On this week’s Top 5 we focus on what should have been or what could still be, as our writers name the Top 5 bands Festival Republic should or should have booked. We’re focusing on 2011 naturally enough, but many of these choices will apply to future festivals also.
No more dilly-dallying this week – we’re getting straight to point – Tom Forster is up first.
5. System of a Down
Unless System of a Down had a pre-agreement of some sorts to headline Download Festival upon their return; you have to assume they were up for grabs this year. That begs the question, why didn’t Reading and Leeds snap them up?
Back during their original run they were always favourites at the festivals (you only need to see their reception in 2001 or 2003 for proof of that), and even though Reading and Leeds’ demographic has shifted slightly in that time, I think people underestimate what a draw they would be amongst today’s crowd. When they split in 2006, it was on the back of arguably their two biggest albums and came at a time when they were becoming increasingly popular outside of metal circles and there’s no reason to believe they rise wouldn’t continue upon their return.
4. Ed Sheeran
There is still a pretty good chance of seeing Ed Sheeran at the festival this year. If he doesn’t make an appearance, you really have to question quite what Festival Republic are playing at, because this guy is on fire at the moment. There is an overwhelming demand for the young singer/songwriter, he’s selling out venues for fun, in fact at my most local venue, he sold out not one, but three nights in a row, and did so in a matter of hours.
Unlike so many artists backed by an incredible amount of hype, Ed Sheeran actually has the talent to back it up. He is a must for this year’s festival.
Ask any fan of the Lock Up Stage who they would like to see headline the tent and I guarantee Rancid will be one of the most popular answers. The fact that they haven’t played the stage since it became the Lock Up in 2005 is bizarre to say the least. Not only is their name thrown around every single year, they are one of only a few punk legends still around to have not played.
If we are to believe rumours, Lock Up curator Mike Davies has tried to book them in the past and been put off by their financial demands (while on the subject – how very “un-punk” of them). Even if this is true, I implore you Mike, get Rancid in that tent, budget be damned!
2. The Flaming Lips
Am I the only one bemused by The Flaming Lips’ 12 year absence from the festival’s? When did Wayne Coyne and co become uncool and why wasn’t I informed?
I don’t know if it’s the demographic shift of the audience that has rendered them apparently incapable of playing, or whether it’s their penchant for extravagant stage shows that’s holding them back, but I can’t help but feel they’ve offered so much in those 12 year’s that both Reading and Leeds have missed out on. It’s a shame because with a bit of tinkering, I’m sure they could have slotted right in somewhere this year.
After the farce that was Axl Rose last year, what better way would there have been to ease the punters way through the ordeal than to book his ex-band mate and arch nemesis Slash?
Not only would it have brought some much needed rock to the line up, we would have heard some Guns N Roses song’s performed properly, and having seen both GNR and Slash last year, it’s an extremely easy decision to pick the better of the two. The latter provides everything Axl and his cronies don’t: An extremely high standard of tantrum free rock performed by punctual musicians who are not only appreciative of their fans but grateful to perform in front of them.
5. Desert Sessions/Josh Homme related projects
There isn’t really much of Josh Homme’s or his friends influence on this year’s line up. What really keeps me hooked on the rock spectrum of the festival, is the opportunity to check out bands based on their past history with the rock icon and yet be enthralled by their performances enough to make me a fan.
Where’s Mark Lanegan? Where’s PJ Harvey? Heck, where’s this year’s helping of the Eagles Of Death Metal? I suppose we do still have the wonderful talents of Jane’s Addiction giving us that radical alt-rock sound that I’m craving, but I want more, I don’t want to be that Lock-Up Stage hermit that we all know from years gone by.
4. Parkway Drive
If there’s one band that disappoints me on the Reading and Leeds bill in 2011 it’s Architects, and for the second time I’ve seen them on the same bill as my chosen band (Parkway Drive) and they paled in comparison. Festival Republic should have brought in Parkway Drive instead and I’ll tell you why: despite the band now being loved throughout by the scene community, it has not caused them to lose the edge that keeps them miles ahead of their closest rivals in the genre.
Executing a phenomenal release in 2010 with their third album Deep Blue (which by the way, has much better production than their previous two records), the band now have enough material to bring you an array of terror; fear is brought to the table by Winston McCall’s cutting, harsh vocals.
3. City And Colour
While I’d prefer the harsher growls of Alexisonfire bandmate George Petit any other year, it has to be said that FR have played the Alexisonfire card a few too many times in recent years, so it would be a nice, refreshing compromise if Dallas Green were to come over to Reading and Leeds and play his acoustic heart out to all of his adoring fans. There is still a special guest slot in the lock-up, and while Mike Davies more or less gave the game away suggesting that Frank Turner is the special guest, it could easily have been a red herring; perhaps with me clutching at straws, we could still hope for City and Colour.
2. Fighting With Wire
They’ve been gone for a long time, heck their last album came out in 2008, but with a recent return to touring (providing main support for Twin Atlantic on tour), these Derry boys are looking to have another stab at making at name for themselves. The recent tour EP, I Am Ursus shows a lot of promise, packing melodic, harmonic and tyrannical rock anthems that will melt your faces off, should you choose to listen. Having played the Festival Republic stage in 2008 and winning over a decent crowd, Fighting With Wire could once again show they have what it takes, so Festival Republic, do the right thing and book them!
Twin Atlantic are currently riding the crest of popularity with Free reaching the top 40 albums chart and a week long headline tour going off without a hitch. The band are currently showing UK festivals just what they’re missing out on. But it’s not too late for Festival Republic to book them on the FR stage, and they would be a most welcome addition. If you like rock with pop hooks, intelligent guitar work and intense Scottish accents, then it’s about time you make Twin Atlantic your new favourite band.
5. The Loved Ones
Look, we’re in a field in a clone town in South England, we need our slice of Americana, our slice of fantasy. Normally it’s The Gaslight Anthem’s job to provide this, but after being booked several years in a row, they’ve really got nowhere to go on the line-up for now, so taking a year off is probably appropriate. But what about The Loved Ones? Yes please. Under-rated, and under-appreciated in 2008, it’s time for the Philadelphians to return to tell us more about building and burning. And burning.
4. A Wilhelm Scream
Their 2009 performance was incendiary. One of the greatest to take place in the Lock-up tent, and considering the strength of most acts on that stage, that’s saying something. You’d be hard-pressed to find anybody whose life wouldn’t be improved with a slice of ferociously technical punk-rock, courtesy of Nuno Pereira and co. Perhaps the only good thing about their absence is that we won’t see any of those terrifying horse masks.
3. The Wonder Years
One of the key roles of a festival is to combine bands that bring a sense of nostalgia together with bands that, right now, are the hottest property around. And The Wonder Years definitely fall into the latter category. With June bringing the eagerly awaited ‘Suburbia: I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing’, they would have been an inspired booking. For the most part, I think FR have done a reasonable job at combining the hip (OFWGKTA, The National) with the happened (The Offspring, Madness), but this band would have been the cherry on the cake.
I’d be surprised if anyone had seen this band live and left without thinking “Well that was fucking awesome.” Because, simply put, you won’t find an act who feels as vital in a live arena. Doubly impressive, considering they like to play a hefty chunk of mid 90s punk rock as most of the set-list. Classic tunes like ‘Time Bomb’ and ‘Journey to the End of the East Bay’ somehow still sound as fresh as the day they were penned.
1.Hot Water Music/ The Mighty Mighty Bosstones/ The Offspring
Three of Reading-goers most demanded acts over the last half-decade. Oh, wait. Good job.
Cults are the embodiment of the internet’s power. Two friend put some songs on a band camp website to make their friends laugh, a few months latter and they’re topping everyone’s hopes of 2011 lists. Skip forward a few more months and Cults are touring the UK and signed to Lily Allen’s brand new record label.
I caught them at the Lexington early in the year, they were nervous, awkward and short on materiel, but they were also enticing, charming and intensely atmospheric. They’d be a perfect fit for the FR stage and “Go Outside” is a summer festival anthem just waiting to be unleashed.
Okay so having spoken to the band earlier in the month I know EMA will not be playing at this year’s Reading and Leeds festivals, but lets face it, they’re a new band, and I’m sure if given the offer they’d bite FR hand off for the opportunity.
They’re atmospheric, arty, captivating live and have a great album to tour. They fit the Pitchfork hipster mold but are also dark enough for the alt-rock crowd and cool enough for the NME crowd. It’s a win-win.
I’ve completely fallen for Grimes in the last few months, I have to admit, I was completely in the dark on this act until Rosie Swash recommended them on the Guardian Weekly podcast. She/they mix sounds, influences and tones at will and create music that’s gloriously mellifluous, edgy and innovative at the same time. Challenging and accessible simultaneously perfect for the FR stage.
Another obvious edition for the FR stage, Destroyer finally followed up on the excellent “Bay Of Pigs” this year with the dreamy Kaputt; a lucid album that caressed and soothed the listener drawing you into the soulful narratives. Destroyer is making sensational pop music, inspired by the past but rooted firm in contemporary avante garde trends. I’ll be seeing Destroyer later in the month and I hope to see him again on the FR stage this summer.
I’ve saved my least credible pick for last. FOE can’t measure up to EMA, Grimes, Destroyer or even Cults artistically (for the time being at least) but she’s just a hell of a lot of fun, and she’s a entirely plausible option for the BBC Introducing Stage. The girl has a wonderful mad cap air to her, some would call her daffy, others witty, but whatever the case her music blends rock and pop giving her enough edge for Reading and Leeds and enough hooks to win over crowds completely unfamiliar with her work. So lets hope FR and BBC come together to get this lady booked.