March 13, 2012

Reading & Leeds Festivals - First announcement overview

41 names were announced for the dual event, taking place on August's Bank Holiday, yesterday (13th March). This included three headliners with exclusivity deals (The Cure and Foo Fighters performing their only UK dates at the festivals, and Kasabian announcing their only festival dates in England) and a host of other bands, most on the way up the musical popularity ladder.

But while some started frothing at the mouth at the thought of seeing some of the acts, the announcement, like last year's, was greeted with few people fully appreciating the offerings from Festival Republic. There weren't many complaints about the headliners this year, unlike the tirade against My Chemical Romance or ignorance towards Arcade Fire, but instead people accused FR of an uninspiring line-up.

Strong aspects
  • ·       Exclusive headliners, giving hopefully fresh and not-as-rehearsed performances
    ·         Excellent 2nd stage headliners, giving good alternatives to the Main stage headliners. Leeds and Reading are the only UK festivals for At The Drive-In, which is a bigger coup than Death From Above 1979 of last year.
    ·         Bands with large followings being given a chance to play a higher than expected slot at the festival, eg Bombay Bicycle Club, The Vaccines.
    ·         Diverse selection of bands on the Main-stage, eg. Paramore, Cancer Bats, Bullet for my Valentine, The Vaccines.
    ·         Large NME-orientated Dance stage, with Metronomy being a big headliner for them.
    ·         Some big bookings relative to actual size. Bullet For My Valentine, The Cribs, The Courteeners.
    ·         Opportunities for sub-headliners to step up to the plate. Florence and Paramore are one classy performance away from being considered headlining size. The Black Keys are exciting many at the moment and their booking below the Foo Fighters seen as the most inspired booking

    Weak Aspects
    ·    Headliners appear safe. Foo Fighters played all over Europe last year, similar to Muse in 2010. Some could say The Cure is a booking based purely on their successful headlining set at Bestival late 2011, and Kasabian headlining T in the Park already, and have been on the festival circuit a lot as of late.
    ·    Some say the high slots of BBC and The Vaccines are lazy bookings and that FR should have booked more imaginative acts, such as Jack White, The Specials or Franz Ferdinand.
    ·    There is not a large amount of alternative rock at the festival, one of the genres which used to be big and seen as an important aspect to the line-ups.
    ·    With The Cure headlining, some would have expected a better and more relevant sub-headliner, not Paramore, a pop-punk band who flopped two years ago. Smashing Pumpkins, Franz Ferdinand, Pixies would have been more relevant.
    ·    Almost all bands on the line-up have been rumoured and are championed by the NME so there aren’t many surprises and the line-up looks rather formulaic. Also, over 50% of the acts have played at the festivals in the past two years.
    ·    Many have also been playing Leeds for the past number of years, eg Enter Shikari, Crystal Castles, Bombay Bicycle Club, The Cribs. Too many are now synonymous with the festival, and makes their names stand out much less to regular goers.
    ·    Along with Paramore-Cure, there are some really strange bands following each other this year, eg Enter Shikari>Vaccines, All Time Low>BFMV>Kaiser Chiefs>Black Keys. Days on the Main stage are less defined as a result.

    Overall, the line-up lacks direction for most who have been attending the festival for the past few years, and could do with a few more surprising entries. At the same time, I can understand Festival Republic's decisions because they really fancy a quick sell-out this year and to target the NME audience and the pop-punk crowd, they stand a decent chance.

    On a personal level, 4/5 of the bands who are touring I really want to see this summer are playing at Leeds this year. Black Keys, Foo Fighters, At The Drive-In and The Cure (Franz Ferdinand being the other), so I'm over the moon with the announcement and can't wait to see how the rest of the line-up shapes up as I spend quite a bit of time at the Festival Republic tent, a stage which hasn't been announced yet. 

1 comment:

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