10 Bands You Can't Afford To Miss At Reading And Leeds

Reading and Leeds Festival crowd
(Image credit: Getty)

Bank Holiday Weekend! Bands! Sunshine! Booze! Reading and Leeds’ annual twin-site festivals kick off on Friday, bringing with them a torrent of bands. We’ve hand-picked the 10 premium acts you must catch over the weekend…

Creeper – The Pit (Reading Friday, Leeds Saturday)

You want to see a reformed My Chemical Romance but you’re still salty about that tease they pulled the other month? Fancy seeing AFI but they never bloody tour? Well fear not – Creeper are here, packing three EPs’ worth of anthemic, ghoulish pop punk that touches on everything from David Bowie to the Misfits to even hints of black metal (Astral Projection started out as a black metal song; its closing throes are frosty as fuck). They’re gonna turn up, they’ll look like a bad trip with the T-Birds and they’ll make you shout “Woah-oah!” for half an hour or so. You’ll have a lovely time.

Clutch – Main Stage (Reading Saturday, Leeds Sunday)

Cowboys! Elephants! Your Mother! All these subjects and more will be addressed when Clutch grace the Main Stage this weekend. They perfected their rumbling, Southern-fried take on rock ‘n’ roll with last year’s Psychic Warfare, so expect plenty of cuts from that record; when the band played Download last year, they were so good, a guy in the audience did a full-on, spontaneous backflip. That’s how much you need to see Clutch live.

Parkway Drive – Main Stage (Reading Saturday, Leeds Sunday)

Parkway Drive’s gnarled metalcore was always a winner in the live arena, but last year’s Ire cranked things up a notch or twelve; Winston McCall can actually sing, it transpires; the hulking, stadium ready dynamics of Iron Maiden are employed on Vice Grip and that is going to be a festival highlight for all involved. Any man, woman or child, no matter how much alcohol’s wobbling about inside them, no matter how much or little they actually like music, can walk past the Main Stage and refuse that call: “You’ve got one life! One shot! Give it all you got!” Even if they came to the festival just to watch Foals.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Main Stage (Reading Friday, Leeds Saturday)

We’re sure Frank Carter lives between Reading & Leeds and just commutes home – he’s here almost every year. The Rattlesnakes’ debut, Blossom, was a ferocious, bluesy take on rock and hardcore punk, ensuring the band packed out the Pit when they played last year. This time, he’s armed with the radio-ready Snake Eyes, but might we get a glimpse of more new tracks? Album number two’s wrapping up and, when talking to Upset Magazine, Carter said it contains “the defining hardcore song of a generation.” Aside from that, they’re just banging live; Carter and guitarist Dean Richardson seldom stay on stage long enough to warrant hiring that part of the venue out, so a stint on Reading & Leeds’ Main Stages will be a sight to behold.

Thrice – The Pit (Reading Friday, Leeds Saturday)

Thrice’s latest, ninth album, To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, is one way to wake up from a boozy night out. The post-hardcore heroes’ first record in five years, following a hiatus period, is arguably their finest since 2003’s The Artist In The Ambulance; it focusses on Thrice’s prowess as simply a rock band, while still pulling from sources like Cave In and Nirvana. And when Black Honey kicks in… it’ll be like when Marty McFly seemingly transforms into Chuck Berry in Back To The Future. Prepare yourself.

The Dillinger Escape Plan – The Pit (Reading Saturday, Leeds Sunday)

Fresh from a claustrophobic set at London’s 150-capacity Old Blue Last (a pub, guys. Imagine), The Dillinger Escape Plane will stride onto The Pit and cause merry hell. The mathcore mentalists are calling it quits after the release and touring cycle of their sixthfull-length, Disassociation. So go and see them at this festival, and any other opportunity you get – because it’ll be your last. Plus, when the band played Reading in 2002, vocalist Greg Puciato shat in a bag, smeared some on himself and lobbed it into the audience. “You’re going to see a lot of shit on this stage today,” he remarked. That’s certainly one way of saying you’re not keen.

Heck – The Pit (Reading Saturday, Leeds Sunday)

Now in possession of actual songs, Heck are poised to wreak Dillinger-esque havoc while also ensuring your feet tap and your head doth bob. Warming up for a co-headline of sweaty toilet venues, the Nottingham hardcore heroes will tour in support of Instructions, their first full-length. Will they end up playing I. See The Old Lady Decently II. Buried Although III. Amongst Those Left Are You? Probably not, because it’s sixteen minutes long. But they should, because it’s an incredible slice of what’s been going on in the UK underground.

Skindred – Main Stage (Reading Saturday, Leeds Sunday)

Skindred are the ultimate festival band, full stop. They’re gonna rock up and conduct the ultimate ragga metal party. The catchiest, bounciest breed of rock ‘n’ roll will blast from the speakers. Keyboard player Dan Sturgess will probably be abused by the rest of the band because he doesn’t like Slipknot or Pantera or whatever. Vocalist Benji Webbe will no doubt tell the crowd off for not properly participating. And then, inevitably, we’ll all whip our coats off and rag it about over our heads, pretending to be helicopters from Wales. You’ll love it.

Crossfaith – The Pit (Reading Friday, Leeds Saturday)

After confusing an unprepared and, most probably, uninterested Main Stage audience in 2014, Crossfaith return to do unsolicited damage in The Pit. Keyboardist Terufumi Tamano probably won’t play keyboards, instead opting to press a button, dance, drink Jägermeister and crowdsurf instead. The band’s metal/dance crossover is the most qualified, full-blooded attempt at cross-genre pollination since Pitchshifter, albeit more current and, well, madder. With Wildfire, Crossfaith have crafted the most ludicrous of metal club anthems; Benji Webbe won’t be able to join in what they dubbed “the ultimate collaboration”, but it’s going to be mahoosive regardless.

Milk Teeth – The Pit (Reading Saturday, Leeds Sunday)

Of the 10 bands listed here, Milk Teeth are the fourth of those that could be classed as a ‘new’ band. How great is it that nearly half the bands on this list are young, cutting-edge arse-kickers? That was a rhetorical question. Of course it’s great. Milk Teeth’s debut LP, Vile Child, is a melting of rattling garage punk and wiry, scattershot screams; the subtle, acoustic pop of Kabuki is going to be a setlist highlight, mind, and you’ll be out-singing vocalist Becky Blomfield by the end of it.

The three-day Reading and Leeds Festivals kicks off on August 26.

Alec Chillingworth

Alec is a longtime contributor with first-class BA Honours in English with Creative Writing, and has worked for Metal Hammer since 2014. Over the years, he's written for Noisey, Stereoboard, uDiscoverMusic, and the good ship Hammer, interviewing major bands like Slipknot, Rammstein, and Tenacious D (plus some black metal bands your cool uncle might know). He's read Ulysses thrice, and it got worse each time.