Reading and Leeds Festivals – Watch These
Reading’s campsite may be flooded but the most rock and roll festival of the year will still rock harder then Shaun Ryder on an automatic rocking chair.
Evolution is a wonderful thing, just ask Darwin. He didn’t spend more time with animals than Dr Doolittle for no reason - he was just fruition fanatical.
Likewise, the Carling Weekend has grown from an annual jazz picnic to a monster event with more than 150,000 rowdy music nuts reeking havoc in Reading and Leeds.
The festival is 46 years old, which is probably older then anybody on the bill, but it’s still fresher then Kate Nash’s album.
So for one weekend live like a rock and roll god – pack no clothes, drink Stella for breakfast and then go and see some of these…
Kings Of Leon – Main Stage – Reading Friday/Leeds Saturday
Kings Of Leon like to keep it in the family, bit like the Windsors, but the music they make is better than all the acts the princes packed into Wembley this year put together. The band is made up of three brothers and their cousin and their latest offering ‘Because of the Times’ is arguably their strongest release to date. Caleb Followill’s raw and growling voice along with the dirty punk guitar work shows why they really are the kings.
Little Man Tate – Main Stage – Reading Friday/Leeds Saturday
The Yorkshire four-piece may’ve come to light swinging from Alex Turner’s smug Sheffield smile, but on a second listen they don’t actually sound anything like Arctic Monkeys. These bouncing indie mongrels have supported Samantha Mumba (remember her?) and Jordan’s one-time breakfast G-G-Gareth G-Gates, which if nothing else proves they’re more rock and roll then Sir Cliff Richard. A perfect early afternoon snifter to get sloshed and dance around to.
Arcade Fire – Main Stage – Reading Saturday/Leeds Sunday
Arcade Fire have suddenly made being geeky cool again (again?). Their brilliance boarders, at times, with pretentiousness plummeting towards a sedated Bjork sound, putting to sword religion, war, politics and the price of hiring out deserted churches in the Canadian wilderness to record your album - or maybe that'll be on the next one? A favourite of the festival's organiser Melvin Benn, on record their music is hauntingly epic but live they are simply breathtaking.
The Gossip – Main Stage – Reading Friday/Leeds Saturday
“Standing in the way of control…” Oh shut up. Yeah we’re all sick of hearing it but live The Gossip are unstoppable. Beth Ditto’s behaviour is outrageously unpredictable onstage – from stripping down to her, ahem, “smalls” at SXSW (then pretty much everywhere) to squashing half of Glastonbury - the singer is addictive watching. Their disco driven beats and thunderous basslines are likely to cause an earthquake, but then again it might just be her dancing.
The Dead 60s – Main Stage – Reading Saturday/Leeds Sunday
The Dead 60s have been quiet since their self-titled album in 2005. The Liverpool quartet are today’s equivalent of The Specials or The Clash. Sure, they may not have as much to say as the political punks or subversion ska-ettes but their blend of reggae and rock is refreshing from the three chord pop indie. Skank your way over to the Main Stage to hear bits of their new album which has, quite strangely, only been released in France.
Panic! At The Disco – Main Stage - Reading Saturday/ Leeds Sunday
Panic!’s Brendon Urie has a lot of bottle. During the band’s opening song at last year’s Reading Festival the lead singer was knocked unconscious by a bottle thrown from the crowd. The emo rockers are back to try their luck again but the chances are that a similar outcome is to ensue. Grab your helmets boys!
The Carling Stage
We All Have Hooks For Hands – The Carling Stage
Hooks for hands are not the greatest thing to be born with but Captain Hook made a living from it after prepubescent thug Peter Pan slashed off his pincers - or did the crocodile bite it off? There are two theories, we're all arguing about it now, we digress. Anyway, the American indie band echo Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene but their melodic harmonies are definitely worth seeing.
Kate Nash – The Carling Stage – Reading Sunday/Leeds Friday
As her debut album suggests, Kate Nash is ‘Made of Bricks’ which is probably entertainment enough but the kooky youngster is also really worth seeing. Go and watch her little clay hands hammer the keyboard along to ‘Foundations’ and her other plinky pop hits, which are better live then they are on her record. It may not be rock and roll to watch her but you can always hide from your friends in the crowd.
Battles – The Carling Stage
Ignore any labels you’ve heard about this band. They are not metal, or mute metal, or indie or even electronica. They are, in fact, like Revels – a bit of everything. They are outstanding live and break as many conventions as possible (not always successfully) but don’t bother with their album.
Operator Please – The Carling Stage
These hyper teenager Aussies' track ‘Song About Ping Pong’ may not sound promising by the title alone but it is actually one of the best songs indie-pop has to offer at the moment. Front girl, Amandah Wilkinson, yells her way through their tracks like Karen O after too many blue Smarties. These are a must see for anyone who wants to be in the new music know.
Cold War Kids – NME/Radio1 Stage - Reading Sunday/Leeds Friday
At times they resonate as if they’ve rehearsed just once but their songs are charmingly intelligent with poetic lyrics that battle with subjects like alcoholism and slavery. Naivety could cloud the Californian outfit alongside Maroon 5 but, unlike Maroon 5, they are fabulously engaging live and, to put it bluntly, good.
We Are Scientists – NME/Radio1 Stage – Reading Saturday/Leeds Sunday
These guys must have been hiding in the laboratory of late, as not much has been heard from them since their first album. The band’s fusion of rigid basslines and snap punk guitars do bracket them with many other guitar based bands but the three-some are energetic live and ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Gets Hurt’ and ‘The Great Escape’ will go down among this year's Carling Weekend classics.
Jamie T – NME/Radio1 Stage – Reading Sunday/Leeds Friday
Jamie T is the best that Thames Beat has to offer. Morrissey sang: “The music says nothing to me about my life” but Jamie T’s songs actually have something to say. His lyrics talk of teenage angst about the opposite sex and drinking too much, while his phat beats and bass driven grooves lead the party. Word of warning though - the troubadour blisters through his set so get their early in case you miss it all.
Radio1 Lock Up Stage
Gallows – Radio1 Lock Up Stage – Reading Sunday/Leeds Friday
This is true punk at its most brutal. Lead singer Frank Carter is reminiscent of a young Johnny Rotton but with the anger of Sid Vicious. Forget Doherty and his drugs because Gallows are real rock and roll. The band are hard, heavy and fast and Carter has more charisma then any other front man around. Just ask the thousands who packed the second tent at Download.
Plain White T’s – Radio1 Lock Up Stage – Reading Friday/Leeds Saturday
This one is a risk if there is nothing else on. Plain White T’s are finally releasing their best track ‘Hey There Delilah’ and its starting to make a few waves. The track is an acoustic American gem but to be honest, the rest of their stuff is rubbish. Watch for a track while you line up for a beer.