Lock Up Stage Preview 2011 – Reading and Leeds

And here comes the customary Lock Up preview. Although this preview comes a bit later in the year than usual, it’s perhaps a rather good thing – several bands have dropped out or been added in the time between the announcement and now. In any case, here’s a breakdown of what you’re likely to see at Reading or Leeds Festival this year!… if you’re like me and pretty much stick to this tent alone.

There’s a fundamental difference concerning the Lock Up this year, and that’s the scheduling. Unlike previous years, where the Lock Up ran Friday-Saturday (at Reading), it’s now moved to Saturday-Sunday. Leeds is mostly unaffected, with the Lock Up remaining Sunday-Friday. What this means for me in particular is that I won’t see Muse do their Origin Of Symmetry anniversary set because the Descendents are playing at the same damn time. I’m only sort of okay with that. But for Milo and the guys, I’ll make the sacrifice. But anyway, let’s get down to it – who’s playing and who do you need to see?

Saturday/Sunday (Reading/Leeds)

Leamington’s own, Sharks are pretty well known around my area. They supported The Gaslight Anthem on their American Slang tour in the UK and fared rather well amongst the audience. Their particular brand of punk is possibly better suited to the NME stage – a bit like Fucked Up, it’s rather hard to place but it has too much of a universal affair for the Lock Up stage. Nevertheless, they’re sure to be winning openers for the day.

Title Fight
One of my most anticipated bands of the weekend, Title Fight are awesome. I’m a huge fan of the melodic hardcore/pop-punk hybrid a la Lifetime, Set Your Goals and all that. There’s something in there that just screams a bit of 90s emo as well and it’s ace. I’m not entirely sure how their live act is going to pull together, but frequenting the hardcore circuit in the US, they’re more than likely going to deliver.

Teenage Bottlerocket
Ah, Teenage Bottlerocket. I remember listening to these guys back in the hazy days of middle school, their tracks passed around on mix CDs bearing pretty much entirely Fat Wreck bands with a few Epitaph ones chucked on as an afterthought. Ridiculously fun pop-punk, it’ll definitely lighten the mood if it’s a rainy day (although let’s hope not!).

There’s a lot of stuff I could write here, but I’m saving that for next week’s post-hardcore expose. To put it bluntly, letlive. are one of the best things to happen to the alternative music scene in the past ten years. Fake History is an amazing record and I simply cannot wait to see this band live. Behind Hot Water Music and Descendents, letlive. are on my must see list and I won’t be missing this for the world.

Street Dogs
Mike McColgan’s (former Dropkick Murphys singer) band dating back from 2002, for those of you who didn’t know. I don’t think I did. It’s good old honest shouty punk rock with a far less of an Irish feel than Dropkicks. If you like Bouncing Souls, you’ll probably like these guys. More than likely worth a watch, despite their interruption of what could have been the perfect set (come on, letlive., Boysetsfire and Comeback Kid in one go would be like a triple orgasm).

It has been a hell of a long time since I’ve heard anything from Boysetsfire. Since their reunion last year, they’ve been touring all over and it looks like Reading and Leeds will be no exception. Their particular brand of post-hardcore is wonderfully melodic and atmospheric, which should bring a touch of epic back to the stage. If you’ve never heard them before, a whole lot of After The Eulogy (which rules) is up on their Myspace for your delectation.

Comeback Kid
We all know how much love I have for Comeback Kid by now. A blinder of a set at Imperial Never Say Die last year has set them up perfectly for this. The new album is pretty damn sweet but I’ll be looking for material from Broadcasting more than anything. Hardcore that in the words of Bill and Ted is ‘excellent!’ Get on this if you like lots of gang shouts.

Leftover Crack
I’ve never been a huge Leftover Crack fan. I enjoy ska, but their kind of skacore just isn’t my thing. Nevertheless, their live presence can’t be denied and will probably be worth a watch. Famously described as anti-everything, there’s going to be a lot of fury, a lot of breakdowns and probably some pretty big moshpits.

Ah, Capdown. Yet another reformation to grace the stage. Not that I’m complaining; Capdown are one of my old P-Rock TV staples and should go down a treat. An ideal lead in from Leftover Crack to The Bronx – it’s ska-punk as you know it best.

The Bronx
Here’s a shocking thought for you – this will be my first time catching The Bronx. Unfortunately unable to attend their Coventry show in my first year, I have been left bereft, but no longer! Hardcore legends. If you haven’t heard of The Bronx and you regularly read this website, then something went wrong in your musical education. I’m definitely expecting some violent pits for this one.

The King Blues
The King Blues seemed to fare well enough on the main stage last year, but this is perhaps where they belong and will surely pull a much larger and more dedicated crowd. Punk and Poetry is an ideal summer album, although in my eyes one of their weakest. It still has some great songs on it though and as they won’t be catering to the majority, they’re bound to whip out a few classics.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Truth be told, I’ve never listened to a lot of Bosstones. They’ve always been there in the background of my ska listening, but no doubt my partners in crime on the radio would be far more excited for this set. Although they don’t measure up to the headliners of the next day, they’re bound to be a lot of fun.

Sunday/Friday (Reading/Leeds)

Fighting Fiction
Fighting Fiction are apparently dudes from Brighton! Cool! On my trawling through the internet, I spy a connection to Xtra Mile, the record company that Frank Turner is also on. Exciting. But enough about details, the songs sound great. Indie tinged punk rock with a lot of balls, this should prove to be pretty damn good on a Sunday morning.

Spy Catcher
From the one song I managed to find out there on the internet, Spy Catcher seem to be a pretty intriguing bunch. My expectations were shot from the beginning with some very interesting synth work, then into a post-hardcore/emo sound as the guitars kicked in. Perhaps this should have been expected, upon discovering they supported The Get Up Kids last year, but I enjoyed being pleasantly surprised. Here’s hoping the set goes just as well.

Your Demise
After spotting Your Demise at the Never Say Die tour, there aren’t enough good things I can say about them. British hardcore has been at an all time low and Your Demise are bringing it back. Brutal stuff. I bloody love them and you should too. More than likely, this is going to be one of the most intense and energetic sets of the entire weekend.

The Menzingers
I love The Menzingers. Chamberlain Waits is a great punk album. If you like The Gaslight Anthem, you’ll probably be on board with The Menzingers, except there’s a lot less Springsteen and a bit more awesome. Should be good stuff.

The Black Pacific
The Black Pacific seems to be a smorgasbord of punk veterans, including members from Pennywise and Dropkick Murphys. It’s catchy, melodic punk rock by numbers… and that’s not exactly a bad thing. Perhaps not my most anticipated act of the weekend, but they should prove to be not too shabby.

Keith Morris’ newest hardcore project, Off! are once again a mixture of experienced hardcore veterans. Of course, the mere fact that Keith Morris is performing (and that crosses two Black Flag vocalists off my list that weekend with Henry Rollins headlining the Alternative Stage on Friday) will pull some crowds, but is that 80s sound still relevant? I guess we’ll wait and see. It does sound pretty much exactly the same as Black Flag back in the day, but… it isn’t. So I have mixed feelings here.

Bedouin Soundclash
Bedouin Soundclash are an odd choice for the Lock Up, and again may be better suited to the NME tent. There’s no doubt that their ska/reggae influenced rock is pretty popular amongst the scene, but it seems oddly placed on that day and may have fared better on the Saturday. In any case, it might provide a nice chill out segment to the day before Hot Water Music tear it up.

Hot Water Music
When I heard that Hot Water Music were playing Reading, I was ecstatic. When I heard that HWM were playing on the same day as the Descendents, I was over the moon. To this day, Fuel For The Hate Game remains one of my favourite albums. Nevertheless, both the emo and punk rock sides to Hot Water Music are essential and I simply cannot wait until the moment that Chuck and the boys grace the stage.

Face To Face
I was turned onto Face To Face by former writer Soufex who bloody loves them. And I can see exactly why! Now considered to be one of the seminal punk rock bands from the 90s California scene, this is exactly what you think of when you think American punk rock. You just didn’t know it until now.

The secret act!
For once, I’m clueless. There’s usually some decent indication as to who the secret act could be – last year, Gallows and NOFX ended up playing sets which were completely unannounced. In the tradition of the ‘double set’, Taking Back Sunday seem to be the most likely, playing early on the main stage on Sunday and with the original lineup back in place, it’d simply be a waste if they weren’t back where it all began.

Flogging Molly
Flogging Molly. Well. I’d much rather them than Dropkick Murphys. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a bit of Irish flavoured punk but it’s not my favourite. However, I’ll be right at the front, holding my place. A fair few of my friends are up for this one.

Best. Headliners. Ever. Descendents have been one of my favourite bands since I was about 15 and very little has changed. Since Milo’s surprise cancellation at London, this has been announced and waaaay ahead of all the other Lock Up announcements. Positively renowned for an awesome live experience, THIS is why I bought a Reading ticket. And to miss this would be ridiculous. Sorry Muse.

Festival Haters Gonna Hate.

I promised myself that after last year, I wouldn’t ever bother with Reading Festival again. There was too much rain, too many bad bands barring the Lock-Up and the company was goddamn awful. But somehow, here I am, being suckered up back into its warm musical bosom. And well, the lineup this year is, to be honest, great for me! The Lock-Up is yet to be announced but when it is, I’m sure it’ll be fun. The Friday is pretty much my teenage dream – MCR, The Offspring, Rise Against and New Found Glory are sure to keep my adolescence happy, with Bring Me The Horizon to suit some of my new found tastes and 30 Seconds To Mars to fulfil the eye-candy proportion of the day. Jared Leto, you are a beautiful man. But that’s just me. I appreciate that while I am not alone in my musical selection, I am limited – hardly any of my friends are making the trip down there this year. Perhaps it’s because they have limited funds. Perhaps it’s because they’re otherwise engaged. Or, just maybe, it’s because they’d rather be festival misers and shit on pretty much every line up that’s available.

There is one guy in my friends list on Facebook who has taken it upon himself to be the anti-Reading crusader. Any and every status, he’s in there with a “NO, IT’S SHITE” or a “SO GLAD I’M NOT GOING HURR HURR HURR”. I just don’t get it. Does he get some kind of smug satisfaction from attempting to shoot down people’s glee and then failing? Because trust me, it’s a failure. I am happier about this line up than I was about the news that Panic! At The Disco were releasing a new album and if only you could have seen me on that day. If only. There is nothing wrong with liking the popular choice once in a while. Bands get to be famous because they are good at what they do. For example, I may not like You Me At Six at all but I can appreciate that people like them because they’re ridiculously well practised at their particular brand of pop-rock parading. There is but one band I reserve unadulterated hatred for and that’s a story for another time. My point is, I can appreciate it when bands are good at their craft, even if I don’t like those bands’ music. If I don’t like the line up poster, I won’t click buy. I’m not going to moan about it. There’s enough variety for everyone!

But sadly, that’s not enough for yet another of my Facebook friends. Metalhead syndrome is his curse, and anything that isn’t Sonisphere/Bloodstock/Download is up for abuse. Every line up announced, he’s just got to have his say in his poorly spelt and badly constructed statuses. Fair enough if you can at least put an intelligent-ish argument together about why it’s rubbish (e.g. it’s too expensive, the genres aren’t fairly represented, too many dicks there last year), but if all you can say is “lol reading is shit this year, So glad Im going to Download” and respond with the same stock phrase to any and every Facebook post about Reading, then are you really in the position to complain? If you argue with him, he’ll just respond with the same insipid smiley face. I’m not sure if he’s a bit simple or if he’s a tactical genius. Either way, come on guys! Festivals are about fun! You can’t be fun if you’re being elitist and grumpy. In the last few years, I’ve found out about new bands that have gone on to be my favourites and had a great time dancing along to stuff I wasn’t really into, purely because I was there with a good group of people and having a ball. I’ve been hugged by random gingers. I’ve been part of one of the biggest group chants ever (“WANKER!” at the P!ATD bottler, anyone?). I’ve been almost knocked out in a Rise Against pit, only for some big burly bloke to pick me up, wink at me and toss me back in. The music is great, but it’s all the little things as well that make a festival. Who wants to decry that for everyone?

The thing is, there’s plenty out there for everyone. If you’re a festival fan, there’s no doubt at least one that you can go to and you’ll more than likely have a fantastic weekend. This year, I’m hoping, will be a definite improvement on my one last year. No brats, plenty of good bands straight off the bat and a couple of good friends seem to be opting in. Plus the Coffee and Cakes stall will be there. Those cappuccinos are to die for.

Leeds Festival 2009 – Friday (a review by ninthandash)


Leeds Festival. Two words that will give anyone from the North of England either happy memories or a resentful frown. Last year, being unable to go, I was sadly the latter. But this year, I made it. I’m writing this from my bed, a novelty which has not yet worn off for me, and I’m so covered in bruises that I was considering attempting to play connect-the-dots – an idea I quickly threw away once I touched the pen to my arm and remembered all over again how sore I was. This, of course, is my way of beginning to explain what a fucking fantastic week-end it was.

I cleverly decided to bring a friend along with me who hadn’t heard of most of the bands who were playing, aside from the obvious, and who wasn’t a fan of many of the bands she had heard of (Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, etc). This meant that I could slyly enforce my own schedule upon her while saying, eyes wide, “But are you sure there’s nowhere else you’d rather be?” Of course, there wasn’t, leaving me free to rejoice in all the live music I wanted. I am a total live music whore, I’ll admit it right up. If it’s a band I’ve never heard of, I’ll listen (and probably dance, being unable to sit still). If it’s a band I don’t like… I’ll still dance. Hence the busy schedule – I was determined to make the best of my time.

The weekened opened with Mariarchi el Bronx. I’d heard tell of the Bronx’s mariarchi set and was intrigued to give it a chance. There wasn’t much else that I would be missing, so we headed on down to the Main Stage and seated ourselves comfortable. I’ll admit right now that I know next to nothing about mariarchi; Wikipedia tells me that it’s from Mexico and consists of of at least three violins, two trumpets, one Spanish guitar, one vihuela, one guitarrón and occasionally a harp.

Thanks to Mariarchi el Bronx, I also know that it’s forgettable. Mariarchi music is not something that interests me, in fact; it sounds like music that I expect to hear in the elevator or maybe when put on hold during a phone call. The costumes amused me, the stage presence was disappointing, and the reaction from the crowd was, understandably, almost none. Opening the main stage on a Friday afternoon is difficult, nevertheless, Mariarchi el Bronx were not, in my opinion, a success.

Up next were Fightstar, and we decided to stick around out of interest. Known to most as ‘Charlie-from-Busted’s-new-band’, Fightstar sounded mostly like a lot of noise… and not in a good way. (Yes, there is a good way.) I, personally, can never take them seriously after Busted, and Fightstar sound like a poor imitation of many better bands – so why not listen to the better bands instead? The most interesting part of their set was when the people around me started yelling out Busted songs as requests. I was hopeful that Charlie & co would play an impromptu version of ‘Air Hostess’ – sadly not.

Heading over to the Lock Up tent, I managed to get front row for Chuck Ragan. I’d heard nothing of his music before, aside from a pretty spectacular cover of ‘Wreck of the Old 97’ from a punk rock Johnny Cash tribute album, but as the ex-frontman to one of my all time favourite bands, Hot Water Music, I figured he was worth a look. And he was.

Chuck is now a folk singer/songwriter, and his music is catchy and fun while having a deeper tone to it. I knew he was doing folk, but I didn’t expect to find it as enjoyable as I did. It was one of my Leeds festival highlights, and Chuck has a great stage presence, even going so far as to throw free CDs into the audience at the end (although, I’ll admit I ducked, not wanting a sharp edged CD cover to hit my head at high speed).

At the NME tent, we managed to catch half of Metric’s set, including the fantastic ‘Monster Hospital’. Emily Haines is an amazing frontwoman, stomping around the stage in a glittery dress that I unashamedly coveted. However, they soon made way for the artist we were really there to see: Patrick Wolf.

Patrick Wolf is every inch a performer, with nothing but dramatic openings and gestures from start to finish. This isn’t to say that the focus is taken away from his music, rather, it adds to his performance and becomes a part of it. Appearing on stage in one of his famous unusual outfits, white-blond hair tied back, Patrick displayed his amazing singing talents, going on to also demonstrate his keyboard-playing abilities. With a costume change halfway through the set, not to m ention some surprisingly earnest banter, Patrick never failed to entertain, including his gloriously indulgent twirls along the barrier. Definitely one of my Leeds festival highlights.

The next band we caught the end of were Mad Caddies at the Lock Up tent. They were undeniably fun, and you only had to glance at the audience to see that they were having an amazing time. Skanking and dancing all over the place, it was riotous entertainment and I couldn’t stop smiling during the whole three songs I was there.

After Mad Caddies, I made my way to the barrier for The Bronx. Not sure what to expect after their lack of stage presence and, frankly, dull performance earlier as Mariarchi el Bronx, I was pleasantly surprised when they arrived on stage in a whirl of energy. Screaming and throwing himself around the stage, Matt Caughthran at one point climbed halfway up the tall pole in the middle of the tent and did a backflip into the audience, setting the tone for the rest of the set.

It was impossible to stay still during their particular brand of noisy punk rock, and the set was over surprisingly quickly. At one point, Caughthran stood up on the barrier and demanded that all crowd-surfers be sent to him, ‘to deal with’. If I’d been tall enough to see and not flinging myself around in the pit, I’m sure that it would have definitely been something worth remembering.

After The Bronx finished and I’d had time to recuperate from their energetic set, Thursday took the stage. This was the third time I’d seen Thursday and they were similar each time, satisfactory and enjoyable but not particularly gripping or exciting. ‘Consistent’ would be the best word to describe them, and they did their best to get the crowd involved.

Friday finished up with Rise Against. The atmosphere was phonomenal before they even took the stage, with the tent packed full, causing barely enough room to breathe. Everyone was excited, and the music playing only added to the tension, with spontaneous sing-alongs to Jimmy Eat World’s ‘The Middle’ and Blink-182’s ‘Dammit’. Rise Against finally delivered an amazing show, playing a wide selection of songs and gaining a fantastic response from the crowd. They were the perfect choice to finish the night, and left me feeling exhausted in the way that means I know I’ve had a good night.