BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend Hull Recommendations 2017

BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend marks the beginning of festival season for me and has been a significant event on the music industry calendar for years. Its star studded line-up features some of the hottest, hugest and perhaps even most exclusive artists and bands that the music industry has to offer, as well as a whole host of up and coming bands championed by BBC Introducing. Typically the artists found on the bill are those who get played on Radio 1, but, with an ever expanding audience and increasing interest in what would once have been hailed “niche” genres, the line up now crosses multiple genres and appeals to the masses, with grime becoming a big part of the two-day festival.

This year’s BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend is being held in Hull, at Hull’s Burton Constable Hall, on the 27th and 28th May 2017. The bank holiday weekend event is fully sold out now, with 50,000 tickets up for grabs across the two days, however Radio 1 have been running competitions to win the last few tickets. The event, as usual, will be streamed online, played live on BBC Radio 1 and the red button, and highlights will be shown on BBC 4 and on the BBC iPlayer. This year’s event is headlined by US pop sensation Katy Perry (who will also play Glastonbury Festival next month) on Saturday and BST headliners and alternative icons Kings of Leon. The festival is free ( apart from a very small booking fee)- yes, that’s right, FREE- and is currently Europe’s largest free festival, with some of the most successful artists in the world filling out the huge line-up. This is extraordinary in itself (especially when you look at the line up).

I was lucky enough to attend last year, on the Sunday, in Exeter and it truly is a world class festival. It was a gloriously hot weekend in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK I’ve ever had the privilege to visit. The sets are the perfect length of time- probably around half an hour per artist, with an hour for the headliner, meaning the bands really only play the hits (with is good when the line-up is so diverse)- and there’s backing dancers and confetti galore! It set me up for festival season perfectly. Not only is Radio One’s Big Weekend a FREE event (and last year I was lucky enough that I got to see some of my favourite artists perform, let alone Coldplay, who I went on to spend over ¬£70 trying to get tickets for at Wembley and saw again at Glastonbury), it also showcases some of the UK’s most wonderful places by bringing world class music to somewhere that doesn’t get much live music. It’s professionally curated and managed and is a brilliant family day out. You’d be a fool to miss it if you ever got the chance to attend.

This year’s line up is jam packed full of headliner worthy artists, spanning three stages- the Main Stage, the newly named ‘Where It Begins’ Stage and, of course, the famous BBC Introducing Stage (which even features some returning acts from the prestigious alumni). This year is set to be unmissable with artists from Biffy Clyro to Little Mix to Kasabian and Lorde all set to perform at the event over the weekend. I’m lucky enough to be attending on the Sunday again this year and I truly cannot wait.

Here are my weekend recommendations:

SATURDAY

Katy Perry (Main Stage headliner)– Pop-princess Katy Perry brings her bubblegum pop hit fuelled back catalogue to Hull for what promises to be an unforgettable headline set.

Biffy Clyro (Main Stage)– Scotland’s undeniable rock God’s are returning to Big Weekend, having headlined the In New Music We Trust Stage last year, in Exeter. Their set is obviously going to be brilliant, if their co-headline slot at Reading Festival last year is anything to go by. The band will surely play all the hits- from “Mountains” to “Bubbles” to the anthemic classic that is “Many of Horror”- as well as a whole host of songs from their latest album, Ellipsis.

Imagine Dragons (Main Stage)– If you haven’t seen an Imagine Dragons live set you’re missing out. The atmosphere- especially at an outdoor event- is not comparable to anything. The atmospheric drumming live in their hit single ‘Radioactive’ is phenomenal and never fails to excite a crowd. Their live sets are encapsulating and engaging.

Kasabian (Main Stage)– Reading Festival 2017 headliners are set to perform the Hull event amongst a whole host of equally as huge artists. Kasabian’s expansive back catalogue- spanning over 10 years- is sure to provide the weekend’s biggest sing-a-longs, not to mention their brilliant later releases, such as ‘I’m in Love With a Psycho’.

Lorde (Main Stage)– New Zealand’s finest talent Lorde is back and better than ever. The ‘Royals’ singer has released her first new music since 2013’s stunning Pure Heroine. Lorde has matured over the last few years and her songs are more sophisticated and catchy than ever. She’s set to steal the show at Big Weekend, especially after seeing¬†her own Coachella earlier this year.

Zara Larsson (Main Stage)– She’s been part¬†of the last year’s biggest and best collaborations, from ‘Symphony’ with Clean Bandit to ‘Girls Like’ with Tinie Tempah and even had one of the biggest songs of last summer with ‘Lush Life’. She’s one of pop’s most exciting up and coming artists.

Haim (Where it Begins)– Haim are well and truly back- having cancelled a load of festival performances last summer in order to finish their new record. The band have recently released the new single ‘Want You Back’, as a follow up from 2013’s Days Are Gone.

Lana Del Rey (Where it Begins)– Lana Del Rey isn’t as common a UK festival find as many of the artists on this list. This rare appearance is set to be something special, as the ‘Video Games’¬†singer gets ready to release her latest album, Lust For Life, which is due out in July.

Rag ‘N’ Bone Man (Where it Begins)– I’ve been saying it for the last year now, but if you haven’t seen Rag ‘N’ Bone Man you’re most definitely missing out. The 2017 Brits British Breakthrough Artist award winner (which was voted by BBC Radio 1 listeners) has a phenomenal, almost gospel voice that can draw crowds of thousands in. I expect Rag ‘N’ Bone Man will pull out all the hits of his debut album, Human, including the title track, which is sure to be a memorable sing-a-long moment.

The Amazons (Where it Begins)– The Amazons release their self-titled debut album the day before they conquer the Where it Begins stage (26/05/17). The Amazons are a band who have been supported by the BBC since the beginning and also made it onto my bands to keep an eye on in 2017 list.

Two Door Cinema Club (Where it Begins)– Two Door Cinema Club sing all the songs. Their sets are full of songs that you undoubtedly know, but don’t know how or why (and they’re bloody brilliant live). Their set promises to be huge, with songs from their impressive back catalogue of indie classics. You’d be daft to miss them play on a stage as small and exclusive as the Where it Begins stage; they could quite easily be headlining!

You Me At Six (Where it Begins)– Ahhh, You Me At Six. I listened to a lot of You Me At Six when I was in my early teens and it was a brilliant time of my life. The band knows how to push and play with the genre of pop-punk to create massive pop-rock records that are infectiously catchy and brilliant. They’ve just released their fifth record- Night People– which is full of bangers.

Declan McKenna (BBC Introducing)– Declan McKenna is returning to the BBC Introducing stage for a one-off return treat. He’s set to dazzle the audience with songs such as ‘Brazil’ and ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’ ahead of his debut album release, What Do You Think About The Car?, which is due out in July. This could be your last chance to catch the indie-rock king that is Declan McKenna before he becomes huge and continues to play increasingly large stages over the festival season.

Superfood (BBC Introducing)– Superfooood. They’ve been around for a while and have put out some brilliant records over the last few years, but it’s finally becoming real for the band. They’ve signed to Dirty Hit Records- who are the record label of Wolf Alice, The 1975 and The Japanese House- and are starting to release new music and, with the help of BBC Introducing, they’re set to make a comeback to remember. Superfood could easily play the bigger stages, so seeing them play the BBC Introducing stage is a treat.

SUNDAY

Kings of Leon (Main Stage)– ¬†Kings of Leon headline the Main Stage on the Sunday of the festival. The band will play hits from their 14 year+ career, hopefully including the likes of ‘Sex on Fire’ and ‘Use Somebody’, as well as songs from their hugely successful latest album Walls, which was released last year. It promises to be big.

Bastille (Main Stage)– ¬†Bastille played the festival last year and they were one of the acts people talked about for ages. Their first album- Bad Blood– is full of memorable, sing-a-long classics and it’ll be great to hear some of their 2016 latest album- Wild World– at the festival. Bastille have been touring a world tour, which saw them play nights at the O2 Arena.

Clean Bandit (Main Stage)– Clean Bandit could wheel out the special guests, due to their many collaborations with huge artists, which could potentially be exciting. I always end up in weird places watching Clean Bandit and I don’t know how or why but they’ve always been a treat. They’re brilliant live.

Little Mix (Main Stage)– Little Mix are opening the Main Stage on the Sunday. They’re set to bring a healthy helping of guilty pleasure, girl-band hits to the party to get it underway. The band- undeniably- have some absolute bangers and I’m fully expecting fellow Sunday performer Stormzy to join the band for their latest single, ‘Power’. Watch this space!

Shawn Mendes (Main Stage)– Shawn Mendes is another guilty pleasure, gloriously unapologetic pop act. He’s on a UK tour and this set in Hull is set to impress the pop hungry crowd. It’s hard to forget the catchy choruses and hooks of songs like Stitches and Mercy.

Stormzy (Main Stage)– Stormzy played the event last year and was undoubtebly one of the most talked about acts of the event, along with fellow grime artist Skepta. As grime continues to make waves in the music world, it’s especially significant that artists like Stormzy are getting the chance to dazzle such mainstream audiences on hugely accessible platforms. He will no doubt be talked about a lot this year again.

The Chainsmokers (Main Stage)- They’ve come along way since the “lemme take a selfie” days back in the Flappy Bird days of early 2014 (a time best forgotten). They’re responsible for some of the biggest collaborations of the last year, including ‘Something Just Like This’ with last year’s headliner Coldplay, which was debuted at the Brit Awards this year.

Royal Blood (Where it Begins headliner)– ¬†Royal Blood are back with the first new music since their phenomenal self-titled album was released in 2014. Again, their music is probably something you’d recognise, even if you didn’t know they sung it. The Brighton duo are already huge and this set is set to be very special and I, for one, can’t wait.

Alt J (Where it Begins)– Alt-J’s incredibly atmospheric, ambient music is coming for Hull on Sunday afternoon. It’ll be great to finally hear songs such as ‘3WW’ and ‘Cold Blood’ played live, nestled between the songs that made they the band they are today. Here’s praying for Ellie Rowsell from Wolf Alice to join them for 3WW.

Christine and the Queens (Where it Begins)– I’m told she’s unmissable. 2016’s Chaleur Humaine¬†was one of 2016’s big albums and her dancing is something to behold. The French performer’s incredible stage presence and brilliant songs are set to make this set something to remember.

Twin Atlantic (Where it Begins)– Twin Atlantic are undoubtedly one of the greatest bands that I’ve ever seen live (and the most down to earth, lovely band that I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet). The Scottish band are Sunday’s answer to the magnificent Biffy Clryo and they’re set to tear the Where it Begins stage up with huge rock riffs and loud lyrics. They’re something else live. It’ll be great hearing songs from their latest album, GLA, live, finally.

Circa Waves (Where it Begins)– Circa Waves are another great indie-rock band. Their sun-kissed sounding, glorious first album,¬†Young Chasers,¬†could soundtrack the perfect sunny Sunday, whilst their brilliant latest album- Different Creatures– brings a slightly heavier vibe. Here’s hoping for ‘T-Shirt Weather’.

Blossoms (Where it Begins)– No festival would be complete without Stockport’s finest export Blossoms. Blossoms bring their continuing tour to Hull to play songs from their debut album, Blossoms, as well as songs from its extended edition, which was released late last year. The band played a triumphant set as a returning guest on the BBC Introducing stage last year, which was brilliant, so this is set to be a treat.

Pale Waves (BBC Introducing)– ¬†Pale Waves are label mates with the likes of Wolf Alice and The 1975. Their new music is The 1975 produced, too. What more could ¬†you want? They’re about to hit the big time, so catch them playing intimate stages whilst you can!

The Big Moon (BBC Introducing)– The Big Moon return to the BBC Introducing Stage after the release of their debut album, Love in the 4th Dimension, which was released earlier this year. The band have been championed by Huw Stephens for years.

Of course, there’s so many other huge artists playing across the weekend who I haven’t named here- including Anne-Marie and Mura Masa- but these are my picks. You can check out the whole line up on the BBC Radio 1 website (https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/eppp6q) and it’s useful for more information if you’re going. You can keep up with the event via their Facebook page or via Twitter (@BBCR1). Below I have linked their own playlist of artists playing across the weekend for you to get hyped about, or pretend you’re there to, if you’re not going.

If you’re going I hope you have a great weekend and have a brilliant time. Let’s hope the summery weather holds like last year!

 

 

 

 

 

BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend Hull Recommendations 2017

FEBRUARY 2017 WHAT I’M LISTENING TO

February saw the continued festival announcements and there were plenty to keep you busy. With announcements from festivals, such as Victorious Festival (Friday 25th, Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th August, Portsmouth, headlined by Madness, Stereophonics and Elbow, with the likes of Slaves, Jake Bugg and Sundara Karma announced so far), Parklife Festival (10th and 11th June, Manchester, headlined by The 1975 and Frank Ocean, with artists like George Ezra and Two Door Cinema Club also announced to play), Festival No. 6 (September 7th- 10th, Portmeirion, headlined by Bloc Party, Mogwai and The Flaming Lips, with artists like Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, Kate Tempest and Charlotte Church announced to play)¬†and Boardmasters (August 9th-13th, Cornwall, headlined by Two Door Cinema Club, Jamiroquai and Alt-J, with artists like The Vaccines, Kate Nash and Frank Turner recently added) just a few of the month’s announcements.

Now sold out Truck Festival unveiled their 20th anniversary celebration lineup, which announced The Libertines, The Vaccines and Franz Ferdinand¬†to headline. The festival takes place from 21st- 23rd July and is set to play host to a whole host of brilliant artists, such as The Wombats, Sundara Karma, VANT and Twin Atlantic. Clearly, it’s the place to be this summer for up and coming artists.

Glastonbury have announced the Foo Fighters as their Saturday night headliners, which has been highly anticipated. The band were due to headline in 2015, but pulled out¬†as lead singer Dave Ghrol suffered a leg injury before the event (they were, however, replaced by the phenomenal Florence and the Machine). The band announced their prestigious headline slot by playing a secret set in Frome, Somerset. Tickets were sent out exclusively to fans via boarding passes. Their headline set is set to be a spectacle and I can’t wait.

The line-up for Community Festival was released in February and it looks insane. Community Festival is a day festival held at London’s Finsbury Park on July 1st, which, boasted by its website, is a “one day celebration of the best in new music”. The event is headlined by Catfish and the Bottlemen, with artists like The Wombats, Slaves, Nothing But Thieves, The Hunna and Fickle Friends announced to play the ¬£40 festival- a bargain!

Bestival has announced that they’re having a change of site in 2017. The festival is moving from the Isle of Wight to Dorset! The festival is being played in September by artists such as The XX and Jamie T.

Imagine Dragons have teased the follow up to 2015’s Smoke and Mirrors,¬†with new single “Believer”. It remains in a similar vein to their old material. It’s got their iconic heavy use of drum, catchy lyrics that warrant area/festival crowds chanting and it’s no doubt a brilliant comeback from the Las Vegas band.

The Amazons released their new single ‘Black Magic’ in anticipation from their debut album release, which is due this year. It’s a huge, guitar laced track and hopefully an indicator of what’s to come- it’s brilliant. The Amazons are destined to be huge. They’ve recently toured Europe with You Me At Six and set out on UK tour in April.

All Time Low are set to release a new album, the first since 2015’s Future Hearts, called Last Young Renegade. It’s the first album they’ll have released on their new record label, Fueled By Ramen, who support huge artists like Paramore and Panic! At The Disco. ¬†The band have released the lead single from the record, entitled Dirty Laundry, ahead of their UK tour next month.

18-year-old indie-rock master Declan McKenna released his latest single- ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’- this month. It’s a brilliant song, which you won’t be able to get out of your head. Declan McKenna keeps bringing out absolute bangers, and this one is no different. McKenna speaks for a lot of young people and, with bands like VANT, are hugely necessary in today’s world. The lyrics, again, are politically laced and set off by an chilled out indie-rock tune. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

The dreamy Will Joseph Cook has announced details of his debut album, Sweet Dreamer, which is due to be released on April 14th this year, on Atlantic Records. The 12 track album features the singles ‘Take Me Dancing’, title track ‘Sweet Dreamer’ and ‘Girls Like Me’. It’s set to be huge.

From one debut album announcement to another… Clean Cut kid are finally releasing their debut album! The album is called FELT¬†and is due for release on the 28th April. The album will feature all their previous hits (I hope) and is set to be a success (they deserve it). The band are off on a UK tour in April/May and are set to support The Kooks with Fickle Friends on their May UK tour, which features a sold out night at Alexandra Palace.

The 1975 released a charity single, in support of children’s charity War Child,¬†ahead of their charity concert in London, for Brits week. The song ‘By Your Side’- a cover version of a song by Sade- is a slight change of direction from the band, yet it’s exciting to hear new music from the Manchester band.

This year’s Grammy awards took place and saw records taken home by the likes of Beyonc√©, Twenty One Pilots, Chance the Rapper and The Chainsmokers. Adele won plenty of awards (obviously) and took away the prestigious ‘record of the year’ award, beating Beyonc√©’s Formation.¬†Adele did, however, snap her award in half giving half to Beyonc√©. Standard.

This year’s Brit Awards took place at The O2 Arena, London. The awards ceremony saw performances from The 1975, Emeli Sande, Ed Sheeran (with special guest Stormzy), Little Mix and Katy Perry (with dancing houses and giant Trump/May puppets, no less) amongst others. Awards were won by the likes of Bowie, Emeli¬†Sande and Little Mix. The 1975 won ‘Best Group’, which was very exciting, and Blossoms were beaten by Critic’s Choice Award winner Rag ‘N’ Bone Man to the prestigious ‘Best British Breakthrough Artist’ award. Robbie Williams was honoured at the ceremony and celebrated with a shocking, yet memorable performances.

Next month I look forward to seeing Blossoms and Circa Waves, as well as Circa Waves’s new album.

This month I have been obsessed with Blaenavon’s ‘Orthodox Man’ because it’s absolutely brilliant (a real masterpiece). The playlist also features Ed Sheeran, Pulp, the Happy Mondays and King No-One.

FEBRUARY 2017 WHAT I’M LISTENING TO

Reading Festival 2016 Review

Reading festival 2016 took place from the 26th-29th August 2016. If you’ve not been to Reading before, Reading festival is a festival twinned with Leeds Festival ¬†(in… well… Leeds) and they share the same star-studded line up.¬†Reading and Leeds festival are festivals commonly associated young people, many of whom will have picked up their GCSE results the day before the music kicked off. This being said, there are still many people of all ages there (and I’m still not convinced people don’t bring their kids just to pick up used cups for a bit of cash), especially on the days where they pull in big classic headliners, this year’s being Red Hot Chilli Peppers and 2015’s being Metallica. This was my third Reading festival, but my first time camping and with my friends.

Whilst this year’s line up may have been sightly lack lustre and some of it seemed a bit odd to me, the weekend didn’t fail to impress, as always. The festival was headlined, or rather co-headlined, by Disclosure and Foals (Friday), Red Hot Chilli Peppers (Saturday) and Fall Out Boy and Biffy Clyro (Sunday). Other artists across the weekend included The 1975, Imagine Dragons, Jack Garratt and Blossoms.

Friday 26th August

The Wholls played their debut Reading Festival set on the BBC Introducing Stage early on Friday afternoon. The Bedford band “rolled out”, if you pardon the pun, to a large, inquisitive crowd, all eager and hungry for new music, under the beaming sun. The band played a short set, but attracted a large crowd. They played many a guitar laced rock song, including “Angry Faces” and the huge “X21”. I’ve been following the band for a while now and can’t believe they’re not bigger! With a true rockstar finish, a guitar was handed out into the crowd along with a few t-shirts. Keep tabs on The Wholls; they’ve not even started yet, but they’re about to grab your attention.

Manchester’s latest rising stars The Sherlocks once again dazzled a large Festival Republic Stage crowd. Following the success of last year and promising what was going to be a “special” show for the band, The Sherlocks played an energetic, optimistic set which proved their exciting future. The band played songs such as “Escapade” and “Live For The Moment” whilst fans sang, bounced and danced along. This set was special, as with their 2015 set, and will go on to define and shape their bright futures. The Sherlocks are a band not to be missed- and they’re currently on their UK tour, too.

Chvrches returned to Reading and Leeds following a triumphant set on the NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage in 2014, but this time they played on the main stage. Any band who dedicates a song to Harambe (“RIP Harambe”, Martin Doherty announced before playing “Under The Tide”) deserves a mention if I’m honest. The band played a significant set, which could see them progress to headliner status in no time. The band played a crowd pleasing selection of songs, new and old, from their two albums (2015’s “Every Open Eye” and 2013’s “The Bones of What You Believe”). The distinct lack of collaborator Hayley Williams on “Bury It” was not to be looked down on as the band managed to pull of an ambitious set in front and seemed the perfect transition into co-headliner Disclosure’s set.

I used to have a love/hate relationship with Twenty One Pilots, but after their Reading Festival set they have well and truly won me over. Throughout the day everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) had been gushing over how brilliant Twenty One Pilots are and how good they’d be later on in the day (many people came solely to see them). I must admit, I was originally skeptical. The tent was overflowing with fans who couldn’t squeeze themselves in and I ended up watching most of it from the screen outside of the NME/BBC Radio 1 tent as there was no way I could fit inside. The set was nothing but captivating. For starters, I’ve never seen a man with a drum kit crowd surfing, nor have I ever seen someone finish a show (albeit abruptly… there’s a lot of conspiracy about what happened when Josh (drummer) crowd surfed during the show) on top of a huge pole thing and I’ve only once before (A Day To Remember 2014, incidentally at Reading Festival too) seen someone sing whilst “zorbing”, too… It was genuinely fascinating to watch and they had a¬†non-pretentious showmanship about them. The band played a hit filled set, which was filled from songs from their two albums (2015’s “Blurry Face” and 2013’s “Vessel”). They played songs, such as “Heathens”, “Car Radio” and “Stressed Out” (although many did leave after they played Stressed Out). ¬†Given a few years and seeing their popularity rocket, I wouldn’t be surprised if Twenty One Pilots were headlining in the future, but for now you can catch them play two huge shows at London’s Alexandra Palace later on in the year.

The main stage was closed by Oxford math rockers Foals. The band played a huge headline set which proved the band’s headliner status. Foals are a band who deserve all the success they get; they put on good, entertaining shows, play catchy up beat songs and are so easy to listen to that anyone could listen and enjoy. The band played many songs from their vast back catalogue, but, again, the highlight of their set was “My Number”. The set was not without its long deep-cut songs, such as “Knife in the Ocean”, and it’s old classic. The band reminisced with “Cassius” from their first album, “Antidotes”, which they haven’t played for a number of years, during the encore. The encore was short and consisted of recent hit “What Went Down”, “Cassius” and, as always, “Two Steps, Twice”, where the band were joined by co-headliner Disclosure. It was a pretty special set. I’ve been so excited to see Foals conquer the main stage at Reading as it’s time we found the next generation of headliners.

Saturday 27th August

Reading’s own Sundara Karma opened up the Reading Festival main stage on Saturday morning, a huge leap from their Sunday morning Festival Republic Stage set last year. Sundara Karma are a band full of huge potential and a band I’ve loved for a good year now, so I’d been very excited about seeing the band play again. Prior to the show temporary Sundara Karma logo tattoos were handed out to fans at the front and many were seen dotted about across the day. The crowd were enthusiastic, despite the rain and early morning start, and many mosh pits were formed throughout (whether or not you can mosh to Sundara Karma is debatable, but everyone was enjoying themselves so). The band played a selection of new songs from their upcoming debut album, including new single “She Said”, as well as previously released hits, such as “Flame”, “Loveblood” and “Indigo Puff”. The band are due to release their debut album, “Youth is Only Fun in Retrospect”, in January.

Rag ‘N’ Bone Man is another of the George Ezra kind- what you hear and what you see is not what you first imagined, but it’s better than you could ever have guessed. My mum called me down to ask me who sang a theme tune song off of a programme not so long ago and it happened to be Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, so I felt I had to go and give him a watch. His voice is powerful and booming. It’s distinctive and unique, in a good way. I love the way he sings and how success close he is to success. The highlight of the set for me, though, was “Humans”, a song you should definitely have a listen to, if you haven’t done already. ¬†“Hell yeah!” he managed to get the crowd to yell and “hell yeah” the set was good.

Ahhhh Blossoms, what would a 2016 festival be without them? It was a big weekend for Blossoms. The band played a brilliant little set on the BBC Introducing stage on Friday afternoon and I met them on the Saturday morning in the BBC Radio 1 signing tent and they managed to pull of a faultless Saturday afternoon set on the large NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage, a huge step up from the BBC Introducing stage they played last year. The band played a set full of songs off of their UK Number 1 debut album, “Blossoms”, including “Honey Sweet”, “Blow” and “Blown Rose”. Tom Ogden (lead singer) played a solo acoustic version of the stripped back “My Favourite Room” and dedicated it to a dumped fan and her ex-boyfriend in the crowd. He was engaging, sweet and comical. The band dedicated their, arguably largest, hit “Charlemagne” to their close friends and tour mates Viola Beach and their manager Craig Tarry, who were tragically killed in a car accident earlier this year. The band managed to get everyone to sit down before Charlemagne and jump up after the tune kicked in. Blossoms are on their way to something big, like a huge main stage performance, so keep a look out for the Stockport lads- they’re everywhere.

The Courteeners¬†played a hit filled set under a ¬†sea of colourful smoke flare mist on Saturday afternoon, on the main stage. The band sang songs off of their upcoming album, “Mapping The Rendezvous”, including the first released song from the album, “The 17th”. The set was energetic and engaged with the eager fans, many of whom had been anticipating their performance (judging by the many, many fans with Fallowfield Hillbilly shirts about- “Can you play guitar, my boy? Can you fuck?”). The band played songs from their large four album back catalogue (excluding the latest, unreleased album), including the incredible “Not Nineteen Forever”, which was easily the highlight of my weekend. It’s a song which I love so much, and so did most of the crowd, and the song that got me in to the Courteeners and so it was a pleasure to have caught it! The band are playing on a UK tour in November, in support of “Mapping The Rendezvous”, which is out on October 21st.

I saw Vegas rockers Imagine Dragons at Reading Festival in 2014 and swore down it was one of the most fascinating and captivating performances I’ve ever seen in my life. They had drums, beaming sun and an adored selection of songs from their debut album, “Night Visions”. The same, err, couldn’t be said for their performance at the O2 in November last year, which was easily the most dire thing I’d ever seen (and not because of the band, who were still brilliant). I don’t know why, but Imagine Dragons are a band who just work¬†on festival stages, with the outdoor setting only complementing them. They thrive on the energy and enthusiasm of youth and manage to pull off incredible, fascinating performances consistently. The band played for the festival in the UK as a one off, in support of last year’s album, “Smoke and Mirrors”. The band managed to intertwine hits off of both albums to create a set to please fans both new and old. With a cover of Blur’s “Song 2”, Dan Reynolds (lead singer) singing from within the crowd and a lengthy guitar solo from lead guitarist Wayne Sermon (whose real name is Daniel… The third Daniel in the band), the band ended with a stunning performance of, arguably their biggest hit, “Radioactive”. The song was laced with booming drums and a chorus of people singing along to a song that many love a lot. ¬†Whilst it didn’t top their 2014 performance for me, they sure played a memorable set which was loved and enjoyed by all in attendance.

Two Door Cinema Club are back. The band are due to release a new album, “Gameshow”, in October and played Reading and Leeds in anticipation of its release. The set follows a summer of festivals, including Glastonbury earlier in the year. The set was built around the band’s popular back catalogue, with huge hits, like “Something Good Can Work” (a song which holds many memories for me of being about 12 and shopping in Hollister), “Sun”, “We Can Talk” and “Undercover Martyn”, being played. The set was impressive and had interesting visuals on screens behind the band. It was amazing hearing some of their big songs played, but it was also good to hear songs off of their new album, including the brilliant “Bad Decisions” and latest single “Are We Ready? (Wreck)”. Their NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage headline set proved the bands popularity and potential and I’m sure they’ll be back to play the main stage once again soon.

Sunday 28th August

Spring king played a raucous set on the NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage on the Sunday afternoon. The band played songs from their debut album, “Tell Me If You Like To”. I love their live set up. For a starter, the lead singer,¬†Tarek Musa, is also the drummer, which I find fascinating. The set was energetic and wild and the tent was packed out (and not because it was raining outside). The Manchester lads played songs such as “The Summer” and “Detroit”. They managed to get the crowd to sing “who are you?” along to the song of the same name and then ended the set with the popular “Rectifier”, which was met with applause. The band’s set cemented their place at the festival and welcomed them onto the larger stage, having played the Festival Republic stage last year.

Again, what would a festival be without Rat Boy? Jordan Cardy and his band mates pop up everywhere! The band played many a song off of multiple mix tapes and in the light of their future debut album, “Scum”, which is, hopefully, to be released early next year. The set was wild, hot and sweaty. The band, all bar Cardy himself, came on in masks of themselves, as seen on their Spring/Summer 2016 tour, along with a person dressed in a red boiler suit and a Rat Boy logo (I suppose)/Cardy creation yellow mask, who ran up and down the front of the stage and into the crowd multiple times in the set, like their own personal hype man. The set was full of crowd surfing, mosh pits, set climbing (and subsequent hand cutting) and jumping. The band played songs such as “Left 4 Dead”, “Fake ID” and “Sign On”, as well as their latest, recently released single, “Get Over It”. Rat Boy never fails to impress crowds with his antics- he even got the crowd to sit down (which they “did at Boardmasters”) and jump up at one point. I think they’ll keep going and going and I anticipate seeing them slay the 2017 festival scene once again.

Everyone loves The Vaccines, or so it seems every time I see them play live. Everyone knows The Vaccines; they’re pioneers of songs you know but can’t place just how and have been around for what feels like forever, or at least that’s what they mean for me. Their Main Stage set was busy, full of sing-a-long classics and thrilling from start to finish (although you wouldn’t have thought Justin Young (lead singer) thought so). They’re a band who can put together killer set lists and please fans of all ages. The band played songs from each of their three albums, including “Post Break-Up Sex”, “Teenage Icon” and “Melody Calling”. The highlight of the set was seeing so many people, old and young, dancing to “If You Wanna” at the end of the set, along with “Norgaard”. Easily one of the best acts of the weekend.

The Wombats¬†are another band that you probably just know and don’t know how. They constantly create relatable songs filled with teenage heart ache, jaded youth and clumsy tales. ¬†They’re, again, a band who hold a special place in my heart as they were one of the first “indie” bands I really got in to. In a weird turn of events, I managed to watch the set by myself and I can’t stress how amazing the experience was (watching one of your favourite bands by yourself and singing and dancing as recklessly as imaginable with no fear of real judgement is incredible). The band played songs from each of their three albums and played to a packed tent- a step up from last years very sweaty Festival Republic Stage headline set. The band played songs such as “Give Me A Try”, “Moving To New York” and “Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves)”. “Jesus… and the Mary Chain” muttered the band as they realised the scale of which they were playing and how “insane” it was. The band closed with “Let’s Dance To Joy Division”, a song which holds many memories to many people. I can’t wait for The Wombats to be back properly again. I miss The Wombats.

The 1975¬†have been building up to their Reading and Leeds sets for a good while now. The band have played many festivals this summer and promised their Reading and Leeds sets would be something special, and they were. Matty Healy (lead singer) was sounding the best I had seen for a while and sang often with cigarette in hand, obviously. I can’t help but love and be fascinated by Healy every time I see him. ¬†The first time I saw The 1975 play was at Reading Festival in 2014, where I was converted to being a fan of the band. The set was boozy, but something else. It was the last thing I properly saw at Reading Festival in 2014 and, incidentally, the last thing I saw at Reading Festival in 2016… Headlining the festival in 2018? It wouldn’t surprise me. The band played in front of their stunning visuals, which they’ve toured with for nearly a year, and back with their drummer, George Daniel, again. They played songs from their debut album, “The 1975”, and their latest album, “I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It”. The band played songs such as “Loving Someone”, where Healy even spoke the spoken word part in the middle, “Sex” and “The Sound”, where everyone had to jump on the count of four. “We’re going to go away and make another record and then come back and headline this whole thing” Healy promised fans, whether or not they will only time will tell, but for now their stunning NME/BBC Radio 1 set was enough to keep them remembered and treasured by fans. I look forward to seeing them play a sold out show at London’s O2 Arena in December.

Overall, Reading Festival 2016 was, once again, a huge success. With secret sets from You Me At Six, incredible performances on the BBC Introducing Stage and huge headline sets across all stages, I look forward to what Reading 2017 might entail. I can’t wait! I might, in the future, make a blog post about what I think festival season 2017 might look like.

 

 

 

Reading Festival 2016 Review

Imagine Dragons- O2 Arena, 05/11/2015

On the 5th November 2015, Imagine Dragons played the O2 arena (for a second sold out night) and were supported by British/Aussie band “Sunset Sons”. It was a show from the British leg of the “Smoke + Mirrors” tour. They played a mixture of songs from their latest album “Smoke + Mirrors” as well as hits from their first album “Night Visions”.

I’ve seen Imagine Dragons once before, at Reading Festival in 2014, and I thought they were absolutely incredible. Everything from the vocals to their instrument playing and stage presence was totally encapsulating and engaging- This was the main reason for wanting to see them again. My mum’s a huge fan and wanted to see them too so I went with her to the concert at the O2 arena. I’m usually quite skeptical about large arenas and wasn’t sure what to expect from a band who I’d previously associated with large outdoors stages with the sun beaming down and crowds full of booze filled teens.

Sunset Sons were amazing. I’ve seen them a few times and they keep getting better and better- They’re definitely ones to watch (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again). Their sun laced indie rock tunes warmed up the crowd well- despite everyone around me sitting on their phones for the whole entirety of the act.

Imagine Dragons opened with “Shots” from their latest album. The audience weren’t very enthusiastic about this, bar a few. However, Dan Reynold’s (lead singer) impeccable vocals cannot be criticised. If you’re into bands who sound exactly like they do on their records in concerts then they’re for you. They played, along with “Shots”, many songs from “Smoke + Mirrors” including “I’m So Sorry”, “Polaroid” and “I Bet My Life”. The audience were mostly unfamiliar with these songs though which I thought was quite disappointing.

They also played songs from 2012’s “Night Visions”. The reception of these songs were overall more positive as the audience seemed to know these a bit better than the newer material. They played songs like “It’s Time”, “Demons” and, of course, “Radioactive”. They also played “On Top Of The World” whereby Reynolds jumped from the stage and walked down the front and sides of the crowd before climbing up the stairs and into the seated crowd. I thought this was incredible and fascinating to watch (although I presume it’s security’s worst nightmare). He managed to sing the whole way through doing this and then jump back onto the stage after.

Intertwined within the band’s set there were incredible instrumentals from drummer, Daniel Platzman, and guitarist, Daniel Wayne Sermon. Their skilled instrument playing was mesmerising to watch and listen to and I enjoyed this bit a lot.

The band closed the main set with “Radioactive”, an obvious choice due to it’s radio success. They played the song with an array of drums which made it spectacular to watch and also visually exciting. I enjoyed this part the most. I love how drum sticks were flying everywhere and the sheer amount of percussion which went into the song, making it unique (something you can’t quite appreciate on the CD or radio). However, many people left after this.

They played a one song encore of “The Fall”. Admittedly I was unfamiliar with the song, but the band played to falling confetti, aptly autumnal colours and shaped like leaves (hence “The Fall”), and roars of audience applause from those who had not yet left.

However (and this spoiled an otherwise amazing¬†evening for me) the audience were dire. I don’t usually have a problem with audiences, and I tend to think each to their own especially where music is involved, but this one was exceptionally awful to the point where I felt embarrassed for the band (although I doubt they could actually see) and it seemed awkward. The audience were composed of mainly families and people of all ages- Brilliant, I initially thought (I love the idea of everyone enjoying music collectively no matter of age). ¬†I was mostly confused by people with binoculars though (I’ve not seen this at a “pop/rock” concert before) and those who stared at their phones the entire way through. I was the only person (sadly and very, very literally) standing in the seated area for at least the first three songs and when the hits, like Demons, were played, that everyone knew, many would stand up and proceed to watch it through their phone screens whilst recording it- I’m all for the odd photo here and there but it got to the point where this was actually quite sad- and then after the song everyone proceeded to sit down again (those behind us actually moved). Even the standing audience looked mostly lifeless with the exception of the first few rows dancing and a group of (failing) moshers. The worst part being that everyone upped and left after Radioactive and those who stood up when Reynolds got into the crowd on the off chance he’d come over. I felt the reception was so cold from a band who radiated nothing by warmth through their songs and presence.

I’ve never noticed the tragic demise of music culture in this way before. Maybe it’s my lack of understanding of “pop” concert etiquette or maybe it’s the modern music revolution. To me it was the the epitome of pop culture- iPhones, iPads and observation of live music without becoming too involved. In saying this, merch seemed to fly off the counter- as though it was a prize for being there whilst everyone updates their Facebook status’ with pictures of the concert. It exemplified what “radio bands” are and how many seem to feed off of the few songs they’ve actually heard without delving deeper into an artists work.

I was obviously at the wrong concert. It left me feeling confused and let down by concert goers. However, the band themselves were, again (and I can’t stress enough), fantastic and extremely exciting in what they do- and I got an amazing view being the only one stood up looking over everyone’s heads.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Imagine Dragons- O2 Arena, 05/11/2015