So with Reading and Leeds 2016 drawing to a close and tickets for 2017 already on sale, it begs the question ‘who are the next headliners?’. It’s a multi-factor equation including album release, public response, availability, amount of hits etc.
This year saw five headliners and personally that’s too many for me, it feels like a cop out. A headliner is supposed to be a massive act like the Red Hot Chili Peppers were, I agree with Foals/Disclosure pairing Biffy Clyro/Fall Out Boy felt like an easy option considering both bands had previously been big enough to headline alone (and Biffy had) and that R&L chose two waning bands rather than growing ones.
Regardless of this the lineup of the festival this year was still miles better than the trainwreck that was R&L 2015 but who could top the bill next year? There’s a bit of a formula to R&L headliners, it’s not an exact science but history proves that for the most part it’s correct.
Firstly comes the upcoming band. This is a band that everyone loves but didn’t quite expect to see here, in 2016 it was Foals/Disclosure. Normally they have four or five songs that are bangers and one borderline modern classic which ultimately makes for a decent set that’s accessible for both the fans and the people that google the band when they see the lineup announced.
1. The 1975
I mean yes this is an easy choice considering all that’s been said about them and the set they played at Reading this year that got more talked about than the headliners. They’ve been going to R&L for a number of years and have a cult following. Their upcoming arena tour has proved their popularity and will further the 1975’s reputation as artists as well as performers. Remarkably the 1975 already, after only two albums, have a setlist full of bangers that are known to everyone.
Admittedly they don’t have a new album on the way to warrant a headline slot although they could do as Foals did for What Went Down and wrap up their touring cycle for I Like It When You Sleep… with a R&L slot. Now I pray to God that the booking agents, should they come knocking at The 1975’s door, give them a full slot to themselves as quite frankly the light show that accompanies the set and the sets they play mean that no one could really go after them as a headliner, I can’t think of any bands that compliment them enough to co-headline with them.
2. The Courteeners
If they got a headline slot it would be co-headlining if I’m being realistic. It’s not that the Courteeners aren’t worthy or that they don’t have the material to back a long enough setlist, they just don’t have enough festival fans. The Courteeners clearly have enough fans, proven by shows like Heaton Park, but those aren’t the kinds of fans seen at festivals.
Maybe they aren’t even ready yet given that they’ve just announced a tour for Mapping The Rendezvous that’s going around UK academies rather than larger venues like Foals were doing pre-headlining. Their two recent tracks perhaps also speak for them, The 17th is a banger and as proved by R&L this year, it goes down a treat live but perhaps No One Will Ever Replace Us is a bit more off key, it’s good but it’s not great; feels like more of an album track than a single However, it is about festival so maybe they’re hinting that that’s the way forward for them? Who knows, either way we’d be in for a treat to see them there next year.
Next we have the golden oldies. A bunch of 40+ men for lack of better description. They’ll be a band that everyone knows that one song from and otherwise are good at keeping the 25+’s that otherwise have no place at R&L, coming to R&L. Whilst their current music isn’t necessarily their best, they’ll be playing all of their older hits anyway so it doesn’t really matter.
3. Foo Fighters
After having to pull out of Glasto last year they’ve yet to make up for it and everyone expected them this year so perhaps, rather than doing festivals this year and surprise no one, hang on a year and put together another UK tour and hit R&L whilst they’re at it. They’ve headlined festivals before, it’s no doubt they’ll do it again it’s just saying when.
The only real query here is whether it’s too late for this album or not, the Glasto slot was in support of Sonic Highways but is three years later too late to promo the album? Only time will tell. Dave Grohl and co. will no doubt be in the opening lineup announcement if they’re playing the festivals so I suppose it’ll be a case of keeping eyes peeled until December.
4. The Stone Roses
Like The 1975 they’ve showed their worth at festivals this year. T in the Park was something special and that was just after the release of two new songs so what if they drop a whole album? Absolute chaos. If you thought the flares at The Courteeners this year was big then think again son.
The Stone Roses sold out four nights at the Etihad Stadium this year which was 200,000+ people so it’s not as if they’re short of fans and they tick the wide demographic box with all the indie kids lapping them up whilst their older fans will also be rushing to get tickets, they have mass appeal whilst also maintaining the R&L image of being a rock festival which it appears to losing more year or year.
The crowd pleaser is the final installment of the formula, the band that is the clincher for a lot of the crowd. For example, this year it was Biffy Clyro, they’re a safe bet that’s guaranteed to make the lineup ‘essentials’ whilst not being daring in the slightest, but that’s okay because they have a setlist of crowd pleasers and actually know what they’re doing at festivals.
5. Kings of Leon
This wouldn’t be a huge surprise to me, Mechanical Bull was a thing of beauty that actually got ignored until like mid-2014 in the UK but nevertheless they have their new album Walls on the way and it’s not going unnoticed this time. They’ve been pretty high up the bill at UK festivals before and even this year they’ve been at the likes of Lollapalooza.
After the shambles that was their 2009 Reading headline slot I wouldn’t be surprised if they come along and blow everyone else at R&L 2017 out of the water by means of apology. With songs like Sex On Fire, Use Somebody and even Supersoaker in their inventory I’m sure they could put together a monumental set and that flares would be lit left, right and centre as a result of this.
6. Arctic Monkeys
So the Arctic Monkeys have headlined R&L twice now and their 2014 headlining slot marked the start of their current hiatus so what better way to pick up where they left off than to make their comeback at R&L too? They’ve proven time and time again that they’re up to the challenge and with The Last Shadow Puppets finishing their touring and summer of festivals whilst the Post Pop Depression tour winds down in October, all members look set for a return.
The only query I hold to this is that a band headlining R&L twice within such a short period of time is practically unheard of so perhaps it’s a stab in the dark to assume that. However, everyone is gagging for new Arctic Monkeys so even if it has only been three years since the last time they headlined, the organizers would be dumb to overlook them if the band should come off hiatus during early 2017.