played an arena run in 2017, but haven’t headlined a UK festival since R&L in 2015.

I’d had them as surefire Download headliners this year, but as per usual, I was wrong. Metallica are metal, yes, but their uber-corporate image has allowed them to transcend the heavy metal label & become mainstream darlings. Do NOT count this band out.

Probability Rating: I’m pretty sure I’m just booking the lineup now. 6/10.

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Wolf Alice

Much like CHVRCHES, Wolf Alice are new blood, mere wolf cubs than big adult wolves, but have absolutely set the world on fire since their debut. Visions of a Life was one of the best albums of 2017, and Ellie Rowsell’s screams would gladly rock the foundations of the Main Stage Sponsored by Volkswagen – Liquid Soundtrack to its very core.

Same principal as CHVRCHES, sandwich them between two heavyweight veterans, get people along for the weekend, let them spread their wings and prove their worth on the main stage. Nobody ever got famous for being careful.

Probability Rating: It’s a good concept, getting two heavyweights, selling people into weekend tickets and give a young’un a chance, which is why it’ll probably never happen; 5/10.

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Royal Blood

Now, there IS an outside chance that could come true. Sold out arenas across the world, two hugely popular albums, Glastonbury sub-headliners, which is basically your ticket to headline any other festival, there’s no barrier to the Brighton two-piece taking the top bill.

Setlist wouldn’t be a problem, as their UK arena setlist was essentially the first two albums but slapped like all hell. You’d be an absolute sausage to rule out these boys taking the Sunday or Friday headline slot.

Probability Rating: I know you hate them, but you can’t hate them as much as Andy Copping loves money. 7/10.

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Lorde

Another outside bet, but if two juggernauts were to top the bill, rolling the dice on someone like Lorde could pay dividends. Plus, if you end up getting two male, rock headliners, getting a female pop sensation could offer balance and something other than a rock band on one of the nights. Melodrama was a huge, huge album & she headlined the Other Stage at Glastonbury last year but curiously only did a small hall/academy tour of the UK. If you’re good enough, you’re old enough is the saying, and Lorde is more than capable of taking a headline slot.

Probability Rating: Maybe this time I’ll remember to get fucking tickets. 5/10

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Chase and Status

Genuinely not the stupidest festival rumour you’ll hear this year, Chase & Status sub-headlined to Eminem in 2013, and have their new album, Tribes, just dying to be played. With a rock-heavy lineup, Chase & Status could be the tonic in the gin that this lineup needs, with international clout, an absolute armful of hits and guest stars, it’d be madness to rule out the kings of drum & bass this August.

Probability: Actually not a bad shout, well done me. 7/10

See also: Pendulum; that’s a 2/10 chance, but have that comeback clout behind them.

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Oliver Butler

I'm sorry.

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