Finding future headliners to break the cycle


Major UK festivals have a yearly tradition of using the first two nights of bill-toppers to recycle the same batch of stale would-be crowd-pleasing headliners, as well as using the last night for a token reunion extravaganza. But a lot of people are getting tired of paying £200 a year to see the same acts, and what’s more, paying £200 a year to see the same acts that they don’t particularly like.

Glastonbury is the perfect example. Last year they made the bold (and brilliant) decision to give Kanye West, the world’s self-proclaimed biggest rock star in the world, a headline slot. Arguments were had, petitions were started etc, but Kanye’s headline set stirred enough controversy to see Glastonbury 2016 revert to a more conservative line-up, consisting of Muse, Adele and Coldplay.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. There’s a whole bunch of musicians rising that have potential to dominate headline slots for major festivals. There’s the psychedelic electro-pop of Aussies Tame Impala, who have completed a sold-out tour, including two nights at London’s historic Alexandra Palace. They’ve had earlier headlining experience at Dorset’s modest middle-class knees-up End of the Road, but this is just a stepping stone for their newfound brand of druggy disco to move-on to the bigger festivals.

There’s also Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick’s the poet to Kanye’s town crier, and he’s gradually overtaking him as the world’s biggest rockstar. Kendrick’s fiercely political, original and entertaining and, with albums such as Good Kid M.a.a.D City and To Pimp a Butterfly at his disposable already, as well as having had the second biggest slot at last year’s Reading & Leeds and for Florence and the Machine’s British Summertime appearance at Hyde Park, shows that Kendrick’s gearing up to top the bills himself.

Kendrick and Tame Impala are just two potential headliners that are memorable as well as huge, there are other acts, like indie titians Wolf Alice, that are starting to show early potential for headliners of future, but they’ve still got a long way to go. There’s a big list of musicians that are actually relevant and reflective of the state of music today just waiting for a chance, and it’s proof that festival organisers shouldn’t have to look to revive the past to find future headliners.