We’re finally at the 2 month countdown to Reading Festival. In just eight short weeks we’ll be spending our bank holiday dancing through the arenas of England to this year’s all-star lineup.
The most talked about artists are the festival’s headliners: Mumford & Sons, Metallica and The Libertines. In preparation for our favorite weekend of the year, we thought we’d give you a bit of a history lesson on our headliners.
Just call us Jack Black; welcome to the School of Reading.
Friday – Mumford & Sons
The folk boys turned art rockers will be making their second appearance at Reading, (their first performance was back in 2010) this time as headliners. Their Friday slot on the Main Stage comes after the release of their new album Wilder Mind.
The guys started out as members of London’s underground folk scene before landing a gig at Glastonbury festival in 2008. Later that year their self-titled EP was released, followed by a second EP even later that year.
2009 saw the release of their third EP – Cave and the Open Sea – as the lads were signed to Island Records. They worked with Arcade Fire producer, Markus Dravs, to release their first full-length album, Sigh No More. The single “Little Lion Man” received success on local radio stations. It was named Hottest Record in the World This Week by BBC1 DJ Zane Lowe. A year later, Sigh No More was released in America. It sold over two million copies between the UK and the States.
They released their much anticipated second album – Babel – in 2012. It topped the Billboard charts before going platinum in the U.S. and being named album of the year.
For the first two records, M&S stuck to their folk and bluegrass roots. Lead singer Marcus Mumford’s iconically raspy voice was paired with plucking banjos and foot-stomping, mow-town melodies. Towards the end of the Babel tour the band started adding heavier instrumentals to their tracks. They even took on a few Radiohead tracks. It was obvious the band was itching for a change.
The release of their third album showed their transition in to a new sound. They had hung up their banjos and traded them for electric guitars. The first single off the album “Believe” echoed the Brit-rock sounds of Coldplay and U2, while retaining their knack for vocal harmonies and anthem-like choruses.
Their Reading & Leeds performance is sure to be a rock spectacle you won’t want to miss.
Saturday – Metallica
Arguably the most influential heavy metal band of the ’80s and ’90s, Metallica is making their festival rounds this summer, despite not releasing a new album in seven years.
The ’80s albums Master of Puppets and Ride the Lightning established their thrash metal sound and intricate compositions. Shortly afterwards, a tragic bus tour accident killed the band’s bass player – Cliff Burton. Despite the tragedy, the band was able to bounce back for their commercially successful self-titled album in 1991. The record featured the band’s most popular track “Enter Sandman” and sold over 7 million copies in the U.S. alone.
There have been very few bands that have been able to gain acceptance from the underground crowd as well as record labels and critics. The 1996 album Load moved the band in a more alternative rock direction. The band mates also decided to use this time to headline the sixth annual Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago – a decision that didn’t go over too well with some of their more dedicated fans.
The early 20o0’s saw a messy legal battle with the file-sharing site Napster, as well as the departure of their second bassist Jason Newsted. After releasing two more albums (St. Anger in 2003 and Death Magnetic in 2008) the group closed their contract with Warner. In 2012 they launched their own record label, Blackened.
Now the band is making the summer festival rounds as the timeless heavy metal rockers they are. They’ll be performing at Rock in Vienna, X Games, Lollapalooza, and Reading & Leeds Festival this summer among their solo shows. We can’t wait.
Sunday – The Libertines
This indie band will be taking the Main Stage on the final day of Reading and Leeds. These boys are a Reading fan-favorite, and are sure to give a crowd-pleasing performance.
After snagging a deal with Rough Trade in 2001, their debut track “What a Waster” hit the U.K.’s Top 40 that summer and earned the band the title of best new band in Britain. Their first album Up the Bracket was released in the U.K. in 2002 and then in the U.S. 2003.
While the band gained momentum in Britain, their performance at the über-popular music festival Coachella in the States helped them gain some American exposure.
That same year, things took a turn for the scandalous. In the summer of 2003 one of the group’s guitarists and vocalists Pete Doherty neglected to turn up for a European tour. He then went on to form another group he called Babyshambles. Doherty was later arrested for breaking in to Libertine guitarist Carl Barât’s apartment to steal instruments and a laptop. After pleading guilty and admitting addictions to heroin and cocaine, Doherty served two months in jail.
After Doherty’s release, the band came back together to perform at the 25th anniversary show for Rough Trade. They finished up 2004 with some local dates and retiring to France to work on a new album.
Their self-titled second album debuted at number two on the U.K. charts, but Doherty’s drug problems proved to be a continuing problem for the young rockstars. The next few years saw a rollercoaster of rehab, side project bands and court dates.
After taking some time to work on his addictions, Doherty rejoined to boys for the 2010 Reading and Leeds Festival. After performing sold out shows in Hyde Park and Alexandra Palace in 2014, the group will make their fifth appearance at Reading this year – this time as headliners.
To find out more information on the headliners and other acts at Reading Festival head over to readingfestival.com