Remember when missing out on a ticket to a sold-out festival meant a long listless weekend at home, wondering what face-meltingly brilliant musical feats you could be drunkenly whooping along to had you only got your act together in time? That’s a thing of the past nowadays thanks to the joys of modern technology and the good people at the BBC who, after providing comprehensive coverage of Glastonbury earlier this summer, will be beaming live sets from Reading and Leeds Festival big-hitters like Queens Of The Stone Age and Arctic Monkeys direct into your web browser as they happen this weekend. There’ll be highlights from the Radio 1 and NME stage popping up on iPlayer as the festival unfolds but in the meantime, get these live sets in your diary and the BBC Reading and Leeds microsite in your bookmarks if you know what’s good for you.
Vampire Weekend, Friday, 18.40- 19.40
Ezra’s been working with SBTRKT and is rumoured to have plans for a solo LP; Rostam’s been busy of late scoring a Michael Cera-starring Broadway play, Kenneth Lonergan’s This Is Our Youth; and according to the group’s press officer, there’s no other live stops planned and little else in the diary for NYC’s Vampire Weekend at the moment. Having released three albums in five years, the ‘Ya Hey’ prepsters are due a well-earned break and may well take it after their slot on Friday evening. A lively swansong beckons on the Main Stage.
Paramore, Friday, 20.15 – 21.30
Paramore singer Hayley Williams says her band are out to “prove people wrong” at Reading and Leeds this weekend. It’s easy to see why: not only have the Tennessee group’s headliner credentials been disputed, but Williams is bewilderingly one of the only women you’ll see on a festival main stage this summer, after Arcade Fire (with two female members) played Glastonbury and Lily Allen was drafted in to replace Two Door Cinema Club at Latitude. Their firecracker emo-pop is more sophisticated than it’s currently given credit for, weaving Radiohead and Blondie influencea into finely crafted three-minute adrenaline rushes. Could be one of the sets of the weekend.
Queens of the Stone Age, Friday, 22.15 – 23.30
You all know the drill by now for Queens shows: pulverising guitars cranked to buffalo-exploding volumes, trademark deep, devilish vocal slurs from Josh Homme and more bangers than a butcher’s shop window. Sixth studio album ‘…Like Clockwork’ has been out for over a year now meaning that while fans were still getting acquainted with new songs at the group’s UK festival appearances last summer, Friday evening should be true carnage. Especially given the number of potential cameos: Arctic Monkeys are famous collaborators making an Alex Turner guest spot a possibility, while former Distiller icon Brody Dalle, Homme’s wife, is set to play a solo set at the festival, putting a husband-wife duet on the cards.
Jake Bugg, Saturday, 20.05 – 21.05
Since crooning his way into the limelight two years ago with his eponymous 2012 debut album, Jake Bugg has emerged as British music’s most reluctant superstar. “I hate festivals so much,” he complained earlier this year. He might have to get used to it though if his winning Glastonbury performance earlier this summer, where he made light work of his headline slot on the Other Stage, is anything to go by. Whether or not his sage folk singalongs will be at home at the traditionally rockier, rowdy Reading and Leeds remains to be seen but don’t bet against another milestone performance for the fast-rising troubadour.
Arctic Monkeys, Saturday, 22.00 – 23.30
Everything must come to an end and this weekend sees the final curtain fall on the ‘AM’ journey. Alex Turner’s called the festival “a good place to leave things for a while”, indicating a break for the Sheffield four-piece following the massive success of their fifth studio album, a record that saw them storm America, sell out Madison Square Garden, and dramatically expand their sound and fanbase. Saturday’s headline performance will be the last chance to see the Arctics for a while so expect them to bow out in style with a career-spanning set that puts beyond any doubt their status as Britain’s biggest band.
Blink-182, Sunday, 21.55 – 23.30
“I guess this is growing up,” sang Blink on 1997’s ‘Dammit’. 16 years later, the pop-punk trio are still picking apart the foibles of adolescence over high octane riffs and frenetic drums, like Peter Pan’s Lost Boys but with skater tatts and a penchant for fart jokes. If their music has barely changed over their two decades together, neither has their rampant energy and feel-good factor. Get ready to feel 15 again.