Friday, BBC Radio 1 Xtra Stage
Islington born Little Simz is going to be the next Kendrick Lamar. Songs ‘Wings’ and ‘Gratitude’ have the similar cinematic narrative-style as Lamar’s classics with their own, personal female honesty. It’s certainly refreshing to see a woman establishing herself as such a formidable rapper. Expect a high-energy performance with impressive rapping and the occasional goosebump moment.
Friday, Main Stage
Foals will probably be the only headliners I’ll watch this year (Red Hot Chilli Peppers are still banging on about California). Firstly, because they are one of the best live bands in the UK at the moment (did you see them at Glastonbury?!) Lastly, the crowd are going to be crazy (there will be crop circles). ‘What Went Down’ and ‘My Number’ will be set standouts.
Saturday, NME / BBC Radio 1 Stage
Personally, I see Illmatic as the greatest album of all time. To see Nas in the flesh will be my fan-girl moment of the year. From watching some live performances on YouTube, it looks like his set will be a mixture of the classics, ‘The World is yours’ and ‘Halftime’, and the newer stuff. Nas has a commanding presence. He’ll get the crowd hyped up so there will be mass sing-alongs, especially to ‘Life’s a Bitch’ (such an apt song in this current climate).
Saturday, Festival Republic Stage
Yawn, yawn. A new band. Big deal. There’s so many nowadays. Yet, not like INHEAVEN. The name may set the bar quite high but the songs ‘Baby’s Alright’ and ‘Regeneration’ will be stuck in your head for the rest of the weekend. They sound like something out of the 90s, with their Sonic Youth guitar sounds and Britpop choruses. They’ll fit right into the current Adidas aesthetic of today’s teens.
Saturday, Jägerhaus Stage
Becoming one of Grime’s heavyweights isn’t easy but 19-year old Elf Kid is about to achieve it. Take this years line up. Reading festival has put together a huge selection of MCs for grime lovers – Kano, Lady Leshurr and Wiley – to name a few. Elf Kid is running with the big names now. Yet, he’s use to it, being a founding member of the grime crew The Square, doing shows at the Boiler Room and the Olympics. Be prepared for a lot of bass and fast, witty rhymes, especially with the song ‘Golden Boy’.
Sunday, NME/ BBC Radio 1 Stage
Jordan Cardy, known as Rat Boy, has had a wild year – a secret set at Glastonbury and a festival trip to Japan just to name a few. Before setting off on a UK tour this September, the Essex boy will triumphantly play at Reading festival. His songs have a ska-punk feel and are mostly about the downs of suburban life, which include wannabe gangsters and losing a job at Wetherspoons. ‘Get Over It’ is his new single, a song layered with sampling and a catchy hook – it will blow the roof off.
Sunday, Festival Republic Stage
With the brooding soul of Jeff Buckley and the falsetto of Thom Yorke, Isaac Gracie is definitely one to watch. His set won’t be a high energy one, but it will be completely atmospheric – a break from the hustle and bustle. The dusty acoustics of ‘Last Words’ is probably his most well known song, but do watch out for my personal favorite ‘Running on Empty’.
Sunday, NME/ BBC Radio 1 Stage
Their second album, ironically (but annoyingly) named I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of It, has just been nominated for a Mercury prize – deservedly so. Matt Healy knows his way round a pop song. If you want to end Reading on a high, screaming to the sugar-pop songs of ‘The Sound’ and ‘She’s American’, then go and see them. It will be slick, too slick for some. A bonus is that it will be a stage spectacle too, with post-modern monoliths that shine in technicolour. If all that doesn’t win you over, just go for the sake of sniggering at Healy, who will prance around the stage and sip a glass of red wine in the belief that he is on par with Kurt Cobain. Obviously, he isn’t.