November 27th 2016
While some festivals are dependably loyal a particular style, Reading and Leeds take a slightly different approach and shift focus with the times, striving to capture the zeitgeist of the moment by booking the hottest acts from the trendiest sub-genres and build a perpetually modern line-up every year. Revisiting past bills is like looking into a musical time capsule – the festivals in the 1990s centred on Britpop and alternative rock, but the early 2000s saw nu-metal and hard rock enter the fray, then came a wave of indie and emo a few years later, and more recently dance and grime has become increasingly prevalent.
However, despite this constant evolution, rock, metal and punk has remained – at least to some extent, in one form or another – a consistent presence throughout; recent line-ups have featured appearances from the likes of older bands including Metallica, Green Day, Nine Inch Nails, System Of A Down and Limp Bizkit, as well as more contemporary alternative acts that have only risen to prominence within the last ten years, such as Paramore, Biffy Clyro, Royal Blood, Bring Me The Horizon and Enter Shikari. Clearly rock is far from dead, and although it may not be the predominant theme of Reading and Leeds as it once was, I am certainly expecting to see strong representation for the genre once more in 2017.
A Day To Remember
Floridian pioneers of pop-punk/metalcore fusion A Day To Remember have enjoyed steady growth during the 2010s, ascending to a respectable slot on the Main Stage last time they played Reading and Leeds in 2014. Since then they have further boosted their status with energising new release Bad Vibrations and announced a thrilling run of arena shows for January, and this fresh burst of exposure, relevance and success surely puts them in line for an opportunity to sub-headline the 2017 festivals.
Against The Current
Not too long ago it was relatively easy to satisfy the desire for a female-fronted pop-punk band, but with Paramore and Tonight Alive moving away from the sub-genre on their most recent albums and We Are The In Crowd disappearing into the murky waters of hiatus, it seemed that this may no longer be the case. Thankfully, Against The Current swept in the fill the void, bringing bright, catchy tunes on debut album In Our Bones earlier this year and creating a real sense of buzz and excitement. Unfortunately I didn’t witness it myself, but reactions to their performance at Download as a last-minute replacement for Architects were remarkably positive – especially considering the Donington crowd’s occasional tendency for scepticism towards lighter bands – and I’d love to see them bring this show to Reading and Leeds.
One of the biggest and most recognisable heavy metal bands of the 21st century, Avenged Sevenfold are massively popular among younger rock fans and would surely draw legions of dedicated followers to the festivals. After proving their value as a bill-topper with an outstanding performance at Download 2014, the band will be returning to the UK in a few months for a huge tour – this time round featuring more dates and (in some cases) bigger venues than their 2013 Hail To The King shows, demonstrating dramatic advancement in stature over recent years. By the summer, fans are bound to be clamouring for more; since the band have been absent from Reading and Leeds for far too long they would have to be considered a fresh and exciting booking at this time, and an inspired option for a heavier headliner.
These Canadian alternative punks were once regular favourites at the festivals, playing four times in six years including a memorable headline set on the Lock-Up Stage in 2009, but dropped off the radar for a while after a number of UK appearances in 2012. However, 2016 has seen the band burst back onto the scene with new release Afraid Of Heights and rock-solid performances at both Download and their own shows, sounding as hyperactive and eclectic as ever. With the Billy Talent party back in full swing, 2017 feels like an ideal time for a reintroduction to their old stomping grounds.
One of the best up-and-coming bands in Britain, Black Peaks have been quickly gaining attention with a progressive post-hardcore sound far more polished and refined than you might expect from a band that have only existed for a handful of years. In 2016 they’ve released debut album Statues and gained incredible exposure through a support slot at Wembley Arena with Deftones, laying the foundation of what could potentially be a glittering career; having already played The Pit at Reading and Leeds in 2015, next year they should be offered a low slot in the NME/Radio 1 tent, or perhaps even an opportunity to open the Main Stage.
The legendary Californian alternative metal group are always a welcome addition to festivals, routinely blowing crowds away with inescapable heavy anthems and dreamy art-rock. Deftones have kept a firm grip on their position as major players in the rock world this year, further expanding their illustrious discography with the release of inspired and atmospheric new album Gore, and captivating fans with a awesome showing immediately before Black Sabbath at Download and a special one-off headlining performance at Wembley Arena; they would be an amazing booking for Reading and Leeds 2017, possibly as NME/Radio 1 Stage headliners for a change this time.
It’s been a while since the metalcore kings first arrived back in the early 2000s, but Killswitch Engage remain a powerful and popular force in the rock scene today. They’re another great festival band with plenty of undeniable hits like My Last Serenade, The Arms Of Sorrow, Rose Of Sharyn and My Curse that are guaranteed to delight the crowd, and they haven’t been at Reading and Leeds since way back in 2006 so their return is long overdue; a Main Stage slot would be ideal, but they would also work well as a Pit headliner – or they could even pull double-duty and do both.
Nu-metal completely conquered the planet at the start of the century, launching bands like Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, Deftones, Incubus and Papa Roach to insane levels of success; those particular bands have all since played Reading and Leeds on multiple occasions over the years, but Korn – despite being iconic godfathers of the sub-genre – have still never made a single appearance at the festivals. Nu-metal in general may have gone out of fashion long ago but Korn are still going strong, maintaining a sizeable fanbase and continuing to release new material; surely now they must finally get the chance to make their Reading and Leeds debut.
For years now this band have been steadily picking up momentum, building a passionate following and creeping up festival bills with their artistic, experimental brand of post-hardcore. Their exceptional reputation for amazing live performances is already enough to justify a return to Reading and Leeds for Letlive, but the astonishing quality of latest album If I’m The Devil… solidifies their status as a must-book band for the festivals in 2017.
Hailed by some as the next Brand New, emo rockers Moose Blood have been riding a substantial wave of hype in 2016, selling out shows on their October tour months in advance, scoring a top ten album with sophomore effort Blush, and drawing remarkable crowds for festival appearances at Slam Dunk and 2000 Trees. Reading and Leeds would be foolish to miss out on the action and I think it’s highly likely that Moose Blood will be booked again, this time in a much more significant position than the low-profile slot they played on The Pit in 2015.
The light-hearted humour and fast, sneering punk rock style of NOFX will always be a great crowd-pleaser at festivals, and splendid new album First Ditch Effort proves that they are still an admirable creative unit that are still relevant after over thirty years after their formation. It’s been six years since their last Reading and Leeds performance – far too long for a band of this level – and 2017 needs to see their return.
Uncertainty surrounded Sum 41 for a while as their popularity waned while frontman Deryck Whibley struggled with severe health issues, but now they’ve come back to life following Whibley’s recovery and the rejoining of guitarist Dave ‘Brownsound’ Baksh, releasing new album 13 Voices and headlining the Kerrang! Tour earlier this year. This new material adds to a back catalogue already overflowing with famous hits, including In Too Deep, Still Waiting, Pieces, The Hell Song, Underclass Hero and Fat Lip; these would form an incredible festival set, potentially headlining the Lock-Up Stage.
Taking Back Sunday
New album Tidal Wave is the best effort in ten years from the New York rockers, offering an enhanced and updated take on their typical sound and revitalising a band that were beginning to look somewhat over-the-hill. It therefore seems appropriate that 2017 should be Taking Back Sunday’s time to return to Reading and Leeds, from which they’ve been absent since 2011 – they’d make an excellent choice for a Lock-Up headliner, or would fit in well on lower-mid Main Stage or upper-mid NME/Radio 1 Stage.
The Pretty Reckless
Grungy alternative rock outfit The Pretty Reckless are a perfect fit for Reading and Leeds in terms of both musical style and target audience, yet have never played the festivals after existing for over seven years (although they were booked in 2013, but ended up cancelling). This needs to change in 2017 as they head out on tour to promote new release Who You Selling For, which broadens a repertoire already featuring plenty of hits with which to construct an enticing festival set, such as Make Me Wanna Die, Heaven Knows, Miss Nothing, Going To Hell, Just Tonight and House On A Hill.
You Me At Six
Over the last few years there has been a pattern of bands playing secret sets at Reading and/or Leeds before returning as a part of the announced bill the following year; it therefore seems likely that You Me At Six will be back in 2017, after performing a surprise show on The Pit this year. The band have a rich history with the festivals, returning practically every other year since their first time in 2008, and with fifth studio album Night People on the horizon it seems inevitable that they’ll be back – possibly now as Main Stage sub-headliners, to the joy of their young, excitable and impressively sizeable fanbase.
The first line-up announcement for Reading and Leeds Festivals 2017 has been confirmed to take place very soon, so keep your eyes peeled for some exciting news this week!