Festival season: Why not try a smaller stage?

John Hall

Reading festival radio 1 tent 2005 300x224 Festival season: Why not try a smaller stage?With music festivals now a major part of the summer calendar, the acts booked are on an increasingly international scale. With household names like Rihanna and Beyonce gracing UK main stages this year you can’t really blame those festival goers who, instead of scouring the smaller tents and stages for new artists, simply take root in front of main stage with all its conveniently positioned amenities, to watch a stream of glamorous stars perform slick versions of songs half the world knows.

But by sticking to the main stage, you’ll not only be missing out on the excitement of discovering an amazing new act (I snuck off to watch British Sea Power – a band then unknown to me – during Metallica’s main stage slot at Reading 2003 and the resulting 45 minutes remains the live performance I measure all others by), you’ll also be missing out on a whole host of established artists.

Here are a few of the non-main stage acts we recommend checking out at this year’s major UK festivals:

The Big Chill
James Blake – Acclaimed minimalist dubstep. Main stage clash: Kanye West
Katy B – Bubblegum pop with a big grime influence. Main stage clash: Janelle Monae
Jamie Woon – Experimental dubstep. Main stage clash: Warpaint

Primal Scream – Indie dance legends perform Screamadelica in full. Main stage clash: Rihanna
Duran Duran – 80s nu-romantic nostalgia. Main stage clash: Eminem
Kitty Daisy and Lewis – Teen trio play vintage rockabilly. Main stage clash: Scouting For Girls.
Wretch 32 – Hard hitting hip hop from East London. Main stage clash: Ziggy Marley

Reading and Leeds
The Horrors – Psychedelic garage rock. Main stage clash: My Chemical Romance
D/R/U/G/S – Orbital-inspired electro. Main stage clash: Architects
Smith Westerns – Skuzzy glam rock punksters. Main stage clash: Jimmy Eat World
Yuck – Dinosaur Jr-inspired neo-grunge. Main stage clash: The Pigeon Detectives.
Cults – Beautifully, fragile indie-pop. Main stage clash: Two Door Cinema Club
Tribes – Bowie and Bolan inspired pop rock and roll. Main stage clash: Tom Odell

Hop Farm
Big Deal – PJ Harvey meets minor-chord grunge. Main stage clash: Eliza Doolittle
The Walkmen – Acclaimed US indie rockers. Main stage clash: Brandon Flowers
Stornaway – Windswept folk. Main stage clash: Eagles

T in the Park
Deadmau5 – Electronic, occasionally industrial dance. Main stage clash: Foo Fighters
Jenny and Johnny – Blissed out, gentle indie pop. Main stage clash: The Script
Frankie & the Heartstrings – Orange Juice-esqe indie pop. Main stage clash: Blondie

Isle of Wight
Various Cruelties – Sophisticated neo-soul. Main stage clash: Two Door Cinema Club

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  • John Hall

    Summer placement? The cheek!! The point of this article isn’t really to highlight new acts, its about sampling the delights of smaller stages. Quite often this means watching new bands but as I said in the second paragraph, there are an increasing number of established artists (Duran Duran, Primal Scream, Katy B etc) performing too. Oh and yes Deadmau5 is headlining Exit but the tips for non-main stage acts at the major UK festivals and I’m not sure he’s big enough to headline any of these just yet.

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