With less than a month to go until Reading & Leeds, you’re probably starting to think about what you’re going to see. There are so many great acts on show that it’s hard to narrow them down. But we’ve chosen a few from each stage that we reckon are worth checking out. Follow our lead and you’re in for a treat.
We’re using the Reading timetable for our picks, but we’re sure they’ll be just as great in Leeds!
Here’s our guide to who you should see on Saturday (Sunday @ Leeds):
Eminem – Recommending that you go and see Eminem at Reading & Leeds is a bit like suggesting that you drink heavily and wallow in a tent that smells like KP’s jockstrap: it’s inevitable. He’s an icon and a legend. No matter how much it rains, no matter how intolerable the festival bogs, the Real Slim Shady and his army of on-stage musicians will light up Saturday with a hip-hop spectacular.
Saturday’s Main Stage this year is dreamy. It’s a ballzy mix of the best modern rock music around, slick hip-hop and pounding drum ‘n’ bass. I feel like a kid in a sweet shop. But apparently we have to choose, so here’s our top 3:
Foals – The Oxford 5-piece get our pick for main stage rock because the 2013 festival will be a watershed moment for them. This is the fourth time they’ve played Reading/Leeds, starting on the smallest stage of them all. This is their first appearance on the main stage and we’re pretty sure they won’t waste it. Highly acclaimed new album ‘Holy Fire’ will surely make an appearance in amongst their usual brand of soul-purging rock.
Earlwolf – The coming together of Tyler the Creator & Earl Sweatshirt is one of the most exciting hip-hop collaborations of recent times. Their set will be edgy, with Sweatshirt’s painfully real dose of home truths laced with Tyler’s jazz-funk keys and unique vocals. When the world talks about what was ‘cool’ at Reading/Leeds, these boys will have no competition.
Chase and Status – The legends of UK drum ‘n’ bass have been given the impossible task of warming up a crowd for Eminem. Sadly, most of the crowd will be looking at their watches, waiting for them to make way for their hero. But take a moment to be different and admire genuine pioneers of a genre. They’ve already conquered the charts and now they’re working on a new album. Frankly, we can’t wait to hear whatever they want to play us.
NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage:
Johnny Marr – Wow. Having formed the Smiths at the age of 18, Johnny Marr established himself as one of the greatest guitar players of all time. He has always written and performed great music and his solo work is no different. NME recently gave him the ‘Godlike Genius’ award, previously awarded to the likes of The Clash, The Cure and Ozzy Osbourne. Safe to say, he’s in rarefied company.
Deaf Havana – They’re currently working on a new album and, if their last offering is anything to go by, it should be something special. Recently named as Zane Lowe’s ‘Hottest Record on the planet’, it’s systematic of the pop-punk direction they’ve taken in recent years. They’re also supporting Bruce Springsteen this summer. So you’ve got recommendations from The Boss and Mr. Lowe – do you really need ours?
Alt-J – 2012 was an unbelievable year for these sons of Leeds. They’ve charted in the UK and across Europe after winning the 2012 Mercury prize for ‘An Awesome Wave.’ But what matters now is how they go about riding that awesome wave through 2013 and beyond. This will be a great chance to experience their psychedelic take on indie rock and see what they’ve been working on this year.
Radio 1 Dance Stage:
Big Black Delta – Imagine the most enormously, outrageously epic big-budget thriller Hollywood could possibly create. This would be the soundtrack. Jonathan Bates may be running BBD as a solo project, but his stage show features bass, vocals, 2 drum kits and a laptop creating the gargantuan witchcraft. This performance should come with a health warning, it’s that big. Go listen to ‘Betamax’ and you’ll understand.
A-Trak – It’s very simple, the Canadian is the best in the business. Having won no less than 5 DJ World Championships (nobody else has done that), he has made a name as the most sought after remixers on the planet. One half of the team behind Duck Sauce, go and see why Kanye West hired him as his personal tour DJ.
Magnetic Man – Breaking boundaries at every turn, this collective features production legends Benga, Artwork and Skream, for whom Reading is a personal favourite. Expect extravagant production and truly original work. You won’t have heard this before and they develop their sound so regularly that you’ll probably never hear it again.
Lock Up Stage:
Anti Vigilante – These Skacore stalwarts are renowned for exhilarating live shows and originality by the bucket load. They sadly lost drummer Oli Smith to abdominal cancer in 2011 and their latest album ‘Tempest’ reflects the sense of loss. Expect the same power and energy with a newly impassioned feel.
Sonic Boom Six – Every now and then, we all go through stages where we aren’t sure what music gets us going anymore. SBS are the antidote; they do everything. I’m not sure there’s anybody else right now combining elements of hip-hop, reggae, ska and metal with punk anger. Sounds impossible? Well you’d better go and see for yourselves then!
Festival Republic Stage:
Festival Republic’s Saturday offering is mind-blowing. We’d happily spend a day camped out there, were it not for the likes of Eminem and Foals tearing us away. Be sure to look out for: Lucy Rose, tipped as the next Laura Marling; Tim Burgess, now going solo post-Charlatans and To Kill a King, who are receiving critical acclaim and popular support from every corner.
Drenge – Another in a growing list of acts whose careers have been launched by the Internet, brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless have wasted their teenage years learning to play the guitar rather well. Their debut single ‘Bloodsports’ is an exhibition of what they can do. Fill your boots with their sexy riffs and enjoy the beautiful pandemonium they create.
Sons & Lovers – Tom Lillywhite and Josh Gimber have been playing music for years, but not in the same band. They’ve come together to form Sons & Lovers and the result is excellent. Tight, catchy and pulsating, they’ve recently completed a 4 week residency at Club NME at Camden’s KOKO, not a bad gig for anybody. Head over to Festival Republic to see how they translate their sound from an indoor venue to one of the biggest outdoor festivals around. Check out our interview with them.
British Sea Power – They’re back! With the April release of their latest album, ‘Machineries of Joy’, BSP reminded us all why they count the likes of David Bowie, Thom Yorke and Lou Reed as fans. Indescribably eccentric, the only way to understand the extent of their quirkiness is to check out their first offering, ‘The Decline of British Sea Power.’ It’s the only place you’ll uncover a Gregorian chant, a 14 minute epic and references to George Formby.
BBC 1XTRA Stage:
If Saturday (Sunday at Leeds) is anything to go by, British rap is in very safe hands. There’s so much UK talent on show, featuring the likes of Devlin, Lunar C, Giggs and MIC Righteous. Head on down to see what they can do. But they’ll be in stern competition with this year’s American ambassadors of rap:
Chance the Rapper – At just 20 years of age, he has received heaps of plaudits stateside for his psych instrumentals, punctuated with genuinely poignant moments. Such compliments are high praise indeed from the nation that gave us 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G. He’s here to show you what all the fuss is about.
Action Bronson – A veritable bear of a man, Bronson is a gourmet chef turned rapper. I was trying to find a way to describe him, but I couldn’t do any better than NME, who called his live show: ‘madness of the best and most heavy-beat description.’ What’s not to love?
BBC Introducing Stage:
Well, we don’t really know what to expect, this is the first time most people will have heard any of the acts on this stage. That said, I’m going right ahead and tipping Lonely the Brave for big things. If you’re still not sure what to listen to, head down to this stage to see what you can find.
At night, head to the Alternative stage for Buttoned Down’s Silent Disco. They run the biggest indie dance party in the UK, attracting hundreds and hundreds to Camden for wild parties and massive tunes.
Who are you most looking forward to seeing at Reading/Leeds 2013? Tell us below!