Though the UK plays host to countless music festivals every year, some short lived, others more established, Leeds Festival stands head and shoulders above the majority, not just in size, but in scope as well, curating line-ups that feature some of the biggest names in alternative music alongside those from the more mainstream end of the spectrum.
Thanks to a slight shift away from its more alternative beginnings, Leeds has been able to retain its relevance when so many other festivals have failed, evolving its line-ups in tandem with the ever-evolving tastes of its attendees. And while that might have meant a scaling down for stages such as The Lock Up, it’s also seen the introduction of further, more specialist stages, allowing for an even more diverse line-up in recent years.
This year proves no exception. With what is arguably the festival’s most eclectic line-up to date, next week will see the likes of Giggs take to the Main Stage, sandwiched in between Architects and Blossoms, while over on the NME/Radio 1 Stage You Me At Six follow R&B star Tory Lanez. And though it seems that the genre distinctions between stages are becoming less important these days, this has seen the sense of community found in the festival’s campsites flowing in to the arena more freely, as punk kids rub shoulders with house heads, and metalheads mix with grime fans.
It’s this feeling of eclecticism that keeps the punters returning from Bramham Park year after year, much like many people’s annual pilgrimage to Glastonbury, only distinctly more Northern. Of course, while many see Glastonbury as the pinnacle of the UK festival calendar, Reading and Leeds are themselves rites of passage, with everyone remembering, at least parts, of their first one. And though the site and style of the festival has evolved dramatically over its lifespan, it’s still one of the strongest festivals around.
Below are the top five acts we’ll be catching this year:
A guaranteed way to inject some sunshine in to your Sunday, no matter whatever the weather, the Macclesfield three piece will be hitting the BBC Introducing Stage following on from there inclusion as artist of the week. Expect calypso melodies and massive singalongs from a band you’ll be seeing much more of before too long.
Having watched Bear’s Den progress since their inception in 2012, it’s clear the band have gone from strength to strength over the past few years, with the departure of founding member Joey Haynes only strengthening their resolve. Headlining the Festival Republic Stage on Saturday evening, huge swells of instrumentation will backbone the band’s heartfelt lyricism, not a set to miss.
At The Drive-In
A band who barely need an introduction, At The Drive-In are post-hardcore legends, and a turbulent history of break-ups and reunions, as well as a revolving cast of members, means there’s every chance this could be the last time we can see them on stage. They play the Main Stage on Sunday afternoon and you guarantee their set will blow away any lingering cobwebs.
Jimmy Eat World
Playing the Main Stage on Saturday afternoon, Jimmy Eat World are Leeds Festival favourites, having appeared four or five times over its history. Offering up a set of rousing emo anthems, their combination of midwestern indie and polished production are the perfect afternoon accompaniment and are a definite must see.
Back at Bramham Park for what will be his third appearance at the festival, Eminem last headlined back in 2015, in which a mammoth set of almost 30 of his most well-known tracks saw a special appearance by Dido on ‘Stan’, suggesting that this year he’s bound to have some surprises in store. Closing out the Main Stage once again on the Sunday night, it’s going to be the last of a string of highlight performances across the weekend.