You know what they say about best-laid plans: to paraphrase, you probably shouldn’t bother your behind with them because you’ll only have to rip them up and bung them in the bin when you see the actual stage times. We’ve had a glimpse of next weekend’s (23-25 August) Reading and Leeds Festival timings and are here to break some delicate news. You’re not going to be able to see everything. These are the most horrific clashes, with some sage advice to sweeten the pill.
Green Day vs Wiley vs Skrillex vs CHVRCHES – Friday (Reading)/Saturday (Leeds)
The mother of all clashes is rolled out for you on Friday night at Reading and Saturday night at Leeds. If you’ve got anywhere near eclectic taste you could be tempted away from Green Day’s Main Stage set to get your head screwed by Skrillex or your synthy synapses tickled by Chvrches. And if Wiley doesn’t have a problem with the clientele/weather/missiles and actually sticks around for this one, you might want to head for the BBC 1Xtra Stage too.
What’s your bag? Absolutely bananas toasting skank techno soca dreamed up by Diplo or pin-sharp 60s mod rock played by a gang of kindergarten Brian Joneses? If it’s both – and frankly it ought to be – then you’ve got one big early evening headache. Ambitious punters might want to catch the first five minutes of Major Lazer before legging it, arriving wheezing at The Strypes’ gig and blacking out.
It’s Yorkshire vs the Midlands, blistering metal vs foppish baggy revivalism, with Bring Me The Horizon on the Main Stage and Peace swanning around the NME/Radio One Stage. Chances are they’re entirely incompatible bands and if you like one you couldn’t give two hoots about the other, but both are compelling live draws and for those of you in the middle of that Venn diagram where deathcore acolytes meet furcoat-wearing neo-hippies… well, sorry.
It’s going to be hard to tear yourself away from Eminem’s headline set. The old boy’s still got it, but maybe you like your hip-hop a little more folkie, a touch more obsessed with geometric shapes, rather more concerned with guitars than rapping. In fact, maybe you don’t like hip-hop. Will you just look at that – Alt-J are headlining over at the NME Stage, ticking all those boxes.
This one’s a right pearler of a clash, with two of the biggest new names around going head to head in a heartrending bully-off. At the NME Stage, Jake Bugg brings the curtain down on a sterling festival season that’s seen him flex his performance muscles ahead of guaranteed future headline slots, while Savages unleash their customary spit and fury on the Festival Republic Stage. Slice yourself in two and see both. Savages will appreciate that kind of Situationist statement.
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Not too desperate here. You could manage a good 15-20 minutes of Palma Violets’ ramshackle charms before scooting off for some blessed-out Balearica with Jagwar Ma. Could be a bit of a jarring switch of pace though. Think about your health. Might be the only time you do so all weekend.
What looks like a no-brainer – newly minted stadium gods Biffy Clyro rounding off the festival (or bringing the first night to a close, depending where you are) – is complicated by Phoenix’s freshly grown cojones. The Gallic synth-rock throwbacks have stepped up to the Premier League with this year’s ‘Bankrupt!’ and, while they’ve always been a cracking live band, they’re starting to find headline status as natural as a beret and a Gitane. If we’re rolling out crass stereotypes.
Plenty to mull over with this face-off. Is Trent Reznor old enough to be Guy and Howard Lawrence’s granddad? Shouldn’t the Lawrence brothers be back at school? And so on. Anyway, both acts make an awesome noise, with Nine Inch Nails at the rather more confrontational end of the beat axis, but Disclosure can more than hold their own on the big stages. So it comes down to the fundamental question – what do you want to do with your head? Bang it or nod it?
Haim? At a festival? If by some freak accident you haven’t caught the LA sisters in a field at some point this summer, see them before it’s too late. The precocious trio’s clutch of songs is getting stronger as they gear up to releasing their debut album, and let’s face it, soon they’ll be so huge you won’t be able to get anywhere near them again. If you’d rather, um, jack than 21st century Fleetwood Mac then you won’t mind about them clashing with Merchandise, who are dishing out thinking man’s warped punk on the Festival Republic Stage.
The thing about this one is it probably doesn’t matter. The resurgent Fall Out Boy are so loud, their sound so opulent, that you’ll doubtless be able to hear their emo-pomp-drama wherever you are on site. Whether you like it or not. If you want to avoid them at all costs, the Rock Stage offers some respite with Cambridgeshire doom-psych outfit Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats playing extended trips from excellent second album ‘Mind Control’.