The end of the British Summer is approaching, and that means only one thing. An array of British festivals have come and gone, each with their own highs and lows. Glastonbury’s controversial Kanye West headline slot, T in the Park’s boisterous Scottish crowds, the more relaxed Latitude and Bestival featured headline sets from the likes of Alt J.
But now it’s time for Reading and Leeds. If you’re heading up this weekend these are the acts I urge you not to miss!
Chaotic. Youthful. Rebellious. RAT BOY aka 18 year old troublemaker Jordan Cardy from Essex is a singer songwriter who has recently emerged on to the scene. Sharp, relatable lyrics about growing up, fights, late night takeaways and being sacked from McDonalds accompany a distinctive sound. He records and produces his own music generating a rough DIY feel which doesn’t differ from his shambolic live sets which embrace an air of uncertainty, as though anything could go wrong at any minute. His recent shows feature a level of intimacy and break the barrier between the artists and the fans. London gigs have prompted stage invasions, seen multiple amps being broken and ambulances left right and centre which I was lucky enough to witness first hand. His Reading and Leeds sets are not ones to miss even if they mean waking up before 3 in the afternoon.
What to Expect: A brash, disorderly set with hints of brilliance.
For fans of: Jamie T, The Streets, Damon Albarn’s mockney swagger circa 1994.
Best known for his work in the XX, Jamie Smith has broken free from that past and established himself as an independent artist by releasing his highly anticipated debut album In Colour this year. The tracks are upbeat summer anthems, the standout track sampling Good Times by The Persuasions. This set will be great for anyone who wants a break from the multiple guitar bands and anyone who enjoys anything from soul to house.
What to Expect: Little crowd interaction, a smooth flowing set, head bobbing.
For fans of: Jungle, Gil Scott Heron, The XX.
Jamie T has had an immense couple of years. Seemingly rising from the dead to releasing a 12 track album, winning multiple NME awards, selling out two nights at Alexandra Palace, and now cementing his place as a must see artist by attracting huge crowds at both Glastonbury and T in the Park. The cocksure, troubadour always puts on a good live show, bouncing around the stage energetically and encouraging the crowd to ‘go mental’ give or take a few expletives. His sets have a perfect blend of all the old crowd favourites as well as new tracks that showcase his progressions as a songwriter. His surprise comeback set at Reading last year was voted the NME best music moment of the year, his attempt to better that on the main stage this year will definitely be a spectacle.
What to Expect: Mosh pits (organised by the man himself) and beer swilling lads on shoulders.
For fans of: The Streets, Joe Strummer, Jamie T (obviously).
Catfish and the Bottlemen
The Bottlemen have also had a phenomenal year going from strength to strength. They’ve proved to be festival favourites, drawing gigantic crowds at both Glastonbury and T in the Park where their guitar anthems went down a treat. The animated frontman Van Mccann is a natural performer and brings charm and energy to their live sets, often smashing up a guitar or two. Their meat and two veg approach to writing songs isn’t particularly original or innovative but it’s a winning formula and wins over huge crowds.
What to Expect: Crowd surfing, screaming girls, arena style choruses.
For fans of: Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, gobby frontmen.
The Kent Punk duo has a formidable live reputation due to gigging on the pub circuit for almost 3 years before making a name for themselves. They clearly don’t take themselves too seriously and they demonstrate this through making fun of their own songs and the like .Despite being made up of only a standing drum kit and a guitar they are a force to be reckoned with, loud, aggressive and raw. The band exerts so much energy between the two of them that it’s exhausting just watching, if you want to release your pent up anger over the weekend then be in that tent.
What to expect: A seething mass of sweaty bodies.
For fans of: Oi!, hearing loss, colossal riffs, tattoos.
The return of the Likely Lads to the main stage at Reading following their triumphant reunion that took place there in 2010. The Libertines are back with a bang! They’ve signed a new record deal with EMI as well as releasing a new single for the first time since 2004. Their sold out show at Hyde Park last summer as well as 2 nights at Alexandra Palace demonstrate that people are still eager to see the group live. This summer they performed a surprise set at Glastonbury and headlined T in the Park so they have experience of playing their new songs under their belt. They’re far from being a refined, polished live band but many iconic bands never were – The Clash for example. It almost adds to the magic, it wouldn’t be a Libertines performance without a number of mishaps. At Glastonbury Pete’s mic stopped working forcing him to share a microphone and bump heads with Carl Barat which was reminiscent of their old ramshackle gigs in their living rooms with limited equipment. This headline slot is a perfect opportunity for the band to give people a glimpse of the upcoming album and their usual anthems will inevitably be well received on the last night of a festival.
What to expect: An emotional performance, new and old songs, bromance.
For fans of: Albion, the noughties, references to obscure poets.