We’ve all been there, unimpressedly looking up and down the bill of a festival thinking you could have chosen a better line-up. Yet still people aren’t willing to put their money where there mouth is. Well, to better understand the difficulties and pressure facing promoters and organisers every year, we took away all the boring bits like availability, price and whether the performer is alive or not and asked ourselves which three acts would take the stage of our dream festival. It wasn’t easy and some of our selections might just surprise you. Check out our answers below!
My dream festival line-up is not very feasible…at all (it would involve a resurrection). BUT it would be epic. The Friday night would be headlined by The Smiths, because, well in my opinion they are the greatest band of all time. Imagine the atmosphere; thousands of fans all sharing the hair-raising delicacy of Morrissey’s feathery voiced misanthropic lyrics amongst the nostalgic chime of Marr’s guitar. It would be a hauntingly breath-taking, memorable experience. The second headlining slot would be filled by the Stone Roses and hopefully they’d play their debut all the way through…maybe shortening ‘I Am the Resurrection’ to allow for ‘Sally Cinnamon’. This album hits me like no other. It’s impossible to encapsulate the magnitude of emotion composed by the building of each intro. It would be one colossal psychedelic trip – maybe throw some paint over the audience or something, that’d go down well. Continuing with the Manchester theme, my third dream headliner would be Joy Division. If I could travel time, the first place I would go would be to a Joy Division gig. Partly because I want to witness Ian Curtis’ dancing, but mostly because the band create an unexplainable sense of bleakness and mournfulness, but somehow Joy Division manage to turn this into beautiful, eerie music that would give anyone goose-bumps.
I need a TARDIS to make my fantasy festival line-up happen. Our first port of call is New York City in March, 1967 to collect Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Moe Tucker and Nico (plus Andy Warhol and a bunch of his Factory acolytes to make backstage more fun). The thrill of witnessing the Velvet Underground in their prime playing ‘I’m Waiting for the Man’, ‘Venus in Furs’ and ‘Heroin’ makes even the most unsanitary toilet experience bearable. The Velvets are a tough act to follow, but next on the bill are the greatest girl group of all-time: The Supremes. At 70 Diana Ross was unwilling to brave the rustic conditions, so we hopped back into the TARDIS and nipped back to 1966 to gather the classic line-up of Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard. As the final bars of ‘Baby Love’ ring out, a living legend prepares to make the most anticipated live comeback in history. Resisting the urge to open with ‘Tin Machine’, David Bowie strides out on to the stage and plays a set drawn from the most richly diverse back catalogue in the history of pop music. And then two hours later, I wake up.
Who else would you want other than the godfather of rock ‘n’ roll? Buddy Holly would have to top the bill with his chirpy melodies that are the essence of summer. Just imagine chilling in a field while Holly’s on stage in front of you suited and booted with his classic sunburst Strat and the renowned glasses whilst clapping along to the notorious Buddy Holly wails. Below good old Buddy would be the soon-to-be-deceased Who, they’ve still got a few years in them but the looming threat of their final breakup would make them an essential. Rather than the 70s mod revival Quadrophenia tour we’ve been seeing recently, they’d leave behind the 70s and 80s material and satisfy everyone with solely 60s hits like ‘The Kids Are Alright’ and ‘Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere’ but there might have to be space made for live favourite ‘Boris The Spider’. After a lot of deliberation over whether to choose either The Smiths or The Doors for the final spot, I’ve gone for the unexpected and chosen Morrison over Morrissey. Jim Morrison is the sexy, scandalous and mysterious frontman no-one can resist, so The Doors’ dark rock tinged with psychedelic tendencies would go down a treat.
After spending about half a flight to Turkey trying to work this out, I decided that my fantasy festival would not be complete without Bowie. Had I been at T in the Park in 2004, despite being only 8 years old, I would have been just a little bit angry. The Darkness?! Instead of Bowie?! Bollocks. I feel as though Bowie’s perfect for any festival: eclectic and energetic, and, whether they admit it or not, loved by absolutely everyone. Who wouldn’t want to sit in a field while David Bowie serenaded you? Second would definitely be Pulp because, honestly, all I’ve ever wanted to do in life is watch Jarvis Cocker prancing around a stage singing ‘Common People’ while thousands of people shout it back at him. Following from Bowie it’d be the perfect mix of painfully cool but also wholly approachable. I reckon you could watch Jarv on stage and be mesmerised, but then 5 minutes later sit and have a casual drink in the beer tent with him. Lastly, Blur. Quite impressively I’ve managed to get through this without any fantasies that require reincarnation or holograms. It’s most likely incredibly wishful thinking but perhaps it could still happen. While there were multiple other options for number 3, I felt it wrong not to go with Blur. It’s been a lifelong dream to see them, particularly in festival mode. Whether it would be as good as when they weren’t middle aged is a different matter, but it would still be amazing, and, I feel, the perfect fit with the other two.
Let’s get the ball rolling with someone nice and current, shall we? There can be few artists at this moment in time with a repertoire as inspired and multifarious as Jack White. Sure, you may only know ‘Seven Nation Army’, but you’ll be a Jack White die-hard after a couple of hours in his incomparable company. Next up, The Rolling Stones; there are countless old-timers still touring today, but the Stones are one of a select few who still have a full living line-up, and one that can still hack it on the big stage. It’s only rock ‘n’ roll but it’s rock ‘n’ roll played out by Jagger, Richards, Wood, Watts and Taylor. Did I really need to spew out a long justification for this pick? And last but not least, Daft Punk. Picture it: the undisputed masters of electro strutting their stuff before a field of thousands upon thousands of party-hungry onlookers – even if they can’t see them. (I don’t know, are the visors on those helmets actually functional?) From ‘90s techno, to turn of the millennium club anthems, to the modern genius of ‘Get Lucky’ you can’t go wrong. Who wouldn’t want to round off their festival weekend with these two?
I like to think that if I were suddenly granted absolute power over space and time the first thing I’d do is assemble all my favourite bands to perform for my own personal gratification. I’m better off leaving the big stuff like solving the world hunger crisis to much more informed people. And Bono. Plus it has the added benefit of keeping him busy so he can’t gatecrash my party at the end of world. Deciding on just three acts to headline with the entirety of music history from which to choose really shouldn’t be difficult. Every festival needs a truly big name to get the punters in the door, a legendary performer who can play for hours, encore after encore, delivering unforgettable hit after the last and they don’t come bigger than the King himself, Elvis Presley. That one’s a gimme. Festivals first and foremost are about having fun and my next band epitomises that, Kiss. Sure, it will be an unsavoury and debauched trail through strip clubs, bars and devastated hotel rooms on the 1970s American arena circuit to find the circa 1976 line-up of Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss but it would be worth it to see their explosive brand of rock ‘n’ roll entertainment in its prime and in your face. With the New York quartet better remembered for their face paint and outrageous personas than the intellectual subtext of their songs, (sample lyric: “Baby don’t stop, take it to the top, eat it like a piece of cake”) my final choice offers something a little more cerebral by way of contrast; a reunited Talking Heads closing out the show with a reprisal of their incredible set from Stop Making Sense soothing any final day hangovers with classics like ‘Life During Wartime’ and ‘Psycho Killer’. Now that’s what I call music.
It’s what they now refer to as a boutique festival (but bigger than a party in a paddock… Think Bestival, size-wise), in September rather than June or July (because we seem to always get Indian Summers now, or so my mum tells me) and on the Friday night of this humble festival – where drinks are allowed in the arena, homemade flags fly, hand painted bins sit and an assortment of deliciously eclectic food vans waft – Daft Punk finally take to a stage to play Random Access Memories in its entirety, with the hits intertwined. Pharrell and Nile join them for ‘Get Lucky’, and the response for ‘Around the World’ is just as strong. It was worth the wait. On Saturday, The Last Shadow Puppets (accompanied by a stage full of strings) finally continue the side-project, showcasing songs from an equally impressive second LP, as well as some swanky covers that ooze class. There’s less of Alex’s showmanship-shit and Miles’ modest-less mod moments as they perform stunning songs that still invoke a lively crowd. Finally, on the Sunday night, Duran Duran – “the band to dance to when the bomb drops,” as they’ve previously, repeatedly, modestly tagged themselves – drop hit after hit, as well as some fan favourites for myself: The synthfully 80s electro moments (‘Planet Earth’, ‘Girls On Film’), the arms in the air for ‘Save A Prayer’ (and ‘Ordinary World’) and the better-than-the-singles moments of ‘Sound Of Thunder’, ‘Hold Back The Rain, ‘Shadows On Your Side’ and ‘Nice’. …Very nice indeed.
I was lucky enough to experience Muse perform Origin of Symmetry in full at Leeds Festival back in 2011, so before then that would have been my answer. Since that’s been ticked off my list I have a few serious contenders to line up. Jeff Buckley comes very close, ‘Grace’ is one of the greatest albums of all time and to hear ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Lilac Wine’ performed live would be an experience. Unfortunately Jeff will have to settle for being second on the bill because for me there’s only one logical choice for my dream festival – The Beatles. Can you imagine the set? They’d kick off with a classic like ‘Twist and Shout’, move into some Sgt Pepper stuff before kicking into the best of ‘The White Album’. End with ‘All You Need is Love’ and there you have it. There would have to be one condition. Screaming would be banned. Sing-alongs are fine, chants are great and even some light chit chat between songs…but no screaming. It’s what put the boys off touring in the first place and there will be no bad atmosphere on stage at my festival. Them’s the breaks!
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