We needn’t explain just how big this festival season is shaping up to be. Enough has been said about the lean pandemic years, the trajectories that were altered or destroyed, and the dire lack of support for grassroots venues and emerging musicians in a time where they needed it most. We’re more than thrilled to be heading back out to the fields this summer, and we know that you are too.
And as festival season starts to get going – whether it’s mucky days and nights camping, or a breezy day festival in a big city – there’s a glut of new music to get stuck into and go discover each and every weekend. The names we’ve posted here are who we’re most excited to head out and get down early for: some of which you may know and have seen in the Radar section already, and others will be brand new to you.
But this is by no means all of them and this is only the start: throughout the summer, we’ll keep this article updated regularly with fresh names we’ve discovered and artists we hear that are whipping up a storm. If you see something particularly thrilling, hit us up on our social channels and let us know who we’ve been criminal to overlook in this list so far. See you in the fields!
Thomas Smith, Commissioning Editor (New Music)
Who: Discordant alt-rock maestros embracing wild experimentation
Where: Glastonbury (June 22-26), Latitude, Suffolk (July 21-24)
For Fans Of: Black Country, New Road, Squid
What to expect: Tidal waves of feedback and colossal, immaculately structured soundscapes rise from the eight-piece’s intricate live set-up: an intense orchestral unit made up of violins, flutes, trumpets and clarinets, plus an array of percussive elements. They do their creativity justice by never compromising on any front, and bringing in extra musicians to bring their expansive ideas to life.
Key track: ‘Good morning (red)’ (Sophie Williams)
Who: West London driller fast joining the elite of the UK’s rap (and chart) scene
Where: Parklife Festival, Manchester (June 11), Marsatac Festival, Marseille (June 12), Inversion Festival, Lyon (June 18), Longitude Festival, Rathfarnham (July 1), Woo Hah x Rolling Loud (July 2), Rolling Loud, Portimão (July 6), Wireless Festival, Birmingham (July 8), Covaleda Fest, Soria (August 4) Off Festival, Katowice (August 5), Pukkelpop, Hasselt (August 18)
For Fans Of: Tion Wayne, Fredo
What to expect: The sounds of Cench have been everywhere for the past few years, and it continues with ‘Obsessed With You’, which twists and chops PinkPantheress’ 2021 banger ‘Just For Me’ into something equally enthralling. Beyond that, this summer will be his first full run at a festival season, and he’s hitting it hard enough to believe that this is his pitch for main stage greatness in years to come.
Key track: ‘Obsessed With You’ (TS)
- Read More: Central Cee: Big Sean-endorsed west London rapper whose career finally thrived during lockdown
Who: Belgian duo’s playful, powerful electro-pop to laugh/cry/dance to (depending on the mood)
Where: Paraíso Festival, Madrid (June 24-25), Dour Festival (July 14-17), Pukkelpop, Hasselt (August 18-21), Green Man, Brecon Beacons (August 18-21)
For Fans Of: Soulwax, Myd
What to expect: Seldom does an album come along with as bright a spirit and unique a vision as this pair’s debut. Produced alongside the Soulwax brothers in their DEEWEE studios in Antwerp, the duo’s album produces bursts of laughter due to their unflinching and radical honesty, no matter how ‘sensitive’ or taboo you may consider the subject matter. They relish laughter on the dancefloor (or in the festival Big Top), but they want you to dance, too. Plenty to get thinking about, then.
Key track: ‘Blenda’ (TS)
- Read More: Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul: Belgian electro-pop duo laughing in the face of everything
Who: Northern quartet bringing the swagger of Britpop into a new age
Where: Truck, Oxford (July 21-24)
For Fans Of: The La’s, Drowners
What to expect: The Manchester pals have been churning out future indie anthems like child’s play – and there’s plenty more to come over the next year. If you’ve missed revelling in hazy, warm cider-fuelled singalongs with your pals at festivals, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to don a bucket hat and get involved at this band’s Truck Festival show in July.
Key track: ‘Full Round Table’ (SW)
Who: Teenage alt-rockers with gothic eyeliner and real ambition aplenty
Where: TRNSMT, Glasgow (July 10), Community Festival, London (July 16), Standon Calling (July 22)
For Fans Of: Queens Of The Stone Age, Hayley Williams
What to expect: This Liverpool gang’s shared dream recently came true when they supported their childhood heroes, My Chemical Romance, on the seminal emo band’s UK comeback tour. With their reputation as a brilliant live act already established, then, these upcoming festival slots will centre on bringing in even more new recruits to their thrillingly heavy rock revival.
Key track: ‘I Can’t Drive’ (SW)
French The Kid
Who: Bilingual rap star with wickedly charismatic yet hard-hitting bars
Where: Wireless, London (July 2) Reading Festival (August 27)
For Fans Of: Ghetts, Akala
What to expect: The Essex rapper quickly became an underground star when his Daily Duppy freestyle – in which he rapped about his rocky upbringing with refreshing candour and honesty – racked up over 17 million hits. His gruff, breathless delivery is startling, and he’ll seize his moment by conducting the moshpit with real gusto as he plays his first-ever festival sets over the coming months.
Key track: ‘Neverland’ (SW)
Who: DJ and producer putting on inclusive, celebratory and life-affirming raves
Where: Primavera Sound, Barcelona (June 9), Beyond The Pale, Glendalough (June 10), Parklife, Manchester (June 11), Field Day, London (August 20)
For Fans Of: Fred again.., Jon Hopkins
What to expect: Teneil Throssell, an Australian producer and DJ, has an unwavering faith that the dancefloor can bring people together. Her recent debut album, ‘Baby, We’re Ascending’, morphed between supersized pop styles and jagged electronica, as it explored the emotional highs of dancing with your pals under the disco lights – which we’ll certainly be doing at her Field Day debut.
Key track: ‘Purple Jelly Disc’ (SW)
Who: Grammy-nominated reggae superstar ascending to jaw-dropping heights
Where: Glastonbury, (June 22-26), Afro Nation, Portugal (July 1), All Points East, London (August 27), Uprising Festival, Bratislava (August 26-28)
For Fans Of: Shenseea, Rema
What to expect: Whether she’s pummelling the steel drums, busting out playful dance routines, or showing off her gorgeous, lilting vocal range, the Jamaican singer, rapper and guitarist and her uber-optimistic tunes make for an inexhaustible engine of joy. Trust Koffee to keep all the euphoria and good vibes flowing as we return to the first full festival session since 2019.
Key track: ‘Shine’ (SW)
Who: Colourful shoegazers with tunes that are equally comforting and infectious
Where: Green Man, Brecon Beacons (August 18-21)
For Fans Of: bdrmm, Drug Store Romeos
What to expect: As a young, emerging band, could you ask for anything more than a co-sign from your hero? Lemondaze met via their Wolf Alice fandom, and the band’s Theo Ellis shouted them out in a recent interview. He was certainly right in doing so: the Cambridge group’s soaring, richly embellished songs will surely make for some beautiful sunset moments this year.
Key track: ‘Art Form’ (SW)
Who: “Sunshine psych” with members from all corners of the globe
Where: Super Bock Super Rock Sesimbra, (July 14), Gurten Festival, Wabern bei Bern (July 16), Dour Festival (July 17), Bluedot Festival, Macclesfield (July 22), Latitude Festival, Southwold (July 23), Poolbar Festival, Feldkirch (July 29), Appletree Garden festival (August 4), Check-In Party, Guéret (August 20), Rock en Seine, Paris (August 26), Golden Leaves Festival, Darmstadt (August 28), End of The Road Festival, Dorset (September 3)
For Fans Of: Khruangbin, Franz Ferdinand
What to expect: Having worked on their superb debut album with Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos, there’s plenty of reason to suspect that their performance skills will be nothing less than stellar. And with music and personalities as infectious as theirs, they might even be giving the mentor a run for his money…
Key track: ‘The Link Is About To Die’ (TS)
Meet Me @ The Altar
Who: Punk-pop trio bringing positivity and serious riffs to a genre absolutely flying right now
Where: Download Festival, Derby (June 10-12), 80/35 Music Festival, Iowa (July 8), Innoskate, South Dakota (July 9), Lollapalooza, Illinois (July 28-31)
For Fans Of: Paramore, Green Day
What to expect: As the trio have toiled away, they’ve been caught in the wave of artists having their moment in the sun during the pandemic-impacted years. But now, they’re heading on the road with Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Weezer on their Hella Mega Tour and getting their feet under the table with some key shows at Download and Lollapalooza: untamed energy and a vibrant, infectious enthusiasm will no doubt be back on display.
Key track: ‘Feel A Thing’ (TS)
Who: Winner of Best Producer at the BandLab NME Awards 2022
Where: Glastonbury (June 22-26), Dour Festival (July 14-17), Valley Fest, Bristol (August 4-7), All Points East, London (August 19)
For Fans Of: PinkPantheress, Willow Kayne
What to expect: The Bradford-born, Leeds-raised DJ and producer’s beach party at Brighton’s The Great Escape in May kicked off a huge summer in glorious, gun-fingers-in-the-air fashion. In August, she will open up for Gorillaz at their All Points East headline set in London’s Victoria Park, and air material from her recent EP, ‘Forbidden Feelingz’, which received the five-star treatment from NME.
Key track: ‘18 & Over’ (SW)
Who: Curiously inventive, endlessly fun dance-pop from Manchester
Where: Deer Shed Festival, Thirsk (July 29), Distortion Festival, Digbeth (August 5), Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons (August 18-21)
For Fans Of: Hot Chip, Metronomy
What to expect: The band were hand-picked by Arlo Parks for Glastonbury’s BBC Introducing stage and have mentioned how “grateful” they are to be chosen. N’aww. They more than deserve their place on the line-up, mind: ‘Figure Skating’ and ‘Lose Our Minds’, influenced by drum’n’bass and UK garage, are some of the most devilishly catchy songs in ages. It’s the kind of tunes you can listen to over and over again, and find new moments to latch onto and get that fuzzy feeling of discovery once more.
Key track: ‘Lose Our Minds’ (TS)
Who: Pummeling beats from London’s dancefloor aficionados
Where: Grauzone Festival, The Hague (June 17), Fusion Festival, Hamburg (July 1), Welcome To The Village, Leeuwarden (July 15), Standon Calling (July 21), Wilderness Festival, Charlbury (August 4), Ballà Boum Festival, Corsica (August 19), Route du Rock, Saint-Malo (August 20), Congés Annulés, Luxembourg (August 24), Nox Orae, Vevey (August 25), Jagdschloss Kranichstein, Darmstadt (August 26), Into the Great Wide Open, Vlieland (Sep 1) Misty Fields, Asten (Sep 9)
For Fans Of: Working Men’s Club, Bicep
What to expect: A smattering of summer dates follows what’s been a relatively dormant period for the group – their last full release, ‘Toner’, was released in late 2020. No bother: their comeback single ‘Untethered’ is a total rave monster that builds on the band’s already thrilling foundations, and offers bold new flourishes – more of that to come, we hope.
Key track: ‘Untethered’ (TS)
Who: Upbeat, lively singer-songwriter returning to her indie roots
Where: Boardmasters, Newquay (August 11-14), 110 Above, Warwick (August 11-14)
For Fans Of: Clairo, Claud
What to expect: In a recent interview with NME, the 23-year-old explained how she’s using her live shows to display the breadth of her sound, which mixes alt-pop with indie-leaning hooks; in the past, she’d been unfairly mislabelled as an ‘R&B’ artist. Of the festival crowds awaiting her, she said, “there’s a new following behind me who want to hear me for who I really am.”
Key track: ‘All I Ever Asked’ (SW)
- Read More: Rachel Chinouriri: “It’s important to define who I am, as someone that is Black and involved in indie”
Who: Funk-pop perfection from the vibrant California-based artist
Where: Primavera Sound, Barcelona (June 10), Puls Open Air, Geltendorf (June 11), Body and Soul, Westmeath (June 17-19) Florence Firenze Rocks (June 18), Lollapalooza Stockholm (July 1), Festival d’Ete de Quebec (July 11), Capitol Hill Block Party (July 22-24), Lollapalooza, Chicago (July 28-31), Sziget, Budapest (August 10), Oya Festival, Oslo (August 12), Boardmasters Festival, Cornwall (August 14), All Points East (August 19), Lowlands Festival, Biddinghuizen (Aug 19-21), Pukkelpop, Hasselt (August 21), Victorious Festival, Portsmouth (August 27), Rock En Seine, Paris (August 28)
For Fans Of: St Vincent, Beck
What to expect: Debut album ‘Juno’ surfaced at the end of last year, and to keep the momentum rolling into festival season, she’s released three bonus tracks, including a collaboration with PinkPantheress on ‘Cake’ – more tasty treats to entice you down to one of her many shows this summer.
Key track: ‘Photo ID’ (TS)
Sad Night Dynamite
Who: Genre-busting duo on the brink of greatness
Where: Melt Festival, Gräfenhainichen (June 10-12), Primavera Sound, Barcelona (June 11), Best Kept Secret, Hilvarenbeek (June 10-12), Glastonbury (June 22-26), Bluedot Festival, Macclesfield (July 22), Standon Calling (July 23), MIDI Festival, Hyères (July 22-24), Ms Dockville, Hamburg (Aug 19-21), Lowlands Festival, Biddinghuizen (Aug 19-21)
For Fans Of: Paris Texas, M.I.A
What to expect: The pair’s freaky, Gorillaz-sized bangers contain enough electricity to light up any murky late-night rave. Archie Blagden and Josh Greacen are also playing their first-ever Glastonbury this year, but they’re clashing with Paul McCartney – it’s no easy feat, sure, yet they’re up for the challenge of a lifetime. “We are worried he’s gonna have an empty field,” they joked to NME last month. Game on.
Key track: ‘Black & White’ (SW)
Who: Cutting-edge producer ready to unite the masses with big beats
Where: Parklife, Manchester (June 11), Paraíso Festival, Madrid (June 24), Bluedot Festival, Macclesfield (July 22), Green Man, Brecon Beacons (August 18-21), Ms Dockville, Hamburg (Aug 19-21)
For Fans Of: Kelly Lee Owens, Elkka
What to expect: Inspired by both her family history and raw experiences of grief, the artist’s second EP, 2021’s ‘Fresia Magdalena’, saw her bare her soul over daring production and electrifying beats. She makes a special, slow-burning type of sad banger that could unite any festival crowd for a moment of shared catharsis; her performances will be a stunning reminder of the true power of the dancefloor.
Key track: ‘La Perla’
Who: Nigerian Afro-R&B star constantly in-demand with Drake, Wizkid, Future and more
Where to see them: Parklife Festival, Manchester (June 11), Strawberries and Creem Festival, Cambridge (June 19), Glastonbury Festival (June 25), AfroNation Portugal, Portimão (July 2), NorthseaJazz Festival, Rotterdam (July 9), Lollapalooza Paris (July 17), Big Slap Festival, Malmo (August 5), Trondheim Summertime (August 7)
For Fans Of: Burna Boy, Arya Starr
What to expect: Tems feels like there’s “an evolution upon us” in her diverse scene, and the big shows and festival appearances for herself and her scene’s stars suggest that the wider world are finally catching up. She teased to NME that a “big project” is in the works, so these shows may well give us some further clues.
Key track: ‘Found’ (TS)
Who: Multi-lingual art-punks that shock and delight in equal measure
Where: Green Man, Brecon Beacons (August 18-21)
For Fans Of: SCALPING, PVA
What to expect: In January, NME hit up one of this band’s first-ever headline shows, and we came away equally amazed and bewildered by what we had seen. A mix of English, German, French and Italian lyrics, plus charging electro rhythms, may tumble all over the place, but this four-piece are real commanders, working overtime to make you feel that you are experiencing something truly inimitable. It takes a lot of discipline and self-belief to look so gloriously, knowingly messy.
Key track: ‘Boiler Suits & Combat Boots’ (SW)