Features Music

Reading and Leeds 2012: Top 10 Performances

Arguably 2012 was Reading & Leeds strongest line up of recent years. Not only were did the legendary The Cure take to the main stage, there was a whole variety of acts that put in stellar performances from all sorts of different genres. We’ve picked our top ten from the weekend, some punk bands, some new, some old and one very pop. Check it out below:


Enter Shikari and Reading & Leeds go hand in hand. Their performance on the main stage saw punters running over from the dance stage -drawn in by dubstep mix ups- to mosh along with older ‘Take To The Skies’ fans. Tracks from ‘A Flash of Colour’ go down a treat as does ‘Juggernaughts’ which is now somewhat of a Reading classic, again seeing a stupid amounts of crowd surfing. One day soon these humble lads will headline this great stage. Perfection.


Random Hand’s high tempo mix of metal, punk and ska is uplifting. The sheer energy pouring from the band on stage certainly kicked things off in the Lock Up tent after a slow start to the day. Funnily enough, the most impressive part of the whole performance has to be the sheer capacity of Robin Leitch’s lungs! His effortless alternations between trombone, screamed vocals and dancing like a lunatic was a joy to behold.


Headlining the BBC Introducing stage was Leeds’ most unassuming rock behemoths Hawk Eyes. Playing a fast and furious set, primarily of tracks from this year’s ‘Ideas’, Hawk Eyes managed to make the outdoor stage feel like a sweaty basement, with the standard troupe of lanky lads starting a (admittedly rather tame) mosh pit. Having previously played the stage under their previous incarnation, let’s pray this signals the last time the boys are on one of the smaller stages at Reading and Leeds.


When there are an abundance of acts are taking themselves too seriously on stage and swanning around the guest area like they are gods, you need a bit of Ceremony to remind you what punk is all about. Having a fucking good time. And this is exactly what Ceremony do. Vocalist Ross Farrar just goes nuts, spinning around with his t-shirt over his head and microphone dangling around his neck, musically they aren’t that tight, but really no one cares. That’s not what this set is about, it’s just a great laugh.


Having declared their break-up in 2001 after the release of their seminal album ‘Relationship of Command’, the announcement of reunion dates were a dream come true for many a fan. With mixed reviews emerging from performances at Coachella, it was difficult to know what to expect from their headline set on the BBC Radio 1/NME stage. Opening with the explosive ‘Arcarsenal’, it was hard for a smile not to appear on the face of anyone who holds a special place in their heart for the band.

Given that this was the first time that the majority of the audience got to see the band in the flesh, it was especially pleasing to hear tracks played across their whole back-catalogue of releases, with singer Cedric Bixlar-Zavalar trying his best to recreate those explosive sets from over a decade ago.

The same joy didn’t extend to all members – it was hard not feel disheartened at the sight of Omar motionlessly standing facing his amp for the majority of the set, looking as though he’d rather be elsewhere. This wasn’t the At The Drive-In that left us all those years ago, and perhaps it is too much to expect that.


The band’s first Reading Festival sans-Frank went off without a hitch in true, unadulterated Gallows fashion. Vivacious circle pits, crowd surfing and an onslaught of punk rock from the stage that never let up, this is a band that is every bit as good, if not better, as version 2.0. The crowd was totally sold by the end of the set. Interestingly it was the band’s new tracks that came across best, leaving everyone wanting more fresh material ASAP.


Who doesn’t love the Bouncing Souls? Their inspiring punk appeals across the board in the Lock Up tent. Old classics such as ‘Sing Along Forever’ get the dedicated fans jumping whilst newer , softer and more melodic material like ‘Coin Toss Girl’ is a hit with members of the crowd previously unaware of the band. Their set is a resounding success.


The compacted punters inside and swarms of fans outside the Festival Republic Tent show that although fairly new on the radar, Alt-J are already a firm festival favourite. Despite their annoying- hipster-type fan base, Alt-J’s unique and slightly obscure brand of indie is certainly something to take note of with hit single ‘Breezeblocks’ becoming one of the anthems of the weekend.


You may be thinking this is a bit of a bizarre choice if you are familiar with Crossfire’s usual content, but the thing is we can still recognize a good pop artist when we see one! Mixing electronica, hip hop and a healthy dose of mainstream pop, Santigold has a collection of great songs including ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Creator’. Santigold gets the festival party vibe going.


As we caught these local guys in their own territory of Reading, they might have had a slight home advantage. But it appears that it is Attention Thieves’s energy thats key to drawing in a huge crowd around the tiny BBC introducing stage. Attention Thieves have been gaining a lot of attention from the press lately and it seems it’s well deserved as their radio-friendly Rise Against inspired punk rock goes down a treat.

Words: Emma Wallace except Gallows (Sarah Maynard), At The Drive-In, Hawk Eyes (Joe Parry)

Features Music Preview


BBC Introducing Stage, Reading & Leeds 2012

As always Reading & Leeds has an impeccably strong line up. Headliners The Cure, Kasabian and Foo Fighters are joined by numerous big names across several stages including Cancer Bats, At The Drive-In, The Gaslight Anthem, Enter Shikari, The Maccabees, Every Time I Die… The list goes on! But for those who are more interested in finding some fresh blood, the recently announced BBC Introducing is the place to be.

33 up and coming bands have been selected by various BBC Radio Introducing shows and the festival promoters Festival Republic. We’ve handpicked our favourites below with the full stage line up as follows: Attention Thieves, Backyards, Bearfoot Beware, Black Moth, Crooked Tongues, Cut Ribbons, Danica Hunter, Dear Prudence, Dingus Khan, Empror & Duppy Beatz, Escape To New York, Escapists, The Establishment, Family of the Year, Fish Tank, Glassbody, Hawk Eyes, Hildamay, Ifan Dafydd, Lady Lykez, Marmozets, Marsicans, Max Raptor, Mikill Pane, Park Bench Society, Proxies, Rachel Sermanni, Samoans, Sarah Williams White, Seasfire, Wet Nuns, We Walk On Ice, We Were Frontiers.


After selling out physical copies of their EP ‘The Lost Demos’ in a matter of minutes, having toured with the likes of Hadouken! and Canterbury, releasing a single featuring The Blackout’s Sean Smith, and, with over 16,000 followers on Facebook is a bit of a surprise that Proxies are on Reading & Leeds smallest stage! Well we can assure you they won’t be there for long, watch this electric young band up close and personal while you still can!

Hawk Eyes:

Describing their debut album as, “sleek and modern and hardcore and suitably post-post-everything,” and themselves as, “Band, four people, Leeds, riffs, spend a lot of time in a van,” Hawk Eyes are a no frills, yet exceptionally fun, British rock band. We can guarantee that Hawk Eyes won’t be playing these smaller stages for much longer so catch their intimate set while you can…


Samoans are masters of the fretboard. Their distinctive brand of progressive math-rock draws influence from the legendary Reuben and Maps & Atlases. The raw emotion in the vocals is comparable to early Biffy Clyro, making Samoans are compelling and intense live band.

We Walk On Ice:

After featuring on Fred Perry’s Subculture ‘Best New Music’ section and filling out some of London’s coolest venues, We Walk On Ice are one of those buzz bands that you need to catch. Renowned for surf-pop-soundscapes, We Walk On Ice are the perfect accompaniment to a British summers day (weather permitting).

Attention Thieves:

Born in the vibrant Reading music scene, Attention Theives combine straight forward rock with some gutsy punk spirit. You may recognize front man Alex Green from tech-metal band The Arusha Accord, but Attention Theives are on a completely different end of the alternative spectrum with a much more accessible sound. Constantly living life on the road and frequently treating fans to new music videos, Attention Thieves deserve this exposure.


Music News

Hawk Eyes November tour, ep and free download

Hawk Eyes have announced a tour, new EP and free download today. The band formerly known as Chicken Hawk who smashed our Halloween Massacre back in 2009 will be on tour in november playing some of the tracks that have been recorded for their new album scheduled for 2012. The tour that kicks off next week is with Turbowolf and James Cleaver Quintet so get your shit together and get a ticket as this line up looks a bit tasty.

Claim your free download of their Witch Hunt demo below and look out for a new EP released via Brew Records in December.

Tue 08 Nov 2011 Bristol Croft
Wed 09 Nov 2011 Cardiff Ifor Bach
Thu 10 Nov 2011 Colchester Arts Centre Tickets
Fri 11 Nov 2011 UK Southend Chinneys
Sat 12 Nov 2011 Nottingham Basement
Mon 14 Nov 2011 Birmingham Vudu
Tue 15 Nov 2011 Leeds Cockpit
Wed 16 Nov 2011 Glasgow King Tuts Wah Wah Hut
Thu 17 Nov 2011 Manchester Alter Ego
Fri 18 Nov 2011 UK Sheffield Corporation
Sat 19 Nov 2011 Aldershot Westend Centre
Sun 20 Nov 2011 Southampton Joiners
Tue 22 Nov 2011 London Upstairs at the Garage

[bandcamp track=1001142589 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

Music News

Hawk Eyes announce UK tour dates

Hawk Eyes have unveiled UK tour dates in November.

The Leeds based band, formerly known as Chickenhawk, will be on the road with Turbowolf and the James Cleaver Quintet and have put a demo called Witch Hunt online here. The tour dates, which coincides with a five-track 10″ are:

08 – Bristol, The Croft
09 – Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach Cardiff
10 – Colchester, Arts Centre
11 – Southend, Chinneys
12 – Nottingham, Basement
14 – Birmingham, VUDU
15 – Leeds, Cockpit
16 – Glasgow, King Tuts
17 – Manchester, Alter Ego
18 – Sheffield, Corporation
19 – Aldershot, Westend Centre
20 – Bournemouth, iBar
22 – London, Garage (Upstairs)

Album Reviews Buzz Chart Music

Brew / DTTR split 10″

Ltd 10″ vinyl

The formula for this release is simple, Yorkshire labels Brew and Dance to the Radio have teamed up for a limited edition Record Store Day release. Four of their most exciting and upcoming acts Dolphins, Blacklisters, Castrovalva and Hawk Eyes have contributed a track each to create ten explosive minutes of rock.

The pulsating Escape by Dolphins kick-starts procedures with a short sharp dose of chunky riffing. Then comes Club Foot by Kasabian from the hair-raising Blacklisters, advice being don’t spend the whole song working out whether it’s a Kasabian Cover or a quirky song title, that’s unimportant. What’s important is the sheer velocity of the vocals and the word ‘noise’.

The pick of the bunch is third song Senorita by Castrovalva. It has a brash childish thrill that sucks you in and spits you out at the other end. The vocal delivery is electrifying and its robotic feel adds another element to its general haphazardness. It finishes up with Hawk Eyes, who may be more familiar to you as Chickenhawk, pre name change. Their success has been spiralling into the mainstream and with tracks like Yes, Have Some with its hectic fretwork and perplexing guitar licks, you can see why.

This is a startling example of the talent that the city of Leeds is currently throwing up and another jewel in the crown of Record Store Day. Consisting of the finest and noisiest sounds around, it’s a big slap in the face, a pleasant slap in the face if such things exist.

Mark Beckett