Rock Rant: Are Festivals Running Out Of Worthy Headliners?

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Festivals are springing up everywhere now. Gone are the days when your choice was Download, Glastonbury or Reading/ Leeds. Gone are the days of a festival being your only chance ever to see a particular band: they’re everywhere now.

2013 has been argueably one of the best festival summers that we can remember but we are starting to think: Are festivals running out of worthy headliners to play the things? The team at HTF attempt to answer those questions and put forward who they think should headline the festivals in 2014.

Read more below!


RhianRhian Westbury (Rock Editor)

Thinking back to 2011 I still remember the worry people had when Sonisphere announced Biffy Clyro as their Saturday night headline act. At this time they hadn’t played an arena show or a stadium show or anything even nearing this scale. But they took a chance and I have to admit it might well have been my favourite headline festival performance i’ve ever seen! (And there are a lot to compare with!).

More festivals like Sonisphere should take a chance on bands that may not be in the ‘classic’ headline league like Iron Maiden and Metallica. There’s no secret in the fact that I couldn’t care less about seeing these bands headline but there is demand for them. But it isn’t a novelty anymore! Certain bands have headlined festivals more times than I care to remember so we need some variety but there seems to be a big gap between the massive headline acts to the smaller up and coming bands.

Festival organizers need to think really long and hard about their precious headline acts because with such a variety of festivals and the ease of going to European festivals (even after travel it can work out cheaper than a UK festival!) people are not going to come back if they churn out the same repetitive bands year after year. Whilst i’m not 100% sure who would be right to headline next year bands such as Avenged Sevenfold, Bring Me The Horizon and You Me At Six are all bands in the next ‘league’ so maybe they should be given a chance?!


MattieMattie Borucki (Rock Writer)

It depends how you look at, really. In terms of quality, no, there isn’t a shortage of bands who are capable of delivering a headliners performance. But, there is a lack of bands who are deemed “popular” enough to sell the required amount of tickets, and that leads to a lot of repetition.

The ultimate proof of that is Download Festival. Since it became “Download Festival” in 2003, 21 different bands have topped the bill. However, Iron Maiden, Linkin Park and Metallica have all closed the Main Stage 3 times; and Black Sabbath, System of a Down, Slipknot and Def Leppard have done it twice. That’s not great, yet tickets have still sold well and the festival will run again next year. Don’t get me wrong, Download Festival is always an excellent weekend, but those statistics aren’t good at all.

Then we need to look at Sonisphere. From memory, Metallica (twice), Iron Maiden, Linkin Park, and Slipknot have closed that festival at some point as well, and so have Kiss and Rammstein who have both played Download recently. Between 2009-2011, Sonisphere only added one new name (Biffy Clyro) to the list of acts who have headlined either festival — the rest is repetition.

It doesn’t matter who I want to headline, but I’m now pretty convinced that (at least) one of the 22 bands will be headlining Download or Sonisphere in 2014.


SolomonSolomon Radley (Rock Writer)

Festivals are the best, aren’t they? There’s literally nothing more fun than getting fucked up in a muddy field with your mates, listening to cool music.

And there really is a lot of great music out there at the moment. This past decade has seen some awesome new artists rise through the ranks: Fall Out Boy, Muse, Killswitch Engage – the list goes on. Plus, let’s not forget the army of veteran acts like Iron Maiden and Dream Theater that are still going from strength to strength.

So if you weren’t happy with the headline act at your festival this year, I have a harsh reality for you: You’re going to the wrong festivals – do some research, and find a better place to pitch your tent.

But then, for me the headline act has never been the primary thing you go to a festival for. I can’t tell you how many big names I’ve missed because I was in some tiny tent hoping to catch a secret set from someone like NoFX or Flogging Molly.
So who should be given the chance to headline festivals next year? It should be someone who hasn’t had their chance already. What about some small pop punk outfit with the passion and presence to command a large audience? I reckon The Wonder Years could handle it.


AntoineAntoine Omisore (Rock Writer)

There are plenty of bands that could do a cracking job of headlining a festival. The problem is that more often than not there are too many festival promoters at the larger events not wanting to take a chance for fear of backlash from the fans.

Nailing down The Rolling Stones for Glastonbury was a shrewd move especially for nostalgic reasons; they pretty much guarantee an audience, but what about a band such as Bring Me The Horizon? Do they not deserve a chance? They have broken down the walls to the mainstream audience without compromising their musical integrity.

Download is another example of not mixing things up. Slipknot, Iron Maiden and Rammstein are all great in their own rights and can put on quite a spectacle but when was the last time they brought out new music for their fans instead of rehashing the same songs with the same routine.

A band that has managed to get to an elite status is Biffy Clyro who deservedly headlined Reading and Leeds along with Radio 1s big weekend. But do you have to gain radio play to headline?

Let’s give the old dogs such as Green Day and Metallica a rest and promote the new breeds. There are bands that put in the graft and release quality music but do not get the same recognition as artists like Mumford & Sons because they are more radio friendly.
I would love to see the likes of You Me At Six or Deaf Havana headline Reading, Bring Me The Horizon at Glastonbury and While She Sleeps at Radio 1s big weekend and Enter Shikari at Download.


James-HJames Hingle (Rock Writer)

2013 has been a pretty epic year for festivals, it saw Download with a new headliner in the form of the mighty Rammstein, it saw Lamb Of God step up to headline Bloodstock Festival and Reading even gave Biffy Clyro the sunday night headline slot, which they absolutely smashed. Some people say that festivals are running out of headliners, which to an extent they are, we all know how much Metallica love to headline UK Festivals. Despite that though 2014 could see two bands, who I feel have the driving power and momuntum to step up to the plate.

Avenged Sevenfold have been tipped for a long time to take up the mantle as a Festival headliner, which could well happen next summer. The rumour mill is already in over drive and they are one of the favourites to headline Download Festival in 2014 and rightly so. ‘Nightmare’ went to Number 1 in the states and Number 3 over here, that saw them sub headline in 2011 to System, now ‘Hail To The King’ is out and has gone to number one in several countries around the world, its fair to say that they are hot property right now. Their UK arena tour starts at the end of Autumn and it has pretty much sold out, 2013 has been absolutely massive for this band and its fair to say they deserve to have a pop at headlining.

Another band throwing punches is rockers Alter Bridge, whose latest UK arena tour sold out in a day and thats even before they announced their brand new album, ‘Fortress’, which is out in October. This band have also been on a steady rise to glory and if their new album goes into the charts at number 1 then they really do have a big shout to headline. Would it be a risk? Well yes, of course, it would be their first time headlining, but if you have ever seen this band live you will know that they would smash it out of the park. Its whether or not festival bookers have the balls to give these bands a chance, it worked for Download in 2009 when they booked Slipknot and it worked for Sonisphere 2011 when they booked Biffy Clyro.

These are the two bands who I feel are the closest to becoming the next big festival headliner, whether it will happen next year remains to be seen, but bare this in mind both sell out arena’s and both have had albums in the top 5 in the charts, their success speaks for itself.


Let us know your thoughts here! Who do you think should headline the festivals next summer?

About Rhian Westbury

I'm the Rock Editor here at Hit The Floor. In between the delights of retail i'm usually pouring over my laptop until the early hours. You're otherwise likely to find me stuck in a sweaty venue in London listening to something heavy nursing a cider.
  • louisa

    i got to admit, def leppard playing download 2 years after they headlined in 2009 was exactly the same set. i love def leppard but YAWN! x