Chances are this year’s Reading & Leeds will throw up some of its own defining moments, where bands stake their claim as a Genuinely Massive Deal or cement their status as one of the biggest in the world. That kind of event could easily stir up during sets from Paramore, Wolf Alice or even lesser knowns like Gnarwolves, The Districts and The Orwells - it’s something DIY’s going to be closely keeping an eye on as the weekend progresses.
But a quick flick through previous years brings together highlights that history looks back on fondly. There’s the obvious moments that any punter with the vaguest knowledge of Reading & Leeds will cite, and there’s the sets that saw previously talked-about bands become genuine challengers. These ones might be down to personal taste, and a small chunk of what went into making this playlist arrived because of subjective choice.
Radiohead - Creep
Back in 1994, post ‘Pablo Honey’, Radiohead surged into the public consciousness with a triumphant main stage set in the blistering sunshine. Today they won’t touch ‘Creep’ with a ten foot pole, but thrown midway into their ’94 set, it made perfect sense. They’ve since made more career-defining festival appearances, but this could be cited as kick-starting it all. [Listen]
Nirvana - Come As You Are
Kurt Cobain carted on in a wheelchair, chaos being replicated both on stage and in the crowd - Nirvana 1992’s set needs little build-up. Arguably the defining Reading Festival performance, this one needs no introduction. A no-brainer inclusion in the playlist. [Listen]
Rage Against The Machine - Bombtrack
They’ve made several appearances over the years - including a comeback gig in 2008 - but it’s RATM’s 2000 slot that defines them. Arriving just before their split, it seemed to channel every last bit of frustration, hate, fear an excitement from a band at their peak. [Listen]
Arctic Monkeys - I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
This year’s headliners will look back fondly on 2005, when they took the Carling Stage by storm with one of the defining performances at the fest’s smaller stages. The slot was so over-subscribed it almost ended up cancelled. The year after, in 2006, they were headliners. Talk about an ascent. [Listen]
At The Drive-in - Pattern Against User
13 years later they eventually made their return, but At the Drive-In’s relationship with Reading boils down to a frenzied set on the Carling Premier Stage, right before the release of their seminal album ‘Relationship of Command’. The Texas post-hardcore group were in the form of their lives. [Listen]
Foo Fighters - This Is A Call
Nobody’s made more Reading and Leeds appearances in some shape or another than Dave Grohl, but beyond Nirvana’s legendary set and the many Foos slots that followed, it was the latter’s 1995 headline slot on the Melody Maker stage that defined them. Nothing compares to the chaos of that night, with fans climbing tent poles, deranged and maddened punters witnessing genuine history. [Listen]
Queens of the Stone Age - No One Knows
Main stage fixtures (and as of 2014, headliners), Queens of the Stone Age first made their mark on the big billing in 2001 after years playing smaller stages. But it was in 2005 that they truly lived up to the occasion, showcasing ‘Songs For The Deaf’ in all its mosh-pit inducing glory. [Listen]
Alt-J - Taro
Every year there’s an act that over-fills the Festival Republic Stage, with punters spilling out, squeezing themselves into a relatively tiny tent to witness a band on the up. Several highlights linger (and don’t bet against Wolf Alice delivering this year’s equivalent), but Alt-J’s ‘… Awesome Wave’ was most in evidence back in 2012 when they played midway up a bill that also featured Bastille and Savages. [Listen]
Foals - Cassius
If Alt-J’s Festival Republic stage appearance doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb, surely Foals’ debut on the Carling Stage in 2007 manages it. With just a couple of singles to their name, they managed to instantly become festival heart-throbs, genuinely capable of headlining (something that could be just around the corner - we’re looking at you, 2015 Reading and Leeds). [Listen]
Biffy Clyro - Biblical
One year on and Biffy Clyro’s status-cementing headline set on the Main Stage remains the absolute standout of 2013. Out stepped a band not just accepting their fate as a ‘big deal’ - they genuinely embraced it, with fireworks, pyrotechnics, the whole shebang. Don’t expect it to be a ‘one night only’ affair, either. Biffy will be back. [Listen]
The August 2014 issue of DIY is a Reading & Leeds special. We'll be bringing you interviews, reports and all the updates from this year's Reading Festival, 22nd-24th August.
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