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.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas