Year after year, decade after decade in some cases, there they are – the bands whose names seem permanently etched onto those iconic black-and-yellow bill posters: your New Found Glories, your Limp Bizkits, your All Time Lows, your Frank Turners, your Panic! At The Discos… and that’s just this year’s selection. They are the Reading & Leeds survivors (quite literally, in PATD’s case – see below) and while there will always be bigger, more celebrated acts higher up the bill, these bands are not only the festival’s niche, but its very soul. So, how does one join the storied ranks of Reading & Leeds survivors? Here’s our completely unscientific guide…
NEVER TRY TO GROW OLD WITH YOUR AUDIENCE
Why? Because if you play your cards right, there’ll always be another one ready to take their place. You might look at Limp Bizkit’s prominent spot on the NME/Radio 1 tent lineup and wonder, ‘Who on earth still likes Limp Bizkit?’ but as it turns out, fucking loads of people do, and many of them look young enough to have still been taking a teddy to bed when Fred Durst’s middle-aged nu-metallers were at their early-noughties zenith. From this, we can only conclude that, along with solvent abuse and chronic masturbation, Limp Bizkit have become an adolescent rite of passage, ceremonially handed down from generation to generation like an old PE kit.
BE A BRO
Reading is Britain’s longest-running music festival, but its most popular acts, even at headliner level, tend to be white, male, American rock bands, and many of those bands think dick jokes, boobies and swearing like a 14 year-old is freaking awesome. Thus, when All Time Low start talking about their “huge erections” or Fred Durst tells one mammary-flashing audience member, “thanks for the booby shot, baby”, they do so to depressingly predictable roars of approval.
HAVE AT LEAST ONE BIG TUNE UP YOUR SLEEVE
It doesn’t need to have been an actual hit, just something that got enough MTV2 rotation back in the day to leave a residual imprint on the collective consciousness. Take New Found Glory, for example, who’ve been playing Reading & Leeds every two years like clockwork since 2002, even though every single one of their songs that isn’t ‘My Friend’s Over You’ sounds like a not-quite-as-good version of it. They’re not playing this year, but you could also say much the same thing for Jimmy Eat World and ‘The Middle’, or Less Than Jake and ’The Science of Selling Yourself Short’.
PERSEVERANCE IS KEY
Panic! At The Disco’s first visit to Reading in 2006 was famously marred by frontman Brendon Urie being knocked unconscious by a bottle thrown from the crowd. Urie soldiered through the rest of their set, and when they were bottled again the following year, they could at least take heart in the fact that it came from a small element of a much larger crowd. In 2011, just as it was all beginning to look a bit masochistic, Reading & Leeds finally embraced PATD en masse, and this weekend – the Las Vegas group’s fourth visit in nine years – they draw a massive (and adoring) crowd to the main stage. The moral of this story? Maybe Daphne & Celeste gave up too easily.