Arriving at the festival Thursday evening, the beat of the sun slowly fading behind the trees at Orange camp, the site was already teeming with excitement and an intense buzz. By 8pm you’d be hard pressed to find a reasonable camping spot any distance from the main stage. Reading definitely has an intensity to it you don’t find at the more chillaxed Glastonbury 70-miles away. And unlike Glastonbury’s three big hitters (Muse, Adele, and Coldplay this year), Reading’s five headliners and strong NME stage line-up leave the Act of the Festival Award very much up for grabs.
To clarify, the headline pairs of Foals and Disclosure on Friday 26th and Fall Out Boy and Biffy Clyro on Sunday 28th are not collaborations but simply ‘shared’ headline slots, with separate start times of 8pm and 10pm; I like you wondered how they could possibly create a one-off shared set to last two-hours, the good news is they aren’t. This leaves the Red Hot Chili Peppers as the singular headliner on Saturday’s main stage, and for me the act of the festival. That’s partly because I am indeed a fan, but more to do with the strong tour supporting ‘The Getaway’ they have behind them. They’ve already done the rounds of the biggest European festivals like Werchter, Pinkpop and Roskilde and have a strong setlist from Can’t Stop and Under The Bridge to the newer material; up against Two Door Cinema Club and Stormzy for half of their set, the Chili’s two-hours should surely bring in the bigger crowd?
However, festival fans always have very different opinions, and Xander Lesanti from blog Ticketbis has used social media data (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) to re-arrange this year’s lineup by the most followed and talked-about bands and artists. A few surprises came up including the Saturday headline changing to Imagine Dragons (the pen-ultimate act to the Chilis), and Biffy Clyro falling far down the rankings, as you can see below.
There’s also a bit of shuffling on the Radio 1/NME Stage, and the one band to talk about there is Twenty One Pilots. Whilst Friday headliners Jack U (Skrillex and Diplo collaboration) are completing their summer festival set, their warm-up act Twenty One Pilots have just sold out two nights at Madison Square Garden focusing heavily on their new fourth album, Blurryface. They’re incredibly popular in their native-US, though they were relatively unheard of only a year ago on either side of the Atlantic. As with the rise and fall of many stars through social media 21P certainly belong to a younger crowd, a way of explaining the phenomena around their sudden appearance in the mainstream. Their genre is hard to explain, a EDM/hip hop/rock offshoot duo, (which I wrongly compared to Animal Collective), they have previously told the media they want ‘to make people think’, the general guidance for what they intend to put across in their music.
Reading doesn’t suffer too badly from clashes this year with the exception of Friday’s NME and Main stage evening sets, pitching Twenty-One Pilots against Disclosure, though Jack U and Foals are likely to attract different crowds later on. Sunday’s headline puts rock bands Biffy Clyro, The 1975 and Good Charlotte against each other for the festival’s finale. It’s certain in a few people’s eyes that some headliners will under-perform and other exceed expectations. Whilst I’m still looking for a great set by the Chili Peppers, the understated 8.50pm NME stage set by Twenty One Pilots tonight will probably be the one to watch if the excitement surrounding this current tour is anything to go by. Will I see you there? Take a look at www.clashfinder.com just to be sure.
Twenty One Pilots will be returning to the UK for a show at Alexandra Palace in London later this year.