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The Strictly Readers Awards 2013: The Festival Season

It’s time we handed the power back to our readers and discovered exactly who has been floating your boat and earning your ire. We start with the festival season and the Reading specific awards.

The Best Festival Of 2013

3. Download (15%)

Download is a perennial favourite of Strictly readers who often use the metal festival as a fallback if Reading isn’t quite hard enough for them. In 2013 Download was no consolation prize, it delivered the big cross over headliner (Slipknot), the long loved legend (Iron Maiden) and the band Strictly readers labelled the best live band in the world just 12 months ago (Rammstein). The negative response to 2014′s early announcements suggests Download will struggle to retain its place on this list, but we know better than to write this old metallic dog off just yet.

2. Glastonbury (15%)

Glastonbury is the British summertime staple and in recent years it has started to embrace the darker arts normally discovered at Reading and Leeds. In truth, Glastonbury doesn’t need to get heavier to win over Reading goers, the festival offers such diversity of music and experience that the feeling of just being their trumps the line up itself. 2013 was nevertheless a strong year. The Rolling Stones gave the festival its highest profile headliner to date while Mumford & Sons and Arctic Monkeys kept modernity alive in a guitar friendly year.

1. Reading & Leeds Festival (23%)

No surprises in the winner, but the percentage might raise some eye brows. Reading and Leeds winning by less than 10% on a site dedicated to the festival itself? Is that a reflection of the fact that longer term festival fans tend to stray or does it hint at some sense of disappointment? A fissure between young and old? Perhaps the forthcoming results will shed some light on this shocking slight winning margin.

The Best Headliner At Reading & Leeds

1. Biffy Clyro (91%)

That is not a typo. Biffy Clyro’s triumphant, heart warming, gut shredding headline set took home 91% of the vote. I ran the numbers countless times. It wasn’t even close and I can understand why. Biffy Clyro are a Reading band through and through. Simon’s face during the performance and the post-set interviews gave the game away, this is the set they always wanted to play and that they absolutely had to get right – and boy did they! Biffy cut across demographics, bringing fractured fan bases together. They blew away the competition in 2013. Green Day might have won every pre-festival vote, but Biffy came through when it mattered most.

The Best Band At Reading And Leeds 2013

1st – Tied – Biffy Clyro (12%)

Biffy might have had it all their own way with the headliners but one band from the lower reaches of the line up managed to equal their majesty. Regardless 2013 will be remembered as Biffy’s year; the hard working, long suffering lads did good. This is not an award given out of pity or for repeated service, Biffy’s set was big and ballsy. Old fans sang to bruising staples while newcomers eat up the stadium sized ambition of Opposites – a true crowd pleaser.

1st – Tied – System of a Down (12%)

It would be easy to dismiss this pick as shallow nostalgia, but if that’s your natural response then I just have one thing to say: you weren’t there man. System Of A Down weren’t broken down, they weren’t decrepit, and they certainly were not phoning it in. This was a vibrant and utterly inane set thrived on demented intensity and crowd friendly sing-alongs. System truly had it all, they even created their own timeless Reading moment when a crowd surfing dad travelled atop the crowd in his camping chair flicking through the Evening Standard. You couldn’t make this stuff up, you really had to be there.

The Best New Band At R&L 2013

1. Haim (14%)

If you were worried that Strictly’s readers were a bunch of nostalgia obsessed hard rock primitivists then this pick should warm your heart. Beating out Drenge (8%) and Peace (3%) are Haim. Shamelessly melodic hipster bait made for the charts, these three sisters might fly in the face of the Reading aesthetic on the surface, but scratch a little deeper and you’ll discover a blistering live onslaught. Haim can flat our play. They have humble charisma and dangerously sexy polyrhyhms but, best of all, they have hit singles: the type that can unify a tent in song and spark a wave of tragically bad dancing. All hail Haim!

How Would You Rate R&L 2013: Really Good

Despite struggling to win the Best Festival award, Reading and Leeds 2013 certainly satisfied those who attended. If your interested, I would have also voted “really good”. This wasn’t a line up that inspired me going in. I had less “must see” acts than ever before, but something about the 2013 edition just worked. The atmosphere was incredible – friendly but still raucous. The bands might not have been life changing but it felt like each and every act put their best foot forward and delivered sets that they could be proud of, satisfying everyone in attendance. The new layout, the new stages, the new ethos, it all worked.

How Would You Rate The Line Up: 65/100

Now it’s all starting to make sense. I suspect a fair number of our voters opted to give Reading 2013 a miss. The line up ratings vary wildly and those who voted Glastonbury and Download best festival tended to give the line up a sub-60 ranking. The old is quite possibly breaking with the new, and yet, as someone who attend the festival, I totally agree with the 65 rating. The line up was just about good enough on paper, but fantastic in person. Reading and Leeds 2013 was a strange beast: it was underwhelming and brilliant. This Reading wasn’t about the music, it was about the experience.

Who Should Headline R&L 2014?

3. The Prodigy (3%)

The Prodigy grab third place in a razor tight vote. Certainly a safe pick, they are a proven commodity and even without new material they can get a crowd of 50,000 people moving, all the while capturing that slightly demented Reading spirit.

2. The Stone Roses (3%)

Now this is surprise. The Stone Roses were 2012′s hottest ticket but their performance at Isle Of Wight 2013 failed to grab the headlines. Could they work at Reading? There was certainly huge demand for their initial return and they definitely owe Reading a make up performance for their legendary catastrophe in 1996, but could they really pull it off?

1. Arctic Monkeys (4%)

Hardly a ringing endorsement but Arctic Monkeys placing atop this list reflects the sheer lack of feasible options at the top of the card. Green Day, Eminem, Foo Fighters, Biffy’s big moment, they’ve all come and gone and nobody has stepped up to fill the dream headliner void. There were scattered votes for RHCP and Black Sabbath, but no one stood out. Mumford & Sons were one vote away from tying The Prodigy, no one could agree, no one inspired.

In a year where no one quite feels right, Arctic Monkeys offer the perfect solution. If there is no fanciful name to wet our lips, then damn it, let’s plump for the best and most in form band in the here and now. The Monkeys are a proven entity, peaking in the present and, until a new vision of the future or a relic of the long lost past emerges, I agree with our readers: Arctic Monkeys are the best case scenario.



Author: david

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