Review: Reading & Leeds Archive Festival 2020


It really felt like 'Funky Friday' this weekend with stellar sets from a variety of artists.

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You may have missed out on a brand smacking fantastic weekend covered in mud from head to toe but thanks to BBC, they have put a compilation of the best Reading & Leeds performance to get you through the RandL blues. All performances are available to watch separately on BBC iPlayer but BBC put them together for three days of incredibly archive performances. This really did bring back that festival feeling we were all desperately missing.

To start off the Friday, we saw a set from YUNGBLUD who started the show full of energy, opening with ‘21st Century Liability’. But Billie Eilish had to steal the show bringing Billiemania to a house near you. It has been noticed that Eilish’s performance received the biggest crowd in RandL’s history and no wonder with her fantastic upbeat tracks. The 18-year old had her own back-up singers consisting of the whole crowd who you can hear singing and performing with Eilish. She starts the set off with ‘idontwannabeyouanymore’ as you proclaims “if you absolutely despise yourself this song is for you”. Despite the depressing nature there was no sadness in the atmosphere – everyone was having the time of their lives as they jumped around “like kangaroos”.

The Friday also saw one of the most memorable sets in RandL history from the Peckham grime artist GIGGS who brought Toronto legend Drake out to perform Drake’s track ‘KMT’. The first time I saw GIGGS was at Reading Festival 2016 and his 2017 performance proved how much his performance has grown; he is an outstanding performance who has fantastic crowd interaction. Alongside Drake guest appearing one of the best songs GIGGS rapped had to be ‘Lock Doh’ as he asked the crowd to “light it up” and having his very own fog machine.

Dua Lipa also rocked the house down. It was amazing being able to re-watch the performance as someone who was in the crowd during her 2018 set. Lipa really got the crowd jumping and made everyone get over that ex they kept going back to when she sang ‘New Rules’. Lipa was inspiring and appealing to watch especially for a festival that is incredibly male centred.

BBC perfectly placed The Prodigy set at 1:45pm bringing the club to the afternoon, the set was from 2009 and it was amazing seeing how different the crowd was compared to how crowds are in this age. The crowd was non-stop moving and seemed never to run out of energy during the anathematic set which can only be described as a joyful panic attack.

The Saturday line up really brought the emo back with an epic performance from Fall Out Boy, who threw it back to the early 2000s with tracks such as ‘Dance Dance’ and ‘Sugar We’re Goin Down’. However, it had to be the amazing stage production that is a standout of this performance from fire dancers to gymnastics, it was everything you could imagine a Fall Out Boy show to be but even better.

To add onto the emo theme, twenty one pilots RandL 2019 performance played which was absolutely breath-taking and has to be one of my favourites from the weekend. As someone who has seen twenty one pilots a solid 10 times, I have to admit this is a performance I wish I was able to see live. Not only did they perform tracks from their new album, but they kept fan favourites in the setlist such as ‘Lane Boy’, ‘Holding Onto You’, ‘Car Radio’ and ‘Trees’.  The special part of a twenty one pilots show is their crowd interaction, for example for ‘Holding Onto You’, Tyler Joseph (lead singer) goes into the crowd and is held up by fans as he raps about a feeling taking over his body. Again, we see Joseph and Josh Dunn (drums) go into the crowd for the final song ‘Trees’ which is known to always close out the show. They go into the crowd; the crowd holds them and a drum whilst they smash the drums right at the centre of the action – it’s a standout moment for any single person who has ever been to a twenty one pilots show.

Grime artist Dave opened the Sunday show with ‘Psycho’ – the show consisted of an amazing lightshow that made me wish I got to see the gig in person. Dave performed classics from ‘No words’ to ‘Funky Friday’, however it has to be ‘Hangman’ that was a true favourite. Before he began the song, he described what it meant to him saying he “made this track” at his “lowest moment” and proclaimed that “it saved” his life. This story and vulnerability made an already banging track even more special not just to the crowd watching in the audience but for those who are re-watching it on iPlayer.

Other favourites from the Sunday line up are Foo Fighters headline performance from 2019 which marks the fourth time they have headlined RandL. We also got to see Bring Me The Horizon from 2015 which was an iconic performance from the band as they performed their (at the time) new album Sempiternal. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers ended the RandL festival weekend with their performance from 2007. It was iconic and everything you could have wished to see – the best part of the older performances is seeing the transformation directly from then to now.

It was a great weekend for music and though we never got to enjoy the action and may got to reminisce about the times we would be covered in mud, beer and sweat it was a great line-up put together by the BBC to hopefully recreate that festival magic many of us are missing from 2020.

You can still watch all the performances here.


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Editor 2020/21 and a History student with a Britney Spears addiction.

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