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Preview: Reading and Leeds 2017

 
By on Thursday, 8th June 2017 at 11:00 am
 

Looking toward the end of summer and the culmination of this year’s festival season which, if you’re a UK citizen, means only one thing. Reading and Leeds Festival, taking place 25-27 August. The mammoth twin fests once again return to the North and South of England, and with a lineup that is going to have you bouncing all the way home on the Monday morning after.

The thing that makes Reading and Leeds so special is the eclectic mix of bands. (Err, bar Glastonbury’s Katy Perry supporting The National: that’s something else entirely.) The stages opt for a core representation, meaning if you head over to the Pit Stage you guaranteed to find a band thrashing the life out of their guitars, as opposed to the BBC Radio 1 Dance Stage where, well, you’re more likely to find some thunderous beats and want to shake a tail feather. The one thing the stages all have in common is you’ll have a bloody good time at whichever you choose.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk5iMgG-WJI[/youtube]

You’re going to need to bear with me on this one because this year, the line-up is so jam-packed with acts that you can’t miss out on, it’s hard to not just pop the poster up and circle the entire thing. Without a shadow of a doubt, the headliners this year are strong, though Muse could have chosen to take a break from the top slot for a while to give some new blood a chance, to be honest. Kasabian will really making the top of the bill theirs, with a formidable arsenal in the form of their back catalogue that will echo for miles around, especially post-show with all the chanting that follows. The one name on the bill that stands out is none other than Slim Shady himself. Eminem is returning to the UK after a prolonged absence. A man who needs no introduction, his set Saturday will be something you won’t forget for a long time.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVkUvmDQ3HY[/youtube]

Now that the headliners are out of the way, we can get into the gubbins of the lineup, the gems and the up ‘n’ comers. While we don’t have the stage splits yet, here’s who you should keep in mind for when that time arrives, based on the Reading location lineup:

Friday

Start your festival off nice and easy with SXSW 2016 alum Barns Courtney on the Festival Republic Stage. He’ll be spilling some blues rock that should soundtrack the (hopefully) sunny mid-morning perfectly. Of course, with it nearing the end of the festival season by the time we get to the end of August, you should make the most of being able to get a bit silly in a field with your friends, so head to the NME Stage where Chicagoans The Orwells will stir up a riot with their snotty punk attack. Stick around after their set to catch Declan McKenna. The fresh-faced singer/songwriter who also impressed at SXSW 2016 is on his way to becoming the soundtrack for a generation, and what better way to experience that than in a field full of kids who have just finished their exams.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FafAfiWtog[/youtube]

The Pit stage has one of the quickest up ‘n’ comers in the UK rock scene, Puppy, at the early end of the list while heading it up will be Billy Talent, who will instigate a surefire sing-a-long fest. The Festival Republic stage also has Toothless, a majorly strong contender for one of the albums of the year. Ex-Bombay Bicycle Club bassist Ed Nash has created a beautifully coherent indie record that is just as well executed live.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8WPIU8XJmY[/youtube]

Saturday

Now that you’ll be all warmed up for the festival, and Kasabian have got you well into the spirit of losing all inhibitions from their show the previous night, take that feeling and get involved in the ruckus that’ll be, once again, on the NME stage with Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes. After his main stage performance last year – quite literally surveying the crowd with one of the longest mic leads we’ve ever seen – all eyes will be on what madness can ensue this year. The main stage has a double run of blood, as in, you get the one-two punch of Scottish indie duo Honeyblood, then pop-punkers Moose Blood.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0P1WIpgKqcA[/youtube]

Also playing the Saturday are Canadians Japandroids who, quite frankly, released one of the records of the year with ‘Near To The Wild Heart…’. They’ll be over on the Festival Republic stage. You can also catch the sweet summery sounds of Glass Animals, Sundara Karma and TGTF favourites Everything Everything all on the NME Stage too. Just prior to seeing Eminem, it’ll be a right throwback to the 90’s and early ’00s with Korn. What a time to be alive, I’m exhausted already.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRGrNDV2mKc[/youtube]

Sunday

Somewhat a more reserved day, which is quite possibly needed after the assault of the previous 2 days. Kick things off with Fickle Friends on the, you guessed it, NME Stage. More summery sounds that will soothe your assumed titanic hangover. But, since this is it, the last day, go have a riot in the Pit stage with Norwegian punks Slotface. Easily the band of the moment, their long-awaited debut should also be out by then! The main stage has some real treats in the form of UK punk spokes-band VANT, who then lead nicely into the current kings of the UK metal scene Architects.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GCSUSwcDwg[/youtube]

One name that’s being billed as an apparent exclusive, although it’s appeared on the Glasto lineup is none other than Liam Gallagher. Having completed a recent tour of a few small UK venues where he’s sounded back on top form, including one benefit show for his (and my) beloved Manchester, and is performing some classic Oasis tracks, excitement for his appearance is an understatement. Muse should surely bring a good show: spaceships, drones, lasers, you name it, they’ll probably bring it!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4ozdiGys5g[/youtube]

That’s a lot of information to go forth with, but the most important thing to do when experiencing Reading or Leeds Festival is have fun. It’s the blow-out fest, the last of the majors in the UK for the season, and is a beast in its own right.

Tickets are still available for both Reading (here) and Leeds (here).

 

Ed Sheeran named as most streamed artist of 2014

 
By on Friday, 5th December 2014 at 5:30 pm
 

Ed Sheeran has been named as the most streamed artist worldwide in 2014, with his album ‘X’ being streamed over 430 million times since it was released in June.

Music streaming service Spotify revealed that the singer/songwriter beat the likes of Eminem and Coldplay to the top spot, based on data collected from over 50 million users across the world. Calvin Harris and Katy Perry make up the remainder of the top five. Speaking about his achievement, Sheeran said, “It’s a great thing to be above so many amazing artists who I’d assume would be streamed more than me.”

However, despite his successes in the streaming charts, Ed Sheeran failed to make the top five tracks globally. Singer/songwriter, rapper and producer Pharrell Williams took the top spot with ‘Happy (from Despicable Me 2)’, which beat off competition from Clean Bandit‘s ‘Rather Be (ft. Jess Glynne)’ and Calvin Harris’s ‘Summer’. Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’ and John Legend‘s ‘All of Me’ complete the top five.

Steve Savoca, head of content at Spotify, said: “This has been a phenomenal year for a rich variety of amazing artists on Spotify. Over 50 million dedicated music fans listened to more than 7 billion listening hours in 2014 alone.” He added: “Huge congratulations to Ed Sheeran on achieving most-streamed album on Spotify for the wildly successful ‘X’, and also for earning the overall most streamed artist of 2014 thanks to his dedicated fans on Spotify.”

Ed Sheeran’s success in the streaming chart is largely down to timing. His album X, which is available on Spotify, was released a couple of weeks before he took to the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury 2014. In the same month, it was announced that the Official Charts Company would be counting audio streams within their chart data. Following his performance on “The X Factor” on Sunday, October 26th, 2014, the singer’s third single ‘Thinking Out Loud’ was streamed over 1,638,000 times in a week. Not bad, eh?

However, not all artists have been as supportive of music streaming services. Quite famously, Taylor Swift made the move to withdraw all of her music from Spotify at the start of November 2014, as she believes artists don’t receive enough money from the service. Other famous artists who are missing from such services include AC/DC and The Beatles.

The streaming results, which includes artists we’ve written a lot on TGTF about including Coldplay, Glass Animals and Hozier, in full:

Top five global artists

1. Ed Sheeran
2. Eminem
3. Coldplay
4. Calvin Harris
5. Katy Perry

Top five global males

1. Ed Sheeran
2. Eminem
3. Calvin Harris
4. Avicii
5. David Guetta

Top five global females

1. Katy Perry
2. Ariana Grande
3. Lana Del Rey
4. Beyoncé
5. Lorde

Top five global groups

1. Coldplay
2. Imagine Dragons
3. Maroon 5
4. OneRepublic
5. One Direction

Top five global tracks

1. Happy (from Despicable Me 2) – Pharrell Williams
2. Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne) – Clean Bandit
3. Summer – Calvin Harris
4. Dark Horse – Katy Perry
5. All of Me – John Legend

Top five global albums

1. X – Ed Sheeran
2. In the Lonely Hour – Sam Smith
3. The New Classic – Iggy Azalea
4. G I R L – Pharrell Williams
5. My Everything – Ariana Grande

Top five global viral tracks

1. Take Me to Church – Hozier
2. Gooey – Glass Animals
3. Ojos Color Sol – Calle 13
4. Coffee – Sylvan Esso
5. Hey Mami – Sylvan Esso

Most streamed artists in UK

1. Ed Sheeran
2. Arctic Monkeys
3. Eminem
4. Sam Smith
5. Coldplay

Most streamed tracks in UK

1. Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne) – Clean Bandit
2. Happy – Pharrell Williams
3. Waves (Robin Schulz Radio Edit) – M Probz
4. All of Me – John Legend
5. Stay With Me – Sam Smith

Most streamed albums in UK

1. X – Ed Sheeran
2. In the Lonely Hour – Sam Smith
3. Wanted On Voyage – George Ezra
4. The New Classic – Iggy Azalea
5. G I R L – Pharrell Williams

Top viral tracks in UK

1. Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) – Baz Luhrmann
2. Gooey – Glass Animals
3. Everyone Is Gay – A Great Big World
4. Take Me To Church – Hozier
5. Far From Any Road – The Handsome Family

 

Reading 2013: Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Thursday, 5th September 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

The second day of Reading 2013 was marked by a sudden influx of a creature I like to call the bellend. A bellend is normally attracted by loud drum n’ bass, Chase and Status and Eminem. The bellend’s natural habitat over the August Bank Holiday weekend is normally the area outside of Liverpool that hosts Creamfields. Tucked nicely into a steamy tent with a gentle supply off ketamine being drip fed into the bloodstream, they fist pump and gurn their weekend away.

With Reading and Leeds Festival looking to cater for a more varied audience than the heavy metallers/indie rockers of the past, these days the line-up choice was entirely justified and while it did lead to a far more diverse crowd, it also heightened the risk that in a mosh pit someone would, and I quote a rather lovely gentlemen in the crowd for Eminem, “twat me in the back of the ‘ead with a pen”.

As I navigated the mire of bellends, I actually managed to see some bands. The first of these, Night Works, were on the sparsely populated BBC Radio 1 Dance Stage. I’d been recommended these guys by a tweet before the festival, saying that as a hometown show for one of the band they would be pulling all the stops. If by pulling all the stops the band meant singing like a cat that was being wrung out like a sopping wet sponge, then it seemed I was in for a treat. Their lead singer wailed and moaned for about two songs before I really could take no more. The dancey beats were good fun, but that’s where any sense of joviality ended. Beer tent, please. (3/10)

After the mental trauma of Night Works, a pop-punky injection was required. Stat.

That medical procedure came courtesy of welsh sextet The Blackout, who were a booster shot of energy in a morning of lethargy. Sean Smith, with his utterly ghastly flock of reddish pink hair, started with some technical problems, which was probably caused by his insistence on flinging the microphone round. The brutal incisiveness of ‘STFUppercut’ was a great way to start a set, and the dual vocals of Sean Smith and Gavin Butler ensured that you always had something to affix your gaze to onstage. (7/10)

Speaking of looking at something on stage, the next band I caught on the BBC Radio 1/NME Stage were Deaf Havana. Frontman James Veck-Gilodi seemed intent that he didn’t want anybody to look at him on stage, sporting a eye-gougingly bright tye-died t-shirt. Their stage show has definitely evolved from the post-hardcore, grungey shows of 5 years previously, when they were touring ‘It’s Called the Easy Life’. They’ve got a backing singer who reminded me, in her sass alone of Beyoncé’s character in Austin Powers: Goldmember, Foxy Cleopatra.

They’ve grown into a really competent, soul-ish feeling band. Veck-Gilodi even managed a brooding smile throughout the set, and the roaring singlong that accompanied ‘Boston Square’ thoroughly put them in the same category as We Are The Ocean and The Gaslight Anthem. Real chest-pounding anthems for a group of twenty-something year olds to scream out while swilling cider. (8/10)

From heart-wrenching tunes, meant to uplift and inspire to a doom laden set on the Main Stage, it could only mean one thing: White Lies were back, touring their new record just released a few short weeks ago, ‘Big TV’. Harry McVeigh, Charles Cave and Jack Lawrence-Brown brought their misery-laden set to the Main Stage with ease and even the new material, namely lead single ‘There Goes Our Love Again’, were received with welcoming arms by the now extremely pissed-up Reading audience.

The sound wasn’t all it could have been to fully encapsulate Harry McVeigh’s booming vocals, but that can’t be put down to the band, who were obviously putting their all into this set. As a band who I’ve seen dominate Wembley Stadium when warming up for Muse, it did appear apparent, that with only the three of them on stage the set lacks energy and movement. But that can’t detract from the sheer booming power of the vocals on show. (7/10)

Bands growing in prowess and live ability were the theme of the weekend it seemed, and no band has come further in the last 5 years than Foals (pictured at tip). From that annoying indie band with that catchy-as-balls song ‘Cassius’ with a frontman lacking the stones to look the crowd in the eyes, flash forward a good few years from ‘Antidotes’ and we’ve got a man in Yannis Philippakis, who in his slinking hips and screeching yelps has become a complete frontman. Leading the line a la Didier Drogba in his pomp (it’s transfer deadline day and I’m all footballed up), commanding the crowd and showing the movement of a seasoned pro.

Their triumphant set at Glastonbury was a high benchmark for UK festivals this year, and in comparison, they seemed a little flat. They erred on the side of the newer material when this varied crowd craved for the poppy stylings of ‘Cassius’ and ‘Balloons’. That’s not to say that ‘Inhaler’ didn’t go down a storm, in a set which saw them sound more like a grunge band than the indie band they began as. Post-punkers, indie rockers or whatever you call them, after their set there was no doubting their credentials. Higher billing awaits. (7.5/10)

Now, the entire music journalist inside me said that I should stay for Chase and Status. Sadly, the pessimist inside me had the inside track and whisked me back to camp for a pre-Eminem beer. For the best it seemed as Festival Republic head-honcho, Melvin Benn, had to instruct the crowd to step back.

Closing the Saturday night was Eminem, a man who is best known for live shows of chainsaw hackery and well foul-mouthed outbursts galore. Luckily, if you had your young ones watching (unlikely, but it’s Reading), The Real Slim Shady’s microphone was extremely low. Whether that was a sign of Eminem’s inability to perform live or dodgy sound work, is a case to debate. My opinion is it was a 60-40 kind of mix.

Oh and he brought on DIDO. FUCKING DIDO. Remember how fucking good ‘Life For Rent’ was/is? Remember how good ‘Stan’ is? WHY DID NOBODY UNCONTROLLABLY LOSE THEIR SHIT LIKE ME. I FELT LIKE AN OCTOGENARIAN REMEMBERING THE GOOD OLD DAYS. IT’S DIDO! DIDO!

I was definitely the only one going apeshit for that, I would have gone apeshit for a rendition of ‘Purple Hills’ with D12, however Slim-Shady decided to air a set of 50% new songs, with a sprinkling of the old hits. It was satisfying, and exactly what the vast majority of the crowd wanted, appeasing their teenage dreams that they concocted when they first ‘Lost Themselves’ to Eminem. But for the world’s most successful rapper alive at the moment, you expected perhaps a bit more theatrics, maybe something more inventive. But instead we got a bog standard Eminem set. Enough to appease the dickheads I suppose. (6/10) (DIDO GETS 10/10, FOR BEING DIDO.)

 

Update: More than 60 bands added to Reading and Leeds 2013 line-up

 
By on Monday, 29th April 2013 at 9:00 am
 

Festival season is fast approaching and the picturesque images of rolling hills, covered in revellers swigging lukewarm cider move ever-closer. Rain or shine, a festival is an atmosphere unbeknownst, to anyone who hasn’t been a merrymaker at these events. People band together, the person in the tent next to you becomes your best mate and personal hygiene goes well and truly out of the window, to be forgotten until the pleasure of a shower on the Monday morning.

No festival epitomises the festival spirit more than Reading and Leeds. Where the abundance of top rock acts are complimented by the intense variety you can bear witness to. One minute you can be watching an unsigned acoustic troubadour from Shoreditch on the BBC Introducing Stage, only to go on the next starring world-beaters from across the Atlantic, with their own musicals and platinum selling albums on the Main Stage.

2013 will be no different with the Main Stage playing host to the Real Slim Shady, Eminem, who will surely bring all his theatrics and the tunes that we all know and love to the festival. Meanwhile, Green Day (pictured at top), System of a Down and Biffy Clyro will be raising hell with their huge riffs.

Live action specialists Pure Love will be returning to reading and Leeds after recording the video to Riot Song at the festival last year. Anyone who has seen Frank Carter in his previous mantle as Gallows‘ frontman will know that he brings a live-wired energy to his live performances, and with Pure Love alongside Jim Carroll, Frank ups the ante to bring a set which will be a must see at the festival. In a tent, chaos will ensue.

TGTF dance favourites Fenech-Soler have slowly been ploughing away, working their butts off and producing some of the catchiest electropop that is out in the ether at the moment. Their set on the Radio 1 Dance Stage will be a sure-fire way to dance off that Saturday hangover.

Another TGTF favourite Lucy Rose is returning to the festival after her triumphant set last year and her appearance with close bros Bombay Bicycle Club. This year her indie-folk stylings can be sampled on the Festival Republic Stage alongside one of the most understated, yet brilliant bands of the last decade British Sea Power.

The brand new Rock Stage will be headlined by debut performers Shikari Sound System, Enter Shikari’s lesser known alias. Lining up beneath them festival veterans and victims of a power cut in 2009 on the Main Stage Funeral for a Friend, Wade McNiel-fronted Gallows, plus Northern Irish band And So I Watch You From Afar. Adding to the talent on the Main Stage are pop-punkers We Are The In Crowd, festival specialists Skindred with their unique reggae metal sound and British punk rock band Lower Than Atlantis.

Weekend tickets are still available for the 23rd to the 25th August 2013 Bank Holiday Weekend, at a price of £202.50 before booking fees. Buy them here on the official Reading and Leeds festival Web sites.

 

Update: Reading and Leeds 2013

 
By on Wednesday, 6th February 2013 at 9:00 am
 

Reading and Leeds. The rockers’ festival, taking place August Bank Weekend, 23 to 25 August 2013.

Forget all this chatter about it getting a little too indie. Where Download goes down and out to bring you the heaviest of heavy metal, Reading 2013 sits proudly on rocks shoulders and goes hey! We don’t have to all wear black to throw some horns and get down and dirty (insert your favourite metal cliché here), we just need some sick bands to thrash about to.

Enter the sick bands. In 2012, Reading and Leeds had stellar headliners in the form of Kasabian, The Cure and the ultimate festival closer Foo Fighters. They were supported by Florence and the Machine, Paramore, The Black Keys, Enter Shikari and a host of huge acts.

How do they top that? Well, how about getting the biggest rapper in the world, Eminem. FACT. Getting everyone’s favourite shirtless Scotsmen Biffy Clyro to headline. And by booking a re-formed Fall Out Boy, a rejuvenated Bring Me the Horizon and System of a Down. BLOODY SYSTEM OF A DOWN. Remember them, and just how hard they rocked, yeah, well, just imagine how hard they are going to rock the Main Stage.

Add to that the pure power of Deftones, the hottest new band around in the shape of alt-J, a Sub Focus live set for you dub junkies, an 18-year old with a number one album (Jake Bugg), math-rockers Foals and jesus. You’ve got the makings of a helluva weekend. A perfect mix of what’s hip and new and the best of the ‘older’ generations of rock.

And they’re not even finished. What next? I simply can’t see them topping what they’ve got so far. So if you’ve been swayed, weekend tickets, early entry permits, camper van permits are still on sale and are available from Seetickets, here for Reading and here for Leeds.

 

This Week’s Gonzo – the Vaccines and Ellie Goulding have a visit with Alexa

 
By on Friday, 11th March 2011 at 1:00 pm
 

So what’s on MTV Gonzo tonight? The Vaccines, the band you either like or cannot escape from, will be stopping by for a chat with Alexa. Also on the show will be Ellie Goulding, who will not only be talking with Alexa but will also perform a cover of Rihanna’s ‘Only Girl in the World’ (I didn’t see that one coming). American rapper Lupe Fiasco will no doubt be talking about his new Modest Mouse-sampling tune ‘The Show Goes On’ and will be fielding questions from the Gonzola.

Through the wonders of technology, Midwest alt-rock band Cage the Elephant will be filling us in what they’ve been up to since the release of their second album, ‘Thank You, Happy Birthday’, in January. In the weekly Director’s Cut feature, North London rapper Skepta walks us through his video for ‘Amnesia’. I guess it should go without saying that rappers tend to name-drop. Well, at least Skepta isn’t shy to do so, revealing, “Diddy invited me back to party at a pool with loads of girls and champagne!” If we were so lucky. New videos from the Strokes and Dr. Dre featuring Eminem round out the programme. It’s a good night to stay in.

MTV Gonzo airs tonight (Friday) at 7 PM on MTV Music, with a repeat at 8 PM on MTV Rocks.

 
 
 

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