Festivals Live and Plugged In: 86TVs share their favourite sets to watch online

The band give us their top picks for the best live sets to enjoy from the comfort of your own home.

Not going to Glasto? Never fear! You can dodge the FOMO by spending the weekend in your front room instead, taking in all the biggest and best sets at this year’s Worthy Farm weekender from the sofa (whether you go the whole hog and pitch a tent indoors is entirely up to you). As usual, the BBC will be all over the festival coverage, and we’ve spent the past few weeks getting well and truly in the spirit of things by re-watching some of our all-time fave live sets on iPlayer and YouTube - Pulp’s 1995 last-minute Pyramid headliner, anyone

And for our 2024 Festival Guide - which you can nab a print copy of here - we asked longtime DIY staples 86TVs to join in the fun. Having earned their stripes as certified festival veterans with The Maccabees, the band now have a self-titled album on the way (their debut LP under the 86TVs moniker), from which we’ve already been treated to two storming singles: ‘Tambourine’ and ‘Someone Else’s Dream’. Here, they switch on their own telly boxes and guide us through the best live sets you can watch online this festival season.

Felix White

Talking Heads - Live in Rome 1980 
When I got into ‘Remain In Light’-era Talking Heads, I remember The Maccabees manager John Reid telling me that, when it came out, it felt like music beamed from another universe. I really bought into that vision of hearing it back then, imagining myself to be hearing it for the first time in 1980 and not being able to even fathom how it came together at all. It was genuinely thrilling to find this a few months later - an extremely well-captured document of that time. The crowd feels so Italian, even the unison chanting has a heat and expressionism to it that could only be Italian. You can sense the feeling of this ungraspable thing becoming graspable. It’s like the whole crowd are processing how real it all is, and as they do, the whole thing becomes a sort of unadulterated, cosmic celebration. One of the best things on the internet.

Bob Dylan - MTV Unplugged 1994 rehearsal 
My favourite era of Bob at the moment is the religious period of the late ‘80s. We listen to it ritualistically before we go on stage, mainly because we know it’s the only time we are going to get away with it without being asked to change it. This finds Bob on the other side of that, with a point of sorts to prove. Whereas he would usually be in whatever his newest form is, you get the impression at this MTV Unplugged that he’s in the brief mind to let people know how many hits he has. As a result, you get as close to a best of Bob live show as you are ever going to find. The rehearsal is in full on YouTube, which is clearly a camera check too, and gives Dylan fans what we all secretly dream of really - a sole audience with Bob and his band, going through the motions as if no one’s watching.

Hugo White

Jamie T - Glastonbury 2022 
In a world of festivals filled with backing tracks and choreographed ‘perfection’, this set was the perfect antidote. [He’d played] no shows for years and, arriving under-rehearsed, Jamie T gave a heart on sleeve, leave it all out there show. An hour of music that was raucous and unpredictable, it’s refreshing to see those moments in music. I had the pleasure of joining Jamie and co for the last two tracks and I’d never heard anything like the noise from the crowd - beautiful, infectious and on the edge. 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Glastonbury 2023 
Incredible musicianship, it wraps you up watching it. This is a great display of what live music should be. The band fall in and out of instrumental and song; complex, simple and true. Plus, as an added bonus [frontman] Ruban Nelson sings the whole set chewing a piece of gum. 

Will White

Nina Simone - Live At Montreux 1976 
The way Nina Simone stands in front of the audience before she sits at the piano is so confrontational, it focuses all this intense energy. What follows is such a wildly emotive performance. You can find everything in it, but nothing is isolated; it’s messy and rolled together in a joyous, painful, sad, funny muddle of emotion. The band do the impossible of keeping up with her. Just watch it, it’s extraordinary. 

Radiohead - Glastonbury 2003
I could have chosen any of the Radiohead headlines, I love them all. But this one I remember watching on TV as a teenager and having that mysterious feeling you can get with music, especially at that age, where your internal world expands. As if they’d opened a door in my head to somewhere my imagination could go. I still get that when I watch it back and am really grateful to these things being there for me as a young, confused, curious teenager. 

Jamie Morrison

Tyler, the Creator - Coachella 2024 
I love Tyler’s energy and stage show, it’s always elaborate and super theatrical. For this year’s Coachella show it seems he’s adopted a sort of Wes Anderson Asteroid City set design. The highlight for me is his entrance where Tyler gets fired through a caravan like a stunt man; it’s massive production, massive vibes.

Adele - BST Hyde Park 2022
My second favourite would be Adele in Hyde Park a few years ago. Adele’s show didn’t feel like a typical gig, it was half music half comedy, and there was a very wholesome atmosphere in the air. London’s picturesque, warm summer’s evening was a perfect backdrop to her world class banter and songs. Once again, vibes!

Down Memory Lane…

The composite members of 86TVs are no strangers to festival season; so what, pray tell, have been some of their stand-out memories?

Felix: My favourite Maccabees memory is unquestionably, without any doubt at all, when Sam [Doyle] fell asleep at Pukkelpop festival in Belgium. We had played at 11am and, in those days, would need at least two or three drinks before we played. By 2pm, he was passed out in the communal backstage bit in a Led Zeppelin t-shirt and becoming a bit of a tourist attraction. Like a gift from god, John Paul Jones and Dave Grohl turned up during his little slumber and I got Sam a photo with his heroes. He just didn’t know it until it had gone viral the next day. It still resurfaces every year and, to be honest, I’m beginning to wonder if I should be getting some sort of royalty for it.

Will: I’ve had so many great times playing at festivals although I’m really not into being in big crowds of people and aren’t much of a festival-goer. But I have met and watched countless amazing artists I admire from around the world. Karin Dreijer from The Knife/ Fever Ray was a particularly cool one. I also love seeing The Hives walking around backstage throughout the day in their matching outfits, but who wouldn’t be into that. 

86TVs’ new single ‘Someone Else’s Dream’ is out now.

Tags: 86TVs, Festivals, From The Magazine, Features

As featured in the 2024 Festival Guide issue of DIY, out now.

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