After the scathing reaction to last year’s lineup which divided the festival crowd in half (“why is there so much emo”, “I’m selling my ticket!!”), Reading 2019 has had the major sense of a course correction, and one that was truly needed for the sake of the festival’s future.
The first sign of this can be noticed in the choice of headliners. Out goes acts like Fall Out Boy and Kings of Leon, who have been clinging onto their headline statuses so they don’t fall into irrelevancy, and in comes acts like The 1975, Twenty One Pilots, and Post Malone who are well established but haven’t yet grabbed the top spot until now, especially Post Malone who drew in one of the biggest crowds last year despite being booked in the afternoon slot. In addition, there is the old vanguard in the form of Foo Fighters who are returning as top billing for the fourth time, as well as genre favs Bowling for Soup and Enter Shikari who always get strong crowds.
The recent trend of grime/hip-hop continues but with more acts at the top of the bill: Dave, Fredo, AJ Tracey, Juice WRLD, and Lil Baby normally would be performing on the BBC Radio 1Xtra Stage, but have now been boosted up onto the Radio 1 Stage and the main stage to highlight their recent big commercial successes. Along with this, rising stars like Billie Eilish, Hayley Kiyoko, and Joji who have grown their respective profiles through social media and the internet are reaping their rewards of having massive young fanbase by earning their spots on the Radio 1 stage, whilst BBC Sound of 2019 winner Octavian gets a big break on the Radio 1Xtra Stage as Saturday night’s headliner alongside the strange choice of former N-Dubz rapper Dappy for Friday’s headliner, proving to be the 2019 equivalent of last year’s main stage opener Big Shaq.
On a normal year this would be considered as a decent contemporary festival lineup, but thanks to the return of Glastonbury and the rise of smaller festivals like All Points East and Truck Festival that are providing some fierce competition, Reading & Leeds Festival have had to up their game and bring in more exclusive acts like Anderson Paak. and the Nationals so that they could hold their prestige status as one of the biggest UK festivals, or else fall into irrelevancy like Fall Out Boy and Kings of Leon. As the world’s oldest popular music festival, let’s hope not.
Watch the highlights video for the 2018 edition of Reading festival. Unfortunately, Reading Festival 2019 is fully sold out, so tickets are no longer available, however the artists above will also be performing at Leeds Festival 2019, tickets available here.