Reading and Leeds Festival headliners My Chemical Romance have been one of the big talking points in the build up to this year’s festivals. They are proving to be a controversial choice with many punters (myself included) arguing that they are in no way big enough to take the top slot at two of the UK’s biggest festivals. I’m going to take a look at why I and many others think MCR are a below par and lazy booking.
I should stress (as you can probably tell) I am in no way a fan of the band. I find their music uninspiring and more or less everything else about them sickening.
I am not, however, so petty as to let my personal taste affect my view on whether a band is a deserving headliner. Take The Killers in 2008 or Kings Of Leon in 2009 for example; I have no time for either band, but only a fool would argue that they weren’t big enough to headline. They had the country eating out of their hands in their respective years.
The fact of the matter is that there just isn’t that much demand for MCR anymore, that boat sailed after The Black Parade, the album that took the UK by storm.
Let’s face it, The Black Parade’s successor, Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys absolutely bombed. It peaked at number 14 in the charts, had generally poor sales, and can now be found in the bargain bin of any high street record store.
Not just this, but only one of the band’s seven 2011 UK tour dates sold out, bear in mind that they were playing relatively small venues too. We’re not talking about the country’s biggest venues that previous headliners have sold out: Hyde Park (Kings Of Leon, Killers, Arcade Fire), Wembley Stadium (Metallica, Muse), or even the 02 Arena, which countless artists have sold out (MCR included).
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t a band that’s supposedly big enough to headline Reading and Leeds sell out tour dates in a matter of minutes? When was the last time a headliner had such poor ticket sales in the run up to the festival?
So if they’re not riding a wave of hype from their last album, and they’re not in huge demand from a lightning fast selling tour, are they headlining based on a reputation for being a fantastic live act? Simply put, no.
One need only watch My Chemical Romance open the annual London NFL game in 2010 for proof of this. It’s excruciating. MCR well and truly proved they could not cut it on the biggest stage. They became a laughing stock in front of not only the 90,000 in attendance, but millions watching around the world.
On top everything, their previous (and only) attempt at headlining a major UK festival ended in a barrage of bottles and nationwide ridicule at Download Festival 2007 (which didn’t sell out either), and this was at the peak of their popularity.
But of course all of this could (just about) be overlooked, if only they were exclusive to Reading and Leeds, because at least then they would draw in a large percentage of the bizarre cult they’ve had following them for years. However, in reality, MCR are appearing at every festival under the sun. Not only are they playing T In The Park, Oxegen, and Radio One’s Big Weekend, they are not even headlining these festivals.
Worse still, as one last insult to our intelligence, we are told that MCR are “exclusive headliners”, or in other words “Yes they’re playing everywhere else, but we’re the only ones dumb enough to put them atop the bill”. So while Reading and Leeds cling desperately to that idea, I’m left wondering how stupid do they think we are?
Finally, Festival Republic’s consistently lazy bookings have come back to bite them. The festival remains on sale nearly a month and a half after tickets were released and only a diehard MCR fan would deny that the band headlining has nothing to do with it.
To me, the line up for Friday’s Main Stage looks as though somebody has rubbed out the real headliner. It’s sorely missing a big name up top; think how much more of a draw the festival would be if a band truly capable of headlining (for argument’s sake, Green Day), were on the poster.
For the past few years, we have seen bands placed higher on the line up than they deserve (Paramore in 2010 are a great example), but for the first time in a long time, we have seen an undeserving headliner booked, and FR are paying for it.
Tomorrow David Hayter will be looking at the other side of the coin and telling you why My Chemical Romance should headline Reading and Leeds 2011.