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February 2021

40 bands you need to see at festivals this year

This summer offers more opportunities than ever before to find your new crush.
Published: 4:07 pm, May 18, 2017
40 bands you need to see at festivals this year
Sure, you may buy your festival tickets for the big headliners, but there's magic to be found elsewhere on the bill. With a scene full of more exciting new (and newish) bands than even your Granddad can remember, this summer offers more opportunities than ever before to find your new crush. Here's 40 (yes forty!) acts you should be checking out across this festival season.

#1. King Nun


Festival season thrives on bands seizing the moment. It’s what they’re all about - staggering into a stage without a care in the world and catching your attention like a necessity you never knew you needed. If there’s a band to do that more than any, it’s King Nun.

From the moment ‘Tulip’ burst through the gates and hit us square in the face, there’s only been one thing certain. That King Nun are going to shake a few feathers. They’re going to become your favourite band, whether that’s right away, in the middle of the summer or beyond that - it will happen, and they’ll do it because they’re fucking great. As seen across the many live shows they’ve laid out over the past few months, there’s already a sense of “did you see that King Nun show?” going about, and with good reason. Whether it’s delivering seismic hitter after hitter or diving across the stage (quite literally), it’s the sound of a band being that ultimate defining point. Four people living in the moment and leaving it all on that stage. With ear worms that’ll live in your head right from the get-go, there may be ‘bigger’ names on festivals this summer, but none will deliver as much of a good time as King Nun.

What’s even better about it all? This is just the beginning. Come rain or shine, King Nun are the festival band you need - and come September, they’ll be the banker you want to cash in over and over. Get the crown ready; the Kings are here.

CATCH THEM AT: The Great Escape (18th-20th May), Latitude (13th-16th July), Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August)

#2. Black Honey


Rolling a motion picture right in front of our eyes, Black Honey’s road to the top has been a captivating one. With every moment that passes, Izzy & Co have delivered. Bangers? Check. A live show that’ll have you wrapped up quicker than a sleeping bag in Iceland? Check. The very essence of the iconic already flowing through each and every note? (How many checks can you put down in one sentence again?)

The crowds just keep getting bigger - and by the time the next few months roll around, their status is going to be confirmed. It’s easy to be sceptical at 2pm in the afternoon on a Sunday at a festival once all the energy is slowly draining from your system - but if there’s ever a band who can take any stage and make it a glowing beacon of festival-stealing memories then it’s Black Honey. Miss them at your peril, because before long - you’ll be banging on the door to get in on this party.

CATCH THEM AT: Blissfields (6th-8th July), Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August)

#3. Get Inuit


The new breed of UK indie bands know how to write a banger - that’s beyond any doubt. But, of all of them, Get Inuit may have the highest percentage of solid gold anthems in waiting.

From the sugar spun harmonies of ‘All My Friends’ to magic ear worm ‘Barbiturates’, by the end of the summer they’ll have converted even more devoted followers to their cause.

CATCH THEM AT: 2000trees (6th-8th July), Truck (21st-23rd July)



The Big Moon are anti-boring. They say “exciting” a lot. It’s not surprising then that more than simple fun, the band’s debut album ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’, resists the expected at every turn. Recorded surrounded by Hawaiian shirts and inflatables, it refuses to take itself too seriously. “Why do something boring when you can do something interesting, weird or silly,” reasons Celia Archer. “Weird is good,” agrees Jules Jackson. “We wanted it to sound weird.”

“You know when you listen to ‘London Calling’ by The Clash, and it makes you walk with more authority? I want that to happen,” she continues. “I want people to feel empowered and bold when they listen to this album. I think it’s exactly what we wanted it to be. It’s perfect.”

CATCH THEM AT: Tramlines (21st-23rd July), Truck (21st-23rd July), Y Not (27th-30th July), Green Man (17th-20th August), Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August)



From the moment The Magic Gang step on stage, the spell they cast on their audiences is nothing short of, well, magical. All out dance moves, friends on friends’ shoulders, crowd surfers sailing over heads, and through it all, a characteristic brand of sun-kissed indie pop that leaves you feeling as warm inside as a stock photo of a puppy with a butterfly on its nose.

It’s an ardent enthusiasm the band inspire, one that’s seen them release two EPs, play at venues all across the UK, and start to venture abroad. Now, with a major record deal in the bag, a new EP about to see release, and a headline tour ahead of them, there’s never been a better time to fall for the Brighton four-piece. It’s no wonder that the excitement levels are soaring pretty high.

CATCH THEM AT: Liverpool Sound City (13th-16th May), Truck (21st-23rd July), Y Not (27th-30th July), Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August), Bestival (7th-10th September)



Everything Shame do is built and paid for in unrivalled and thrilling live arenas. In-your-face, visceral to the bone and a touchpoint for how to command a stage, it’s the platform which brought them into music and breathes through them each and every day.

With the sound of a generation rustling within them, you wouldn’t bet against Shame being the most talked about band in the country by this time next year – a show not to be missed and a voice impossible to ignore.

“Our dream from the beginning, being completely honest, was that one day we would headline Brixton Academy,” details frontman Charlie Steen. “We were 17 years old at The Queens Head so that dream was to have a drink at the pub and then walk two minutes down the road and then headline the gig.

“Obviously The Queens Head is gone now but that’s still everything we could always dream of, we don’t want to stop in any way.”

CATCH THEM AT: Latitude (13th-16th July), Kendal Calling (27th-30th July), Green Man (17th-20th August), End of the Road (21st August-3rd September)

#7. VANT


Seeing themselves as more philosophical than political, VANT’s debut album is a considered reaction to the world that surrounds them. Inequality, misogyny, sexism, climate change, racism, global relations, religion and the general state of the human race: the band tackle it all. More than a checklist of grievances, though, they’re outspoken but considered. Searching for answers and hoping to get more people talking, ‘Dumb Blood’ is an album with purpose. If it feels vital, that’s ‘cause it is. This isn’t sideline commentary or echo-chamber self-gratification, it’s about immediate action. It’s now or never. The call to arms is undeniable, but it never detracts from ‘Dumb Blood’’s immediate and whole-hearted entertainment.

CATCH THEM AT: Truck (21st-23rd July), Leopallooza (28th-30th July), Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August)



If the last couple of years has seen a plunge into darkness, then INHEAVEN are certainly the beacon of light burrowing through the mess. Colouring in the shades of life with a rainbow sculpted vision of life, love and vibrant energy, INHEAVEN are the band that aren’t just packed with bangers but vital for here and now.

“We wanna make people feel something, we want people to live and die by us,” explains co-frontperson James Taylor. “We want kids to have the same feeling we had when we were younger when we went to gigs, that feeling that you can do anything. There’s definitely a message behind everything we do, I think it’s important to – especially now in this day and age, it’s a mental time to be alive, and I think if no one else is going to fucking speak out then y’know, we should.”

Combining the sounds of decades past into one complete library of immediate anthems and swinging live sermons, INHEAVEN have built the foundations for what a band should and have to be in the modern world – and they’re reaping the rewards. Sold out shows, hysterical scenes and a cult following has seen them become the next great phenomenon, and we can’t wait to see it flourish.

CATCH THEM AT: Glastonbury (21st-25th June), Truck (21st-23rd July), Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August)


Girli, Electrowerkz, London


From the tongue-very-much-in-cheek flourish of “I’m a pop princess, a sassy songstress, we’re all very impressed. My, what a revealing dress,” on ‘Girls Get Angry Too’ to the, “You thought I was going to do a ballad? Fuck off,” welcome of ‘So You Think You Can Fuck With Me Do Ya?’ Girli has quickly established herself as an artist who says exactly what she’s thinking. She can tell what you’re thinking too, and dances with that power. Constantly one step ahead, ACME weight on the cliff above, she’s ready to hit.

“It’s so fucking typical,“ she mock-sighs. “I never went out and was like ‘I’m going to be controversial’. It just happened.”

“I definitely want to be seen as who I am, and that’s not just the whole ‘I’m political’ thing. I also want to kiss that person, that kind of thing. It’s all just human. Even though Girli is in some ways a larger than life character, I also want people to be able to relate to it. It is just me, and I’m just a normal person.”

CATCH THEM AT: Mighty Hoopla (4th June)

#10. MUNA


What we’ve needed for a while now, is not only a band and a voice that can cut above the world around them but one that can shift and look to change it. Bringing shimmering 80s pop-noir into the 21st Century, their infectious knack for energy and pulling the joy out of every moment of darkness means that MUNA are primed and ready at the top of pop’s royal table.

As heard ringing through their debut album ‘About U’, MUNA are painting a masterpiece that’s gearing up to be recognised far beyond the dorms and halls they first called home. The power of family, love and friendship have never been more vital.

It’s a statement Naomi McPherson keeps close to mind. “I feel like sometimes I take for granted what good friendships I have with Josette and Katie, not everybody gets to have that. By being in a band, we’re trying to encourage that vulnerability, to look for that connection with other people, and to be as open as you can be.”

In a world where doors are being shut at every turn, MUNA’s open door is the stand of defiance we need.

CATCH THEM AT: Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August)



Unlike many new British stars, Declan started making an impact across the pond first. “Things kicked off in America quicker than it did over here,” he explains. “I was able to play headline shows to decent numbers of people over there quicker than I could here. Up until recently, I didn’t see anything like that happening in the UK. All of a sudden a load of people became interested.”

Despite the unusualness of breaking in America first, Declan has grown accustomed to the crazy nature of the music business. “I guess it’s me learning that in the modern world of music, cool shit can just happen without much explanation.” You get the feeling that nothing could shock him or ruffle his feathers in 2017 although maybe the Christmas Number One that he longs for would do the trick.

With an album produced by James Ford due this summer, there’s a lot for Declan to look forward to. At the forefront of his mind though is giving a voice to his ideas and feelings through his music. Contained within Declan McKenna’s whip-smart pop songs are some big messages and big ideas. “The album as a whole is about being frustrated as a young person, being open and talking about politics,” he says. Engagement and allowing different voices to be heard is a key theme of his music and his message. “There’s a lot of things that people need to talk about,” he proclaims. “Keeping the conversation going is the most important thing.”

CATCH THEM AT: Liverpool Sound City (13th-16th May), Glastonbury (21st-25th June), TRNSMT (7th-9th July), Latitude (13th-16th July), Y-Not (27th-30th July), Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August)

#12. HMLTD

These Londoners aren’t afraid to twist and screw genres to their own will, delivering seismic hits in the process that make them pretty unmissable if you want to see something huge blow up in the twelve months.
CATCH THEM AT: Field Day (3rd June), Latitude (13th- 16th July), End of the Road (21st August-3rd September)


Another of Brighton’s musical progeny, Yonaka’s raw grungy rock may be familiar, but that doesn’t stop it being incredibly exciting too. With the stars starting to align for the four piece, this festival season could see them break through in a big way on both sides of the indie rock divide. They’re coming. Don’t say you’ve not been warned.
CATCH THEM AT: Download (9th-11th June), Citadel (16th July), Standon Calling (28th-30th July), Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August)


The sucker-punch punk trio we’ve been waiting for.
CATCH THEM AT: Bluedot (7th-9th July), Latitude (13th- 16th July), Truck (21st-23rd July)


Amber Bain has the ability to gloriously sum up emotion in a three and a half minute slice of perfection.
CATCH THEM AT: Liverpool Sound City (13th-16th May), Blissfields (6th-8th July), Leopallooza (28th-30th July), Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August)


Will Joseph Cook is the pop star we need right now.
CATCH THEM AT: Secret Garden Party (20th-23rd July), Truck (21st-23rd July), Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August)


Pumarosa deal in special moments. At every turn, it’s measured and delivered in a manner that has us captivated from the first note.
CATCH THEM AT: Liverpool Sound City (25th-28th May), Blissfields (6th-8th July), Green Man (17th-20th August)


Our new favourite indie misfit, Willie J Healey crafts indie-pop songs in eccentric ways.
CATCH THEM AT: The Great Escape (18th- 20th), Dot to Dot (26th-28th May), Truck (21st-23rd July)


With dazzling pop hooks and shimmering highs, Fickle Friends are a future pop institution.
CATCH THEM AT: Liverpool Sound City (13th-16th May), Community (1st July), TRNSMT (7th-9th July), Secret Garden Party (20th-23rd July), Kendal Calling (27th- 30th July)


‘There’s A Honey’ could well be the giganto-pop banger of the year so far.
CATCH THEM AT: Liverpool Sound City (25th- 28th May)


Sløtface have been shaking things up for a while now, and things are only going to get bigger with debut album ‘Try Not To Freak Out’.
CATCH THEM AT: 2000trees (6th-8th July), Truck (21st-23rd July), Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August)


From a batch of brilliant Brighton bands breaking through, Abattoir Blues are amongst the brightest.
CATCH THEM AT: The Great Escape (18th-20th May), Truck (21st-23rd July)


Smart, modern pop with a cast of all-star names, Mura Masa should take to festivals with the same level of all-conquering domination he’s applied to the radio airwaves.
CATCH THEM AT: Field Day (3rd June), Wild Life (9th-10th June), Parklife Weekender (10th-11th July)


Big brother George Ezra may have already made the big leagues, but the charts could well be becoming a family business.
CATCH THEM AT: The Great Escape (18th-20th May), Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August), Festival No.6 (7th-10th September)


Former cover stars, Blaenavon are a band to believe in.
CATCH THEM AT: Tramlines (21st-23rd July), Kendal Calling (27th-30th July), Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August)


The most popular cult on the block, the Creeper roadshow is set to cast everything in a purple haze as it dominates 2017.
CATCH THEM AT: Download (9th-11th June)


Indie anthems from Reading, the spiritual home of festival fun times, their debut album should set them in great stead for a summer of fun.
CATCH THEM AT: Blissfields (6th-8th July), TRNSMT (7th-9th July), Y-Not (27th-30th July)


Weirds by name, well good by nature.
CATCH THEM AT: The Great Escape (18th-20th May), 2000trees (6th-8th July), Truck (21st-23rd July)


Direct, to the point and basking in bangers.
CATCH THEM AT: Liverpool Sound City (25th-28th May), Isle of Wight (8th-11th June), Glastonbury (21st-25th June)


Electro-pop you can’t stop.
CATCH THEM AT: The Great Escape (18th-20th May), Secret Garden Party (20th-23rd July)

#31. PIXX

Modern brilliance from the near future, there’s nothing to be anxious about for Pixx.
CATCH THEM AT: Dot to Dot (26th-28th May), Latitude (14th-16th July), End of the Road (31st August-3rd September)

#32. RAT BOY

It’s easier to list the things Rat Boy isn’t than what he is. Now if only he’d actually get that debut album out. We’re still waiting, Jordan.
CATCH THEM AT: Parklife (10th-11th June), Glastonbury (21st-25th June), Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August)

#33. FREAK

An almighty din that goes for the win.
CATCH THEM AT: Dot to Dot (26th-28th May), Kendal Calling (27th-30th July), Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August)

#34. PUPPY

Another of the UK rock underground’s great hopes, Puppy are eager to please.
CATCH THEM AT: Slam Dunk (27th-29th May), 2000trees (6th-8th July), Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August)


You think that’s buzz? Nah mate. This is buzz. Possibly the hottest act on planet pop right now.
CATCH THEM AT: The Great Escape (18th-20th May), Latitude (14th-16th July), Wilderness (3rd-6th August)


Pop punk isn’t dead - and, if you look at the circus that follows Waterparks everywhere they go, it doesn’t even have a mild case of flu. Genuine poster boys for a genre which isn’t laying down for anyone.
CATCH THEM AT: Slam Dunk (27th-29th May)


Shifting, smart-as-fuck bangers are Bad Sound’s currency, and they’ve got plenty in the vault.
CATCH THEM AT: Truck (21st-23rd July), Kendal Calling (27th-30th July), Victorious (25th-27th August)


Petrol Girls rage against the bullshit, and they do it brilliantly.
CATCH THEM AT: 2000trees (6th-8th July)

#39. LIFE

LIFE. Not only the band it’s almost impossible to not greet with a Des’ree lyric, but also one of the best agit-indie outfits you’re likely to see.
CATCH THEM AT: Truck (21st-23rd July), Boardmasters (9th-13th August), Reading & Leeds (25th-27th August)


Dreamy nostalgia pop that proves that looking back doesn’t mean refusing to move forwards.
CATCH THEM AT: Green Man (17th-20th August), Sea Change (25th-26th August)

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