The August Bank Holiday weekend is just around the corner and with that comes the end of the major festival season at both Reading and Leeds. Although the main stage lineup garnered mixed reactions (I had a great time in 2002 and am happy to see it all over again), the festival’s real strength lies in those smaller stages and bands that are yet to make a name for themselves. As the nights get darker, and the days increasingly colder, we take a look at some of the bands you should check out whilst also avoiding the inevitable idiocy that engulfs the campsite.

Friday 26 August, Reading// Saturday 27 August, Leeds

The Antlers

Although possibly not the perfect environment to see such an emotionally intense band, their appearance on the Festival Republic Stage is not to be missed. With a set that will draw heavily from ‘Burst Apart’, the band will be out to make sure this album finally gains the recognition it deserves from a wider audience. There’s also the prospect of their quieter moments being played out in unison with the sound that drifts over from the main stage bands like The Deftones.

Tom Vek

All reports of Mr Vek’s festival appearances in 2011 have been beaming full of positivity. Now, he makes a long overdue appearance at Reading and Leeds off the back of his critically-acclaimed ‘Leisure Seizure’. He may have been out of action for a while, but if anything, this has added to his cult status. We fully expect him to gain a rapturous heroes’ welcome, and for there to be an outbreak of impressively jerky dancing during ‘C-C (You Set The Fire In Me)’.

The Bronze Medal

A Bristolian four-piece that we have already covered as ones to watch, but they’ve also gained plaudits from the likes of The Times and XFM. With a nod to Idlewild’s more introspective moments, in more than just their name, this is a band on the up and they fit alongside the likes of Dry The River with songs that pack an emotional punch whilst never losing sight of a determined melody.

Saturday 27 August at Reading// Sunday 28 August at Leeds


The New York couple mix sugary sweet 60s pop with an underlying and somewhat more threatening tone. Having been hyped since the turn of the year, and still being relatively new to the scene themselves, it will be fascinating to see how their sound translates on the bigger stage. You get the feeling this could be a huge stepping stone for the band.


The festival has its roots in rock music, so we really had to suggest a loud band, didn’t we? One of the Brew Records stable, Castrovalva have a lot of anger, angst and screaming that will welcome the newcomers into the arena in electrifying fashion. It’s brutal, intense and not for the faint-hearted. It’s brilliant.

Big Deal

The duo opened the NME Radar tour for fellow FR stage performers Anna Calvi and Grouplove in the Spring and have steadily been keeping up the momentum gained from this opportunity since. They excel with their moments of minimalist beauty, but they’re also not afraid to rock out when they feel the need, mixing their one acoustic and one electric guitar to devastating effect. Distinctive sounding boy/girl duets that will help you shake the previous night’s festivities away.

Sunday 28 August at Reading// Friday 26 August at Leeds

Young Legionnaire

We all know about the members of Young Legionnaire’s history, one of them’s other band is almost eponymous with Reading and Leeds, but now we’ll get to see YL at the forefront. With a high placing on the Festival Republic Stage and having honed their sound supporting the likes of Pulled Apart By Horses, it will be fascinating to see their Fugazi-esque punk noise in all its glory.

Dutch Uncles

With songs made for festivals, Manchester’s Dutch Uncles will ensure that no-one leaves their set without a huge smile on their faces. Nods to the more complex 80s indie-pop of Talking Heads and The Smiths, but thrown in with something contemporary that you can’t quite place your finger on, just watch the crowd fall for Duncan Wallis’ unique dancing.

The Winchell Riots

An Oxford band that have been around for a while and fully deserve their slot at such a huge festival. With songs covering different subjects to the norm, the band combine perfect melodies with tales of ocean exploration to devastating effect. Watch them before Interpol and Elbow for a heart-swelling couple of hours.