I’ve never really had a problem with Reading and Leeds, but…

Leeds Festival didn’t sell out last year. Leeds Festival didn’t sell out the year before that, nor the year before that. Reading Festival sold out a handful of days before the event itself last year. And the same the year before, and the year before that. Worrying times, in a market dubbed by almost all those in the industry as either ‘saturated’ or ‘shrinking’.

But it’s not surprising, though: as the tastes of the audience change, so too must the line-up posters. Take the last few T in the Parks – Beyonce, Coldplay and Swedish House Mafia played alongside the likes of The Stone Roses, Foo Fighters and Kasabian. The event sold out within hours in consecutive years. Or, take the two-day V Festival (‘T in the Park Lite’) exactly the same ticket price as Leeds, exactly the same ticket response as T.

It’s a point that’s been mentioned more than once: fewer people care about guitar music than five or six years ago, and EDM’s basically taken over your Top 40; Reading and Leeds have failed to understand that. Clearly, with the amount of commercialisation and higher ticket prices/less acts to pay, T and V will always display a much more stacked line-up than the August Bank Holiday resident festival. But it’s the lack of imagination that gets me.

So, this year, things got a bit different: the weekend got an entirely new red and yellow branding and, more importantly, the first acts were announced as early as November, with the second batch coming last Monday. Eminem was a step in the right direction – a step that gave a clear message of intent – as was the introduction of the three-day Dance Stage and Radio 1Xtra tent. Hopefully, this year won’t see Azealia Banks classed as Dance headliner, though.
But if they’re going to do it, they need to go all the way. There’s no middle ground here.

A handful of electronic acts with (still) the world’s biggest rapper mixed with a mass of metal and indie may not entice any more than previous years. Last Monday’s announcement was very guitar-based: Biffy finally get their headline slot, System of a Down and BMTH add to Deftones to appease those at the heavier end of the spectrum and Jake Bugg joins Alt-J in offering something new and refreshing.

Will I be running to the phone to grab a ticket? I don’t like Biffy Clyro. I saw Eminem two years ago. But there’s enough there already to keep my interest until Announcement 3 and, given that my application for Glasto failed so miserably last year (trying to convince your mum that a festival ticket justifies arriving late to your first day at university is inadvisable), it’s a definite maybe.


  1. This is genuinely one of the most stupid articles I have ever read in any form of student media ever.

    There are so many thing wrong with it I can’t even find the energy to bother saying all of them, although I do have to mention that I find your argument that essentially all festivals should do is cater to what is popular somewhat ironic considering the histories and status of all three of them (not to mention their target market). If you want to go to non-guitar festivals there are hundreds to choose from, but they probably won’t feature what’s in the Top 40 so you wouldn’t be interested…

    Also your description of Jake Bugg as “new and refreshing” makes me want to vomit all over the paper edition of this newspaper.

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  2. Jake Bugg, ‘new and refreshing’? and Eminem as ‘(still) the world’s biggest rapper’? I think you are plain wrong there, my friend. Bugg is merely just a rehash of the Beatles and while I don’t mind that, it is absurd to call him ‘new and refreshing’. If anything, he is backwards music. As for Eminem, he is a rapper who is gradually losing popularity and peaked about 8-10 years ago.

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  3. 7 Mar ’13 at 6:12 pm

    Babatunde Mark

    Calm down, Ben Bland. Genuinely one of the most stupid comments I’ve read across all comment-enabled media.

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  4. Hi Ben, thanks for reaching out and getting in touch; we’re always looking for individuals with superior opinions to our own.

    I’m sorry you’ve interpreted the article in such an embarrassingly oblivious fashion, and it goes without saying that your comment is one of the most unnecessarily exaggerated, childish examples of feedback I’ve come across in any field of open-forum journalism.

    It’s a shame you feel obliged to share your want of ‘vomiting all over the paper edition of this newspaper’. The idea of actually finding a print copy in order to throw up on it I do find quite odd, considering vomiting is usually somewhat spontaneous.

    All the best. xx

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