The big two: Reading and Leeds 2009

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Daniel Fahey | 24 August 2009

What are they?

and Leeds are the annual teenage riots that are fuelled by Tesco Value vodka and some of the world’s best bands (plus Ian Brown). Both are led by parent-free tykes intent on destruction - whether it’s their livers or your well-pitched Eurohike pop-up. The all-music, no frills double-header shares its line-up between two small sites either end of the M1 and if anybody returns having had even a wink of sleep, they’re obviously at the wrong festival, having bought a dodgy ticket from a tout called Steve.

When and where are they?

Both festivals run from 28-30 August, giving parents that Bank Holiday Monday to scrub that permanent marker off of their kids, hose down their sick splattered rucksacks and replace their shaven eyebrows with merkins before they go back to school the following week. Reading takes place at St Johns Farm in Berkshire, while Yorkshire’s Branham Park will host the sister event Leeds.

Who to see?

Arctic Monkeys
– Main Stage (Saturday, Reading and Friday, Leeds)
With Alex Turner shelving part-time plaything The Last Shadow Puppets, the Sheffield four-piece will return mightily to the festival pedestal with some colossal Josh Homme-inspired sounds. Recent performances show the band are even making their more poppier numbers sound heavy - this looks set to be the show of the year.

Radiohead – Main Stage (Sunday, Reading and Saturday, Leeds)
After swaying opinion at their Victoria Park gigs last year, a revered Thom Yorke showered Latitude with the type of sheer quality fans hope to expect from their first UK festival outing since the release of ‘In Rainbows’. But that’s not all; the legendary art-house outfit have promised new tracks as well. Time to make amends boys.

The Horrors – NME/Radio 1 Stage (Friday, Reading and Sunday, Leeds)
After almost disowning their first LP, The Horrors look certain to pepper their set with most of their second offering ‘Primary Colours’. So expect a luscious and claustrophobic performance that picks as much from Joy Division as it does from Shangri-Las.

Chase and Status - (Sunday, Reading and Saturday, Leeds)
Reading and Leeds’ reputations were never built on DJ sets, but London duo Chase and Status aren’t your run of the mill self-indulgent house aficionados. No, they leave that to Deadmau5 this weekend. The drum n bass and dubstep dons throw in everything from their performances from middle eastern jungle to Rage Against The Machine without having to press their tongues in their cheeks. They’re even inclined to spin back and reload tracks like the proper DJs of 70s Jamaica.

One to miss

Bloc Party
– Main Stage (Sunday, Reading and Saturday, Leeds)
Haven’t we been here before? Wasn’t it last year that Bloc Party were playing the same slot on the same stage? Still living off the heyday of their ‘Helicopter’ era, Kele and Co look certain to underachieve again this time around if their Glastonbury show is anything to go by. The group just can’t cut it live at festivals, so go and watch Vitalic instead.

Also try to avoid The XX (slice your eyes open with rusted pins type-of-boring live), Kaiser Chiefs (“Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby…”), Ian Brown (and his never ending monotonous tunes - like not being able to escape the bore down the pub) and The Big Pink (think Crazy Town in their Oakenfold heyday – whiney American-sounding tosh).

Playing a rare festival date

Marmaduke Duke
- Festival Republic Stage (Unspecified day, Reading and Leeds)
The Technicolor 80s alter ego of Biffy’s Simon Neil, Marmaduke Duke are a band full of pop sensibilities, piano rolls and slick guitar kicks that are guaranteed to get people grooving. Best to see them before Neil goes back to the ever-touring Biffy crew.

Inside tip

- Dance Stage (Sunday, Reading and Saturday, Leeds)
Following the footsteps of Dizzee Rascal, every decent grime rapper looks set to eventually sell their soul so they can enter the pop charts. Young prodigy Chipmunk is edging that way but if anyone appreciated his flow on his mixtape ‘League Of My Own’ they’ll know how much of a shame it would be for him to sell out. Catch him before his label gets him duetting with the Sugababes.

Festival tactics

If you can’t beat them, join them. Get tanked up on vodka and strong lager in the campsite and then head to the arena shouting “bollocks” randomly. From here on in it’s about watching the bands while topping up on festival beer, breaking only to fill used pint glasses with urine to fling stage-wards. Then go and jump on your mate’s tent, burn anything you can get a light to and throw rubbish across the campsite. Good times!

Fashionista or folky?

With a crowd that’s single-handedly keeping Topman’s skinny jeans section bobbing along happily in the recession, the well-heeled festival regulars are clued up with the latest indie fashion too. You won’t find an item of knitted clothing anywhere and if you do, you’ve probably walked into Melvin Benn’s office.

Alcohol of choice

For inside the camping area it must be dark brown in colour and scruffily presented in an empty, labelless cola bottle. We're not sure exactly what goes in, but scientists have narrowed it to anything that boosts a percentage above 30, fruit juice and that secret ingredient that makes the consumer shudder with every sip.

Take your mum score – 2/10

She can drop you off at gates and pick you up on Monday morning, but mustn't bee seen by your mates. This is where all those revision cobwebs are blown from your mind - who cares if you only managed a C in GCSE Geography? Whilst Mum's away, ask that man in the campsite if you can swig from his homemade cocktail, rock out and riot into the early hours of Sunday night. Don't worry Mum will meet you where she dropped you off at 10am, okay darling?

Can I still get tickets?
With Radiohead and Arctic Monkeys making their only UK festival appearance of the year, it meant the tickets went quicker than Usain Bolt. But Viagogo are allowing fans to buy passes right up until the event.

Click here to see the availability of Reading Festival tickets.

Click here to see the availability of Leeds Festival tickets.

ll tickets bought on viagogo are covered by their guarantee - if you buy the ticket, you're going to the festival or your money back.

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