Mid April and I’m like most fans sitting here wondering why the world’s ‘Greatest Rock Festival’ Reading and Leeds has not sold out. Festival Republic should be scratching their heads thinking ”Where did we go wrong?” and let me tell you where, it starts with those ‘exclusive’ headline slots.
The Strokes making a come back to the fields of Reading and Leeds for the first time in nine years for only their second English festival performance in five years is a selling point. Some could and will debate their selection, fair enough, but to be co-headlining with Pulp, who lets face it are whoring themselves out to so many festivals year, is a bit unnerving.
From my understanding Festival Republic never did ‘co headline’ slots, but this year it seems they are (2manydjs are co headlining with The Streets on NME Stage too) but personally my blame lays heartily with My Chemical Romance (did I just hear you sigh?). I expect headline acts to sell out tour dates, have the music world crawling all over their records, and I’m afraid for MCR have been doing no such thing. They are playing other festivals (TITP and Radio One’ Big Weekend) and not even subbing, come on? Why are they worthy of playing such a high profile slot at Reading and Leeds?
Regular punters, like myself are rebelling against this awful choice. Every year without fail since 2007 I brought my ticket without even a care in the world, knowing Festival Republic would supply me with the hottest acts (Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, Radiohead and Arcade Fire, anyone?) but in 2011 we get treated to My Chemical Romance.
I could rant all day long, but I’m afraid we will keep that for another feature, which brings me to headline slot number three: Muse, a band who where only a few years ago described as the ”Greatest live band” of our generation. OK fair enough, but Muse have nothing new to offer us apart from the promise of performing the whole ”Origin of Symmetry” record, I guess some you could describe this an a ‘Muse history book entry’ however they have toured heavily over the past few years (including two dates at Wembley Stadium), and not even the Muse Fan boys could sell this out. Perhaps 2013 would have been more appropriate a place for Muse? In 2011 they are over exposed.
I’m going to drift away from the headline acts, now, but I still need your some of your attention.
Looking around all the other stages (bar the dance tent) we have the usual classic NME bands; The Vaccines, Patrick Wolf, WarPaint and Chapel Club, fair enough. All those bands are hot in the press, ‘current’ and releasing new music, but you can see those acts at a lot of one day festivals – no surprise really. NME fans won’t be coming to R&L to see those bands when they can clearly see them elsewhere for a lot cheaper (once again another feature).
Moving slightly further down we have The Festival Republic tent. The Horrors and Peter Doherty, great bookings, possessing huge followings and offer very strong alternatives to the Main Stage headliners: well done FR. Then we have The Midnight Beast possible the ‘wild card’, actually they are. I’m guessing a lot of you readers had never heard of them before the announcement and ended up on the mighty Youtube. Did you laugh to yourself? Or did you show some deep concern for the reason behind this booking?
For a band who ‘performed’ (I use that term loosely) last year on the alternative stage, to now be given a headline slot, without actually releasing any music? Insult in my opinion. Pure joke, the FR stage is supposed to showcase new music; this slot could have been given to another worthy act, Cage The Elephant for example.
Reading and Leeds 2011 has taken far too many risks this year, which have completely back fired on Festival Republic. I do hope they can learn from this for 2012, personally I would be happy to go to Reading Festival no matter the cost as long as the Headline slots where taken by credible bands and not by laughable acts.