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Meet the future headliners: these are the new artists that smashed it this festival season

Festival season was fun, wasn’t it? Back in May we were stumbling the streets of Brighton for the next big thing at The Great Escape and then a couple months later, we were doing the same in the wee hours between tents at Glastonbury. By the time End Of The Road came round at the start of September, we felt like we’d seen all the biggest and best the festival circuit has to offer.

Here, the NME Staff have clumped together their collective brain to try and piece together all the exciting new stuff we discovered in the fields, and the already-stars that made the leap this summer.

Squid

Who: Brighton gang who reckon their music sounds like: “the Coronation Street theme tune played on flutes by angry children”

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What happened: They’ve been cutting their teeth at festivals big and small. A late-night Glasto appearance at The Crows Nest was the talk of the site, while shows at key festivals at End Of The Road and Green Man were perfect for their diverse audience.

The best moment: Being one of the many punters stuck outside a variety of venues across Brighton at The Great Escape in May earlier this year. Wherever they went, queues and packed tents followed. (Thomas Smith)

Fontaines DC

Who: Literary Dublin punks mixing anger with romantic sentiment
What happened: Playing pretty much all over in support of debut album ‘Dogrel‘, the band took the album to Glastonbury, End Of The Road and across Europe and beyond.
The best moment: The band closing out Glastonbury with a 3am set in the Rabbit Hole on the Monday morning proved just how brilliantly relentless and reliable they became this summer. (Will Richards)

Fontaines DC Glastonbury 2019
Fontaines DC at Glastonbury

King Princess

Who: This Brooklyn musician makes heady pop with a horny side.

What happened: Mikaela Straus has only played a handful of shows in the UK – her debut at London’s XOYO was the hottest ticket in town. Since then, she’s been bigged up by Taylor Swift, and namechecked by Harry Styles; no wonder she commanded a sizeable crowd at Glastonbury’s Park Stage.  

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The best moment: You can’t always tell from her slinky songwriting, but King Princess has a wicked sense of humour. She regularly puts out unofficial “remixes” on her Soundcloud (recent favourite: a house remix of Sex and The City’s Kim Cattrall scatting atop an upright bass) and she brought similar surrealness to Worthy Farm. The crowning moment in her set? Dressing up her label boss, Mark Ronson, as an uncanny look-alike, and bringing him out to play bass. (El Hunt)

Ohtis

Who: Illinois dons whose debut, ‘Curve Of Earth’, is a darkly beautiful collection of alt-country songs about addiction and recovery.

What happened: They finally released that extraordinary album, 15 years in the making, after lyricist and singer Sam Swinson got clean. A smattering of UK shows followed; they played at 12pm at the Friday at End of The Road festival and the crowd was unusually massive for that time.

The best moment: Ohtis also played a secret set at End of The Road, performing versions of the songs that were even more acoustic than originals; the intimacy leant itself to their devastatingly honest music. More than a few tears were shed when Swinson dedicated ‘Running’ to best friends and bandmates Nate and Hahn and Adam Pressley for sticking by him over the years. (Jordan Bassett)

Girl In Red

Who: The Norwegian saving lives with her lo-fi anthems about queerness and teenage anxiety

What happened: She was one of the most hyped acts at The Great Escape, but it was seeing her own a massive stage during her homecoming at Øya that convinced us that her very personal revolution is real. There’s a stark contrast between her heartfelt lyrics to the likes of ‘Summer Depression’ and ‘Girls’ and everyone totally losing their shit, but it’s a joy to behold. 

The best moment: When her mates invaded the stage to throw loads of inflatables into the crowd and Marie Ulven went gleefully sailing over her feral fans’ heads to ‘There’s A Deal Girl In The Pool’. It was just wicked fun. (Andrew Trendell)

Girl In Red live at Øya 2019

Clairo

Who: Massachusetts indie-pop star who pours her whole heart into her very personal, very great songs. 

What happened: The rising musician released a phenomenal debut album in the quiet, reflective ‘Immunity’ and continued on her own unique path to future world domination. 

The best moment: As if to prove she’s unstoppable right now, Clairo battled through bronchitis to perform her set at New York’s Governors Ball festival. Did it spoil her time on the main stage? Absolutely not – instead the likes of pre-album tracks ‘Flaming Hot Cheetos’ and ‘4EVER’ sparkled with determination as she claimed a spot as one of the very wet weekend’s indisputable highlights. (Rhian Daly)

Clairo Reading Festival 2019
Clairo at Reading Festival 2019

Amyl and the Sniffers

Who: Aussie pub-punks tearing toilet venues apart from city at a time. Jarvis Cocker likes ‘em!

What happened: The trio have blazed a trailed everywhere from All Points East to Glastonbury, singer Amy Taylor crowdsurfing and shadow-boxing her way through each stellar set. As she told NME in the band’s Big Read earlier this year: “It’s rough, raw and anything can happen.”

The best moment: The band’s ultra-rowdy Glastonbury set emphasised their ‘70s rock-style riffs and ended with a truncated version of Bo$$’s 1993 gangsta rap classic ‘I Don’t Give A Fuck’. The point being: the Sniffers are so much more than a punk band, and all the better for it. (Jordan Bassett)

Amyl & the Sniffers at All Points East 2019

Jayda G

Who: Canadian environmental toxicologist-cum-DJ who mixes orca song with disco-flecked bangers.

What Happened: Jayda dropped her first full-length album ‘Significant Changes’ in March of this year, and this summer was the perfect place to catch it live. With tons of genre-spanning international festivals (including Dimensions, Pukkelpop and All Together Now), her jubilant own brand of disco and house triumphed.

The best moment: Glastonbury’s The Wow Stage performance felt more like one of Jayda’s own club nights, bringing the energy that flowed at her Phonox residency to Worthy Farm for sixty minutes of disco jubilation. The only person having a better time than the hundreds of revellers boogying was Jayda herself, whose behind the decks dance moves included some excellent vogueing to ‘This Is America’. (Hannah Mylrea)

Jayda G

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