The headliners may be the main draw, but there’s a vast pool of emerging talent to be found further down the festival lineups too, from those opening the main stage to the artists playing second and third stages. Here, music journalist Thea de Gallier highlights some of the up-and-comers tipped for breakout success this festival season, with a Spotify playlist to match.
Tom Walker has already garnered plenty of industry attention in his three years as an artist. He was named on BBC Radio 1’s Brit List alongside other rising artists like Stefflon Don and J Hus and has toured with George Ezra. A singer-songwriter in the mould of Paolo Nutini and John Mayer, Walker is currently working on his debut album and booked to play a number of festivals this summer.
Appearing at: British Summertime, Truck Festival, Standon Calling, Rize, TRNSMT, Barn on the Farm, Y Not, Boardmasters, Festival No6
With a sound that evokes mid-career Fall Out Boy, Aussies The Faim have collaborated with some musical royalty on their way to pop-punk stardom. Besides FOB’s Pete Wentz himself, who co-wrote the debut single, Saints of the Sinners, they teamed up with super-producer John Feldmann, whose credits include The Used, Blink-182 and Good Charlotte, for their upcoming debut album, and have written with Twenty One Pilots. Expect them to rocket to the top of the alternative scene soon.
Appearing at: Reading and Leeds, Download
Sitting somewhere between Placebo and Joyce Manor, Black Foxxes’ latest album Reidi was inspired by a trip to Iceland (the title is the Icelandic word for ‘rage’). Their abrasive yet melodic sound has enough guitars to keep a Download crowd happy, and the melodic flourishes of radio-ready rock, meaning they fit seamlessly into a diverse array of festival lineups. The lyrics go deep on personal struggles and spare no emotion – prepare to shed a tear if you catch them live.
Appearing at: Common People, Download, 2000 Trees, Truck Festival, Boardmasters
With shades of Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Guns ‘n’ Roses running through their bombastic riffs, Greta Van Fleet are bringing classic rock back in a big way. They’re gearing up for the release of their debut album later this year, having already wowed crowds at Coachella and Florida’s Rockville festival. Classic rock might’ve stopped being cool a while ago, but Greta Van Fleet are on a mission to change all that, one power chord at a time.
Appearing at: Download
Old-school grunge gets a modern makeover by this London trio, who draw on the sounds of the Pixies and Dandy Warhols and add bluesy rock riffs. Their wide-ranging appeal earned Puppy a spot on the Guitar Hero Live game, where their early singles – which are also a great introduction to the band – are playable tracks.
Appearing at: Download
Fans of Hinds, The Vaccines and Mazzy Star alike will find something to love about Alvvays. The Canadian indie rockers released their second album Antisocialites last year to wide acclaim – the waitressing shifts frontwoman Molly Rankin did to finance its mastering definitely paid off. They can do bouncy singalongs like Plimsoll Punks just as well as they do whimsical, and have a ton of festival appearances lined up in the US, too.
Appearing at: Latitude
Frontperson Em Foster’s gender transition inspired Nervus’s deeply personal debut album Everything Dies. Metaphorical lyrics tell Em’s story artfully, and the lo-fi, jaunty sound fits perfectly in the UK’s rising new punk scene alongside the likes of Creeper and Muncie Girls.
Appearing at: 2000 Trees, Truck Festival
Goat Girl certainly don’t hold back. Their blistering lyrical observations deal with a litany of weighty subjects. In Creep, which tackles sexual harassment, singer Clottie Cream tells the perpetrator she wants to “smash your head in”. The Man, a sultry track driven by a propulsive bassline, is a grungy ode with substance to go with the snark.
Appearing at: Citadel, Truck Festival, Larmer Tree
Bryde’s moody, husky vocals tell the dark side of love and romance. In amongst her sultry acoustic tracks is the odd rockstar moment: the chorus of Flesh, Blood and Love has her showing an impressive vocal range, and proving there’s room to experiment within the singer/songwriter genre.
Appearing at: Deer Shed, Leopallooza, Latitude, Standon Calling, 110 Above, Boardmasters
A BBC Sound of 2018 nominee, London-born Nilufer Yanya grew up listening to a varied selection of music, from soul and jazz by way of Nina Simone and Amy Winehouse, to rock and grunge. Her Lianne La Havas-recalling songs mix soul, jazz and pop with strident vocals and lyrics that play on modern romance.
Appearing at: Visions, End of the Road, Bestival
This 14-man strong collective – or self-styled “internet’s first boyband” – came together on a Kanye West fan forum and tackle topics as varied as mental health, sexuality and racism. Brockhampton have a laid-back sound that is chilled but raw, thoroughly modern. They are nothing like your average boyband.
Appearing at: Reading and Leeds