News Reading & Leeds: The Line-Up Debate

Ah Reading & Leeds. Another year, another ‘debate’ over the line-up.

It’s easy to overstate the value of internet comments (‘awful… my ticket is going straight in the bin,’ says one DIY commenter) or the hordes on Twitter, but it’s safe to say some weren’t too happy. The same old bands, they cried. In a way, they’re not wrong - the only surprise being no place for The Dropkick Murphys half way up the main stage on Friday again - but exactly what would they do differently?

See, Reading is a rock festival. The rest of the alternative crew may not want to admit it, but pop punk and heavy riffs reign supreme. Bar the odd super successful, chart bothering act like The Strokes, or an opening slot for The Joy Formidable, elsewhere indie is confined to the tents. And the kind of indie that gets decent radio play at that.

If you’re a Reading & Leeds regular, how many times have you gone to see an amazing band headline the Festival Republic or NME/Radio One stage to find the place feeling slightly empty? More than a few, we’d wager.

We all know that we have an ability to inflate the popularity of artists to fit our perceptions, and that we can suddenly decide blog darlings are the new front page megastars. In reality, they rarely are - and they certainly won’t sell enough tickets to keep a mega festival like Reading happy. Even assuming the headliners are there to bring in the masses, surely the other tents have to provide an alternative for these people too?

Things may have changed in the last seven or eight years, but DIY remembers Elbow getting a roasting from Muse fans following an arena support slot back in 2003, unable to comprehend a band who - y’know - did quiet songs with emotion ‘n stuff. It’s not the open minded parts of a fan base you need to think of - plenty of Muse fans appreciated the band - but the ‘less sympathetic’ masses. They’re the ones that kick of, after all. Especially when camped in a field for the better part of the week, off their heads on special brew.

There’s no argument there’s a whole heap of brilliant music around at the moment - and we’d hope to see some of the newer end appear in the Festival Republic tent as the line up reaches it’s completion - but how much of it would actually work at Reading? The answer, unfortunately, is less than we’d care to admit.

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