Reading and Leeds Has One Eye on the Future


The line-up for the Reading and Leeds Festival was announced today, and despite the presence of artists such as Liam Gallagher and Rage Against The Machine, it seems to be one of a festival looking to future-proof itself. The poster is full of new names, ones that haven't been around a long time - ones that will look to break big in the new decade.


That's not to say that it's full of unknowns. Sleeping With Sirens and Gallows are well-established bands, as are The Hunna and All Time Low. Elsewhere, though, we have Sam Fender and Declan McKenna, newer artists whose stock is constantly on the rise. Mabel and Tom Grennan have made the main stage, an indication of what's to come, and I'll be honest, there are many artists in this announcement that I haven't heard of before today.


I'm sure I'm not alone with that last point, but there's a good chance that these names will become bigger in the next few years. This festival, one of the most iconic that the UK has to offer, is entering a new decade and appears to be doing so with one eye on the future. They're giving a major platform to many new and upcoming artists, handing them a solid chance of making a mark at the festival and building their profile.


Naturally, they have to satisfy the purists as well, which is why those such as Gallagher, Courteneers and RATM have been booked on. These are classic Reading and Leeds bands that will bring a sense of familiarity to the festival whilst it attempts to bridge the generational gap. One feels that their days of headlining this festival are numbered, however, and this decade will see increasingly fewer artists from the 1990s and 2000s at the top of the sheet.


Stormzy's placement as a headline act feels like a crucial moment both in the festival's history and for its future.

Indeed, Stormzy's placement as a headliner feels indicative of the direction that the festival organisers are looking to pursue. Traditionally a pop and rock festival, the last few years have seen an increasing amount of artists outside of those parameters. This year, they have unveiled Stormzy as a headliner, as well as placing D-Block Europe, Aitch and Lady Leshurr all on the main stage. The music industry is changing, and Reading and Leeds is looking to change with it. This will undoubtedly upset a few people who like the traditional setup of the festival, but if it is to keep its place as one of the most popular and well-loved festivals the UK has to offer, it must change with the times. It's nice to see that it is.


Let's quickly just take a paragraph to look at some of these excellent band names. HO99O9, JPEGMAFIA and 070 Shake are all pretty good, but the cake has to be taken and shared by the fantastic Beabadoobee and the incredibly-named Sports Team. They all feel like names that came out of one of those online band-name generator websites, and a good band name - including humorous ones - can go a surprisingly long way towards attaining a fanbase.


Back to the matter at hand. Reading and Leeds is clearly in the midst of a transition, phasing out some of the old traditions in order to make room for newer artists and genres. This is a necessary change, but also a brave one and the organisers should be commended for it. But what do you think of the line-up, and do you like this new direction for the festival? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.