Somehow we’re already drawing to the end of another festival season, and just like every year, it’s set to go out in spectacular fashion with the gargantuan Reading and Leeds Festival. Sure R&L may not be anywhere near as rock dominated as the other festivals to have graced our pages this year, but we’ve scoured the line-up to bring you the ten alternative diamonds lurking amongst the mainstream and indie rough.

Read on to find out our must-see acts when you head to Little John’s Farm and Bramham Park this weekend.


It’s hard to escape the fact that quality heavy rock, metal and punk is at something of a premium among the indie and hip-hop dominance on the Main Stage this year. But if there was one band that anyone could want flying the flag for the heavier end of the UK rock scene, that band would undoubtedly be Architects. They’ve been the undisputed kings of British metalcore for years now, and other than headliners Muse, they’re the most prominently placed homegrown rock act on the Main Stage across the entire weekend.

While last year’s UK headline tour was a surrounding success, albeit tinged with sadness following the death of Tom Searle, the understandable lack of activity Architects in 2017 so far has only made expectations for their main stage outing grow. Nevertheless, it has all the makings to be a triumphant return. While the festival is becoming increasingly diverse, you won’t hear a more powerful band all weekend. Architects will be leading the charge, showing rock and metal still has relevance at R&L. Be prepared to witness Sam Carter’s voice roar across the fields in front of several chaotic mosh pits, accompanied by almighty blasts of heavy riffs and bombastic drums. (SR)

Where & When: Main Stage – Friday (Leeds) / Sunday (Reading)


It’s been far too long since we heard from Bingley’s favourite sons and daughter. Having disappeared off the face of the earth for the best part of two years, Marmozets’ return to Reading and Leeds is one full of intrigue and excitement. Their acclaimed 2014 debut, ‘The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets’, open many doors for Marmozets. Now as we wait for Gil Norton (Foo Fighters, Pixies) produced follow-up, their appearance on the NME/Radio One Stage is the perfect opportunity to make a grand return.

By the time the Bank Holiday gathering takes place, the quintet will be nicely warmed up following a short UK tour. And with the first hint of new material such as ‘Play’ being unleashed to the publi, expectations are high but we have a feeling they’ll be just fine. (SR)

Where & When: NME/ Radio One Stage – Saturday (Reading) / Sunday (Leeds)


Last time these Brighton skate punks played Reading & Leeds, they, unfortunately, seemed out of place on the main stage. While some bands thrive on a big platform, anyone who has witnessed Gnarwolves live will tell you they belong in an intimate setting. Somewhere where you can shout back Thom Weeks’ impassioned punk anthems right back in his face as you collectively pour in sweat.

Thankfully, R&L has the Lock Up / Pit stage to meet these needs. Undoubtedly, Gnarwolves will feel right at home in the tent as they bash out two or so minute punk rock jams in abundance. Cuts from the recent lyrically introspective ‘Outsiders’ LP (‘Straitjacket’, ‘The Comedown Song’ and ‘Paint Me a Martyr’) should fit in nicely alongside old favourites such as ‘Bottle To Bottle’ and ‘History Is Bunk’. (SR)

Where & When: The Lock Up / The Pit – Friday (Leeds) / Sunday (Reading)

While She Sleeps

Sheffield metallers While She Sleeps will get the chance to play arguably their most high-profile festival slot to date when they headline The Pit Stage. Loz Taylor and the boys have been one of the hottest live acts in U.K. metal for over a decade now, and it’s a sign of the high regard they’re held in by festival organisers and fans alike, that they’re closing out the stage above Japanese megastars One Ok Rock.

We’re hoping the band will enjoy a deserved celebration of their tenth anniversary, with a triumphant set featuring the choicest cuts from their three studio albums. After making the short trip up the M1, tracks from ‘The North Stands For Nothing’ are sure to receive a heroic reception at the Leeds date. Plus there’s no way that a full festival tent in full voice roaring the words to ‘Four Walls’ isn’t going to be pretty bloody amazing. (DW)

Where & When: The Pit Stage – Saturday (Reading) / Sunday (Leeds)


It’s already been a pretty big year for Liverpool pop-punks WSTR, who kicked off 2017 by dropping their debut album ‘Red, Green or Inbetween’, and have continued their rise from there, becoming one of the more hotly tipped of the newer crop of British pop-punk acts.

The quartet have picked up the baton from the scene’s trailblazers Neck Deep, Roam and Trash Boat, and they nail the sound every bit as well as their predecessors. There may only be two pure pop-punk acts on the bill, but fans of the genre will find plenty to like about this lot. (DW)

Where & When: The Pit Stage – Friday (Reading) / Saturday (Leeds)

Fizzy Blood

It’s going to be a proud moment for local boys Fizzy Blood when they hit The Pit stage. Their raucous brand of indie-punk is ideal festival fare and they’re pretty much guaranteed a hero’s reception. That’s before you even take into account the reputation they’ve built up for electric live shows.

The quintet have been one of the most in demand acts this festival season, and will be on top form by the time R&L weekend hits after completing a veritable who’s who of events up and down the country. If you’re looking for an up and coming name that may well turn out to be your highlight of the weekend, look no further. (DW)

Where & When: The Pit Stage – Friday (Leeds) / Sunday (Reading)

One OK Rock

Back in the land of the rising sun, One Ok Rock are stadium dominating, bona fida rock gods. A band big enough that they were in a position to have Fall Out Boy as a support act, are the first Japanese act to make major inroads overseas (to the point that they were signed by Warner Bros Records and now call Paramore and Panic! At The Disco label mates at FBR) and even had Avril Lavigne and Alex Gaskarth make guest appearances on most recent album ‘Ambitions’.

Those are some pretty major accomplishments, well most of them are anyway, and that’s without considering that a band that once wowed 110,000 fans in one sitting will be playing inside one of R&Ls smaller tents. You don’t earn the chance to play to that many people without knowing how to put on a dazzling show, and witnessing that kind of pedigree in such close quarters isn’t something that comes along often. And there is a reason they’re making such an impact outside of Asia, the Tokyo natives are far and away the most accessible rock act Japan has ever produced. With 8 studio albums under their collective belt, One Ok Rock have honed big, anthemic radio ready rock to as pristinely polished as it gets, hooky, deceptively expansive and deliciously easy on the ear. This band are Japan’s most exciting export not named Kazuchika Okada and we can’t give much higher praise then that. (DW)

Where & When: The Pit Stage – Saturday (Reading) / Sunday (Leeds)

Billy Talent

What can we say about Billy Talent that hasn’t been said already? Canada’s absolute greatest punk band don’t ever fail to blow away audiences. Their hooks might well melt your face, cartoon character made life frontman Ben Kowalewicz will remind us why everyone adores him by the first chorus and they undoubtedly will play Try Honesty and Fallen Leaves. What more reason could you need to have an absolute blast and grin and fist pump like a loon? None that’s what, so get them watched. No excuses! (DW)

Where & When: The Pit Stage – Friday (Reading) / Saturday (Leeds)

Tigers Jaw

There will be a point at this year’s R&L festivals that you become desperate to escape the saturation of identikit indie and grime that looks set to overwhelm proceedings this year. The perfect escape comes in the form of some gritty, meandering emo rock that’s as simultaneously soulful and joyous as it is downbeat. Enter Tigers Jaw, a band that are as close to an ideal, vintage you might say, AH band of choice as the line-up gets.

This will be Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins’ first trip to our shores since the release of new album ‘Spin’ earlier this year, but its tracks from delightful 2014 long player ‘Charmer’ that we’re particularly looking forward to reacquainting ourselves with live. (DW)

Where & When: The Pit Stage – Friday (Reading) / Saturday (Leeds)


Bleak, brimming with emotively crafted narratives and with the ability to be uplifting at the same time as being relentlessly crushing, Defeater’s melodic take on hardcore is as affecting and unique as the genre gets. Fragile one second, spitting fiery anguish the next, Derek Archambault and his mob are set to take a packed The Pit stage on one hell of a bruising ride, both physically and emotionally. By the time this Boston MA quartet are done we fully expect to have no voice left from screaming Archambault’s infectious outpourings back at the stage. (DW)

Where & When: The Pit Stage – Saturday (Reading) / Sunday (Leeds)

Reading and Leeds Festival 2017 takes place from Friday, August 25th to Sunday, August 27th 2016.

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Tickets for Reading Festival are all sold out. Tickets for Leeds Festival are still available and can be purchased here.

Words by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright) and Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86). WSTR photo credit: Danny Barret. Defeater photo credit: Ryan Mackfall

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