Reading and Leeds is a festival with an identity crisis. Rooted in rock music but catering to an audience of teenagers who are more likely to be into grime or hip hop, its place in the festival calendar is increasingly confused. Normally it plays it safe, enlisting the likes of Muse, Eminem and The Killers to headline as it has done countless times and throwing in some dance and rap music on the lower tier speciality stages to appease the youth.
However in 2018, those kinds of bookings don’t really fly anymore and with so many festivals on offer, it’s important to have a target audience in mind when putting a line-up together. All of that would suggest that Reading and Leeds have made a colossal mess of the first wave of artists announced for 2018.
Fall Out Boy and Kings of Leon top two of the dates, in a move that suggests there will be a new album form the latter this year, while Kendrick Lamar and Panic! At The Disco will co-headline the third day of the festival. Elsewhere on the line-up, the likes of Sum 41, IAMDDB, Lil Pump, Courteeners, The Wombats and Post Malone all make appearances. It’s like the iPod (do people still have iPods?) you’ve been using for the past ten years became sentient and decided to book a line-up based on your entire music library.
As much as it looks like the festival’s organisers are throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks, this might actually be a very smart move by Melvin Benn and Festival Republic. Reading and Leeds’ primary demographic is teenagers and this how teenagers listen to music now. Like the 2018 Reading and Leeds line-up, teen music taste is broad, utterly confusing, half-ironic and half-nostalgic. In the middle of an emo/ pop-punk revival, booking the likes of Fall Out Boy, Sum 41 and Panic! makes sense, hell they’ve even got Papa Roach in there for full authenticity. Meanwhile, Kendrick, IAMDDB, Lil Pump, Post Malone and Brockhampton add some more current appeal, bringing in the home county hypebeasts. As for Kings Of Leon, it’s a pretty obvious nod to the dads and lifers that still make up a decent chunk of the festival’s audience.
Reading and Leeds has been struggling to balance its bookings for years now and finally after some soul searching it’s fully accepted that its place in the festival world is for post-GCSE and A-Level chaos, a place where you can revel in the final weeks of your summer holiday/ youth and a place where you can hear ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ and ‘Humble’ performed on the same stage on the same evening, within about an hour of each other. Check out the full line-up below.
Follow Mike Vinti on Twitter