Another August Bank Holiday weekend comes round and it's time for yet another Reading and Leeds weekend. Every year, the festival seems to signal the end of summer and sees a mixture of festival veterans and 16-year-olds celebrating their GCSE results descend upon the two sites in Berkshire and Yorkshire. With Reading selling out and Leeds well on the way too, 405 writer Ryan Barham looks ahead to the weekend while some other members of The 405 team tackle the daily line ups to tell us who they are most looking forward to.
Headlining Reading on Friday night and Leeds on Saturday are The Cure, the first time they've played Reading since the 80s it is sure to be a hell of a show, especially if they bring out their much-loved hits. Other bands on the main stage to watch out for are Bombay Bicycle Club playing in a lofty position third from top – will they be able to repay the organisers' faith? Our money's on yes. Crystal Castles on the main stage is also sure to be a sight, their music's made for dancing in dark tents, so a daytime show in (hopefully) the warm sun could go either way. Fresh from the latest triumphant Blur reunion, Graham Coxon will play a solo set in the big tent mid-afternoon and if there's one band we suggest you make a beeline for in this tent, it's Future of the Left, who will be opening the festival at Reading. What a way to start a weekend! Usually the strongest stage at this set of festivals, the Festival Republic Stage will be headlined by Sleigh Bells and also see appearances from the much-hyped We Are Augustines, Alt-J and Veronica Falls. The BBC Introducing Stage is well worth visiting, in the past we've seen Everything Everything, Stagecoach and The Bronze Medal play sets here and this year we're hoping for big things from Samoans, Wet Nuns and Attention Thieves.
The Saturday of Reading (Sunday Leeds) sees Los Campesinos! open the main stage after working their way up the stages, shortly followed by Blood Red Shoes. Two bands that deserve as big a crowd as possible. Billy Talent brash brand of heavy rock will be a sight to behold in the Radio 1 tent, while At the Drive-In are set to be many people's highlight of the year, never mind the festival. The BBC Introducing Stage today also has some awesome heaviness in the shape of Max Raptor and a headline set from Leeds' brilliant Hawk Eyes. For those after something a little lighter, Dog Is Dead have festival anthems in the making and Cut Ribbons gorgeous bouncy indie-pop will soon make the breakthrough. The brilliantly-named Post War Glamour Girls are also well worth watching while Citizens! and The Shins are well worth anyone's time. After their frenetic set in the tent last year, OFWGKTA have been let loose on the main stage this year – who knows what could happen there?
Sunday at Reading and Friday at Leeds sees Tall Ships make a welcome debut at this festival ahead of what's sure to be one of the albums of the year, Everything Touching. The three-piece have worked their way up through the non-stop touring of their fantastic live show. With plaudits coming their way from every direction, this headline set on the BBC Introducing Stage is guaranteed a stunning turn-out. This could easily turn out to be the moment of the weekend. The in-your-face brazen punk of Marmozets is also bound to raise a few eyebrows, but in the best way possible. Over on the Lock Up Stage, Mongol Horde are sure to have an intrigued crowd and will hopefully satisfy those looking for something a bit heavier. In the Festival Republic Stage, Zulu Winter's set will be a moment to savour, while The Futureheads' a capella set will be a fantastic and uplifting singalong – provided you can hear them over the other stages of course. Of Monsters and Men opening the Radio 1 Tent will be a heart-warming way to start the day, while Reading regulars The Joy Formidable are sure to delight with their high-volume riffage. So many bands to choose from away from the main stage, and we haven't even mentioned the Comedy Stage yet. Now, anyone want to join us in a skank to Less Than Jake?
Friday Highlights by Tom Walters - Writer
Future of the Left - NME/Radio 1 (11:50am)
Andrew Falkous brings his band of merry man (and woman!) to Reading on the Friday, opening the NME/Radio 1 stage – a slot they most definitely deserve. Those who still haven't been won over by Falco's latest project should give their latest record – The Plot Against Common Sense – a few spins over the next few days in preparation for what's guaranteed to be the most explosive opening to a festival you'll experience all year. Their frantic and spazztastic live show throws in elements for everyone: the catchy, foot-tapping hooks, the inevitable mosh and circle pits and a damn good time to boot. Unmissable.
Savages - Festival Republic (14:05pm)
Girl bands. You don't see many of them at Reading but this year changes that with the likes of Savages and Palma Violets both gracing the Festival Republic stage on the Friday, and the Laura-Mary Carter fronted Blood Red Shoes playing a slot on the main stage on the Saturday, but for me Savages are the ones to watch. Dark, moody and incredibly enticing, they are utterly mesmerising – to watch live. It's partly down to the hugely well-written shoegaze-slash-post-punk tunes, but it's also down to the mysterious and high-energy performances they evoke. Essential viewing.
Jeff The Brotherhood - Festival Republic (14:50pm)
The Festival Republic stage really is shaping up to be the place to be on Friday, and Jeff The Brotherhood simply reinforce that fact. This two-piece grunge-cum-garage duo should be a household name by now for anyone interested in lo-fi garage rock, releasing a string of albums so far chocker-block with summertime anthems that'll go down a storm on such a small stage. Spin their latest record Hypnotic Nights and make sure you learn all the words, as everyone else'll be singing along in the sweaty pit on the day.
Touché Amoré - Lock Up (16:45pm)
Growing up with punk as a kid, I still have my roots firmly planted in the Lock Up Stage, which brings a whole array of treats to Reading every year. Offering a true alternative to your latest indie disco soundtracks throughout the day, Touché Amoré are a post-hardcore band from LA that have spanned two full-length albums so far. If you like your post-hardcore to be heavy whilst maintaining it's melody, then these guys are for you. They're intense, they'll have your fists pumping frantically, and they'll most certainly be the highlight of the Lock Up Stage this year.
Alt-J - Festival Republic (17:35pm)
I'd get down there early if I were you. Having been the pinnacle of critical acclaim this year for their debut album An Awesome Wave, the same praise has so far also translated to their live show. It'll most likely be the only time that this year's hipsters will emerge from their tents, too, to head on down to the front in order to sing every word right back at them from the get-go. But the fact remains: Alt-J are very, very good, and to miss them would be absolutely perilous to your Reading experience this year.
Bastille - Festival Republic (19:25pm)
Bastille is the pseudonym of singer-songwriter Dan Smith, who is the latest bedroom-pop maestro to venture out into the real world and turn his project into a fully-fledged band. He's gracing the Festival Republic stage – a stage notorious for it's recognition of all the best new talent – and so for an act who's barely out of his own house, it'll be interesting to see how his woozy, well-produced pop translates live.
Sleigh Bells - Festival Republic (22:40pm)
Let's face it – how big a fan of The Cure are you exactly? If you're like me, then the prospect of standing around (potentially in the rain) trying to catch a glimpse of one of those "Oh! I know this one!" amongst the rumoured two-and-a-half hour set isn't the most appealing of ideas. So why not head under the cover of the Festival Republic tent instead, where Sleigh Bells will be undoubtedly tearing it apart with their delightfully crunchy rhythms and riotous live spirit. Well deserving of their headline slot, this is a band that would rip the NME/Radio 1 tent to shreds - let alone the Festival Republic stage - so you'd be wise grab a drink or two and get down early to prepare your dance moves for an incredibly sweaty Friday night.
Saturday Highlights by Tim Boddy - Photography Editor
Oberhofer - Festival Republic (14:50pm)
It's probably a good idea to recommend something that's not on the Dance Stage, and Brooklyn-based Oberhofer seems like a good place to start. Debut album Time Capsules II was released in spring of this year, and it's an LP that energetically charmed the pants off the indie-pop world. In choosing Oberhofer for this segment, it's also the perfect excuse to crowbar in this Kanye West cover of 'Runaway'.
Reginald D. Hunter
Words for this recommendation are pretty futile. We all know that Reginald D Hunter is a fucking dude.
Azealia Banks - Dance Stage (19:00pm)
Infamous Harlem-raised potty-mouth Azealia Banks has yet to release an LP as of yet, but the tracks that have been released through her own mixtapes and EPs have stoked anticipation to dangerous levels for the release of debut album Broke With Expensive Taste, out this autumn.
'212' is something of an iconic track now, though other output such as '1991' showcase a very late 90's UK Garage influence, tied in with tidy grooves and a head-spinning and wildly fun pacey flow. A smart move putting her on the Dance stage.
Grimes - Dance Stage (14:45pm)
Grimes is the moniker of Claire Boucher, who recently somewhat excitingly said:
"I want to start bringing dancers along and have them wear crazy shit," she hopes. "I want them to be topless, covered in glitter, wear S&M headmasks that are really big, black pants and black lipstick, and be all guys. Everyone will have bleached white hair."
If this delightful, er, vision (pardon that there pun) will come into fruition for her set at Reading remains to be seen. Either way, having seen her live at a smattering of festival dates this year off the back of Album of the Year™ contender Visions, she will most certainly not disappoint. Get there early to avoid a tent scrimmage.
Metronomy - Dance Stage (22:30pm)
The electro-quartet are surely almost worthy of the 'veteran' tag in respect to festival appearances - making muddy, flying saucer-eyed people dance ebulliently for five years or so now. Not as well as keyboardist Oscar Cash mind.
2011's The English Riviera was a huge coming-of-age in many respects for Joseph Mount, proving what a talent the Devonshire man is in terms of both production and in a beautiful, earnest song-writing capacity. With three albums each rammed with pop-based electronic nuggets, the headline slot in the Dance Tent on Saturday night will indubitably be a good-time libidinal party.
Sunday Highlights by Dan Smyth - Photographer
Of Monsters And Men - NME/Radio 1 (12pm)
I hadn't heard a lot from the Icelandic six-piece before seeing them live at Latitude last month, but was blown away. They've already broken the top 20 in the charts with their debut single "Little Talks" so this is probably the last time you'll catch them opening the second stage of a festival.
Django Django - NME/Radio 1 (1:40pm)
Django Django, so good they named them twice. Their self titled debut is one of my favourite albums of the year and will no doubt see them in the running for the Mercury Prize. Catch them nice and early on the NME/Radio 1 stage.
Dingus Khan - BBC Introducing (4:55pm)
One of the most fun new bands about. BBC Radio 6's Steve Lamacq got all 8 of them in (including their three drummers and three bassists) to do a session at Maida Vale earlier this year and now they're on the BBC Introducing bill for a second festival this summer before hitting Bestival and Southsea Fest.
Trash Talk - Lockup (5:50pm)
The Sacramento-based hardcore band, recently signed to Odd Future's label, are renowned for their live shows. Watch them tear apart the lock up stage on Sunday.
2:54 - Festival Republic (6pm)
These sisters were recently announced as support for The xx's upcoming set of dates and are not to be missed on the Festival Republic stage.
Two Door Cinema Club - NME/Radio 1 (8:30pm)
Fresh from lead singer Alex's appearance at the Olympic opening ceremony, the Northern Irish trio are back with their sophomore album 'Beacon'. Expect the tent to be rammed as the band's legions of fans try to catch them at one of only a few UK festival dates this summer.
Tall Ships - BBC Introducing (8:40pm)
Last year the BBC Introducing stage featured the likes of Clock Opera and Daughter and they've continued the trend for picking out the best of the best with Tall Ships. Their debut 'Everything Touching' is released on October 8th and is one of the most anticipated releases of the year.