Right let's get to it shall we:
Interesting right? The obvious point is that genre-wise, it's probably the most mixed year ever. Reading and Leeds, over the last few years, has been changing its firm "rock festival" image, and leaning towards booking poppier acts, grime artists and a generally less homogenous feel. That's definitely a good thing: the fest's audience is mostly teenagers, and it's important that it moves with their tastes, which are no longer dominated by guitar bands and more open to flicking from track to track regardless of genre.
The headliners for this year are, for the most part, fairly in keeping with what we'd expect: two big, legacy guitar bands whose best work is regretfully behind them (Fall Out Boy; Kings of Leon), and a big-name rapper (Kendrick Lamar). This year's picks serve as an improvement on last year – Kendrick, for example, is a much better festival prospect than Eminem – though it's the rest of the poster that appears to have caused a fuss.
Unfortunately the lineup seems to have rubbed some guitar music purists on the internet up the wrong way (and what, these days, are guitar music purists on the internet not rubbed up the wrong way by?). Obviously as with everything that includes the hint of a popstar (Dua? Lipa?) some men are Pissed Off that their big strong guitar men have to share stages with stupid pop and rap musicians, despite the fact that said musicians, like Dua Lipa, Sigrid, Skepta are wildly popular. Reactions like this are misogyny and elitism distilled – anything that teens, and particularly teenage girls, enjoy can't possibly be of value, right?
The genre mixing going on for Reading and Leeds this year certainly represents the direction the festival's been headed towards for a while, and that's great. In its initial incarnation, it wouldn't, for example, have offered a stage for acts like Brockhampton, IAMDDB and AJ Tracey, all of whom are crucial in the current music moment. And while it would have been nice to see more women with their names in large font (if the festival's going to pop-ify itself, some bigger female names would have been the cherry on top, considering that woman artists are the main proponents of both chart and alternative pop), this year's lineup is simply a culmination of where the festival's been headed for a while. It's a direction that looks pretty interesting from where I'm standing.
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