Thanks to Reading and Leeds dropping the news of their headliners, besides the ever-elusive news of Glastonbury top spots, the main UK festivals have all exposed themselves and are now waiting for you to make up your mind and get out your money. There is nothing incredibly exciting, in my opinion, on display at the kingpin festivals such as T in the Park, R+L and V Fest, who now more than ever seem to share a revolving door of headliners and for the real “alternative” experience you have to look to Latitude, Green Man and End of the Road who are taking more risks in terms of headliners and artists announced.
As per usual Bestival is the odd-ball, with an appearance from the king of odd-balls himself Beck, the innovative rap group Outkast, the now almost statesmen ex-math rockers Foals and in a bizarre and almost slightly unsettling turn of events… Chic. On the same island, the Isle of Wight Festival also maintains its stance, but as Dad Rock central, with Kings of Leon, a less-exciting than ever RHCP, icon of dance mediocrity Calvin Harris and new rock-standard scots Biffy Clyro. The lineup looks slightly as if it were torn out of a dream the editor of Q had, though perhaps in a universe where Noel Gallagher does not exist.
T in the Park is almost a carbon copy of the Isle of Wight festival in terms of headliners, with appearances by Harris and Biffy Clyro again, but with a “twist” if you can call it that, of the inescapable Arctic Monkeys, who this summer are holding two of their own shows while performing at festivals all over Europe.
V festival, if worth talking about, for the millionth time hosts The Killers, who probably have homes in both locations it’s held by this point and Heart-FM ex-Disney character Justin Timberlake. There are however options all along the spectrum, if you want pure pop go to Wireless, if you still read Kerrang go to Download, and really, if you want a good time, go to Reading or Leeds.
Be honest with yourself, Glastonbury has sold out and if you go to V-fest you’ll be surrounded by the cast of faux-reality television stars (and wannabe stars) asking for eleven encores of Mr. Brightside. The reality is, Reading and Leeds are still the alternative festival, and you might have to try a little harder to find what you want, but on the massive bill it’ll probably be there. “Alternative” is constantly changing, the biggest band in the UK is still on an independent label, and all the bands you call “indie” are on the majors. Sure, the addition of Macklemore is laughable, but somewhere there will be something to do, and in the case of Reading at least, there is a Tesco just down the road if you don’t wanna fork out on the expensive festival alcohol.
As much as Reading and Leeds are completely nostalgia indulgent and don’t take as many chances like the earlier mentioned real “alternative” festivals, you will sing along to I Miss You by Blink-182 if you’re not dancing to Dislcosure (who by the level of alcohol in your bloodstream could be anyone by then). Also you will watch the Arctic Monkeys, if not to love them, then to be a dick like me and tell all the people who said they were fantastic that “they were ok really” and “he’s just kind of changed, you know?” and finally because of the red-head endorsed co-headlining of Paramore and Queens of the Stone Age will be sweaty, it will be really, really sweaty. As much as I personally will moan when I’m there, and before I’m there, and when more artists are announced because it always seems to surpass me and the rest of social-medial that music taste is subjective, I will be in a field in Reading this august bank holiday weekend and I’ll probably be having a great time, though maybe not a sober one.
Words by Connor Christie @connorcchristie