3 Reasons Why Reading & Leeds’ Lineup Is A Disaster

by liam menzies (@blnkclyr)

You know the drill by now: January comes and the musical drought is avoided thanks to an abundance of festival announcements, the big dogs like Primavera and Reading & Leeds dropping their line ups and provoking a huge response in the process. While the former has been analysed and drooled over, there’s been a choir of cricket chirps and tumbleweed drifting as we’re yet to see any Reading & Leeds announcement, to the point where sites like ourselves are doing the work for the organisers and chiming about our predictions.

Thankfully though, R&L have a sense of humour and this morning had a jab at the dying meme economy of fake billings, posting the below lineup: 

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Wait…sorry, it turns out this is actually the line-up? Aw for f-

1. Headliners are (mostly) shite

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Let’s try and figure out why this billing is so tragic which no doubt comes down to the headlining acts. Now, if you were to get an alt-rock band that had prominence in the noughties who are even more relevant now than they were then, Paramore would have been the dead ringer especially considering they co-headlined just a few years back. Yet, somehow, the folk (?) over at R&L seem to think that both Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco are far better choices (see also: acts that haven’t released anything worth mentioning in the past 5 years).

In addition to this, the choice to pack Kendrick Lamar alongside PATD is almost insulting considering the former would be able to bring in an abundance of folk to the festival just by headlining. The quality of PATD‘s music is obviously entirely subjective but considering the fact that Kendrick is undeniably more popular than them and every other headliner here, it’s a bit of a total misstep from R&L.

2. The undercard isn’t much better

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Let’s get the good out of the way: it’s hard not to see acts like SkeptaBrockhampton$uicideboys and Wolf Alice on the undercard and being thoroughly happy with some of the inclusions. In addition to this, including the best boyband since One Direction on the same day as Kendrick is a smart decision to get more of those day tickets moved.

Then there’s the rest and if it weren’t for the firm 2018 at the top of the poster, you’d have thought this year’s campsite was located in some interdimensional paradox. Papa Roach? Sum 41? Holywood UndeadAn alternate timeline where Nothing But Thieves aren’t abusive and didn’t intimidate victims with legal pressure? Our opinions on the boring indie/lad rock acts on here aside (e.g Courteeners, Pale Waves), it’s hard not think that many of these inclusions occurred because the organisers were either A) frustrated over the loss of big headliner(s) B) underestimated the competition after the lack of Glastonbury this year or C) both.

3. It feels like a safe afterthought. 

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As I mentioned in the intro, R&L have put this announcement on the backburner for quite some time and now that we’ve got the lineup, it seems clear why: obviously taken aback by the quality of other UK festivals, they’ve tried to take a bit from each yet it all comes off as a bit of a headscratcher. 

I don’t have a problem with R&L not being a rock festival anymore but if you’re gonna incorporate some hip-hop acts into the formula, surely someone like Vince Staples, Earl Sweatshirt or CupcakKe would be better inclusions as opposed to going for the safest option available? 

If it turns out that I’m completely wrong on this then I take full blame but does it not feel like Kings of Leon probably got a late night booty call from R&L organisers after talks with Arctic Monkeys fell through? I’m fond of some of the Tennesse rock outfit’s work yet at the same time, I just can’t help but feel that R&L went for them just to save face, especially considering the fact that a Sunday which consisted of Arctic Monkeys, Courteeners and Skepta would be a licence to print money.

Well, that’s if you didn’t mind your entire audience calling you a goth for not liking AM.

 

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.

Reading And Leeds Just Announced Their Lineup and the Internet Isn’t Happy

Could one of the largest UK festivals face the same fate as T after another lukewarm announcement?

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

2016 is all but a distant memory for most, in no small part due to how much of a hellish year it was, though it was thankfully redeemed by the quality music that was on display. Unfortunately, though, that didn’t mean that music was impenetrable, shown by the surprise but long-rumored cancellation of T In The Park as well as the threat of closure for various small music venues across the nationHowever, 2017 has already got off to a great start with a great batch of albums dropping (see RTJ3 & I See You for example) in addition to a replacement to the aforementioned T In The Park titled TRNSMT (pronounced transmit).

It was only a matter of time until one of the most attended festivals in the UK was to make their second lineup announcement and as Reading & Leeds took to the stage, they tripped on the first step and face planted immediately.

Oh my. Before we get into the aspect of this line-up that has caused a great ruckus on social media, let’s take a glance at what a £200 ticket is gonna get you. The newly added headliner is the result of Danny Dyer and Peep Show’s Super Hans forming a band: Kasabian. While having a few good albums under their belt, Kasabian are very much like the already announced Muse which may have many attendees bored of white man fronted rock music by the end of the weekend. In addition to Kasabian, R+L also revealed various acts who will be performing including Wiley (yay!), Jimmy Eat World (woo!) and…Rat Boy….(yay?).

As you can expect from the above tweet, many were left unimpressed by the second announcement with many claiming that a lack of diversity, both gender, and genre-wise, being the key reason that they wouldn’t pick up a ticket despite the final line up not being revealed till spring.

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However, the below tweet definitely caught my attention due to not only how laughably ignorant it was but how much of a perfect representation it is of the vast majority of NME readers.

Yep, it’s time to get into everyone’s favourite subject, diversity or the lack thereof. Out of the 58 musicians (that’s individuals, not 58 different acts) that will be taking part, only one is female. In addition to that, the one female artist is in a band alongside two other men, continuing the trend of a total lack of female performers at music festivals.This isn’t a brand new issue by any means as shown by the 2015 final line-up which, when stripped of all its male acts, looked a little something like this:

Oh, and the statement that “80% of women musicians are absolutely pants” couldn’t be further from the truth: St Vincent, Courtney Barnett, Grimes, SOAK, Lana Del Rey, Angel Olsen, HAIM, Fake Boyfriend and Carley Rae Jepsen are just some of the few acts that are solely female in addition to bands like The XX, CHVRCHES, Wolf Alice, Crystal Castles, Alabama Shakes, Sleigh Bells and Yeah Yeah Yeahs who are either female lead or at least feature one. If you have a look at these acts as well, nearly all are either rock orientated or have previously played the festival before so the excuse that female musicians are usually pop singers is ridiculous.

The issue of this diversity isn’t a case of having token female acts, it’s the issue of ignoring, whether intentional or not, the fact there are various talented acts who would be much better suited to the festival to someone like Bastille. Many will debate for hours, even days, about whether this decision is fueled by misogyny and ignorance which I won’t get into since, really, it’s not my place and I’d rather not be burned at the stake regardless of what I say. It’s a topic that is far more complex than a blog post is capable of tackling but what is clear to see is that the lack of diversity is not only bad for the festival, who will turn off potential attendees with a lineup full of average male bands, but also for their listeners who will be subjected to it.

So, for the love of god Reading + Leeds, get your finger out your fictional arse and make the final line-up something that will make me regret ever saying such slanderous things about you. As it stands, though, I’d rather drown in a mud-drenched tent than fork out a single penny for this festival.


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Thoughts On: UK Festivals 2016

Could a lack of variety result in 2016 being the weakest year for UK music festivals?

It’s that time of the year again. The time where myself and hundreds of thousands of music fans pay close attention to multiple music festival’s twitter feeds to see who will be playing this summer. There’s nothing that can really compare to it; the rumoured line ups, everyone throwing in who they think deserves to be headlining and wading through half an hour of Radio 1 to hear the host reveal a handful of new acts: for music fans, this is essentially Christmas.

However, this year seems to have provoked a different reaction than usual and worryingly enough it seems to have happened in a year that has already been plagued by some worrying news regarding live music. We’re only three months into 2016 and there’s already been word about small venues in the UK being under threat which is a major concern to anyone with an interest in music. Now, not only do we have that to take into consideration but we now have our biggest music festivals in the UK facing a bit of a crisis.

This crisis is highly subjective and comes in two parts, the first being the state of festival sites. Unfortunately to address this I’ll have to take shots at the very first festival I attended and that is T In The Park. The state of T in 2015 shocked me at first as the move to Strathallan Castle came with it an amazing new setting and potential to further enhance certain elements of the festival, allowing the organisers to breathe some new life into it.

However, multiple outlets reported that this wasn’t the case and I found this out personally. Friends of mine who have been attending the festival for years complained about the security or the lack thereof with multiple people reporting the high number of violent incidents occurring at last year’s event. Before you point out the obvious, yes, I know violence at a music festival isn’t anything unusual since you’re bound to get that with the drugs and alcohol going about but when people are having to leave a festival due to the fear of their own safety then something has to be done.

While the quality of T In The Park’s site may be oddly specific to that festival alone and organisers have since said they have addressed this for 2016, the quality of the lineups this year are something that, while not worth having a breakdown over, are worth criticising. To do this, we’ll focus on three of the biggest UK festivals as in previous years they have displayed their ability to be diverse and satisfying. We’ll start with Glastonbury who have announced two headliners so far and the moment I saw both, I had to let out a sigh: Muse and Coldplay.

While I’m always the first to jump in defence of Coldplay for being the music world’s punchline, is this what we really want from Glastonbury; two bands that hit their peak around a decade ago? The rumours of Adele being the final headliner has me even more concerned as anyone who has ever looked at a Glasto lineup knows they usually stand out as being different and, dare I say it, controversial. Kanye, love him or hate him, resulted in a massive debate about hip hop at festivals and was the most talked about festival performance of last year without a doubt. Even before then there was Metallica the previous year who were their first metal headliner : do we really want to see a festival known for pushing itself out of its comfort zone go with the 3 of the safest choices imaginable?

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In addition to that, the number of female acts at some of these UK festivals is laughable. I’m not going to go into some huge rambling, feminist-esque rant about the patriarchy being behind it all or that it is sexist but just look at the T In The Park lineup: the original announcement contained 4 acts out of 41 that feature a woman in it. 4. You can count all of those acts on one hand.

“It’s not that deep” some people have tweeted and for the most part, they’re probably right. The fact there’s so few female acts on the lineup isn’t down to choice but most likely ignorance as there’s so many to choose from that I’m astounded that the number is so little: Grimes, Courtney Barnett, Halsey, Lana Del Rey, Wolf Alice, Little Mix (I didn’t say they were all going to be good) came into my head within just a few seconds of thinking. If a nineteen year old with a blog can name more female acts in that space of time than there is on a festival lineup then something is seriously wrong.

Let’s end on a bit of a positive note and have a look at the Reading and Leeds lineup which, while it’s not perfect, is a tremendous improvement of what else is on offer. Not only is there more female acts on the Friday than there is on the entire T lineup alone but we seem to have a better representation of music nowadays as well as the past. Boy Better Know  are waving the flag for grime which was rudely missed out at the Brits while we get Red Hot Chili Peppers displaying the rock music many will have grown up with. Meanwhile, Biffy Clyro and Foals will be displaying the state of rock music nowadays which, if you’ve been paying attention, is face melting, juggernaut sized anthems that will have everyone in attendance going absolutely awol.

Not to mention Two Door Cinema Club making a return and my personal highlight of Modern Baseball, Basement and State Champs kick starting the Sunday, Reading + Leeds seems to be getting a lot of undeserved flack when really, once you’ve looked past a few of bland acts like The Courteeners and Imagine Dragons, it’s the best the UK is offering this year. A festival that, regardless if you despise it or love it, is showing a great range of acts that will be sure to result in a great weekend.

A step in the right direction.

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