I’m struggling to form too much of an opinion on this year’s line-up because it’s just so, well, shrug-inducing. I usually get ridiculously excited over the Reading line up; as soon as it’s announced and I’ve got my ticket I make the first draft timetable of who I’ll be seeing, I make the poster my desktop background, I make Spotify playlists of all the bands playing each stage and generally don’t shut up about it until August. It’s actually pretty sad. This year though, I’m not even sure I’ll bother with a day ticket, partially due to how expensive it’s gotten, but mainly due to the lacklustre line-up.
There are some good aspects; I think Festival Republic have done a great job this year of balancing the main stage headliners by having an older, legendary band, a younger, contemporary band and a crowd-pleasing band of Reading veterans sitting comfortably alongside each other. They’ve also booked well for the NME headliners. While The Maccabees aren’t exactly a heart-poundingly exciting addition, they’ve earned this slot over the last few years and will no doubt bring a decent sized crowd to the tent up against The Cure. Justice are an inspired choice for the Sunday night, providing a great end-of-the-festival alternative to Foo Fighters. The best booking though has to be At The Drive In, not only for having the sense to put them in the tent over the main stage, but also selecting The Cribs to come on just before them. The thought of being able to see those two bands in a row without having to move anywhere is what makes my hand flicker towards my debit card every time I see the poster.
However, although the headliners are good, the undercard is full of boring, boring repeats. Apart from The Black Keys I’m not sure there’s a band on the main stage who haven’t played the festival already in recent years. Despite some good bands like Blood Red Shoes and Pulled Apart by Horses, there are some serious questions that need to be asked, like “Who thought it would be a good idea to put Crystal Castles outside in the mid-afternoon?” “Why are You Me At Six in the same slot Deftones were in last year?” and, most importantly, “Why do the Kaiser Chiefs still exist?”
Then, of course, there’s Paramore, who I’m sure will be the name coming from everyone’s furious lips when they talk about this years line-up. Now I do secretly like Paramore a little bit (or love them unconditionally depending on how honest I’m being) but even I have to question what they’re doing in the sub-headline slot AGAIN. Last time it was acceptable because they hadn’t played the festival for a few years and were well matched with Blink-182, but this time not only are they a repeat, but they’re coming on before THE CURE. They really will have to step up their game if they don’t want to be shown up.
On the whole the line-up seems a bit of an anticlimax to what has been a fun few months trying to guess who will feature on that yellow poster. The question remains: will I be swayed to buy a ticket? Only the lock-up announcement will tell.