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NME Stage Guide

The ever expanding NME/Radio One stage is this years shining light. Offering up the widest variety of acts on any stage at this year’s festival. Extending a plentiful platter of the the biggest, the best, the future and the rest. This is the stage that can make and break the career of an upcoming artist/band. It has been the barer of such career defining/making sets from second stage alumni such as Muse, Elbow, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Dizzee Rascal and Florence & The Machine. Even this year’s powerhouse mainstage headliner Foo Fighters made their name in a packed second stage.

This is the stage that gives new bands the stepping stones to greatness, and gives established acts a place to do what they do best. Make sure you at least visit this stage on your musical travels on the bank holiday weekend, here’s what you might expect….

The Biggest:

The Maccabees

Headlining the stage on the Friday is one of South London’s finest, The Maccabees. Continuing their rise to superstardom with a top 5 album and sellout tour, this is the year The Maccabees have cemented themselves in the eyes of public as one of the greatest indie bands in the land. This being their 5th appearance at the festival, after slowly crept up the lineup. This should be a celebration of a band who have worked hard to establish themselves at R/L favorites. After 3 albums the band have grown from an above average indie band, to a band capable of delivering dark, evocative, beautiful and yet wholly accessible indie pop.

 At The Drive-In

This years huge reunion act is none other than post-hardcore icons At The Drive-In. A band who were a product of and defined by chaos, their live reputation is somewhat of a paradox. Perfection in pandemonium. Erratic and at times sloppy, their live shows were an exhilarating affair, especially with loose cannon Cedric at the helm. Releasing some of the most important albums in modern punk, and broke up before their recognition could be truly granted. 11 years later, they’re back to play only a handful of dates for this year only. Probably best defined by their infamous appearance on Jools Holland, they’re obviously not for everyone.But certainly the perfect antidote to Kasabian. This is their only UK festival appearance this year, so do not miss out.



Not a fan of overly nice stadium rock, cheeky-chap indie, or ska punk? Then why not spend the dying moments of your experience raving the weekend goodbye with french electroclash duo, Justice. Best known for their infectious ‘D.A.N.C.E’ track, as well as their ‘We Are Your Friends’ remix, the tent should be swelling and contorting under the full force of infectious grooves. The iconic Justice Cross will be ablaze with colour shining out over the last dying moments of Reading this year, I suggest you spend your last pocket of energy going out in style with glowstick in hand, and hands in the air.

 Foster The People

A more controversial booking this year after making a huge leap up the lineup after dwelling in the nether regions of the Festival Republic tent last year. But 2012 has been kind to Mark Foster and co, after a multi-date sell out at Brixton academy. A band who are steadily increasing their fan-base, and subbing the NME stage is perfect place for their catchy take on electro indie pop, and this is their platform to prove doubters wrong and make their stamp on Reading history. Could they be future headliners?

The Cribs

Former headliners and general Reading royalty are back this year after a small break from the festival. After parting ways with Indie legend Johnny Marr, their return was marked by another acclaimed top 10 album. Any fan of indie in it’s true from should cherish the fact that this band still exists. However, they’re going to have to be a little less ‘Hey Scenester’ and a little more punk rock of they’re looking to win over the lingering Mastodon fans and awaiting At The Drive-In army. Can they live up to challenge? Undoubtedly. Will they? Only one way to find out.

 Two Door Cinema Club

Fresh from headlining slot the NME Awards tour with Metronomy, Tribes and Azealia Banks, this is probably the safest of all the bookings on the stage this year. Which is no negative point. From relentless touring, stonking festival sets, and rotatory airplay, wherever Two Door have treaded they’ve charmed their way into musical psyche of a nation in rather fast fashion. They are effortlessly charming, catchy hooks, great pop songs, and lovely clean-cut appearance, it really is hard not to fall for their charm. If you want great indie fun just before Justice, then there are no more perfect band than this.

The Best:


After Sonisphere’s disappearance from our festival calenders this year Reading snapped up a new free agent to the Festival market. Sludge-metal outfit Mastodon have made waves in the metal community for being one of (if not the) most creative, unique, interesting and progressive metal acts around in modern times. No doubt tracks from the acclaim album The Hunter will decimate the tent.

The Horrors

Back one more Reading favourite The Horrors continue to rise up the ranks. Each chameleonic change of direction has lead the band into increasingly popular and acclaimed territory. From their phychobilly, garage rock revivalism, to their sophisticated shoe-gaze turn, and their current new wave tinged psychedelia. Known for mesmerizing live shows, The Horrors will undoubtedly deliver again.

Graham Coxon

Hot off the heels from headlining the Olympic gig at Londons Hyde Park with the legendary Blur. Graham Coxon is back on tour as a solo artist, exhibiting his much adored new album ‘A+E’. An icon in British music, and an this is going to be special.

Billy Talent

Hailing from Ontario, Canada, Billy Talent are no strangers to Reading. Often drifting between headlining the lock-up stage, or giving some punk credos to the main-stage. 2012 marks the first time Billy Talnet have graced the NME stage. Big enough to be a real spectacle, intimate enough to be an authentic punk rock show.


Forever etched into the annals of time as one of the best albums of last year, SBTRKT delivered something special in their debut. Headed by UK based producer Aaron Jerome, turn up to the NME stage for a break from the rock to sample some of the UKs best post-dubstep and electronic beats.

 Mark Lanegan Band

With a voice that could shatter the soul of Chuck Norris, the legendary Mark Lanegan returns to Reading and Leeds again this time to display his solo efforts. First performing at the Festival with Grunge legends Screaming Trees in the early 90′s, Lanegan has been a recuring booking for the festival ever since. His bluesy graveled vocals express a quarter century of cigarettes, whiskey and drug abuse. Hes an icon, a legend, and should not be missed. His euphoric new album ‘Blues Funeral’ suits the vast confines tent perfectly and should make for one of the sets of the weekend.

 The Hives

The Hives are back. A figurehead of the garage rock explosion of the early 00′s. They set the world of fire with their uniform dress codes, brazen attitude, classic pop tracks and a garage rock sound that harked back to the days of The Stooges. Its a shame to see them with such low billing, but they’re a dead cert for the ultimate hit filled festival set. If you like to be entertained or fun on any level, you’d be a fool to miss them.

 Future Of The Left

Angry, noisy, abrasive and welsh. The perfect start to your weekend. Their satirical lyrics are the perfect accompaniment to their pummeling aural assault. Battling against pretty much everything songs like ‘Sheena Is A T-Shirt Salesman’ and ‘Robocop 4:Fuck Off Robocop’ are the perfect examples of their witty, yet aggressive stance. You might even get a couple of McLusky tracks thrown in too.

The Future:

Dry The River

Debut album ‘Shallow Bed’ received universal positivity, which suggests Dry The River will be the next in line in the exploding indie-folk scene. Rumour has it their soaring folk aesthetics are even better in person, and they deliver a blisteringly good live performance. Could they be the future of UK based indie folk? Do you want them to be? If so show some support and make this the gig that starts it all for them.


An ‘Best New Band’ nomination at the NME awards, a top 20 album, and a place of the NME Awards show tour has ensured Tribes the foundations to make themselves one of the countries most popular indie bands.


After a stunningly disappointing debut album, Spector are very much reliant on their stellar live reputation to make their slot on the NME stage this year a success. Is an exuberant frontman enough to win over the crowd? 

Twin Atlantic

Scottish alt rock outfit Twin Atlantic have been steadily building steam in recent years. Their last album went in at number 12 in the charts so there is a definite fanbase awaiting their arrival during festival season. Will they capitalize on this?

Django Django

Arty, psychodelic and hugely acclaimed Django Django are making their first appearance at Reading. Their unique sounds has been mostly discovered upon first listen of the strikingly catchy ‘Default’. Once played it will stay with you for a very long time. Universal acclaim for the album should be taken advantage of this festival season to deliver sets just as unique, quirky, and endearing.  


Described last year as ‘the new Warpaint’, Friends take the airy psychedelia of Warpaint and come at it from the angles of RnB and disco (examples in tracks like Friend Crush). Expect big things from Friends in the future, they’ve been listed in several ‘Ones to watch’ lists including the BBC’s Sound Of 2012 list, so this is the perfect time for you say “I saw the before they were famous”. 


From across the pond, Howler display an Surf-Rock inspired indie that will be perfect for blisteringly hot day with a drink in hand. Their debut album received positive reviews across the board, turn up to see how they measure up live.

 Post War Glamour Girls

Winners of the annual Futuresound competition, Leeds natives are not only named after a John Cooper Clarke song, and display elements of Nick Cave in their music. They have a really unique sounds that I suggest every check out.  If they truly are the Futuresound, then I look forward to the future very much.

Of Monsters And Men

Authentic nordic folk from Iceland. Of Monsters And Men have a dazzling array of quant folk harmonies and layered instrumentation that conjure up visions of folk stories and fairy tales. A real discovery on this years lineup, if you’re up on Sunday I strongly recommend you see these before their popularity builds.

The Rest:

The Courteeners

The epitome of the North/South divide. The Courteeners play arenas in the north, and will no doubt pack out the tent at Leeds. But down south, they’ll struggle again to gather many who are interested.

Passion Pit

After canceling a slew of tour dates due to Michael Angelakos’ ongoing struggles with his mental health, this booking cold be seen as a risky booking. I hope he gets over his struggles, because Passion Pit have proven they’re more than capable of being a superb band.

Miike Snow

Vastly uninteresting on record, but have a genuine live appeal. Worth popping along if nothing else is on.

The Blackout: Reading regulars, they’ve done wanders is making themselves into a more credible act. This year is their chance to prove it.

Santigold: Lost a lot of steam between her acclaimed debut album. She played a stonking set in the same position in 2008, there is no reason to belive she won’t again.

The Joy Formidable :Friends of the Foo Fighters, and friends of Reading and Leeds. A great debut album, but I’ve got no personal experience of seeing them live. But they keep getting booked so they must be doing something right.

Hadouken!: The earth hardly shook when it was announced Hadouken! Were replacing Chiddy Bang. It was mildly entertaining in 2008, but its hard to see how they’re in any way relevant in 2012. A band in their death throes, catch them while you can… If you really have the inclination to do so.

Pure Love: Frank Carter’s attempt at selling more albums than he did with Gallows. It’s all rather cynical, and a bit shallow.



Author: david

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