After months of anticipation, fake posters, promises of greatness, and just out right hype, the Reading Festival line-up reared it’s head into out lives at 7:15 today. At the risk of sounding like overly negative, the line-up is relatively poor.
For starters The Vaccines and Bombay Bicycle Club are playing at least one slot higher than they should be (maybe 2), I realise they are big indie bands, but is there really a need for that? I guess this is a running theme (The Enemy in ’08, Maxiimo Park ’09, The National ’10 etc) but it’s a habit that needs to be stamped out soon.
The most glaringly negative addition to the lineup however, is Paramore. In a year where legends have reunited (Garbage, Soundgarden, New Order), and up and coming bands have broken through, do we need to see Paramore come so soon after failing so miserably last time? That might sound too harsh, because they did attract a big crowd, but from a consumer point of view that booking is the height of laziness. However, I don’t want to dwell on the negative so here are some positives.
The Cure are finally headlining Reading Festival. Two major icons in British music coming together for the first time in 33 years. This will be very special moment for all involved. The other two mainstage headliners are also incredibly strong, good on that front. The inclusion of The Black Keys and Florence & The Machine make for very strong subs. Some risky, but ultimately appealing main-stage bookings in Crystal Castles and Odd Future. The prior I’m sure everyone is hoping for a Robert Smith appearance for ‘Not In Love’. The latter should be utter carnage. It’s also great to see festival favourites like Kaiser Chiefs, Eagles Of Death Metal, Billy Talent, Metronomy etc. Plus 3 very strong and varied NME headliners, should make it easy for everyone to find something they like on each evening.
But other than that? What is there? The most odd thing about this lineup is the apparent thrift within the booking department of Festival Republic. So many bands are missing that should be there, but instead we are lumbered with a host of of-the-minute indie, and lame pop-punk. Rancid, after an 11 year abstinence from Reading, should be there. Public Enemy, who headlined the festival 20 years ago this year, should be there. Refused? NoFX? Jack White?
I realise this is very early doors, but it’s doubtful any of these bands could slot anywhere else (maybe one or two on lock-up?). Which, to me at least, just seems like no effort, or thought has gone in to this lineup. I will suggest the lack of lock-up headliners does probably suggest an inability to announce a certain act, so i’m still hoping for Refused….
To be honest, the good gesture of a free beer and pint now seems more akin to bribery. As good as free food is, festivals have the prefix ’music’ for a reason. Which is odd, because Reading seem to have put so little effort into the ‘music’ side of things that it’s hard to imagine this being a ‘sell-out’ year. Which is such a shame as the marketing and hype surrounding this years festival has been top-notch, but at the most vital hour people are left with a disappointed knot in their stomach.
I do feel the good very slightly out-weighs the bad… but at the end of the day does it warrant a price hoick sending tickets upwards of £200, I think not. And a free Beer and Burger won’t change that.