Radio 1’s Big Weekend is heading to the City of Culture Hull in a couple of weeks time. I live an hour away, and fortunately that was close enough for my county to be included in the catchment area – I am super lucky to have got tickets for the whole weekend. Each year one of the country’s biggest radio station hosts a massive free concert across a weekend in May, inviting all the hottest pop stars and rock bands around at the moment.
With a pick of three stages, there are some very credible and fresh names taking on the Main, Where It Happens, and the BBC Introducing Stages. The latter stage is especially close to my heart; I was born in Grimsby which is covered by the BBC Humberside region, and as the Introducing Team at the station have put forward a number of bands from the area forward to play, I am already aware of a significant amount of talented new faces who will be making appearances. The majority of people who end up reading this probably won’t have tickets, but there are a number of ways you can check out coverage for this year’s Big Weekend, but if you are one of the lucky ones, try and catch a handful of the following acts:
One of the most versatile musicians out there, Plan B is making his comeback appearance at Big Weekend, after a few years out of the spotlight to work on new music. Originally beginning his career as a heavy grime rapper, he completely reinvented the game with 2010’s The Defamation of Strickland Banks. Plan B is a slick, storytelling rapper in one song, whilst in the next a heartfelt soul crooner, telling the tale of the fallen fictional character Strickland Banks, when he experiences a false accusation of sexual assault which ultimately sees him imprisoned. After a switch back to grime for soundtrack album Ill Manors, exactly what Plan B has up his sleeve for his Radio One performance was hinted at with the release of new track ‘In The Name of Man’; its a step back to his soul days pre Ill Manors, with a noticeable absence of rap.
These guys are one of the groups who will be on the BBC Introducing stage – born in Hull and now based in nearby Leeds, the guys gained radio play and exposure for themselves by submitting tracks through the BBC Introducing Humberside uploader. They were then picked by a group of experts, out of hundreds of names, to be put forward to perform at the weekend festival. Latest track Just Touch exemplifies the fun youthful feel of their indie pop – it’s also a song for the youth, addressing the confusing emotions every teenager would have felt encountering someone they aren’t sure if they love, or just lust for.
You Me At Six
I am genuinely shocked these guys are not performing on the Main Stage this year – I have watched the band rule arena stages, with their bold, energetic performances, so it will be a treat for anyone to see them perform in a slightly smaller setting on the Where It Begins stage. You Me At Six have been around for a good few years now – there are diamonds from all their albums, whether you’re looking for a snappy tasty bite of pop punk from 2008’s Take Off Your Colours, or any of the tracks from their third release Sinners Never Sleep which saw the band’s transition from punk to alternative rock.
Zuzu has been championed recently by YouTube channel The Hyve – the singer and the rest of her band make snappy, catchy indie pop and for the last few months I’ve digged ‘What You Want’, one of the tracks featured The Hyve – I love the punchiness of the lyrics, and how vibrant and joyous the whole sound of the song is. There’s no surprise Zuzu are generating a buzz at the moment; they were named ‘Buzz Artist of the Week’ by the Liverpool Echo.
Making a return to the BBC Introducing Stage, Declan is years ahead of where he should be right now. Not afraid to tackle the hard-hitting issues of exploitation, politics, corruption and suicide within his lyrics, the teen from Herefordshire has been praised for touching upon touchy subjects, and his name first came to light when he won Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent prize. Although Declan has only released a relatively small amount of tracks compared to other artists, the eighteen year old’s clever lyricism and dynamic stage performances (he often parades the stage wearing glam makeup and t-shirts exclaiming how 16/17 year olds should be given the right to vote) have attracted attention, and the singer is due to release his debut album in the summer.
Brooding, calamitous, and loud, this is one of few opportunities you will have to watch Royal Blood in a relatively intimate setting this year, before they head off on their anticipated arena tour in the autumn. Their style of rock, branching into the psychedelic and hard sub-genres, is a throwback to the great rock bands of the 70s and 80s, and with ‘Lights Out’ not giving too much away to what the overall sound of their second release could be, it is likely a bunch of new tracks, as well as raucous favourites ‘Little Monster’, and ‘Out of the Black’, will feature in their headlining set on the Where it Begins stage, on the Sunday evening.
The Big Moon
The four piece rock group released Love in the 4th Dimension the other month to rave reviews from the likes of NME and DIY Magazine – the girls create a zesty grunge rock sound packed with energy and fun. Whilst they may have generated media attention due to being an all female alternative band, they’re much more than that and should be treated in the same vein as other rock bands, regardless of their gender. The Big Moon, whose tracks include ‘Cupid’, ‘Formidable’, and ‘Sucker’, are another returning act to the BBC Introducing Stage.
Right now it feels like we are in the middle of a brand new wave of punk music – this genre of music initially became known in the mainstream in the 1970s, with the likes of The Clash and Sex Pistols creating angst, thought-provoking protest songs, resonating with the youth of that era. There are multiple bands out there right now who are producing punk music the youth are getting right behind, and LIFE are one of these acts. If you’re looking for something different away from the alternative, pop and rap mostly being offered at Big Weekend, LIFE’s set will be for you!
After previously reviewing ‘Same Mistakes’ for the blog, I couldn’t not include Seramic on the list – just like Plan B, Seramic has a rich, deep soulful voice which sounds like it belongs in the 1960s. The difference between Plan B and Seramic is the modern electro pop element that lies in the latter’s music – he creates the perfect sounds to groove to, and I am intrigued to see how the sound on his records translates onto the live stage. Keep an eye out for ‘Trying’; Seramic slows things down on this track, and it really shows off how crazy his vocal range with, reaching the most delicately beautiful falsetto in the chorus.
With a career spanning over two decades, Kasabian have a rare longevity in the music industry – bands can float around for years with moderate success and half sold out shows, whilst Kasabian have just achieved another No1 album, and their latest tour visiting venues in Wales and the south of England sold out almost immediately. Throughout the 2000s Kasabian were consistently named as one of the must see bands at festivals – in fact, they’ve won accolades which highlights this, being called the Best Live Act from both Q and NME magazines (before the latter has fallen very heavily from grace).
With another 40 plus acts taking to the stage, there’s so much talent to pick from, and I’ve missed off the list a ton of great acts including Christine and the Queens, alt-J, Superfood, Mura Masa, who will all be appearing over the course of the weekend. If you haven’t got tickets this time round, definitely keep an eye out for ticket announcements next year!