Our Top Five New Bands from Reading Festival

A week on from Reading and yesterday we featured ten of our favourite less well-known artists from the Festival. We’ve defined that as acts that have not yet released their first full album. Today, we will give you (pause for drum roll) – out top 5! Here are numbers 5, 4 and 3 - come back after lunch for the Top Two!

5. Eliza and the Bear
The songs sound strong on YouTube and Spotify in a tuneful, exuberant, indie/pop style (think Mystery Jets, maybe Dry the River at times), but the band has an added dimension live, with real energy and engagement. The album is out early next year now and should be worth looking out for. A great set at Reading.


4. John Joseph Brill
A very hairy man with a big beard singing deep songs in a deep voice does not sound like a fun afternoon at Reading Festival. But Brill undercuts and lightens that with genuinely witty and self-depreciating comments – “this is not so much a gig, more a hostage situation” he said as he went into a repetitive “guitar solo”. He is captivating live, has some strong songs and might just turn out to be a British Leonard Cohen.


3. Nothing But Thieves
Another band with a forthcoming album, and it is high on the Smith shopping list; should be out in October. A real rock band, with nods to Muse before they got a bit mad, Queen, and the more tuneful elements of Radiohead, but singer Conor Mason also acknowledges Jeff Buckley as an influence which comes across in the more emotional aspects of his performance. There are strong tunes and the live performance was tight, but it is Mason’s brilliant voice that takes them into a different league – truly one of the very best rock vocalists I’ve heard in a long time.

2. Jack Garratt

What more can we say about this huge talent? He is a virtuoso on keyboards, percussion, guitar, can sing beautifully in both a gentle and a full on rock manner, is an electronics whizz, writes great songs, and this year added more comfortable audience engagement to his Reading performance. Before he played his latest song, Weathered, he said “I haven’t worked out how to play this in an arrogant way yet so it’ll just be the guitar”! That humorous acknowledgement of the danger of over-elaboration, because of his multiple talents, should stop him over-reaching when he does get a first album out. A huge worldwide star within three years, we reckon.

1. Hippo Campus
And finally our favourite new band at Reading – and it is Hippo Campus, four 19 / 20-year olds from Minnesota, playing fresh, vibrant, bouncy indie-pop with an Afro-beat vibe at times. Just loved their Reading set, the playing and harmony vocals were so tight, absolutely spot on through what are quite complex songs in some cases, but all done with such a sense of melody, enjoyment and energy. Vampire Weekend, Little Comets and Two Door Cinema Club are reference points but in ten years people will be talking about other bands “having a sort of Hippo Campus sound” we suspect.

Only 356 days to Reading 2016 - we have our tickets. See you there.

First Voice

  1. Chris Graves:

    Hi Peter, I’m glad you’ve given recognition to Nothing But Thieves in your Reading round-up. I saw them in Manchester back in June and they were excellent. Album is out in October so fingers crossed the rest of their songs are as good as their early singles! (Thanks for the intel Chris – London gig was sold out by the time I tried to book! Next time I hope – Peter).

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