Six headliners, two main stages and free testing for all: What we know about Reading and Leeds 2021
The bank holiday weekend in August carries masses of significance for music fans and indie kids alike. Reading and Leeds festival, arguably the biggest festival in the UK after Glastonbury, always takes place in late August. The festival is always a cacophony of chaos, a graveyard for gazebos and the holy haven of hangovers. But not this year. In 2020, Bramham Park in Leeds and Little John’s Farm in Reading fell silent, one of the many victims of Coronavirus. However, fear not, this weekend has not been without its fix of festival excitement. On Monday, the SIX headliners for the festival in 2020 will be announced. With the entire 2020 line up scrapped and a new set of acts being booked, here’s what we know so far.
Speaking to NME, Melvin Benn (CEO of Festival Republic, the events company in charge of Reading and Leeds) revealed that there will be six headliners. In what is believed to be a first in the world of live music, there will be six headliners across three nights- have I mentioned that?- and two main stages. The Radio One tent, the big top tent which traditionally holds slightly more inferior acts than the main stage, is being elevated in quality to match the main stage. With a potential larger capacity, expect up-and-coming indie bands with relatively small fan bases (apologies Sea Girls) to be replaced with larger acts throughout the entire day.
Of course, the biggest issue facing Benn and his events team is obviously Coronavirus. Not only could a second spike in cases and deaths potentially jeopardize the whole festival going ahead, but the festival must be seen to be taking extra precautions to improve sanitation. Anyone that has ever been to Reading and Leeds knows that, with toilets releasing a stench as strong as chloroform and sweaty and cramped mosh pits, it is not the most bio-secure place in the world. In order to tackle the spread of the virus- Coronavirus that is, as I fear there might also be a few other viruses knocking around that weekend- Benn is introducing free testing upon entry. If you test positive, no entry. Whilst this could lead to a very awkward encounter with a security guard and perhaps the most embarrassing walk of shame, it will certainly prevent R and L festival turning into a Corona breeding ground. Benn has also dismissed rumours that a vaccine is needed for the festival to take place next year, stating that only a “very severe rise in cases” would lead to the festival being cancelled for the second time in two years.
So, who are the favourites to headline the festival. Well, Benn has dropped a few hints. He has stated that all six headliners are first-time headliners at Reading and Leeds, unfortunately ruling out a return for fan favourites Artic Monkeys and Foo Fighters. He also stated that they have carried over one headliner from last year- which were Stormzy, Liam Gallagher and Rage Against the Machine. Your guess is as good as mine for that. The bookies’ favourites to headline include Catfish and the Bottlemen and Foals, as well as hip hop artists such as Kendrick Lamar and last year’s planned headliner Stormzy. However, as it always with festival headliners, it is a complete guessing game.
So, whilst we can all dream about being sat in a broken camp chair with a crippling hangover and peeling sunburn, Monday will bring news about who will have the privilege to entertain thousands of Fred Perry and crop top-clad teens, enjoying their first taste of freedom, amongst their first taste of other things. In a dark time for live music, Melvin Benn and his team are a beacon of hope and optimism. Before you know it, we’ll all be on one another’s shoulders, belting out indie classics. The question is: who will be playing?
Words: Tom Farmer