What we learned from Reading Festival 2018

Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, Kendrick Lamar and Kings of Leon headlined.

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The biggest and brightest once again descended on fields in the heart of Reading and the outskirts of Leeds for the iconic pair of festivals. Renowned for bringing together the new and the established, this year Reading and Leeds Festival continued its trend, from its quartet of headliners to its rapidly rising stars. The top tier saw Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, Kendrick Lamar and Kings of Leon round off each day, all with suitably spectacular showmanship. Fireworks filled the sky to close proceedings, mesmerising the increasingly varied crowd.

With this year more than ever feeling like a leap into the new for Reading and Leeds Festival, here’s what we took away from our three days at the southern site.

Check back here for interviews with some of our favourites filmed across the weekend

Photo by Sarah Bennett courtesy of Festival Republic

The expansion of musical diversity

With a line-up boasting pop superstar Dua Lipa, a headline slot by acclaimed rapper Kendrick Lamar, and the likes of Post Malone, J Hus, N.E.R.D and more, this year’s Reading and Leeds Festival delved headfirst into musical diversity. From its guitar based origins, the festival truly embraced the breath of local and international talent making waves in the mainstream. This visibly altered the make-up of the festivals crowds, bringing together young and old across all backgrounds. It also made for added vibrancy, with atypical sounds blasting out of each of the festival’s ten stages. More so that ever, fans could jump from hip-hop to dance and from rock to pop in a few short steps. In a musical climate that has increasingly seen people consume a wider range of sounds, in no small part due to the growth of streaming, Reading and Leeds follows suit.

Photo by Ashley Verse courtesy of Festival Republic

Rap finds its home at Reading and Leeds

The BBC Radio 1 Xtra Stage has, for a fair few years, brought the best of rap to Reading and Leeds Festival, but 2018 could easily go down in history as the year it was fully embraced across the site. Yes, Eminem has appeared at the top of the bill twice to date, but with international sensation Kendrick Lamar taking on headline duties this year, Reading and Leeds welcomed a newfound rap credibility. It was a brilliantly understated performance, with Kendrick a confidently lonesome figure on the vast stage. Tracks such as HUMBLE. and Swimming Pools (Drank) were met with an exuberant response by a crowd who had worked their way to the front early on in the afternoon for an up-close glimpse of their socially and politically charged hero. It was an atmosphere mirrored by the likes of N.E.R.D, J Hus, and Krept & Konan, all of whom brought their art to the festival’s Main Stage, and by the new wave of hip-hop led by self-proclaimed boyband Brockhampton.

Photo by Sarah Koury courtesy of Festival Republic

Guitars are going nowhere

Despite mutterings by the occasional naysayer, Reading and Leeds haven’t foregone their indie and rock roots. Festival mainstays Courteeners and The Vaccines brought their distinctive British guitar sound to the Main Stage, as did a perfectly triumphant return by The Wombats who effortlessly captured the attention of both young and old with their career spanning set. Elsewhere the line-up saw headline sets by Wolf Alice, and The Pit and Lock Up hosted some seriously heavy rock. Ahead of their UK headline shows, The Used delighted fans with a plethora of older material, including a particularly rousing performance of A Box Of Sharp Objects joined by the thunderous FEVER 333. Over on the Main Stage, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda merged together genres, jumping between his solo material and a heartfelt tribute to the late Chester Bennington and a crowd-led rendition of In The End. Headliners Fall Out Boy, led by melodic guitars, brought one of the most upbeat sets of the weekend to the festival.

Photo by Sarah Koury courtesy of Festival Republic

A fair few surprises

Increasingly renowned for its surprise sets, this year was no different for Reading and Leeds. As well as seeing the likes of The Wombats and Shame take to smaller stages for intimate shows, the vast tent of the BBC Radio 1 Stage welcomed a powerful return to the live circuit by genre-melters Bring Me The Horizon. Having just announced a run of UK dates for later this year, it offered the first live outing for the recently revealed Mantra, as well as a cocksure delivery of Happy Song, Can You Feel My Heart, Drown and more. Vocalist Oli Sykes looked genuinely stoked to be back on the stage, as did his bandmates, in what easily became the highlight for many festival goers.

Photo by Sarah Koury courtesy of Festival Republic

The future is bright

Reading and Leeds has certainly evolved into a new beast. Its main stages are no longer dominated by guitar rock, instead directed by the changing mainstream landscape and the up-and-comers. Yet underneath it all its heart remains the same, offering a balance of downright fun and some serious musical masters. This year it felt like the start of a new era for the pair of festivals, a duo that offer something to all. It proved a celebration of music, of friendship, and of fun. And as we look towards 2019, this doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon.

Photo by Phoebe Fox courtesy of Festival Republic

Keep your eyes on to be one of the first to know when Reading and Leeds Festival returns in 2019.