It’s bloody Christmas time again. A time, we agree, for unholy amounts of mince pies and wine, and more repeats of Love Actually than you can shake a red and white sugary stick at, but it’s also a time to reflect on the musical year that has been 2017.
From Oh My God debut albums making new British bands massive, to the year’s most anticipated returns being everything we wanted and more, to incredible acts of defiance against hatred, and, as always, healthy servings of bands doing things that simply made us say: ‘Errr, Say That Again Mate?’.
There’s been some pretty amazing moments this year. So many, in fact, that we’ve collated a hundred of them. We’re going to be sharing them across this week, highlighting some of our favourite festival moments, absolute bangers of singles, political moments that gave us hope, legends of the year and more, before ending up with our ten Big Ones of 2017: the bands and acts that made us laugh, cry, smile and dance the most this year.
Follow everything in The DIY List 2017 here.
From May through September, the DIY office was transported weekend after weekend to muddy British fields and scorching hot European cities alike: yep, it was festival season. 2017 gave us our fair share of euphoric, year-defining moments across festival season. From Radiohead’s iconic Pyramid Stage return at Glastonbury to Frank Carter and The xx conquering festivals worldwide and Arcade Fire kicking off Primavera Sound with the biggest surprise possible, 2017’s festival run was an absolutely wonderful one. Here are some of our favourite (and slightly hazy) memories from this summer.
The 1975 sending off ‘i like it when you sleep’ at Latitude
The set was the perfect send-off for an album that’s captured the imagination of so many.
Photo: Phil Smithies / DIY
A lot of the highlights of this summer came at Latitude in mid-July, but there was one set that defined not only the festival, but maybe the entire summer. The Friday night slot at Latitude has become near-legendary for giving newer bands their first major festival headline slot - Foals, alt-J and The Maccabees (RIP, sob etc) have all done it - and this year was The 1975’s turn.
Across the tour for the band’s absurd second album ‘i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’, Matty Healy and co. became world-beaters, and one of the most exciting musical eras of the decade was brought to a close with a simply huge headline set to open Latitude 2017. From opener ‘Love Me’ to finale ‘The Sound’, the band made their strongest claim yet to be the most exciting band in the world while pointing to the future and laying some old demons to rest in the process.
During the set, Healy repeated the phrase “The First of June, The 1975”, more than hinting at the release date for the band’s upcoming third album, already revealed to be called ‘Music For Cars’. He also addressed concerns at his past behaviour, apologising for any hurt he’s previously caused. At the time of the set we wrote: “If Healy’s calculations are correct, ‘Music For Cars’ will begin in less than a year, and will see The 1975 become the biggest band in the world. They’re already one of the best”. Although they had a relatively quiet 2017, with 2018 set to be all theirs, the set was the perfect send-off for an album that’s captured the imagination of so many. See you next year for ‘Music For Cars’. Will Richards
Arcade Fire give the first day of Primavera Sound a glorious surprise
The band’s ‘Everything Now’ era has been anything but regular.
Photo: Emma Swann / DIY
When Arcade Fire strode onto a hastily-constructed square stage in a hitherto desolate space at the edges of Primavera Sound’s Barcelona festival site, who knew what chaos would ultimately ensue. The gig, a secret set days before their headline proper a few days later, was, of course, as straightforward as an Arcade Fire appearance can be, the band swapping instruments as per while the crowd arranged itself around all four of the stage’s sides.
But, from the sneakily-revealed 12” that preceded their spots at Primavera, to the stage branded more with the now iconic ‘EN’ logo, the rest of the band’s ‘Everything Now’ era has been anything but regular. Taking side-swipes at celebrity profiles, social media experts and the clickbait churn of online editorial via a series of satirical articles on dummy websites, the band’s humour may not have connected with some, but when the chart-topping record finally emerged, all slotted into place.
Delving even deeper into disco than the preceding James Murphy-indebted ‘Reflektor’, from the Abba-esque refrain of the title track, to the malaise-tinged ‘Electric Blue’, that genre’s happy/sad complex ran throughout, flitting between bangin’ dancefloor euphoria and lyrics that’d tug even the coldest of heartstrings. And with one more knowing wink, the wry midsection - a two-part ‘Infinite Content’ in which one half was punk, the other a Father John Misty style country jam - found itself echoed by the record itself - an infinite loop. Emma Swann
Drake giving Reading 2017 the biggest of surprises
Drake only appeared for a matter of minutes, but it was enough to define a whole day at this year’s Reading like only he could do.
Photo: Emma Swann / DIY
There were a plethora of special guests at this year’s Reading - not least Queens Of The Stone Age and Wolf Alice - but none of them quite matched up to Champagne Papi himself rolling onto the main stage during Giggs’ massive Sunday afternoon set.
The stampede of fans clambering their way towards the stage as soon as Drake appeared resembled a charge of wildebeest from an episode of Planet Earth, if only they’d discovered how to open their Instagram story camera while legging it across a field in Berkshire.
Sure, Drake only appeared for a matter of minutes, but it was enough to define a whole day at this year’s Reading like only he could do. Will Richards
Foals get the keys to the Citadel
Foals finished their summer leaving the crowd itching for more.
Photo: Robin Pope / DIY
If you’re only going to play one UK show this summer, you’d better make it count. Foals understand this, and so – playing a festival exclusive at London one-dayer Citadel – they set about unleashing a perfect storm of a set that delved into the lesser-played nooks of their back catalogue whilst also delivering on the apocalyptic monsters that they’ve perfected in more recent years.
Speaking to DIY before the show, frontman Yannis Philippakis promised to “freshen [the set] up”, having toured last LP ‘What Went Down’ around some of the world’s biggest stages in 2016. Digging back to a series of ‘Antidotes’ bangers (‘Electric Bloom’, ‘Olympic Airwaves’) and conjuring up a quiet storm on ‘A Knife In The Ocean’, Foals delivered and then some; rather than a tired band at the end of a touring cycle, the Oxford quintet sounded vital.
Very much hitting the stride of their imperial phase, Foals finished their summer leaving the crowd itching for more. Their next steps can’t come quickly enough. Lisa Wright
Rat Boy’s future headliner claim at Reading 2017
It showed that Rat Boy could go a long, long way.
Photo: Emma Swann / DIY
When we spoke to Rat Boy for a feature earlier this year - around the release of his debut album ‘SCUM’ - the ambition of Jordan Cardy could never be questioned.
“We’re not at the level we want to be yet,” Cardy told us, sitting firmly upright for the first time, and slightly - but definitely - raising his voice. “Every single day, me and the band sit down and we think to ourselves, we are not where we want to be yet. We’re doing the main stage at Reading & Leeds, but it’s in the middle of the day. We want it to be later. We want it to be bigger. We’re working harder than we ever have done, and we’re pushing every day.”
Read the full feature here.
At said Reading set, Cardy and co. sure acted like they were headliners. Striding out onto the main stage like they’ve done it ten times before, the set that followed was infectious and striking; one of the weekend’s most brilliant statements of intent. It showed that Rat Boy could go a long, long way. Will Richards
The Killers making a secret return at Glastonbury
Their initial, massive return at Glastonbury was the real signal of their return, and a reminder of their firepower.
Photo: Rob Loud
Sunday afternoon at Glastonbury is often a bit of a slow one, winding down to the sad, inevitable end of another rager on Worthy Farm. Legends’ slots, a quick half hour in the yoga tent, kale smoothie… you get the gist. The Killers smashed the trend this year though, as the (not-so) secret act on the relatively teeny John Peel Stage. Striding out to ‘Teenage Kicks’, famously the legendary DJ’s favourite song, before proceeding to spend an hour reminding the packed tent (and millions at home) why they’ve got the most hit-packed discography in indie rock.
‘When You Were Young’ into ‘Somebody Told Me’ into ‘Spaceman’ into ‘Human’ into ‘Smile Like You Mean It’ is an absurd beginning to any festival headline set, let alone a secret appearance slotted into the festival’s fifth biggest stage mid-afternoon. Of course, the band went on to rule the biggest stages in the country, from BST Hyde Park to Brixton Academy and The O2, but their initial, massive return at Glastonbury was the real signal of their return, and reminder of their firepower. Will Richards
The xx bringing the party to 2017’s festival season
It was a pleasure to watch over and over again across the summer and beyond.
Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett / DIY
Jamie xx’s live sets have always been jubilant, hands-in-the-air affairs, while he’s taken a more sombre backseat role when playing as part of his day job. This year, as The xx toured third album ‘I See You’ at pretty much every major festival on the planet, the two states melted together perfectly, with dazzling results.
From a massive Glastonbury set, European triumphs at Lowlands, NOS Alive and more to ending their summer emphatically on the first night of Bestival, the band truly became festival headliners this summer, with a revved-up live show that brought them out of the intimate, reflective shadows and into a world of colour. Bringing Jamie xx track ‘Loud Places’ to life and mixing its ‘In Colour’ co-star ‘Gosh’ into oldie ‘Shelter’, The xx became a massive, fantastic, multi-dimensional live band this year, and it was a pleasure to watch over and over again across the summer and beyond. Will Richards
Katy Perry bringing sparkle to Glastonbury 2017
Katy Perry’s Glastonbury debut was, let’s be frank, pretty fucking ridiculous.
Photo: Emma Swann / DIY
One of the main joys of Glastonbury is its ongoing penchant for weird and wonderful bookings. Dolly Parton and Shirley Bassey famously received heroes’ welcomes when they played the bash, Lady Gaga once slyly snuck onto the afternoon line-up at Club Dada and decidedly niche West Country idols The Wurzels thrill the festival with cans of scrumpy and their hit single ‘Combine Harvester’ on a regular basis. This year, meanwhile, saw the once in a lifetime bill of Katy Perry sandwiched between Run the Jewels (supported by Jeremy Corbyn) and, erm, The National. Only on Worthy Farm…
Charging around the gigantic Pyramid Stage, in front of a backdrop that closely resembled the eye logo from Big Brother - while wearing a metallic snapback and matching backpack for whatever reason - Katy Perry’s Glastonbury debut was, let’s be frank, pretty fucking ridiculous.
As well at concluding with a failed attempt at crowd-surfing, her show also included the following elements: grinding on a bemused security guard, running along the front row while pursued by a host of backing dancers and their increasingly ludicrous hats, and a particularly incredible moment when Katy referred to some far-away tents as “those hotels over there”. Well played indeed. El Hunt
Sundara Karma slaying Reading (and Brixton for good measure)
Photo: Emma Swann / DIY
The wheels were already in motion for Sundara Karma to have a huge 2017 when they released their debut album ‘Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect’ at the very start of January but even so, what followed in the near-12 months since would surpass any expectation.
In our review we wrote that ‘Youth…’ “is a record made for the cavernous expanse of Brixton Academy,” and, poetically, it managed to fill said room with a headline show at the start of October.
On top of drawing one of the biggest crowds of the weekend into the Radio 1/NME tent in their hometown of Reading at the end of the summer, Brixton capped quite a wonderful year for indie’s next torchbearers. Will Richards
Frank Carter was one of the most consistently brilliant festival acts this summer
One of the most exciting live acts in the world right now.
Photo: Emma Swann / DIY
Chances are, if you walked past almost any festival tent (or often main stage) this summer, you probably saw a heavily tattooed ginger head clambering over the front rows of a raucous crowd and causing the ruckus of the weekend. Yep, that’d be Frank Carter, and he and his Rattlesnakes made quite a claim to be the band of the summer from May through September.
From a revolutionary Glastonbury set (not done any harm by the imminent secret set from The Killers after Carter’s show in the John Peel tent) to massive sets at Reading, Rock Werchter and beyond, it was Frank Carter’s summer, and as Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, he became the figurehead of one of the most exciting live acts in the world right now. Will Richards
Aphex Twin blowing everyone’s minds in a ridiculous barn at Field Day
Aphex Twin’s return was as weird, intense and euphoric as expected, and then some.
Photo: Louise Mason / DIY
This June, a gigantic, metallic structure appeared in London’s Victoria Park, something so outrageous and cavernous that it could only host Aphex Twin. The Barn was a new installation at this summer’s Field Day, hosting the likes of Nicolas Jaar, Nina Kraviz, Moderat, Jon Hopkins and more before Aphex Twin presented one of the most intense, visually striking performances Victoria Park - or the whole of London, in fact - had ever seen.
“There’s a sense of anticipation around in the minutes before Aphex Twin and his completely bonkers light show emerge into The Barn that will struggle to be matched all summer,” we wrote in our review at the time. “The release of tension when he finally does bathe the huge structure in fidgety, intense noise is a completely euphoric one. As the heavens open for the only short-lived shower of the day, the atmosphere in The Barn gets even more intense.”
The most anticipated live comeback of the year, Aphex Twin’s return was as weird, intense and euphoric as expected, and then some. Will Richards
Radiohead returning to conquer Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage
If 2017 was their last gift to Eavis, Eavis and all of us, then it was a truly magnificent one.
Photo: Emma Swann / DIY
Radiohead’s two previous Glastonbury headline performances - in 1997 and 2003 - have become simply legendary, two of the most special nights Worthy Farm has ever seen. No pressure going into the festival’s Friday night in 2017 then, lads.
Of course, Yorke, Greenwood et al absolutely smashed it this year too, bringing ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ and an absurd amount of hits to the Pyramid Stage for the perfect Friday night down in Somerset. Sure, Radiohead are sometimes an obtuse prospect that deflect the obvious in favour of something more unexpected at almost every turn, but it always goes unnoticed quite how much of a crowd-pleasing band they remain live.
A pair of encores that boast ‘No Surprises’, ‘2+2=5’, ‘Paranoid Android’, ‘Fake Plastic Trees’, ‘Creep’ and ‘Karma Police’ isn’t anything to be sniffed at and, while the weirdest corners of the band’s discography were also delved into across the two hour set, the prawn sandwich brigade were also left firmly satisfied, solidifying Radiohead’s place as a universal band and definitely a festival band. Here’s hoping they headline Worthy Farm once again, before either they or the festival call it a day, but if 2017 was their last gift to Eavis, Eavis and all of us, then it was a truly magnificent one. Will Richards