Best of: Reading and Leeds 2023

Grace Simpson chooses the ones to watch at Reading and Leeds this year!

For those who have been underwhelmed, myself included, by recent festival line-ups, Reading and Leeds have come to save the summer with their 2023 performers. The star-studded list includes the likes of Billie Eilish, Imagine Dragons, the Killers, Central Cee, Sam Fender, and Lewis Capaldi. With many of us still clamoring to make up for the usual festival filled summers we lost to COVID, it seems as though the directors of Reading and Leeds have curated the festival of a lifetime to help us achieve this wish.

I’m looking forward to exploring this promising selection of artists from the ones who I think are currently underrated to the ones I’m most looking forward to seeing. The best of the line-up It’s hard to pick, who I believe, are the best artists out of such a talent filled collection but there are definitely a handful of must-sees who I’m particularly looking forward to.

First on my list is Reading’s Friday headliner and Leeds’s Saturday headliner – Sam Fender. Fender got thrown into the spotlight when he won the Critics’ Choice Award at the 2019 Brit Awards, which was soon followed by his widely popular debut album Hypersonic Missiles. He had another successful hit with his 2021 album Seventeen Going Under, with his song of the same name going viral on TikTok. It’s not actually Fender’s first time performing at Reading and Leeds, with him being announced as a main-stage act for the festival in 2021. Sam Fender’s previous experience combined with his alt-rock hits practically guarantees an unforgettable time at Reading and Leeds.

Another artist that adds a wave of excitement to this year’s line-up is my personal favourite Loyle Carner. The South London rapper is valued by his fans for his painful yet admirably honest lyrics. Carner has just finished touring the UK with his album Hugo which is possibly his most vulnerable album to date. The album details the rapper’s most intimate experiences and especially focuses on his relationship with his father; when speaking on Hugo Carner said, “I made something I wanted to have when I was 16”. The undeniable effort Carner puts into his music is sure to come across in what will be an undoubtedly passionate performance at Reading and Leeds.

An unmissable artist making his UK festival debut at this year’s Reading and Leeds is Steve Lacy. Lacy’s 2022 album Gemini Rights threw him into the spotlight with its especially catchy song Bad habit, which has remained his top streamed song since its release. Despite Gemini Rights introducing a new influx of devoted listeners to the musician, he had already garnered attention with his 2017 single Dark Red. After many of us hearing his songs repeatedly on platforms such as TikTok, being able to hear them live (especially if you missed out on tickets to his UK tour like me) will most definitely be a memorable experience.

Last but absolutely not least on my must-see list is The Killers. It may be an obvious choice, but I think it’s fair for one to ask, ‘is a festival really a festival if The Killers aren’t performing?’. Despite them being an American band, they’re song Mr. Brightside is an essential part of British culture. I don’t think I need to elaborate much more on why you shouldn’t consider missing the most iconic song of the 2000s apart from the major FOMO you’ll feel if you don’t witness their sure to be unforgettable live performance.

Underrated acts

Although there’s an incredible list of headliners, you shouldn’t let that stop you from noticing the talented number of lesser-known artists. There are too many under-appreciated acts so I’m going to name a couple of the ones I personally love, but don’t let that stop you from discovering the many more performing at Reading and Leeds – a list of which is available on their website. If you’re a fan of the likes of Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo, you will go crazy for Holly Humberstone. Humberstone manages to encompass the pain and emotional rollercoaster of growing up and experiencing things from leaving childhood behind to failed teen romances within her pop-rock music. Seeing her deliver a collective teen-angst through her performance at the festival will be a unique and fulfilling experience for the many people that can relate to her lyrics. If you like the sound of Holly Humberstone, and feel like having a good cry, I suggest starting with her song Haunted House.

If you’re not looking to cry at Reading and Leeds, maybe an upbeat indie band is more your style. Easy Life is a band that manages to sneak their way onto most summer playlists, with their songs Pockets and Dead Celebrities unavoidably picking up the spirits of anyone who listens to them. Their upbeat songs are practically made for festivals and therefore you should definitely fit them in to your busy schedule at this year’s festival.

There is no doubt that Reading and Leeds 2023 will be a memorable and exciting weekend for all who attend. With the line-up overflowing with talent from the must-see headliners to the more underrated acts, you shouldn’t miss out on a ticket to the most anticipated festival of the year.

If you want to explore these amazing artists further, have a look at our Best Of Reading and Leeds Spotify playlist:

Article by: Grace Simpson

Accompanying Photo by: Hanna Tche via Unsplashed