Reading/Leeds Festival vs Secret Solstice: Headliners Go Head-to-Head
Earlier this week there were two key announcements by major festivals. Festival Republic announced Foals were returning to the Reading/Leeds Festival as a headline act, in addition to Disclosure, and also Red Hot Chili Peppers who were already announced. Iceland’s Secret Solstice had been building up their ‘biggest announcement ever’ all week and Radiohead were the headliners joining Of Monster And Men and Deftones in the festival that attracted the likes of Wu-Tang Clan, The Wailers and Busta Rhymes in last year’s line-up.
So which festival is coming out on top so far?
Reading/Leeds Festival has a superior reputation, with Secret Solstice debuting in 2014, and has attracted Red Hot Chili Peppers who have claimed more than 80million records sold worldwide and one of the UK’s hottest bands, Foals, as headliners.
Although the loss of John Frusciante has coincided with reduced sales of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ albums (dropping from an estimated 10.2million sales with Frusciante’s last album with the band, Stadium Arcadium, to 3.8million sales with Josh Klinghoffer’s first album, I’m With You), the band still sold out concerts for their latest album’s tour in multiple countries including Ireland, Peru, Canada and the US. The appeal of Red Hot Chili Peppers is still one of the greatest in the world and is shown by their inclusion of the famous Rock Am Ring festival in Germany as well.
Foals performed Reading/Leeds Festival main stage in 2013 to great acclaim, and also turned up as a surprise act in 2015. Having personally been there in 2013, I’d say it was one of the highlights of the festival. This was not unnoticed by critics; Foals received the 2013 Q Award for Best Live Act and nominated twice (2011 and 2013) for NME Award for Best Live Act. After the success of their 2015 album What Went Down, Foals are bound to provide an appealing prospect for festival goers. Foals sold out shows across the UK in their latest tour and have planned another for 2016. This can only add fire to the fuel of Foals becoming known as one of the UK’s best live acts.
Disclosure were also announced this week as co-headliners with Foals. The commercial success of Settle saw Disclosure take to the spotlight and acquired status as an impressive live act, earning themselves spots on high-profile festivals such as Coachella and Lollapalooza. The 2015 release of Caracal was met with positive critical acclaim and furthers their spot as an act worth seeing. Reading/Leeds Festival have always been accepting of electronic music on their main stage, Chase & Status played the main stage in 2013, followed by Modestep in 2015, and the inclusion of Disclosure as co-headliners shows this.
Secret Solstice, also known as the Midnight Sun Music Festival, is entering its third year and boasts an impressive line-up.
Of Monsters And Men released their second album Beneath The Skin in 2015, following the success of My Head Is An Animal, and proceeded to sell out shows in their European tour. Beneath The Skin peaked inside the Top 10 in multiple countries across the world and cemented their place as one of the world’s best Indie-Folk bands. Hailing from Iceland, Of Monsters And Men often perform in their home country, but have not yet taken part in Secret Solstice; debuting as headliners alongside bands as big as Radiohead and The Deftones is a credit to their quality as musicians.
The Deftones were the headliner introduced in the second-stage announcement. The Deftones have released three platinum selling albums and a gold-certified album amongst their seven studio albums. Their eighth album Gore is scheduled for a release this April, after being pushed back from the expected November release. The alternative-rock genre associated with The Deftones is different from previous headliners among this relatively new festival. With Icelandic bands such as Mammút and Agent Fresco appearing and also bringing new/recent releases within this genre, the appeal of the festival to Deftones fans is increasing with each passing announcement.
The press from the festival have been building up their third announcement as their “most MEGA announcement ever.” The declaration of Radiohead as their headliner was the cause of the superlatives. With the worldwide success of the band stemming from their debut hit, Creep, Radiohead are widely regarded as one of the greatest bands of their generation. Radiohead were voted the second best artist of the 2000s by Rolling Stones readers. With their last album dropping back in 2011 (same as Red Hot Chili Peppers), their announcement of new material has been met with intrigue and anticipation, and as a result several European festivals have booked them as headline slots. For this Festival to pull such a large artist in its third year of running is great testament to their rise as a major event in Europe.
Which festival has done better business in their selection of headliners? Radiohead have sold more than 30million records worldwide and their inclusion to Secret Solstice will bolster the Icelandic festival’s reputation considerably. However, compared to an artist the size of Red Hot Chili Peppers with a claimed 80million records sold, Reading/Leeds Festival has the edge, although artists this size are expected of one of the UK’s major musical events.
Secret Solstice managed to grab another artist with long-lasting global success, Deftones. This perhaps eclipses the co-headline of Foals and Disclosure, which although popular in the UK music scene, have not had the global impact that Deftones earned. With multiple platinum-selling albums and the presence of Of Monsters And Men to bring in a different crowd that will resonate with a lot of the global artists announced for Secret Solstice, the Icelandic festival perhaps edges Reading/Leeds outside of the biggest headliners.
No doubt that Reading/Leeds will pull in the larger crowds, due to its superior reputation in music. But I would not be surprised to see Secret Solstice overtake these festivals in terms of numbers and reputation if they continue to announce headliners of such a strong presence in the future.