Poor old Festival Republic. Unleashing the Reading and Leeds line-up every March must feel like trying to feed a pack of under-nourished pitbulls.
Poor old Festival Republic. Unleashing the Reading and Leeds line-up every March must feel like trying to feed a pack of under-nourished pitbulls. You can almost feel their wincing pain as they hand over the raw slab of festival meat to the baying forums of UK festival-goers, stepping back every so cautiously as message boards tear apart their delicately-put together programming.
Tabloid newspapers may think it’s Michael Eavis’ summer barn dance that stirs the controversy every year, but the truth is the average Glastonbury veteran is no more concerned with the merits of Beyonce as a worthy (Farm) headliner than they are with the addition of pirate metallers Alestorm to the Sonisphere bill. Give them a bean curry, a gallon of shamanic cider and let them loose in Trash City with Badger and Bodger and they’re happy. Simple.
Forming a consensus on a Reading and Leeds bill on the other hand is like Monty Python satirising the divide of religion in the Life of Brian. It doesn’t matter how happy you are with who’s playing, you’ll always witness someone screaming heresy at the line-up: “Cast-off the Pigeon Detectives! Follow the Offspring!” “No! We have seen the light – the way is Interpol!”
So it’s interesting that while past Reading and Leeds festivals may have left the pitbulls yelling “too metal! Not enough metal! None more metal!” this year’s programme is by far the most balanced for quite a while. From OFWGKTA’s visceral, cutting beats to Deftones’ sonic metal to the majestic, soaring grace of Patrick Wolf, Festival Republic have produced a weekend firmly for the type of music fan that can proudly finger the new Crystal Castles record while listening to 2ManyDJs and wearing a Frank Turner shirt.
The line-up holds some intriguing patterns as well. Muse, Elbow and Interpol provide an earnest, emotive finale to Reading while ensuring Leeds kicks off on the Friday with three original, infectious bands. The National, Pulp and Strokes triple whammy is arguably the finest three-band run of any festival this season. And while reformation and renewal (Pulp, Jane’s Addiction, Beardy Eye and Death From Above 1979) seem at large, the inclusion of Everything Everything, Warpaint, the Naked and Famous, the Vaccines, Chapel Club and the Joy Formidable in what is still a relatively embryonic bill, gladly points to a Reading and Leeds that will be as hot on new music as ever.
Of course, the trick is to convince those ravaging pitbulls, now shaking the bill back and fore in their teeth, trying to work out if My Chemical Romance and Peter Doherty are worth £192.50. It is.