It's time for Britpop's Bright Young Things to take centre stage

New bands should take top billing at the big festivals, says Emily Mackay

There was a point last spring, watching the third night of Suede's three-night run at Brixton Academy, when I said "that's enough". The problem wasn't the gig; it was fantastic, as indeed the Pulp and Blur comebacks were. It's more that reliving the music of my youth in a near-perfect battle re-enactment was starting to give me a hollow feeling.

It's not just the personal feeling of wallowing in nostalgia; the endless run of Nineties resurrections, ever-diminishing in quality (we've had Republica already, Marion, My Life Story... who next, Rialto?) is starting to have a distorting impact on the industry. The Pulp reunion dominated much of last year's festival chatter, and The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays loom large in this summer's billings. Suede are headlining Hop Farm alongside Bob Dylan and Peter Gabriel. The likes of Lakefest, meanwhile, with headliners Dodgy, Reef, Toploader and two of The Wonder Stuff, could have crawled out of 1996.

These bands had their time. Those festival slots and that money should be going to younger bands pushing forward and upward. How are the likes of The Maccabees, Bombay Bicycle Club and The Horrors, all with recent Top 10 albums, ever to rise to the big headline slots with Ian Brown sitting in them like a great musical cuckoo? Where are the make-or-break chances, the recognition for successful young acts like The Vaccines, who topped the albums chart at the end of last year? These are young bands who've all sold out the Brixton Academy and have a large live following across the country. Next month, The Maccabees play the 10,000-capacity Alexandra Palace in north London. Synthpop heroes Hurts are already headline material in Europe – why doesn't their home country have the same confidence in them? Plan B's The Defamation of Strickland Banks was a triple-platinum smash. Why is his only headline slot at the Eden Sessions?

Or what about The xx, due to release a "clubby" album ahead of their announced festival dates (they play Bestival in September, headlined by New Order, Stevie Wonder and Florence and the Machine). Why did no one at Bestival, or any of the other biggies, have the guts to give this hugely successful new band, who've already proved themselves a captivating festival act, a chance to take over from the Nineties dance old guard?

Music Week published a special report last year on the state of festivals, which blamed stultifying line-ups on a lack of new talent coming through, particularly in the rock genre, forcing bookers to rely on old flames, afraid that newer bands might not appeal to a wide enough audience. But isn't the problem that fear, that lack of risk-taking rather than the bands themselves? All the signs are there that new talent is coming through if you stop "in my day"-ing long enough to make notice.

Sadly, festival organisers are less likely to take a risk in these uncertain financial times on a band that might own the night, but could just possibly blow it (as Pulp stepped up to the plate in 1995 to replace The Stone Roses at the last minute) when they can book a banker in the form of an act who can attract thirtysomething original fans, but can also, thanks to the legend-building of a music press thankful for a pre-established proper story, suck in a whole new generation. That's a shame when today's misshapes, mistakes and misfits should be having their own Britpop.

Like the ageing indie kids did in the Nineties, they should see their bands taking the top billings of the biggest festivals, and feel like they're living in their own moment. Now Blur are headlining the closing ceremony celebration gig for the Olympics, with Underworld already having been chosen as official opening ceremony musicians. Are we to have athletes from the Nineties running the 100 metres for us too?

And you have to question, with the cancellation of both The Big Chill and Sonisphere, whether playing it safe is actually a sensible tactic. The expansion of numbers and opening up to a wider range of music fans that has continued since the early Nineties means that festivals are big business these days, and the need to guarantee a return is understandable. But with so many happening every weekend from September, the way to shift tickets is to stand out, not wheel Dave Grohl out again for another chorus of "Monkey Wrench".

In a fallow year for Glastonbury, you'd expect the other big-hitter festivals to be doing better, and you can't help but think that usual-suspect line-up fatigue is setting in. Those tickets aren't cheap, and if you're watching the same limited number of bands swapping round different festival sites every year, the temptation to fork out is probably a lot less enticing than it used to be. Of Leeds and Reading's three top main-stage headliners, Foo Fighters headlined both T in the Park and Isle of Wight festivals last year, sharing the latter with Kasabian, while the Cure headlined Bestival. This year, too, the same acts are repeated over a number of line-ups, to the extent that it's hard to distinguish one festival from another. Last year, tickets sold slowly, and you could still buy Reading and Leeds tickets up until July for well below asking price. A quick check on eBay, where you can find a pair of Reading weekend tickets for £70 below asking price, suggests this year's line-up hasn't rectified the problem.

So maybe it's time to take a few risks, even flirt with a few disasters. The Britpop era would never have happened if the likes of Blur, Pulp and Oasis had been stifled by a load of acts from the tail end of the Seventies overstaying their welcome on festival bills and magazine pages. That modern life would, indeed, have been rubbish.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Music
Arts and Entertainment
Reviews have not been good for Jonathan Liebesman’s take on the much loved eighties cartoon
Film

A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend

Arts and Entertainment
Untwitterably yours: Singer Morrissey has said he doesn't have a twitter account
Music

A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album

Arts and Entertainment
Full throttle: Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro in God's Pocket
film
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie Minogue is expected to return to Neighbours for thirtieth anniversary special
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be Lonely Island's second Hollywood venture following their 2007 film Hot Rod
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment