Exactly 12 months ago, I wrote this article about the bands, musicians and performers that I thought had the potential become headliners at the biggest and best festivals in Europe. Some of them were fairly safe bets, others apparently less so.
Either way, we thought it would be interesting to look back over those 10 acts, to see who proved me right, who is still on course to make it, and who isn't actually in quite such a strong position a year on.
Given that none of these acts had headlined a major festival 12 months ago, I think it went pretty well, all things considered. If I do say so myself.
The Ones That Made It:
Picking out the nation’s favourite busker was as much informed by strong rumours as it was by any judgement of his capabilities. After all, as far back as sumer 2016 he was being heavily linked with the Glastonbury headline slot that eventually came to fruition this year.
Whatever you think of his music, there’s no denying the man’s ability to fill the Pyramid Stage with little more than an undersized guitar and a fancy loop pedal was pretty impressive.
It wasn’t too much of a stretch to predict that grime’s preeminent figure would take that final step to the status of festival headliner. Perhaps the most surprising thing is that it only really happened once for the Tottenham MC, despite a packed summer of festival appearances. That said, there aren’t many more fitting places for him to top the bill than in North London’s very own Wireless Festival.
Our predictions of Bestival, Lovebox, and Fresh Island still all seem like very reasonable prospects, and with Melvin Benn saying it's 'very possible' that a grime act could top the bill at Reading or Leeds in the near future, Skepta is surely one of the most likely candidates.
Another one that I definitely got right was the mystery man himself, although when he was cancelling shows at the beginning of summer we thought it might never actually happen. But once he sorted himself out, he followed his bill topping appearance at NorthSide with headline shows at Parklife, Lovebox (as predicted), Way Out West and Flow Festival, as well as a few in North America.
Concerns about the depth of his back-catalogue weren’t completely unfounded, given his tendency for Blond deep-cuts, but we didn’t catch anyone complaining.
The Ones That Probably Still Will:
Catfish & The Bottlemen
By sealing one headline slot – at the brand new Community Festival in London’s Finsbury Park – Catfish & The Bottlemen seemed to prove to a lot of people that they’ve got what it takes to top festival bills.
It might be slightly premature to say we definitely nailed this one after a single headline appearance at a first-edition one-day festival, but it still seems fairly academic that more will follow for the Llandudno lads.
Wolf Alice are another one that still seems pretty inevitable.
While their second album Visions of a Life came too late in the year for them to feasibly top lineups over the summer, the momentum that they have and the increasing support from all corners points towards them being a headliner of the future.
Whether or not they will ever reach the very biggest stages remains to be seen, and they may have to release a third album first, but it seems very likely we’ll see Wolf Alice up there in due course.
A few times over the summer it seemed James Blake was acting as Radiohead's festival support, playing directly before the iconic five-piece at the likes of Rock Werchter, Best Kept Secret, NorthSide and I-Days.
Now announced as support for the European leg of Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. tour, he adds another chapter to the story of his growth as an artist. Seeing how he fares at venues like London’s 02 Arena could be a test of his headlining ability, but I'm convinced he is far too talented not to be at the top of festival bills before long.
Bring Me The Horizon
Another band that firmly keeps their place on the list are the hugely popular Sheffield rockers Bring Me The Horizon. Although they've faced some criticism from those in the metal scene for developing a more 'radio friendly' sound, that surely points towards increased exposure and an ever-growing fanbase.
Not long after last year's predictions article, they released a live album and video of their spectacular performance at the Royal Albert Hall (accompanied by a full orchestra), which was tangible evidence of their ability to perform on that sort of level.
The Ones That Still Might:
CHVRCHES haven't been at the forefront of everyone's minds in the way they were a couple of years ago, but it doesn't seem like too much of stretch to say that they could still get there, especially given work is well under way on their next record.
Surely a strong third album would reignite calls for them to take that step up to the big leagues, given the vocal support from a bunch of UK festival bookers and a sizeable fanbase.
Another name that isn't quite as prevalent as it was last year, Claire Boucher is still one of the most interesting, creative and talented artists out there. And if the next album reaches the levels she hit on 2015's Art Angels, she will undeniably have earned her place at the very top of festival posters.
Whether her experimental and unconventional output is accessible enough for huge audiences is up for debate, but in many ways her creativity is what makes her such an appealing prospect as a headline act.
This is looking like it may have been a slightly rash prediction. But as anyone who knows me can attest, I'm not one to rush towards admitting I was wrong. And to be fair, I do still think this could happen, but it's definitely being declared with a little less confidence than it was 12 months ago.
Following Sound Of… and BRIT’s Critic Choice wins in 2016, it seemed like big things were due from the singer and multi-instrumentalist, especially if you’re a cynic that believes those polls are essentially self-fulfilling prophecies.
2016 did see him headline the second stage at Latitude – level billing with both Placebo and Fatboy Slim – which is pretty good going, and who knows what might follow his second album.
Surely as a safe a bet as there is. Some people might have written them off as an overhyped, one album wonder, but with a blistering second album (which hit the top of the charts) and a widely lauded appearance on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage warming up for The xx and Radiohead, there’s no denying Royal Blood are the real deal.
After topping the bills at the likes of AFROPUNK JoBurg, Laneway Festival Singapore and Hamilton Jazz Festival in Canada, and appearing ever-higher up the posters of numerous European festivals over the summer of 2017, a major headline appearance is surely in the pipeline for the singer, rapper and captivating live performer.
Peckham rapper Giggs is seemingly unstoppable at the moment, following up a number two album and features on Drake's More Life playlist with huge mixtape Wamp 2 Dem.
Amidst all of this he's been playing some pretty massive shows, both on his own tours and on festival stages. A set at Reading & Leeds in the summer – featuring a very special Torontonian guest – seemed like a serious statement from an artist who just a few years ago was regularly having his shows cancelled by police.
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