Has the leaked Reading line up proved a point?

Reading Festival 2011 line-up
Erm... whoops!

Reading Festival organisers and Zane Lowe have egg well and truly on their faces today after an unnamed Kerrang! insider leaked the full line-up yesterday lunchtime, more than five hours before it was due to be announced.

As a result, this year is the first time in at least four years that Reading weekend tickets have not sold out in a matter of hours. I checked 23 hours later and Seetickets was still selling them.

The line-up itself was the subject of a fierce Twitter backlash, with many voicing their disapproval. But in all honesty it’s the same every year. Those with the most vociferously negative opinions will always be heard the loudest in the social media echo chamber. Although that said, the Official Reading Facebook page’s attempt to delete spoiler comments was hilariously naive and just proof that they had something to hide.

Is the line-up worse than in previous years? That’s hard to judge objectively, true there’s less metal, but that trend has been ongoing since 2008. The Strokes and My Chemical Romance are both massive bands, whether you like them or not and Muse’s only festival appearance this year is sure to be something rather special.

Zane lowe bbc radio one dj
Zane ain't happy...

The main difference this year is that the power appears to have been at least partially taken out of the organisers’ hands. Zane Lowe in particular was left looking more than a little bit foolish last night after his grandstanding annual line-up announcement live on BBC Radio One was well and truly gazumped by the power of the internet. As he struggled to maintain his trademark Kiwi cool, he let slip “this was meant to be a celebration and now I’m trending with hate.”

Maybe fans are a bit sick of being treated like unquestioning saps by the organisers, who are pushing towards getting the tickets on sale before anyone knows for sure who’s playing.

They may argue that they’re following Glastonbury’s lead, so they are justified. But this is only partially true, as the Pilton farm mega-fest only asks for a £50 deposit in good faith and they then only demand the rest once the first 20 or so bands are announced.

At the end of the day, I can’t help wondering whether this whole embarrassing debacle will maybe make Festival Republic think twice about their approach to announcing the line-up and selling tickets next year…

In the meantime for those of you that are going and are excited (like me), I humbly present my Reading Festival 2011 Spotify playlist and Neat Little Rows from the splendiferously magnificent new Elbow album:

Rival Schools’ new album – was it worth the wait?

I think it’s fair to say that Rival Schools took their time over their sophomore album. The best part of ten years to be precise. Which is somewhat understandable, after their 2001 debut United By Fate was lauded by many as an alt-rock triumph and a sign of big things to come.

Walter Schreifels, Rival Schools
Walter S - one of the nicest men in rock and part-time exorcist

Not that they arrived out of the blue – front man Walter Schreifels had been the brains behind 90s hardcore groups Guerilla Biscuits and Quicksand. So it was a disappointment to many when Rival Schools broke up in 2003, but jump five years later and they returned with the original line-up.

I’m happy to report that their new album Pedals, which was released last week, retains a lot of the New York band’s original appeal, whilst giving several nods to how the scene has evolved in their absence.

Opening track, Wring It Out is as anthemic as anything they’ve ever written, while Eyes Wide Open boasts a beefy riff to keep hardcore fans happy. Meanwhile, Choose Your Adventure shows how the band’s sound has evolved, with a swaggering bassline driving a much funkier tune, although lead guitarist Ian Love’s trademark solos remain as exciting and esoteric as ever.

In much the same way as on United By Fate, the album starts with five tracks that all boast immediate appeal, while the latter half of the album has more of slow-burning effect.

Rival SchoolsWhere Pedals deviates from the first album’s template, however, is at the very end. One of the most impressive feats of the debut album was how it finished on two finely-crafted instrumental tracks, with Hooligans For Life in particular remaining a stunning musical achievement and the band’s most compelling live track to this day.

Instead of trying to repeat this trick, Pedals ends on a more modest and abrupt note, as The Ghost Is Out There sounds more like latter-day Weezer than anything else, suggesting unfinished business and certainly leaving us clamouring for more.

It’s good to have Rival Schools back, but even if they don’t stick around for long, it’s enough to just sit back and enjoy a record that was more than worth the ten-year wait.