Preview: Reading and Leeds Festival 2012

Michelle Lloyd looks forward to this undisputed heavyweight of the UK festival calendar, and picks her top tips from the overwhelming line-up.

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 20th Aug 2012

Festival season is in full swing and the August bank holiday is looming - which can only mean one thing. It’s almost time for Reading and Leeds Festival.

This weekend (Friday 24th August- Sunday 26th August) sees the masses descend on Richfield Avenue and Bramham Park respectively for fun, frolics and fabulous music. More so than ever, given Glastonbury was on a hiatus this year, Reading and Leeds is the pinnacle of the festival season - and looking at the line-up it promises to be one to remember (or not as the case may be).

With seven stages at both sites all rammed with watch-worthy acts, clashes are inevitable. Headliners on the main stage this year; Foo Fighters, The Cure and Kasabian are all glaringly obvious, but who else on that massive line-up should you be checking out?

To help you make those all important decisions, here’s our pick of some of the most promising acts appearing across the weekend.

Bombay Bicycle Club make a triumphant return to the festival. Having packed out the NME tent last year, they’ve now upgraded to a prestigious main stage slot. Albeit a curious billing, in the midst of You Me At Six and Paramore, their multifaceted set with glorious euphoric guitars and stripped back vocals will without doubt prove to be a pivotal moment for both them and those lucky enough to witness it.

Blood Red Shoes make their Reading and Leeds comeback with an early slot, on Saturday for Reading revellers and Sunday for the Leeds contingent. They’re the perfect choice to kick-start the day and blow away any cobwebs that might be lurking from the night before. Having released their third album ‘In Time To Voices’ earlier this year, their blend of strident guitar, thundering drums and general loudness is most fitting to the surroundings and come rain or shine will set you up for the raucous day ahead.

Other main stage highlights include Pulled Apart By Horses who will aptly open the main stage in their home town Leeds with their face melting antics and humongous sonic boom. The Black Keys will also be bringing their infectious mix of rock and blues, along with Albuquerque’s finest The Shins who made their long awaited return this year with fourth album ‘Port of Morrow’.

Fresh from worldwide touring off the back of their critically acclaimed third album ‘Given To The Wild’ and a sell-out date at Alexander Palace, The Maccabees are set to storm the NME/Radio 1 stage with a headline set (Friday at Reading, Saturday at Leeds). It promises to be one of the stand out performances of the weekend with their combination of older anthemic songs and newer lustrous cinematic sounds. Anyone who’s heard rousing album track ‘Grew Up At Midnight’ will know it’s the type of song made to be played at a festival and will no doubt form an emotional climax to their stellar set.

Another NME/Radio 1 stage set certain to bring in the crowds and quite literally go off is that of Northern Ireland’s finest Two Door Cinema Club. What a year Sam, Alex and Kev have had. Now hot property across the world with legions of fans, Reading and Leeds Festival comes at the end of an already jammed festival season ahead of their second album ‘Beacon’ being released on the 3rd of September. Showcasing new material and throwing in a few old favourites, their asymmetric, energetic and irresistible tracks will indeed get you moving and ensure you leave with a massive smile on your face (and beer in your hair).

Other acts appearing on the NME/Radio 1 stage include Foster The People, Graham Coxon, Santigold, Dry The River, Friends, SBTRKT and Of Monsters and Men. And of course, much to everyone‘s delight, At The Drive In make their return to British soil with a headline slot, already being billed as this year’s highlight by many. One thing’s for certain it’s going to be loud and it’s going to be damn right disorderly and you won’t want to miss it.

This year’s Festival Republic stage is bursting with new talent, with the pick of the acts that have been making a mark this year. Alt-j, Lucy Rose, Savages, Jake Bugg, Dog is Dead, Theme Park, Zulu Winter and The Cast of Cheers all make their Reading/Leeds debuts on this stage this year. Heading up the new wave of talent are some more seasoned acts including The View, Feeder and The Subways. The Futureheads also join the line up with a special accapella/acoustic set celebrating the huge success of their accapella album ‘Rant’ released earlier this year.

And if all this wasn’t enough there’s also the Dance Stage/Lock-up Stage, Alternative Stage and BBC Introducing Stage all brimming with glorious line-ups to keep you going into the very early hours.

Reading and Leeds Festival, 25-26 August 2012

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Words: Michelle Lloyd

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