UTG’s Reading And Leeds Festival 2011 Preview: 25 Must See Bands


This weekend, two of the biggest UK festivals take place. The annual Reading and Leeds Festivals have become a highlight for music fans, as year in, year out it showcases a valuable blend of established and emerging bands, as well as comedy acts.

Since Leeds Festival was paired with the established Reading Festival in 1999, the biggest names in rock, indie and hip-hop have performed at the festival. From Oasis to Eminem to Iron Maiden to Blink-182, Reading and Leeds has consistently delivered in terms of headliners, whilst the smaller stages in recent years have played host to new bands that would soon become household names; Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and All Time Low being strong examples of this.

For some, this year’s line-up isn’t as strong as last year’s and perhaps more importantly it is weaker than other UK festivals like T In The Park and Sonisphere, as well as European festivals. It’s a well-known fact that the UK festival market is crowded with smaller, less-established festivals feeling the affects. Nevertheless for the consumer, there is plenty of choice. However, as always, Reading and Leeds accommodates well to music fans, and with so many bands and acts playing six stages over three days, it means there is plenty to see.

However here at Under The Gun Review, we thought we’d give you a helping hand and recommend twenty-five must see bands.

(Main Stage: Reading (Sunday)/Leeds (Friday))

The Devon alt-rock trio are known worldwide for their amazing live show, and with an ever-impressive back catalogue, Muse make their return to Reading and Leeds with high expectations and the rumours of a special, one-off stage set make them higher yet with such a strong reputation, we think their set will be memorable and un-missable.

Spy Catcher (Lock Up Stage: Reading (Sunday)/Leeds (Friday))

Featuring members of Gallows, Cry For Silence, and Haunts, Spy Catcher have been winning critics over with their debut album, ‘Honesty.’ A record that takes the harmonies of The Get Up Kids, the lyrical approach of The Gaslight Anthem and mix it up with a raw, British punk attitude. Tracks like ‘Remember Where You Were When Michael Jackson Died’ are bound to win sceptics over on the Lock Up Stage.

Save Your Breath (BBC Introducing Stage: Reading (Sunday)/Leeds (Friday))

Whilst the on-going Pop-Punk resurgence seems to be taking place over the Atlantic in North America, South Wales’ Save Your Breath have been gathering momentum and fans with relentless touring and are now seeing much-deserved success come to them in the form of recent album, “’Vices.” Expect hook-filled choruses and massive sing-along on the small BBC Introducing Stage.

The Strokes (Main Stage: Reading (Saturday)/Leeds (Sunday))

The return of The Strokes earlier this year was welcomed with arms open. Having produced one of the albums of the decade in 2001 in the form of “Is This It.” The New York post-punk, garage rock group made a comeback this year with “Angles” which saw the five-piece take their experimental approach and mix it with their origins. A satisfying set made up of fan favourites and new material is expected.

New Found Glory

The now legendary Pop-Punk prepare for the release “Radiosurgery” with a much-needed return to the UK. As always, expect a set filled with singalongs, tons of energy and all fun show that will leave plenty of people with a huge smile on their face.

We Are The Ocean

After being dismissed by some as a poor imitation of Alexisonfire, but with their sophomore album; “Go Now and Live,” We Are The Ocean have won over naysayers and the finished product is one of the best UK albums this year. With a mix of Post-Hardcore and Alt-Rock, the London group have an array of tracks that will more than impress the crowd on the mainstage. We recommend listening out for Liam Cromby’s warm, melodic on “Runaway,” whilst lead vocalist, Dan Brown will bring his raw, vibrant voice to tracks like “The Waiting Room.”


One of the most influential punk bands of all time, California’s Descendants are pioneers of Pop-Punk, and its more than obvious with their blend of melodic punk and overall raw energy.

Odd Future (Wolf Gang Kill Them All)

Probably the most hyped group of the year, the ever-controversial Odd Future are only appearing at the Reading site of the weekends festivities, yet we expect a show that we definitely get people talking. Stage diving, moshing, and highly hectic show makes this Hip-Hop collective a must see.


Yes Madness! The legendary and quirky London group are bound to get people moving on the main stage with a show that will be full of hits, from “One Step Beyond” to “It Must Be Love” to “Our House.” Madness are made for a fun, sun-filled afternoon, and more importantly, they’re made for Leeds and Reading Festival.

Title Fight

The Kingston, Pennsylvania group continue their tour round Europe and the UK, with an early set on the Lock Up stage. With a brash blend of pop-punk and hardcore, Title Fight’s sound proves to be raw and straight to the point.


The California rockers make a special one-off UK appearance at Leeds and Reading, and as always Chino Moreno and company are more than welcome to make their mark on the main stage. The experienced group always win over new fans with their passionate and vibrant show, as a set featuring the best moments from their career is expected. From “Adrenaline” to last year’s “Diamond Eyes,” Deftones are not to be missed.


With the ever-growing interest in Dubstep and Drum and Bass, London duo, Nero are bound to be a highlight for many in dance tent. With a recent UK number one single in the form of “Promises,” and remixes for the likes of La Roux, N*E*R*D, Daft Punk and Beyoncé, Nero’s DJ set is just the next step towards bigger things.

Cuba Cuba

Welsh indie-pop band, Cuba Cuba have been gathering momentum in recent months, with the release of their debut full-length; “Where Else Is Safe But The Road?” receiving praise from numerous outlets.  We subtly catchy numbers like “We Rode,” expect the five-piece to win over a lot of admirers on the BBC Introducing Stage.

Taking Back Sunday

2011 has seen Taking Back Sunday back with a bang. With the “Tell All Your Friends” line-up back together and an impressive self-titled record seeing the light of day, Taking Back Sunday will showcase a strong, straight-up rock show on the main stage, with classic tracks such as “MakeDamnSure” and “Cute Without The ‘E’” being the fan favourites .

Seann Walsh

Brighton comedian Seann Walsh has been making a name for himself with numerous appearances on TV shows such as Mock The Week and Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow. Walsh’s observant style has been compared to Dylan Moran and with the continuing growth in UK stand-up comedy, make sure to catch Seann Walsh before he goes on to better things.

Twin Atlantic

The emerging Scottish rockers continue their rise with an appearance on the Festival Republic stage, and this time they have material from their acclaimed full-length, “Free,” with them. Expect a refreshing taste of rock, as Twin Atlantic bring their awe-inspiring and anthemic sound to Reading and Leeds.


With frontman Jason Butler recently being voted “the greatest rock star in the world” by Kerrang! Magazine, letlive.’s hype continues to grow. After a rousing set at the Download Festival in Donnington earlier this summer, expect the Los Angeles Post-Hardcore to being a highly-charged, fast and frantic set to the Lock Up stage.

Jimmy Eat World

Following on from their recent “Clarity”/”Bleed American” London shows, Arizona’s Jimmy Eat World make a swift return to the UK. Expect a crowd-pleasing set made up of well-known tracks; “The Middle” and “My Best Theory,” and fan favourites such as “23” and “A Praise Chorus.”

Two Door Cinema Club

The Irish trio known as Two Door Cinema Club make their return to Reading and Leeds Festival by taking a step up to the main stage. With their critically acclaimed debut album “Tourist History,” the  band brought their brand of bouncy indie pop to the masses last year, with tracks such as “Something Good Can Work” and “I Can Talk” becoming stand out moments at their live shws

Bring Me The Horizon

With their last two releases; 2008’s “Suicide Season” and 2010’s “There Is a Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let’s Keep It a Secret,” the Sheffield metal group have won over critics with their progressive approach whilst their fanbase has simultaneously grown on both sides of the Atlantic. Their brash, chaotic and energetic show is bound to be a highlight on the main stage.

Tim Minchin

As one of the highlights on the Alternative Stage, Australian comedian Tim Minchin is set to bring his versatile style of musical comedy to Reading and Leeds. Expect the bare-footed, eye make-up wearing performer to provide a highly entertaining and humours show, as Minchin is one of the most-loved and established comedians around the world.

The Streets

In what could be one of the final shows from The Streets, frontman Mike Skinner and company will  mark the end of nearly a decade in the spotlight at Reading and Leeds with a significant set on the NME/Radio One Stage. As always, The Streets will showcase their brand of socially-aware alternative hip-hop, whilst stand out moments are expected to come in the form of hit singles; “Fit But You Know It” and “Has It Come To This.”

Frank Turner

Last year Frank Turner made his mark on the NME/Radio One stage with an overwhelming and crowd-pleasing set. Now one year on, Turner steps up to the main stage with new material from recent album, “England Keep My Bones” and as always, his sincere brand of folk punk rock will win over new and old fans. Expect huge sing-alongs to tracks like “I Still Believe” and “The Road.” You may even see him turning up on another stage, just a hint.

Friendly Fires

Back with a new album, “Pala”, St Albans’ Friendly Fires return to Reading and Leeds Festival with their brand of fun and funky alternative dance that is made for a festival like this. With dizzying, energetic numbers like “Jump In The Pool” and “Blue Cassette,” expect Friendly Fires to bring a colourful and entertaining show.

My Chemical Romance

After a successful UK tour earlier this year, My Chemical Romance return to the UK to make their mark as headliners for the first time. With their recent record, “Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys,” the alternative rock New Jersey strongly showcased their ability to blend with pop sensibilities with a slight experimental approach. From the electro “Planetary (GO!)” to the insatiable “Na Na Na,” My Chemical Romance came back with a bang, and with their tight live show expect the band to justify their placing with a memorable show made up of new and old material.

Not sure if these artists are for you? No worries, we created a SPOTIFY PLAYLIST of Reading & Leeds artists for this very occasion. Click here and enjoy!

Although there are only twenty-five acts here, there are various others you should check out over the three days.

On the main stage you have bands like Interpol, The Offspring, Rise Against, Pulp, Thirty Seconds To Mars, The Blackout, and Architects.

Whilst names like Death From Above 1979, 2manydjs, Panic! At The Disco, Fucked Up, Best Coast, The Vaccines, White Lies, Crystal Castles, glassjaw, Bombay Biclycle Club and Funeral Party are just some of the worthwhile bands to check out on the NME/Radio One Stage.

On the smaller stages, noticeable bands include Viva Brother, Ed Sheeran, Rival Schools, The Horrors, And So I Watch You From Afar, Don Broco, Foster The People, and Mariachi El Bronx. Whereas names like Henry Rollins, Lee Nelson, Rob Rouse, and Mark Watson will be appearing on the Alternative stage.

It’s clear that the organisers have one again put together a brilliant line-up with plenty of variation and loads of potential, as Reading and Leeds Festival is set to once again become one of the memorable festivals of the summer.

Written by: Sean Reid (Follow him on Twitter)

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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