Top 7 festival bands playing the UK this summer

Me and Max at Reading 2006
Festivals can do horrible things to your face…

For the first time in 13 years, I’m not going to a music festival this summer.

So for those of you lucky enough to be heading for the mud, crowds and euphoria, I thought I’d indulge in a listicle and recommend a few bands to catch if you possibly can.

To narrow down my list to a top seven, I’ve only included bands that I’ve seen at two or more festivals, proving that their brilliance wasn’t a one-off.

Without further ado, let’s dive in:


True festival veterans, Guy Garvey and his cohorts never fail to hit the mark, whether that’s tugging at the heartstrings (Real Life) or slapping you in the face with a gigantic riff (Grounds For Divorce). Come for One Day Like This, but stick around for Lippy Kids.

Playing: Kendal Calling

The Hives

The quintessential festival band, The Hives’ brand of unashamed punk rock can make even the most respectable festival goer rush to the front and lose their dignity. Unhinged rabble-rouser ‘Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist serves as the ideal frontman to orchestrate the madness.

Playing: Calling Festival

Manchester Orchestra

Fast-rising American quintet Manchester Orchestra don’t look like festival heroes, especially hermit-like lead singer Andy Hull. But it is the sheer force of their music that makes them unmissable, from the shape-shifting dynamics of Shake It Out to the irresistible singalong of Pensacola.

Playing: Reading Festival


Going to a festival is an expensive experience, so you want to know that at least some of your money has gone on stage theatrics. Muse have this down to a fine art and are constantly upping the ante, but best of all their music is so bombastic as to make all this theatricality seem totally justified.

Playing: Download

Gogol Bordello

Festivals are a great place to discover a new style of music and with a Gogol Bordello show you can discover half a dozen genres in half an hour. The self-proclaimed gypsy punks tackle a wide variety of styles with unerring gusto and sets often end with frontman Eugene Hutz crowd-surfing on a bass drum.

Playing: Boom Town Fair

Dry The River

Forget Mumford & Sons headlining Leeds Festival, the real folk rock event of the summer will be Dry The River’s appearance at the multi-venue Live at Leeds Festival. From chest-out singalongs to extended outros, a DTR show has it all and Lion’s Den is ultimate set finisher.

Playing: Live at Leeds Festival

Foo Fighters

I’ve saved the most obvious choice to last, but I couldn’t ignore the recent news that Dave Grohl and his band of merry men are headlining the UK’s biggest festival for the first time in 17 years. If you already have a ticket, you’d be a fool to miss what will surely be a monumental headline set from a truly peerless live band.

Playing: Glastonbury


Anyone I’ve missed off? Let me know in the comments…

65daysofstatic review for

65daysofstatic liveI’ve been a fan of Songkick for a few years now and now it seems this online music diary is now branching out into band reviews.

The latest Songkick competition invites music fans to review their favourite live band in no less than 200 words. If you submit your review before 31 July, you could win $500 of festival vouchers.

Still buzzing from the fantastic eighth edition of 2000 Trees, I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring, so here’s my review of the 65daysofstatic live experience:

“For many a rock fan 65daysofstatic have been the gateway drug to instrumental music and their live show plays a big part in that. Whether they are mid-way through a festival line-up, headlining their own show, or a humble support act (as they have been for Hundred Reasons and The Cure), they always create a memorable atmosphere.

The crowd is always hugely involved and it’s well worth getting down towards the front to experience the full force of noise when the bassline kicks in.

Their music is by turns ethereal and rave-inducing, with their 2010 album ‘We Were Exploding Anyway‘ acting as the touchstone of their career. ‘Go Complex’ is a particular live favourite with a dramatic shift in dynamics from the electronic intro to the hard rock outro.

But it is the more drawn out slow-building tracks that leave the most enduring impression, and the full ten-minute version of ‘Tiger Girl’ is an experience worthy of gracing any festival mainstage.

Their most recent full-length release ‘Wild Light’ has more of a cinematic feel to it, and the light show the band brought on their latest tour was stunning and tightly synchronised (although a little oppressive at times).

As an instrumental band, 65daysofstatic don’t have a traditional frontman, but the guitarists do talk to the crowd between songs and bass player Simon Wright acts as the rabble-rouser in chief, ensuring that the crowd always feels connected to the band despite the lack of vocals.

See them now while their tickets are still cheap – they will change the way you think about instrumental music.”

Has the Reading and Leeds Festival line-up been leaked again?

UPDATE: The line-up below turned out to be close, but no cigar. The Foo Fighters and Kasabian are indeed headlining, but The Cure are the final bill-toppers. For the full official Reading and Leeds 2012 line-up, click here.

It’s not uncommon for people to post fake Reading festival line-ups on forums and claim that they are genuine. But last year one of them turned out the be the real deal. And now, less than a year later it appears that the same thing has happened to Festival Republic again:

2012 Reading and Leeds Line-up leaked

If this does turn out to be genuine, then I’d say it’s certainly a much stronger line-up than last year’s and without any competition from Glastonbury, tickets should sell out fast. Certainly the return of Green Day for the first time since 2004 should prove a massive draw, particularly with their 9th studio album on its way.

The timing of this leak adds to its credibility, since the date that tickets are going on sale (March 12th) was confirmed yesterday. This would imply that the main bands have already been booked.

However, the organisers must be kicking themselves that they have let this happen two years in a row, which makes you wonder – was this leaked by the same culprit who let the cat out of the bag in 2011? If so, why didn’t they find who it was after last year’s fiasco?

Or indeed, is this series of leaks an intentional ploy to drum up more interest and boost ailing enthusiasm for this festival? After all, Reading and Leeds only sold out after a few months in 2011, as opposed to a few hours in previous years.

On the plus side, Reading organiser Melvin Benn has announced details of a youth apprenticeship scheme for the organisers Festival Republic. Perhaps the first thing he could task his new recruits with is improving online secrecy?

Setlist fm or Songkick? The dilemma for music fanatics

Given that I have now dedicated this blog entirely to music, it may not surprise you to learn that I am quite the music fan. Scratch that, I am a music obsessive. I have a CD collection over 200 discs strong (carefully alphabetised, natch), I own more band t-shirts than any other type of clothing, and I have been to more gigs than any sane person should be able to remember – only I can, because I have a creepy OCD document for that.

Muse at Reading Festival 2011
Muse at Reading 2011 - Rock yeah!

So if you are like me, or even a little bit like me, you will like love Setlist fm. Maybe you’re already familiar with it?

This site chronicles every gig played by every band ever. Or at least every gig that someone has uploaded a setlist for, and that’s quite a few.

Great aspects of this site include the stats (oh, the stats!) and the geeky annotations (did you know that Muse’s headline set at Reading included a Sweet Child of Mine outro for Hysteria?!).

What’s more, I was particularly interested to find out the other day that you can track particular bands that you are super-obsessed with. So now, I will get e-mail alerts everytime someone uploads a new Frank Turner setlist.

However, whilst perusing the BBC’s excellent footage of Reading and Leeds, I stumbled across what appeared to be a competitor. You see, the BBC’s festival setlists are ‘powered by Songkick‘.

This site offers something that Setlist fm does not: a personalised feed of all the local shows being played over the coming months by bands you like. Almost immediately, my girlfriend warned me that this was the perfect way for me to spend all of my monies, and more, on gig tickets, and indeed using this site requires a bit of willpower to resist going on a spending spree.

You can also sync up Songkick with your iTunes library, or Pandora account and it will import all your favourite bands, then show you when and where they are playing next – and how much it will set you back. This is powerful stuff, kids!

setlistfm/songkick logosOther big plus points include the ability to share which gigs you’re going to, or even just thinking of going to, in one click. I did this on Facebook and immediately found out one of my friends happened to be going to the same gig as me later this month.

Also, there’s an iPhone app, if that’s your thing, and you can track individual venues as well as bands, although I’m not entirely sure why you’d want to…

To answer the question at the top of this post, the answer is: use both. The actual setlist aspect of Songkick seems more like an afterthought as they aren’t that easy to reference quickly, so Setlist fm will continue to take priority there.

Setlist fm is great for looking back over the gigs you’ve been to and Songkick is exciting and inspiring for finding out about gigs that are coming up. I wholeheartedly recommend signing up to them both.

Red Hot Chili Peppers try to tackle ticket tout problem

This weekend saw quite a significant first in ticket sales for live music in the UK as the Red Hot Chili Peppers introduced ID restrictions for their November tour.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - The Adventures of Raindance Maggie artwork

Put simply, all fans buying tickets to the shows will have to bring the card they used to purchase the tickets with when they enter the venue and everyone who they bought tickets for will have to enter the venue with them at the same time.

This has one obvious advantage of effectively ruling out touting, which is something to be applauded, especially as it is not in the immediate interests of the promoters Kilimanjaro Live (a subsidiary of AEG).

However, as Dave Ball rather brilliantly explains in this extensive article, the potential downsides for fans are much more numerous.

One of the highly likely scenarios that could befall ticket holders is when one member of your group is delayed and you face the dilemma: go in without them and leave them in the cold, or wait and risk missing part of the set.

Despite the several drawbacks, the Chilis tickets have sold out in a matter of days, so it seems that fans have not been deterred. I very much doubt that this system will catch on, however.

A much simpler solution that I could suggest would be to have each individual’s name printed on each ticket (like they do for Glastonbury), so that people could arrive separately, but they would still need ID in order to gain entry, thus thwarting the touts.

There are still plenty of obvious drawbacks to this system, but the fact that Kilimanjaro Live and the Chilis have taken this first step, is very encouraging indeed.

Red Hot Chili Peppers will be touring the UK in November (see below for dates) in support of their new album I’m With You (due out August 30th), which will feature the single The Adventures of Raindance Maggie – Listen now.

Mon November 7th 2011 – The O2, London
Wed November 9th 2011 – The O2, London
Thu November 10th 2011 – The O2, London
Sat November 12th 2011 – SECC, Glasgow
Mon November 14th 2011 – Manchester Evening News Arena
Tue November 15th 2011 – Manchester Evening News Arena
Thu November 17th 2011 – Motorpoint Arena Sheffield
Sat November 19th 2011 – Birmingham NEC
Sun November 20th 2011 – Birmingham NEC