Inside Reading and Leeds

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For nostalgic rock fans of all ages, Leeds and Reading appear to be offering strong doses of childhood memories for anyone who grew up in the Eighties (The Cure), Nineties (Foo Fighters) and Noughties (Kasabian, well, they still release albums but who really cared about Velociraptor!?).

Lower down on the line-up shows the familiar line up of NME-fresh faces and some old favourites ranging from Azelia Banks and The Vaccines to Justice and Paramore.

Reading and Leeds’ line up is far from short of exclusives, all of the main stage headliners are performing exclusively (in the UK) at Leeds and Reading this year. Not only that, if you want to see either Black Keys, Odd Future or The Cribs at a festival this year for example, then there is only one place to look.

Naturally the line-up is as controversial as ever. The annual great debate about whether the festival has gone too mainstream/indie/metal/boring, will always depend on which section of the audience the nine top billed acts seem to include/exclude the most (including the three headliners for the NME stage).

In my opinion Reading/Leeds is historically a “safe bet” for a talented artists though arguably too safe. Many acts for instance are returning again this year where riskier, up and coming artists could have been billed.

This year the return of Reading and Leeds fans favourite, the Foo Fighters, should no doubt be a classic. Judging from the sheer number of times they’ve been “rumoured” to be billed by festival goers in past years signifies how highly regarded they are by the Leeds/Reading community.

Sceptically, it could be speculated that they’ve billed a band like Foo’s to pander to the more dogmatically rock side of their fanbase who may have felt with disillusioned with last year’s distinctly more indie line-up. After all, Festival Republic’s Melvin Benn must have been quivering in his boots when both Leeds and Reading didn’t sell out for the first time in recent years.

Politics aside, it’s certain that the Foo’s performance will hit the Leeds/Reading gold standard.

But if screaming along to Everlong isn’t for you then Leeds/Reading doesn’t disappoint. Outside the main stage and NME tent, you’ll find a plethora of stalls selling anything from legal highs to massive Yorkshire puddings.

The carnival ambiance doesn’t end there, with rides, candy floss stalls and the tendency for impromptu performances from travelling performers, on the slim chance you get bored of the current line up, you can be sure you’ll bump into a spectacle of interest of sorts.

Did I mention there’s a massive Ferris wheel?

After you’ve spent the day sprinting between stages to try and catch both Maccabees and The Cure (among others) and finished the last bite of overpriced festival grub, you may not particularly feel like sleeping. Luckily dotted around the arena area and campsite you’ll find a mass of DJ’s dotted around.

Be sure around 3 o’clock in the morning on Friday/Saturday you’ll find yourself next to a caravan equipped with a PA system playing the finest sounding dubstep for miles.  

It’s ever so surreal how the festival campsite quickly turns from half empty field into a pseudo-temporary community. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the quantity of like-minded people or maybe it’s just the sheer amount of alcohol being consumed in such a short period of time, either way festival strangers do indeed seem to be a lot friendlier than the ones in day to day life.

If this year is your first Leeds/Reading festival, then you’ve already missed out on some of the best live performances of our generation. From my own personal experiences of seeing Libertines’ explosive comeback or discovering Frank Turner for the first time has given Leeds/Reading an everlasting place in my heart.

And it’s illustrious history including Nirvana’s legendary final UK performance (in which Kurt Cobain entered the stage in a wheel chair) and its willingness to bill a variety of acts including Public Enemy and Underworld earlier than its logical festival rivals. For a chance to see the best acts of 2012 in possibly the friendliest field in Yorkshire/Berkshire tickets are still available, though steep. 

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