11 bands you can't miss at Reading and Leeds

This weekend, thousands of you will be descending upon Reading and Leeds for three days of music, a few beers and food from paper plates that bend far too easily.

It’s one of the most eclectic festivals on this rain-lashed isle, and this weekend sees the likes of Metallica, Bring Me The Horizon and Refused play alongside Mumford & Sons, The Libertines and Azealia Banks.

Obviously, you can’t be everywhere at once – unless you’re made of magic or can freeze time – so here’s a list of 11 bands you simply can’t miss over the Bank Holiday Weekend…

**MARIACHI EL BRONX/THE BRONX **The Bronx are quite simply one of the finest punk acts to emerge in the last 25 years, and their charro-sporting alter egos Mariachi El Bronx have proved time and time again they’re no novelty act. In both bands, these LA punks play every note like they mean it, and frontman Matt Caughthran can croon just as good as he yells. You’d be foolish to miss either, frankly.

LIMP BIZKIT Once upon a time, Limp Bizkit were the biggest band on the planet. Then, for some reason, the world decided they’d had enough of men in red caps yelling about breaking stuff. Thankfully, things have come full circle these days, and whilst the Bizkit’s recent records may have failed to match the awesome authority of their earlier releases, they still pack a chainsaw (yes, we went there) when it comes to playing live. But how long are they taking to make that Stampede of the Disco Elephants album? Cities have been built in shorter amounts of time. Hurry up.

**BABYMETAL **Babymetal have been something of a phenomenon since festival season last year, and 2015 sees Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal bring their Fox God-led fusion of metal and pop music to Reading and Leeds. Bearing in mind they’ve just announced a headline show at Wembley Arena next year, the fact that they’re opening the main stage might seem ludicrous – but what that actually means is their set has the potential to be one of the greatest opening slots in the festival’s history.

HO99O9 Ever seen the cult ‘70s thriller The Warriors? Well, imagine if one of the gangs in that movie started a band! Pronounced ‘horror’, these New Jersey noisemakers combine hip-hop and punk like a modern-day Bad Brains, and their live shows are equally potent and unruly. They formed back in 2012, but since May this year – when they played these shores for the first time – they’ve only done a handful of UK gigs. If you’re yet to witness the mayhem vocalists theOGM and Yeti999 bring on stage, this weekend is your chance. Expect an onslaught of politically incorrect and disturbing lyrics. You have been warned.

SLAVES The rise of Slaves in 2015 has been nothing short of remarkable, and their infiltration of the mainstream has been reflected in their ascension of the stages at Reading and Leeds. They started out in 2013 on BBC Introducing, before moving up to the Lock Up in 2014, and this year the Tumbridge Wells duo have graduated to the NME / BBC Radio 1 stage. But wherever they play you better believe the hype, because whether it’s Glastonbury Festival or even Later…with Jools Holland, their idiosyncratic garage punk attack is undeniable, and guaranteed to leave a trail of newly converted fans in its wake.

NEW FOUND GLORY The Lock Up stage has played host to most, if not all of the best punk rock bands over the years at Reading and Leeds. Past headliners have included everyone from Bad Religion and Descendents to Less Than Jake and Rise Against, and this year Florida pop-punks New Found Glory return to close proceedings for the first time since 2007. Whatever your feelings on pop-punk, there’s no denying the quality of this band’s back catalogue, so expect the tent to be overflowing before they even set foot on stage.

AGAINST ME! Ever since singer Laura Jane Grace publicly came out as a transgender woman back in 2012, everything about Against Me! has intensified. They’ve never been a band to shy away from difficult or confrontational subject matter, and they’ve always played with a purpose and ferocity that surpassed many of their contemporaries. But the release of 2014’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues saw the band evolve into the most urgent and vital punk rock band on the planet – not to mention one of the tightest. If you believe that claim’s unwarranted, do us a favour and come back after you’ve seen them lay waste to the main stage at Reading and Leeds. And allow us to prepare our response now: we told you so. In the meantime, here they are playing a song called FUCKMYLIFE666 on Letterman. See?

ALEXISONFIRE It’s as yet unclear whether the short run of reunion shows recently announced by Alexisonfire will develop into anything more long term in relation to any extended tours or new material. Wade McNeil certainly has his hands full with Gallows, and Dallas Green doesn’t look like he’s taking time off from his solo projects any time soon. But one thing is clear: when the post-hardcore heroes take to the main stage at Reading and Leeds, you can bet your last Canadian cent there’ll be a field full of diehard fans elated to see the Ontario five-piece’s triumphant return the UK. Their set promises to be a special festival moment, and one you will not want to miss.

TURBOWOLF We’re pretty sure we’ve recommended you watch Turbowolf at every festival they’ve played this summer. So why stop now? They’re a regular on these lists for a reason: they’re one of the most original and exciting bands around. Basically, if you haven’t already seen them then you need to check them out. And if you have already seen them, go and see them again. Their fuzzed out mix of garage-punk and psych-rock is a wondrous spectacle to behold.

QUEEN KWONG Chances are you’ve seen the name Queen Kwong on this very site a lot over the past few months. And for good reason. The band is made up of pedigree rock alumni, including LA session drummer Hayden Scott, ex-Marilyn Manson bassist Fred Sablan, and Limp Bizkit’s very own Wes Borland plays lead guitar. It’s fronted and led by the captivating Carré Callaway, who was discovered by Trent Reznor at the age of 17 and has spent the last decade developing her songwriting into the primal rock ‘n’ roll beast that is Queen Kwong. Their debut album is released next week and promises to be one of the breakthrough records of 2015. Make sure you don’t miss out on the chance to hear it live and loud this weekend.

Got tickets but want something a little heavier? Don’t worry, we’ve taken care of that for you as well…

10 Heavy Bands To Watch At Reading & Leeds

Matt Stocks

DJ, presenter, writer, photographer and podcaster Matt Stocks was a presenter on Kerrang! Radio before a year’s stint on the breakfast show at Team Rock Radio, where he also hosted a punk show and a talk show called Soundtrack Apocalypse. He then moved over to television, presenting on the Sony-owned UK channel Scuzz TV for three years, whilst writing regular features and reviews for Metal Hammer and Classic Rock magazine. He also wrote, produced and directed a feature-length documentary on Australian hard rock band Airbourne called It’s All For Rock ‘N’ Roll, and in 2017 launched his own podcast: Life in the Stocks. His first book, also called Life In The Stocks, was published in 2020. A second volume was published in April 2022.