News & Features 29 Aug, 2014

Reading & Leeds 2014

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The annual mass celebration of exam results has come and gone for another year.  Now seeing as my GCSE results are a distant memory (Some As, mostly Bs and a C, thanks for asking) I'm there more to see as much music as possible and less to slide around in mud wearing a zebra onsie at 3am.  Although that looked pretty fun too.  Here's everything I caught over the weekend.


We kicked things off with Candian punks The Flatliners in the Lock Up Stage, they used to be a ska band but now play gruff punk that owes debts to Hot Water Music and Off With Their Heads.  Killer choruses and really, really high up cymbals got things started.  Ran over to the NME/Radio1 tent to see the rest of rapper Schoolboy Q's set and caught the last 10 minutes or so including the right banger Collard Greens to which the crowd rightly went off.   Had a bit of time to kill before The Horrors so walked to the main stage and saw a big chunk of the site congregate for You Me At Six to lead one of the bigger sing-a-longs for the weekend so far.  

Back to the NME/Radio1 tent for The Horrors and it was good to see some lasers, smoke machines being turned on for way too long and blokes getting away with bowl cuts.  The Horrors have matured perfectly into a band taking influences from 60's pysche and 90's shoegaze, moulding them into something very current.  Dead loud too.  

Had to duck out of the end of their set to secure a decent spot in the 1xtra tent for the double whammy of Danny Brown and Joey Bada$$, two American rappers who are at the top of their game right now and both offering different ends of the spectrum as to what rap can offer in 2014.  Danny Brown is completely insane and started what was one of the most intense pits of the weekend lasting his entire set.  It was chaos and it was brilliant.  Joey Bada$$ proved he deserved the headline spot though with an assured set referencing classic hip-hop such as De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and Wu Tang Clan so much so a medley of classic hip-hop breaks was the centre-piece to a stunning set.  Go see him tour !  Seriously!  

But wait!  There's more!  Whilst we were checking that out, everyone else was over watching Blink 182 do their thing and seeing as we were there it'd be rude not to get a bit of a pop-punk hit.  The only problem being that they clashed with Disclosure, so we snuck a few songs in from the top of the hill, enough to know that yes, Travis Barker is a serious machine behind the drums and they still tell a lot of fart jokes.  

Then back to the NME/Radio1 tent to work through the biggest crowd of the weekend so far to be within earshot of Disclosure.  This pair are huge.  You know you have earned headline status when your songs are all you hear from the Ice Cream vans and burger stalls all weekend.  Nice work Disclosure.  


Had a unsuprisingly slow start on Saturday thanks to Frank Turner DJ'ing in the Alternative Stage tent until 2am..or was it 3am.. So we missed Muncie Girls and Red Fang but got to the NME/Radio1 tent in time to see American heir to the post-hardcore crown La Dispute play a flawless set that had me declaring them the new At The Drive-In to anyone who would listen (apologies to those that had to listen). Next up every discerning policticians favourite Drenge.  The Derbyshire two-piece filled up the tent nicely but we had to skip out to catch New Jersey punks The Front Bottoms lead a mass singalong in the Lock Up tent.  

Having followed the band for a few years from tiny club gigs to slightly bigger club gigs it's great to see a packed tent give them the reception they deserve.  We got our ears blasted with northern-scuzz thanks to Eagulls then headed back to the 1xtra stage for Lizzo and despite a small crowd the American rapper worked us all into a legit Lizzo Party.  Her track Batches & Cookies is top drawer - give it a listen.

 Brody Dalle up next and having been a casual fan all these years I didn't go in expecting to be blown away and was proved oh so very wrong.  Mixing tracks from her new solo album with classics from The Distillers back catalogue this proved to be one of those sets that you hope for.  You don't know any of the tracks yet every note is perfect and the band are capitivating from start to finish.  A winner.

So seeing as that went so well we headed over to see Brody's husband Josh give his band a go.  Helps that his band are Queens of The Stone Age.  With the LA rock came the UK rain and it was a bit of a slog working through the rain to Queens but thanks to star of the show, drummer John Theodore, it was a stunning main-stage set from the band.   They made drum solos cool again, not an easy task.  After that we checked out Netsky, I Am Legion and Giggs, all of whom gave the crowd what they wanted but after Queens I think I'd had my headliner for the night.  



Excellent work had been done on the site to avoid the mudbath that ensued after the downpour last year so that meant despite Saturday's bad weather the mud never really got out of hand.  Which was nice.  So on to Royal Blood in the NME/Radio1 tent for the start of the last day.  Mark it in your calendars, set off the fireworks, these guys are going to be a big deal over the next 12 months - with their new album out this week it's fairly obvious following the size of the crowd (massive) and their reception (rapturous) that the Brighton two-piece will be higher up on a lot of festival bills next Summer.

We sat around in the sun for a bit and caught Peace on the main stage deliver appropriate sitting around in the sun with a pint music then headed back to the Lock Up for Basement.  The British punk band hailing from Ipswitch took a break in 2012 and unexpectadly announced their return earlier this year.  The crowd on show has obviously been waiting for this as it was fairly bonkers from start to finish.  Lots of crowd surfing, lots of hands in the air, a guy climbing up a fence singing along taking selfies, lots of emotions on display, all that jazz.  A great band, no question.  

What better way to celebrate a run of great British talent than with the techno-horror-rap of South Africa's terrifying Die Antwoord. Don't know them?  Google them.  At home.  With the lights on and maybe with a nurse on hand. They had a tight 35 minutes to deliver and they didn't dissapoint.  Playing a hit heavy set that included at least 3 costume changes and frontman Ninja crowdsurfing for what felt like a really long time, whilst he screamed some of the rudest words you can scream over some really heavy techno.  Brilliant.  Totally brilliant.

Final act for me of the weekend was Pusha T on the 1xtra stage.  His Kanye West produced album 'My Name Is...' has been one the highlights of the past 12 months and the crowd responded appropriately.  Whilst the tent filled up with everyone going off I stood at the back and felt old, but trust me, it went off.  

So that was our Leeds 2014 we could do it all again and watch everyone we missed and no doubt have an equally great time.  Recreate your own Leeds & Reading Festival line up over the next few months at venues across the UK with this rundown of everyone on tour.

This year's acts on sale now:

Jake Bugg, The 1975The Horrors, You Me at Six & All Time Low, DZ Deathrays, Crossfaith, Courteeners, The Kooks, ChvrchesArchitects w/Every Time I Die, Basement, Gnarwolves, Temples, Neck Deep, Joey Bada$$, SBTRKTBombay Bicycle Club, Peace, MetronomyBill Bailey, The Story So Far, Tonight Alive, Sleeping With Sirens vs Pierce The Veil, Hacktivist, Pulled Apart By Horses, Dry The River, Maverick Sabre, Clean Bandit, Jungle, The Neighbourhood,  The Wytches, Warpaint, Twin Atlantic, Mallory Knox, Don Broco, Marmozets, Lonely The Brave, Klaxons, Baby Godzilla, Gogol Bordello, Augustines, Kwabs, The Sunshine Underground, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Sivu, Dolomite Minor, Lucius, Saint Raymond, Flyte, Carnabells,  The Orwells and more

For more photos, tweets and videos from the weekend head to our InstagramTwitter and Vine pages.

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