Reading And Leeds – Why The Lock-Up Stage Rocks

The bigger stages might have the biggest bands, but Cancer Bats’ Liam Cormier reckons the rock mecca Lock-Up Stage is the only place worth moshing

If you want to see the loudest, craziest shows of the whole weekend, then forget the Main Stage, the Lock-Up Stage is totally where it’s at. You’re talking about probably the biggest collection of punk and hardcore bands at any festival, anywhere in the world – it’s an amazing thing. The nearest equivalent bill would probably be for the Warped Tour in America, but that’s on a much smaller scale.

Year-in, year-out at Reading and Leeds, [Radio 1’s] Mike Davies puts together these incredible line-ups that you know are going to blow your mind. That’s why the rock kids buy their tickets before they’ve even announced who’s playing, and why they spend their entire time at the festivals forming circle pits at the Lock-Up. It’s also a great place to catch newer bands before they break.

When we first played in 2007, it was just after lunch but people knew the songs already and it went nuts in there. That was a pivotal moment for us. It was the same with The Gaslight Anthem in 2008 – watching them back then, you just knew they were going to carry on getting bigger and bigger.

Gallows really came of age on that stage in 2007 (that dude Frank Carter even got tattooed live onstage one year… you don’t get that watching an indie band), and I remember making a crazy mission to see The Bronx play their set in the same year. Needless to say, they absolutely killed it in that tent.

Gallows at Leeds

This year, it’s going to be all about Trash Talk and Paint It Black – you can sense the anticipation building for their sets. It’s going to be wild even though they’re playing lower down the bill in the afternoon. You just don’t see the sort of crowd you get at the Lock-Up Stage anywhere else at the festival; the audience is as intense as the bands, because the kids see it as their one big weekend of the year when they can pitch their tents, get drunk and mosh to all their favourite punk acts.

It’s a special moment for them, a rite of passage; a lot of them have been coming ever since they were 13 or 14. It’s their festival and their stage. But there’s also a load of kids who maybe don’t go to punk or hardcore shows normally. They have a chance to sample it up close at Reading and Leeds, maybe for the first time, and for me that’s just as cool.

Personally, I’m totally psyched about playing before The Get Up Kids. They’re an older band, so some people might not know the degree to which they’ve influenced a lot of the newer bands, but they’re legendary. I cannot wait!

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