A look at the currently announced R&L 2019 lineup.
The statement going around on social media currently is that this is the worst Reading & Leeds line up ever. The question is, is it actually as bad as it’s being made out to be?
The short answer: No
The Long answer: Of course anything can be subjectively bad if it doesn’t match up with ones personal tastes, but, is it objectively a bad line up? Again, no. The people that say otherwise are just plain in denial, just because they don’t like a band or an artist it doesn’t make it a bad line up. In fact, it could be argued that this is in fact the best R&L in years, regardless of personal taste. This is coming from someone who personally dislikes one of the headliners and isn’t all that bothered about the other. But I’m still willing to admit that as a whole all 4 headliners are great bookings.
If we take a look at this years 4 headliners they are all people that deserve that slot and are ready to headline the festival. The 1975 are arguably at their peak at the moment just having released their most critically acclaimed album to date. They have also finished a sold out arena tour in the UK about month ago and wow what a spectacle these shows were. Not only this they are expected to release another album in May of this year. Over the years they have gradually been climbing up the R&L headlining the NME stage in 2016. I couldn’t think of anyone else right now who deserves it more than them.
Moving onto the Saturday co-headline we begin with Twenty One Pilots. Now this is the band I have no personal love for, I found their last album Blurryface tediously annoying. Their most recent album is a fair bit better for me personally, I quite enjoy the track “jumpsuit”. However, in spite of that again I couldn’t think of anyone else right now that could take that co-head spot. Undeniably they are a massive band with huge songs, many of which from “Blurryface” have nearly a billion plays on Spotify. Not only that their most recent album “Trench” was critically acclaimed. Moving on to Richard Austin Post aka Post Malone, who is probably one of the more controversial picks for people. Which is strange considering that he is arguably the biggest stars in the world at the moment and sold out his UK arena tour in a matter of seconds. Whilst I like posty and enjoy his music I’m not as big of a fan as some of my mates are. You can argue that he looks smelly all you want but it doesn’t make him any less deserving of the top spot at R&L.
Lastly we have Foo Fighters and to be honest these are the least contested headliner of the bunch. I don’t think anyone really has any problems with these being booked. They are one of the biggest rock bands in the world fronted by the nicest guy in rock n’ roll. What else is there to say?
More important than the headliners is the undercard, this is what really matters more as these are the guys you’ll be spending most of your days seeing, moving between stage to stage, making it more worth the admission. Similarly to 2018 its a great undercard. Obviously its still early days and the next announcement is just around the corner, but from what has been announced thus far its fairly strong already. There are some strong bookings to be found here, Royal Blood who in reality could easily co-headline the festival. It seems as though they’ve shot themselves in the foot accepting this booking. Anderson .Paak is another inspired choice who released the critically acclaimed “Oxnard” and the bouncy track “Bubblin'” last year. Charli XCX is another strong booking releasing the excellent “1999” last year. Other great bookings include The Japanese House, Joji, Billie Eilish and Sundara Karma.
Of course, there are a few uninspired bookings these being the Wombats, who are practically playing the same slot they played last year. Yawn. To be fair though at least they haven’t rebooked the Kooks after last years tragic performance. Blossoms are decent and I like their music but 3rd down still seems like an overbooking for them, 2 years after their first 3rd down slot. Thats it though really, mostly all of the bookings so far are good.
The real shame is the lack of good female artists that are on the present line up. Now, there are female artists on the line up, but it’s really few and far between, particularly on the main stage with none of the top 10 performers being female. It really is a shame. Especially when there were incredible releases from female artists last year from Kali Uchis, Janelle Monae and Jorja Smith to name a few. It’s even more of a shame that Florence hasn’t been booked to headline the festival yet, especially after her incredible headline set at Glastonbury where they stepped up to replace the Foo’s in 2015. The same could be said about Paramore who really should have been booked last year after the great “After Laughter”. They’re long overdue a return and deserve an outright headline slot after their co-head long ago in 2014.
In fact Paramore’s co-headline was the last time a female headlined the festival. It’s bad really when you think about, especially when you consider how recently festivals all over the world have been pushing for more diversity across their line up. Reading needs to take note of what’s going on over at Primavera Sound, that’s what you call an inclusive line up with female headliners across the board.
So, overall no its not a bad line up. Not in the slightest. It’s probably the strongest set of headliners in years and has a strong undercard from what’s been announced so far. The real issue lie’s in the lack of diversity towards the top of the poster. Hopefully we will see R&L become a more inclusive festival in the near future.