Over the last few years I’ve been keeping track of BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend and hoping it would come within travelling distance of my home town. For me, BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend marks the start of a three month or so UK summer festival season and showcases some of the summer’s hottest acts and staple bands. Typically, it plays the stuff you hear on the radio, but with the ever increasing interest in genres like “alternative” and “pop-punk” becoming more ‘mainstream’ and the huge demand for bands like Bring Me the Horizon- who exploded all over the radio after releasing last year’s (pretty incredible) “That’s the Spirit”- becoming integrated into modern day mainstream culture and radio, it’s unsurprising to see some of your favourite “non-pop” bands on the bill too.
This year’s Big Weekend is being held at Powderham Castle in Exeter. The event runs for two days over the bank holiday weekend from Saturday 28th to Sunday 29th May. There were 50,000 tickets up for grabs, which all sold out in less than an hour, and 200,000 people trying to get them! Although, BBC Radio One have been running competitions for those who lost out. The event is being headlined by Mumford and Sons (who headlined last year’s Reading and Leeds festival) and Coldplay (who are headlining Glastonbury this year). The festival is free (although there’s a small booking fee of literally £17 for two tickets)- yes FREE- which, in itself, is quite something. For the price a booking fee you’re getting a day of excitingly current music (with line-ups condensed but on par with the likes of Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds) which, at pretty much any other festival in the UK, would ordinarily cost you hundreds of pounds- a concert ticket for Coldplay alone at Wembley Stadium this June would cost you upwards of £70! BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend is Europe’s largest free music festival- so you’re lucky enough for it to be in your town, you’d be daft not to go for tickets!
This year’s line up is composed of some of the world’s most current and exciting bands and artists across three stages- the Main Stage, the “In New Music We Trust” stage and, of course, the BBC Introducing stage. From The Weeknd to Bring Me the Horizon to Catfish and the Bottlemen, whether you’re watching there live or in the comfort of your own home via the red button or catching up with the highlights on BBC 4 television or on the internet, there’s bound to be plenty of unmissable stuff. I’m lucky enough to be attending on the Sunday, which I’m so excited about and have been for months! Below are some of my most unmissable acts from across the weekend.
Mumford and Sons (MAIN)– Mumford and Sons are playing the event for the first time this year- and they’re headlining… Is there anything more exciting than hearing the well known classics and hits of Marcus Mumford and Co live? Following their formidable visual feast of a headline set at Reading and Leeds Festival last year, you won’t want to miss Mumford and Sons.
Jake Bugg (MAIN)– It’s no secret that I love Jake Bugg. Having seen him a few times here and there it’s safe to say he’d definitely be on my watch list and with new material from his upcoming album, “On My One”, which is due out in June, he’s an obvious one not to miss! There’s something timeless about Bugg’s voice which is so familiar and comforting to many, across all ages. He has an incredible stage presence too, where he manages to win over and transfix crowds.
Tom Odell (MAIN)– Tom Odell is back properly for the first time since the release of “Long Way Down” in 2013 (and the stunning 2014 John Lewis coveted christmas advert single, where he covered John Lennon’s “Real Love”) with the album “Wrong Crowd”, which is, again, released in June. Tom Odell has an incredible voice which, accompanied by his band and piano, is certain to mesmerise in Exeter (especially after his hugely successful live lounge in Exeter last week). He’s sure to leave the crowd dazzled with old hits and new tracks across both albums.
Bring Me the Horizon (the In New Music We Trust stage)– Bring Me the Horizon are headlining the In New Music We Trust stage on the Saturday of this year’s festival. Somehow, through brilliant song writing and modern day music fan appeal, this current blend of “post hardcore”and popular culture has intertwined to allow incredibly unique bands headline ‘mainstream’ events like these. Getting your hands on Bring Me the Horizon tickets ordinarily is difficult, as they go like hot cakes, so I wouldn’t miss the chance to catch them. This could be a career defining set, especially in terms of the radio.
Tame Impala (the In New Music We Trust stage)– Tame Impala’s psychedelic pop/rock is another different choice for the festival. Kevin Parker and co are set to bring something truly exciting and unique to the festival, with their laid back tracks and radio singles. They’d be an interesting and worthy watch- I couldn’t think of anything better for a Saturday afternoon.
Spring King (BBC Introducing)– Spring King are returning to play on the BBC Introducing stage in Exeter. Spring King are a band on their way to success, with triumphant sets on Jools Holland and at The Great Escape festival already under their belt this year. Songs like “Rectifier” are huge and not worth missing live. They’re on the brink of success and you’d be silly not to see them now.
The Hunna (BBC Introducing)– Again, why not catch them playing smaller stages whilst you can? The Hunna are another up and coming band who are on the brink of something big. With the support of the BBC it’s highly likely we’ll see them playing bigger stages at some point and here’s your chance to be there “from the start” so you can say ‘I was there’ in a few years time!
Coldplay (MAIN) – Coldplay are headlining BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend on Sunday. Chris Martin, lead singer, is from Exeter so it’s sure to be a huge set. They’ve played the event before and each time they’ve provided the crowd (and effortlessly won them over) with an energetic set full of fan favourites and current tracks. 2016’s “A Head Full of Dreams” featured some great tracks which will surely be played live. It’s the ultimate Glastonbury warm up show and will, undoubtedly, be a defining moment of the weekend.
Catfish and the Bottlemen (MAIN)– With the release of their latest album “The Ride” due for release two days before they play the event, it will be one of the first times they’ve played since the album release. The band played last year and it was heavily talked about. Either way Catfish and the Bottlemen are one of the UK’s most exciting bands and I think you’d be mad to miss them considering their tours sell out in minutes! With countless anthemic tunes, a new album, Van McCann’s admirable stage presence (and copious “thank yous”) and incredibly supportive fans they’re sure to be a hit (as they have been at every other festival in the UK).
The 1975 (MAIN)– The 1975 seem to pop up everywhere! They’re currently on tour in the States with label mates Wolf Alice, who are also playing, but are returning back to the UK for the event. They played “Radio One Presents” back in February for Annie Mac’s show where they, along with fellow Big Weekend performer Jake Bugg, managed to dazzle a crowd of all ages. They bring their stunning live set up and catchy tunes with them as they prepare for a long festival season. The band will give a taste of what to expect over the festival season with songs from their latest album (“I Like it When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It”) and last album (“The 1975”), and perhaps a few EP favourites, hopefully on the setlist. With George Daniel’s (drummer) shoulder broken there will most likely be a stand in drummer playing with the band (I believe Dave Elitch of The Mars Volta will be joining the band for a bit as a stand in).
Biffy Clyro (the In New Music We Trust stage)– Biffy Clyro played the event in 2013 and are co-headlining Reading and Leeds Festival this summer. This year they’re headlining the “In New Music We Trust” stage. It’ll be interesting to hear Biffy Clyro play new songs, like “Wolves of Winter”, with the likes of popular favourites, such as “Many of Horror”. Biffy Clyro always seem like fan favourites at these events and are always heavily enjoyed by the crowds.
Panic! At The Disco (the In New Music We Trust stage)– Panic! are the best band to listen to if you want a bit of mid 2000’s nostalgia or a quick fix of all things “pop-rock”.The best part is that they’re still creating absolute tunes and only get better. With songs like “Victorious” being popular with radio listeners, it’ll be exciting to hear them play at an event like this. They’re also headlining “Slam Dunk Festival” that weekend!
The Last Shadow Puppets (the In New Music We Trust stage)– Turner and Kane are back to play songs form their latest album, “Everything You’ve Come to Expect”, and, of course, from “The Age of The Understatement”. I’m excited to see the pair live as I find their style interesting, especially with their incredibly written lyrics and unusual style.
Skepta (the In New Music We Trust stage)– Ahhh, how can you not mention grime? Grime is currently dominating the UK music scene, with the likes of Sormzy performing on the Saturday. Last year Skepta performed his hit “Shutdown” with Slaves (and it’s something quite special). “Shutdown” is undisbutedly a tune. I’m hoping for some more incredible collaborations- maybe Wolf Alice?
Wolf Alice (the In New Music We Trust stage)– You can’t miss Wolf Alice. Wolf Alice are one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen; they’re different, incredible live and simply brilliant without all the funny gimmicks. They’re full of good songs and have a brilliant track record of appearances at festivals. They’re headliners of the future, along with Catfish and the Bottlemen.
Blossoms (BBC Introducing)– Returning back to the BBC Introducing stage, possibly for the last time before the release of their debut album, will be a defining moment for the band. Blossoms are currently one of my favourite up and coming bands. You can’t miss them this summer. There’s something so comforting in the vocals that sort of reminds me of a the Kook’s style mixed with a dash of Catfish and the Bottlemen. Songs like “Charlemage” and “At Most a Kiss” have already been popular, and they’re ones to look out for (they were part of my “ones to watch in 2016”). Their current single “Getaway” is creating quite a storm among radio listeners too and, having played it on Jools Holland recently, they won’t have to work too hard to win budding fans over!
Catholic Action (BBC Introducing)– I saw Catholic Action support Swim Deep last year at Concorde 2 in Brighton and since then I’ve been supporting them and their music. They’re seriously talented and will undoubtedly be back. They’re new and current and ones to look out for across the weekend. Catch them whilst you can!
Of course, there’s many more across the weekend and those mentioned here are just a fraction of the brilliant music that the weekend has to offer. There’s Ellie Goulding, CHVRCHES, Years and Years, Jack Garratt, THE Craig David (who did a brilliant weather report for the week on Nick Grimshaw’s Breakfast show- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pD1zG0yN ) and Twenty One Pilots along with a whole host of other acts. Check out the BBC Radio One website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e2f9rz) for more information or keep up to date with it via the BBC Radio One facebook page or Twitter (@BBCR1). Below is BBC Music’s playlist of artists you can catch over the weekend.
If you’re going I wish you the greatest weekend and hope you enjoy yourself! Here’s hoping the weather is nice.