LIVE REVIEW: Reading And Leeds Festival 2019

Posted: Friday 30 August 2019

Photo Credit: Corinne Cumming

Reading and Leeds Festival 2019 may have had one of the best line-ups in history, but what it’ll probably be remembered for this year was the soaring temperatures, as it hit 30 degrees across the weekend! Despite the sweat, we powered through and managed to catch some incredible sets from a variety of acts, many of whom are heading out on tour soon. Here’s our round-up of one of the UK's biggest and best festivals.


SEA GIRLS

Providing the perfect wake up call for all those Friday hangovers, Sea Girls’ anthemic indie rock provided the crowd with joyous sing-a-long atmosphere that left voices hoarse but infinitely satisfied. Standout track ‘Damage Done’ may include the line “No, I don’t really wanna dance”, but that certainly didn’t seem to stop frontman Henry Camamile, who, defying the heat in a resplendent red suit jacket, strutted and romped his way through a brilliant set from the indie upstarts which featured crowd surfers galore and supplied a tantalising tease as to what to expect from their upcoming debut album.

O2 Forum Kentish Town: Thursday 10 October Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Leicester: Friday 11 October* Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Liverpool: Friday 18 October* Buy Tickets

*This show is sold out but re-sale tickets may be available through our official ticketing partner, Ticketmaster.

CASWELL

Neo-soul songwriter, Caswell, could be forgiven for having one eye on her upcoming slot supporting Ed Sheeran at Ipswich’s Chantry Park, but that definitely didn’t show, as the green Queen swayed her way through a set full of downtempo electronica mixed with catchy, memorable pop. Delivering a polished performance inviting comparisons to R&B legend Erykah Badu, Caswell displayed no noticeable nerves and gave a stunning argument as to why she’s a future star in the making. You don’t want to miss out when she performs at the October Sessions at O2 Academy Islington later this year.

O2 Academy Islington: Wednesday 9 October Buy Tickets

THE NIGHT CAFE

What a day it was for The Night Café. Not only were they celebrating the release of their debut album, 0151, by getting to perform their flashy new material on the BBC Radio 1 stage, but it was also drummer, Carl Dillon’s birthday. A year on from their set on the Festival Republic stage and their growth is commendable. Looking and sounding sharper and more polished than ever, their gloomy indie vibe settled over the crowd like a warm comforting blanket, that was until the finale of ‘Mixed Signals’. Suddenly everyone switched into full party mode and cheered on the fine young Liverpudlian quartet, making their day that little bit more special.

O2 Institute Birmingham: Thursday 26 September Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Oxford: Monday 30 September Buy Tickets

CHARLI XCX

Pop Queen, Charli XCX, treated an enamoured audience to banger after banger after banger. Owning the stage from the start, she effortlessly moved through a set featuring a breathless collection of her greatest hits, eventually providing the perfect Spice Girls homage in the form of ‘Spicy’, a rework of the classic track ‘Wannabe’, which seemed to be the cue for people to be raised on shoulders. Somehow infused with an unlimited supply of energy, her constant dancing and pitch perfect vocals stole the show and with the highly anticipated release of third album, Charli in September, world domination is almost certainly just around the corner for the songwriter.

O2 Institute Birmingham: Monday 28 October* Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Brixton: Thursday 31 October* Buy Tickets

*This show is sold out but re-sale tickets may be available through our official ticketing partner, Ticketmaster.

SPINN

With frontman Johnny Quinn having clearly taken a few tricks from the Mick Jagger playbook, the jangly, Johnny Marr-esque twee guitar melodies provided the perfect opportunity for the singer to slither and shake his way through their hugely boppable set. Playing songs from their sparkling self-titled debut album, including the effervescent ‘Notice Me’, the Scousers are exactly the sort of band to carry you through a sunny afternoon, as they brought infectious energy all the way through opening song ‘Shallow’ to closer ‘Notice Me’, their best-known single.

O2 Academy Liverpool: Friday 6 December Buy Tickets

CLAIRO

Dream pop star, Clairo, provided a little respite from the scorching heat, as her lo-fi, diary-entry songs provided a soothing soundtrack, delivered seemingly straight from the bedroom at the thankfully tented Radio 1 Stage. In a surprisingly emotive set, tearjerker ‘Closer To You’ showcased just what the young audience finds so relatable about the songwriter, who started her career by posting covers and originals on Bandcamp and YouTube. That said, she’s not all chilled vibes, as she throws some lively ones our way to close her set in the form of early singles ‘Pretty Girl and ‘4ever’, which brings the audience swiftly out of their entranced swaying.

O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire: Monday 2 December Buy Tickets

O2 Institute Birmingham: Wednesday 4 December Buy Tickets

O2 Ritz Manchester: Saturday 7 December Buy Tickets

PALE WAVES

Pale Waves feel like an act lifted straight out of the 80s and polished with a wondrous modern sheen. Dark brooding synths soar over disco beats as lead singer, Heather Baron-Gracie, bounced her way through a vibrant set that featured no-let up. In contrast to their black-red back drop and almost Tim Burton inspired aesthetic, there’s something vibrant about the band; their songs feel vital and alive, and the crowd certainly responded in kind, especially when discarding her guitar Heather made her way into an adoring crowd that all wanted a piece of their goth-pop idol.

O2 Academy Birmingham: Tuesday 24 September Buy Tickets

O2 Forum Kentish Town: Thursday 26 September Buy Tickets

PUP

Reading & Leeds have been accused over the years of forgetting their rock ‘n’ roll origins as they strive to adapt to modern tastes, but the fistfight of a set from Canadian punk quartet PUP showed that behind all the glitz and the glam they can still do a good old rock show. Mosh pits circled, beers flew, and voices screamed as the band played nihilistic anthem after anthem to an adoring audience. Old skool fans drooled over deep cuts such as ‘Dark Days’ from the band’s debut album, however it was closer ‘DVP’ that truly inspired a delirious Lock Up tent into madness and left fans hungry for their upcoming UK tour.

O2 Academy Birmingham: Saturday 23 November Buy Tickets

THE CHATS

Clashing set times with The 1975 was never going to be an easy task, but it was something Aussie punk band, The Chats, took in their stride. Charging into their beer-soaked anthems about spending all their money and having their identity stolen, it was chaos from the beginning. Amongst the dusty haze of the Festival Republic tent, there were bodies flying over heads, fists pumping high into the air and fans chanting along to every ironic word. Shouting about things that are, quite frankly, too rude for us to repeat, The Chats are a band that just do not care about what you think of them and it’s this no-frills attitude that has lured the fans in and why people just can’t get enough of the three unlikely heroes from Queensland.

O2 Academy Oxford: Sunday 1 December Buy Tickets

O2 Ritz Manchester: Tuesday 10 December Buy Tickets

O2 Institute Birmingham: Wednesday 11 December Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Bristol: Friday 13 December Buy Tickets

O2 Forum Kentish Town: Saturday 14 December Buy Tickets

BOSTON MANOR

There are a lot of bands making big leaps in stages at Reading and Leeds festival this year, and one of them is Boston Manor. Almost a year on from the release of their sophomore record, Welcome To The Neighbourhood and it’s evident from their performance that things have well and truly levelled up for the band. Aesthetically slick and confident in themselves, they’re certainly no longer the underdogs of the pop-punk scene anymore, now they’re a whole new monster with an incredible fighting spirit. Clambering into the crowd, vocalist Henry Cox ordered a group of lads to hold him high whilst he commanded a pit around him, so it’s safe to say there was no short supply of energy here. Finishing things off with the almighty, ‘Halo’, it was the final rush of a fully charged set and something that the Blackpool lads should be proud of themselves for achieving.

The Old Fire Station, Bournemouth: Wed 6 Nov Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Leicester: Friday 8 November Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Sheffield: Thursday 14 November Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Liverpool: Friday 15 November Buy Tickets

SLOWTHAI

Social renegade, Slowthai, inspired one of the maddest crowds of the weekend. From the moment the 24-year-old rapper opened with ‘Kodak Moment’, he was a force of nature. Pausing the lunacy only to discard items of clothing one at a time there was a fear (hope?) that he might end up performing in his birthday suit, thankfully decency prevailed and the Y- Fronts remained on, as he orchestrated both the crowd and his entourage into possibly one of the biggest circle pits ever seen at the Radio 1 Stage. By the time he left, after showcasing his unreleased track with Denzel Curry, the audience was battered, bruised but definitely not broken, following a set that will live long in the memory.

O2 Academy Bristol: Thursday 17 October* Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Brixton: Friday 18 October* Buy Tickets

*This show is sold out but re-sale tickets may be available through our official ticketing partner, Ticketmaster.

AITCH

The BBC Radio 1 Tent was bursting at the seams as fans streamed in to catch a glimpse of 20-year-old rapper, Aitch. Belying his young age, Aitch showcased excellent stage craft, pitting two sections of the crowd against each other in a competition to be the loudest, as well as provoking an already highly-strung crowd with a series of "Oggy Oggy Oggy’s”. Not that they needed the extra incentive, as fans sang along at full volume to his crowd favourite-filled set list. Despite the heat, the tent positively bounced as the hip hop star’s call to “jump” was reciprocated generously throughout the afternoon.

O2 Academy Islington: Tuesday 17 September* Buy Tickets

O2 Institute Birmingham: Wednesday 18 September* Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Bristol: Thursday 5 December* Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Leicester: Friday 13 December* Buy Tickets

O2 Forum Kentish Town: Monday 16 December* Buy Tickets

O2 Institute Birmingham: Tuesday 17 December* Buy Tickets

*This show is sold out but re-sale tickets may be available through our official ticketing partner, Ticketmaster.

SPORTS TEAM

Sports Team are a band who like to make themselves known, you can tell this by the fact they had funeral flowers spelling out the band name displayed alongside a very picturesque stage setup of picket white fences. There’s nothing morbid about their live set though, oh no, if anything it’ll leave you feeling totally alive. The indie newcomers have been working hard since their BBC Introducing slot last year to prove themselves as the fiery new upstarts on the scene, and it’s working. Within moments of their arrival there was chaos, with frontman Alex Rice conjuring up mosh pits with a swish of his microphone and throwing himself amongst it all to crowdsurf to his own songs. A wild and wicked frenzy from beginning to end, it’s easy to see why they’ve become a must-see live band and it feels like this is a band who right now are completely unstoppable.

O2 Forum Kentish Town: Thursday 26 September (w/ Pale Waves) Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Glasgow: Friday 4 October (w/ Two Door Cinema Club) Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Glasgow: Saturday 5 October (w/ Two Door Cinema Club) Buy Tickets

O2 Victoria Warehouse Manchester: Monday 7 October (w/ Two Door Cinema Club) Buy Tickets

O2 Victoria Warehouse Manchester: Tuesday 8 October (w/ Two Door Cinema Club) Buy Tickets

MABEL

Fresh from the release of her debut album, High Expectations, Mabel well and truly brought the fire to the BBC Radio 1 stage. With a full crew of backing dancers behind her, she not only delivered a flawless vocal performance, but also some of the fiercest moves we’ve ever bear witnessed to. Kicking things off with the huge hits, ‘Fine Line’ and ‘Bad Behaviour’, it was a non-stop party from then on. Roping the crowd in to sing Not3s’ verses during ‘My Lover’ before then dropping a cover of Drake’s ‘Passionfruit’, it was enough for you to shout “YASSSSSS” at the top of your lungs. Not even the lure of Post Malone’s impending headline slot could drag people away from this, as she rounded things up with ultimate single girl banger, ‘Don’t Call Me Up’ and explosive red pyro. Take a bow, Mabel, because that was one of the most enjoyable sets of the entire weekend.

O2 Academy Glasgow: Saturday 1 February Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Leeds: Sunday 2 February Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Liverpool: Tuesday 4 February* Buy Tickets

O2 Guildhall Southampton: Sunday 9 February Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Birmingham: Tuesday 11 February Buy Tickets

*This show is sold out but re-sale tickets may be available through our official ticketing partner, Ticketmaster.>

TALKBOY

Crowding out the BBC Introducing Stage, Leeds indie rock six-piece, Talkboy, provided a captivating and rewarding set that chased away any fears of a Sunday Morning lag. Featuring lush harmonies from wonderfully inviting voices, the indie newbies showcased a song writing craft that defied their relative newness. The cute rhythmic switch ups and fast paced staccato of the breathless ‘Over & Under’ was a definite highlight, raising the pace and waking up a worse for wear Reading crowd. With an audience that may well never have heard the act before, they’re certain to have won many new admirers, and what’s more, it’s 100% deserved.

O2 Academy Islington: Wednesday 11 September Buy Tickets

THE FAIM

Ahead of their newly announced UK tour alongside Hot Milk and Normandie, Australian pop-rockers, The Faim, crossed over oceans to deliver a jaw dropping set for a dedicated Reading audience. Strutting onto stage in a bright yellow jumpsuit, lead singer Josh Raven’s vocals quivered with vibrato immediately, bringing to mind the best of Brendon Urie, and the band have the music to match, with their anthemic ear worm choruses sticking in your brain long after the dust has settled. Closing with the addictive ‘Summer Is A Curse’, the group showcased just why they’re considered future stars of the scene.

Arts Club, Liverpool: Friday 30 August Buy Tickets

O2 Institute Birmingham: Saturday 7 December Buy Tickets

YUNGBLUD

Yungblud’s rise over the past year has been incredible to watch and his set on the Reading Festival main stage was a defining moment in his career. Now a 21st century punk icon, he and his trademark pink socks ruled the Sunday afternoon slot like a true headliner in the making. Erratic and bursting at the seams with a contagious energy, his grunge-pop anthems and northern spirit had tornados of people throwing themselves around the various pits that had opened up down the front. Not even a cast on his right hand could hold back this animal, launching his guitar and mic stand across the stage as he commanded the loudest of sing-a-longs from the thousands of fans gathered in front of him. Amongst all the rage and anarchy, though, is someone completely stunned by the entire experience and a look of disbelief crosses his face on more than one occasion. He better get used to it though, because judging by that performance, the crowds and stages are only going to grow substantially in the years to come.

O2 Academy Bristol: Tuesday 19 November* Buy Tickets

O2 Ritz Manchester: Wednesday 20 November* Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Brixton: Thursday 21 November* Buy Tickets

O2 Institute Birmingham: Friday 22 November* Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Sheffield: Friday 29 November* Buy Tickets

*This show is sold out but re-sale tickets may be available through our official ticketing partner, Ticketmaster.

PICTURE THIS

Bringing a healthy dose of shimmering pop-rock to the final day of Reading Festival were Irish quartet, Picture This. Still riding the ever-growing wave of latest album, MDRN LV, they looked at home on the BBC Radio 1 stage. Dressed in matching work overalls, they let their handy work do the talking, but unlike that of a plumber, there was nothing wet about their performance. Big pop choruses and upbeat piano melodies were the main event here and they went down smoothly as the sunshine poked in through the tent. Big favourite, ‘One Drink’ brought some 80s vibes to the table and frontman, Ryan Hennessy, flaunted some impressive dance moves to go with it, delivering an all-round fun-filled set to ease our way into the rest of the afternoon.

O2 Academy Glasgow: Thursday 24 October Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Leeds: Monday 28 October Buy Tickets

O2 Institute Birmingham: Thursday 31 October Buy Tickets

THE SNUTS

Scottish quartet, The Snuts, inspired a rowdy audience into rapture as they jumped, pushed and sweated their way through an eclectic set on Sunday afternoon. With the rapid-fire delivery and clever catchy chorus of the explosive ‘All Your Friends’ reminiscent of early Arctic Monkeys, the group showed exactly why they were selected as support for Lewis Capaldi on his November tour. Led by a rock ‘n’ roll swagger, the band’s kinetic live set delivered everything the crowd asked for and more, creating huge anticipation for their own upcoming headline tour.

Arts Club, Liverpool: Saturday 14 September* Buy Tickets

O2 Institute Birmingham: Monday 16 September Buy Tickets

ED GAMBLE

If you ever need a bit of respite at a festival, we can’t encourage you enough to check out the list of comedians and speakers who are also on offer. Over on the Alternative stage we took a moment to sit down and enjoy the belly laughs that were induced by Mock The Week favourite, Ed Gamble. Giving us some of the best bits from recent stand-up show, Blood Sugar, he told us of his failed attempt at being a metal musician, life of a diabetic and of course mocked the hecklers in the audience, many of whom shouted phrases from his podcast, Off Menu. A delightful snippet of the gags he’s become so well-loved for, it’s left us counting down the days until his huge show in the capital this November.

O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire: Friday 20 December Buy Tickets

MACHINE GUN KELLY

On the surface, Machine Gun Kelly might appear as just another rapper, but if his performance at Reading festival has proven anything, it’s that he’s a bona fide Rockstar. Demolishing the walls between rock and hip hop, his live shows bring the same energy as a sweaty hardcore gig, performing alongside a full backing band to give his music and the fans the experience they deserve. Standing tall behind a completely over the top but totally necessary snake mic stand, he powered through tracks from new album, Hotel Diablo, using up every inch of the stage to get everyone well and truly riled up. Flaunting his skills as a musician, he took the moment to thrust out plenty of riffs and also took a seat behind the drum kit for an epic cover of Mötley Crüe’s ‘Shout At The Devil’, a nod to his starring role in The Dirt. If that all wasn’t enough, there were also smoke canons firing out with every drop, a hype man keeping the energy at an alarming level and the pièce de résistance of ‘I Think I’m OKAY’, which featured an excitable Yungblud singing his parts whilst running from side to side with a Cheshire-cat grin on his face. A complete whirlwind, it solidified Machine Gun Kelly as a must-see performer and things can only get bigger from here.

O2 Institute Birmingham: Friday 30 August Buy Tickets

O2 Forum Kentish Town: Saturday 31 August Buy Tickets

THE AMAZONS

Having grown up just down the road from the Festival, The Amazons Reading set was a truly rock ‘n’ roll homecoming for the indie band. Despite the sweltering heat in the BBC Radio 1 tent, the four-piece roared through a set filled up of razor-sharp tracks from new album, Future Dust and beyond, culminating in euphoric moment where Yonaka lead singer, Theresa Jarvis, joined the stage for ‘In My Mind’. Before the show, bassist Elliott Briggs promised chaos and boy did they deliver, as the band drew upon the crowd to deliver a performance filled with enough to power the entire festival by themselves and then some.

O2 Academy Birmingham: Friday 8 November Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Leeds: Saturday 9 November Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Newcastle: Tuesday 12 November Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Bristol: Sunday 17 November Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Bournemouth: Tuesday 19 November Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Brixton: Friday 22 November Buy Tickets

CAVETOWN

As the final day of Reading festival drew to a close, there was one more artist we had to squeeze into our schedules and that was singer-songwriter, Cavetown. A simple setup of him, a guitar and a floral mic stand was all he needed - (plus his pal on backing vocals/guitar) - to draw in droves of teenagers, as they gleefully bopped along to his gentle indie rhythms. The timid bedroom pop singer played a sweet selection of tracks from 2018’s full-length, Lemon Boy, as well as a collection of favourites from his Animal Kingdom series, with each and every word sung back so loud you could barely hear his vocals. One thing was clear from his set and that was that his fanbase completely and utterly adore him, his songs connect with you on a whole different level and send you into a daydream where everything is nice.

O2 Academy Birmingham: Monday 2 December* Buy Tickets

O2 Ritz Manchester: Wednesday 26 February Buy Tickets

O2 Institute Birmingham: Thursday 27 February Buy Tickets

O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire: Saturday 29 February Buy Tickets

*This show is sold out but re-sale tickets may be available through our official ticketing partner, Ticketmaster.


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