From Download to Reading - It's been a jam-packed and supremely impressive festival season

As the last batch of revellers from Bestival head, bleary-eyed and with the lingering remnants of a hangover, back to work, and the office fans are gradually replaced for space heaters, it's safe to say that 2015's festival season is over.

But what a season it's been. After kicking off at the start of summer (doesn't that feel like decades ago?) with the likes of Isle Of Wight Festival and, of course, Glastonbury, music fans have made their way, in their thousands, to Latitude, Oya, End Of The Road, The Great Escape, Reading and Leeds... The list goes on.

It was a nigh on impossible task, then, to narrow over three months of events into just a few greatest moments - but we managed it, and we're pretty happy with we've come up with. These are the greatest festival moments of the summer.  

  • Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds headlining Latitude: "I dedicate this song to all of the Guardian writers strung out at the back on some really strong rose wine, yah?," smirks Noel Gallagher with a plain-faced glee introducing 'Champagne Supernova' as 'Champagne Socialist'. "Or some really strong weed, yah?" A self-aware chuckle breaks out across the idyllic Suffolk fields. On the one hand, the serene setting, high-brow cultural delicacies and ultimately civilised atmosphere of Latitude is almost entirely at odds with his no-bullshit, working class background and the brutish headline-grabbing manner in which he found fame. Still, he's also just released one of the most artful albums of his career, and his 'credibility' (for want of a better phrase) was never in question. Still, he always was an honest man, and his Latitude closing set proved more than ever that he is an 'everyman' - much more than a working class hero but a bloody great artist in the eyes of everyone. He is the songwriter's songwriter, if ever there was one.

  • First Aid Kit at Isle Of Wight Festival: The rich, textured Americana with which First Aid Kit graced the crowd, drawing mostly from their third album Stay Gold, felt like a euphoric, musical manifestation of the sun that had just broken triumphantly through the crowds. As the pair's harmonies bounced over and under each other with their usual ease, the sense of occasion was palpable.

  • Laura Marling and Marika Hackman's secret session at EOTR: Nestled in the heart of the End Of The Road forest is a perfectly recreated Victorian-style living room, with a piano at its centre. It was on this stage, in front of a handful of people, that Laura Marling and Marika Hackman performed an unannounced cover of Foo Fighters' 'Tired Of You'. It was unrehearsed, a little shambolic, and completely beautiful.

  • Bring Me The Horizon at Reading & Leeds: "I'd like to ask you to open this place up as big as it will go. Pit enforcers, please make yourselves visible now," states the calm voice of a woman coming form the satirical health and safety video playing to the mass gathered for BMTH. No sooner is the video over, it begins. "S.P.I.R.I.T. Spirit, let's hear it," cries out over the speakers for 'Happy Song', the second single released from the soon to arrive and change our lives album, That's the Spirit. The main stage crowd know every word, managing to drown out frontman and vocalist Oli Sykes. "Yeah, that's the spirit." Hell yes. We really rarely say this but BMTH were pretty close to perfection here. We daresay they'll probably headline in the not too distant future. Now is their time.

  • Babymetal at Reading & Leeds: There are countless Babymetal t-shirts on show throughout the grounds - not just from fans but the likes of Bring Me The Horizon and All Time Low are even donning them. Yes, this is going to be historic. At the back end of the set, Babymetal cut away to another visual prompt telling of Babymetal's rise to fame and the mantra behind true metal being true bravery. If we could understand any of the band's lyrics, we might identify some plot, but the gist of this intermission was to make a stand against bullying by - wait for it - inciting a wall of death. Maybe the earliest wall of death in Reading history, the probably hungover crowd raised their devil horns in the air and clashed with an almighty chorus of groans and laughter. An incredible display from Japan's most promising act.

  • Taylor Swift at British Summer Time: Though at this point in an exhaustive - and no doubt exhausting - world tour, you'd perhaps forgive her for doing so, there was never a moment that felt phoned in. Even songs like 'Love Story', a wistful, naive country song from which Swift has long since transformed, were given the 1989 treatment, coated in electronic drum beats and synthy keyboards. Introducing it, she explained the song's inception with a self-mocking tone: "I decided to do Romeo and Juliet justice where Shakespeare had not."

  • Ho99o9 at The Great Escape: An intense, vibrant and disturbing affair, which leant more heavily on the duo's punk influences than their records. theOGM arrived on stage wearing a wedding dress, a Miss Havisham-like madness in his eyes, while Yetti999 thrashed, as if possessed, around the stage. It wasn't a raucous, aggressive front for a lack of talent though - their lyrical prowess remained as impressive as it is on record, and their genuine, overwhelming zeal for performing was infectious.

  • Lionel Richie at Glastonbury: "This has been a long time coming," Richie told the crowd. "But finally I made it to Glastonbury" - adding that he'd brought along a little 'Californian sunshine'. Looking genuinely awestruck by the response, Richie was clearly overwhelmed by the audience interaction on the likes of 'Hello' (which saw him down a pint of some kind of red liquid beforehand), 'Dancing On The Ceiling', The Commodores oh so fitting 'Easy' and the immensely popular 'All Night Long'. But really, what we need to talk about is how 'Brickhouse' is probably the greatest song ever written. He looked utterly dumbfounded at the sheer love and adoration he received - repeatedly asking the masses "what is going on?" We had no idea - but there is nothing at all guilty about the pleasure.

  • Santigold at Latitude: We weren't, for reasons we can't quite pin down, expecting to be blown over by Santigold's afternoon set - but it was pure, charismatic magic. On tracks like 'Disaparate Youth', which lies in the beautiful, unchartered lands between balladry and thumping electronica, she paired her silky, languid vocals with inimitable dance moves. Towards the end of the set, she and her dancers began throwing doughnuts out into the crowd - but it wasn't needed. The crowd were already on side.

  • Kanye West headlining Glastonbury: And now, you haters - we hear you. One can totally sympathise. One does lean towards the notion that it was kind of like watching brain surgery - impressive to see, but not that enjoyable. For every bystander with us last night losing their mind, there was another bored to tears - waiting for that 'Coldplay' eureka moment of unified musical epiphony, where Worthy Farm unites in at least one pure moment of bliss. The closest they got was a brief burst of Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. Therein lies the issue. To headline Glastonbury and pull the masses to the Pyramid, one usually leans on 'casual fans' - those who are not devout Kings Of Leon or Arctic Monkeys fans, but will gladly walk their cider for a sing-along of 'Mardy Bum' or 'Sex On Fire'. There is no such thing as a 'casual' Kanye fan - he wants to mean everything to everyone, and if he can't then he'll leave you behind. Hence why so many feel more than a little bit cheated. Is that a very 'Glastonbury' way to feel? No, but whatever - hip-hop matters, Kanye matters and last night mattered. Yeezy certainly played up to being 'the world's greatest living rockstar', even if the world didn't agree

  • Father John Misty at Oya (and just about anywhere else): "This is gunna be easy," dryly smiles FJM at the hollering fittingly near-religious fervour of the masses following opener 'I Love You, Honeybear'. "You people are up for anything." Indeed we were, all the liquid-limbed lounge lizard lothario slinked and darted across the stage for a faultless set which he confesses is 'designed for maximum panty moisture'. The wide-eyed screaming love from the many men and women gathered suggests his mission may well have been accomplished. It's one thing to just roll through the cuts of what may very well be 2015's best album, but as a showman Joshua Tillman simply couldn't give any more. The sheer abandon he displays as he twirls his mic stand, invades the crowd, films himself of fans' phones, flirts with the front rows and maniacally rolls across the floor and squawks at the climax of 'The Ideal Husband' calls to mind the likes of Nick Cave and Iggy Pop at their most unhinged, but FJM wraps it up in a classy chaos all of his own. This may well have been the best live set we've experienced this year.

  • Run The Jewels at Reading: "We are going to fuck this motherfucker up," announced Killer Mike before launching into the duo's self-titled track 'Run the Jewels'. At some point during live shows, there's a moment when everything clicks, when grooves are locked and everything falls into place. For most bands, this will happen once or twice a set - for Run the Jewels, it's an immediate phenomenon.

  • Hinds at End Of The Road: : "We are Rihanna, and we came here to shine bright," shouted Carlotta Cosials as Hinds burst into the effervescent, sun-drenched 'Trippy Gum'. The set was full to the brim with scuzzy, infectious tunes and gleeful pace changes. In fact, the Spanish four-piece's afternoon main stage slot was the perfect accompaniment to the blazing sunshine that beat down - both it, and the band, wholeheartedly ignored September's memo that summer is drawing to a close.

  • The Strokes at British Summer Time: They hadn't played a UK gig since headlining Reading & Leeds back in 2011. Since then, they released fifth album Comedown Machine on the quiet and live shows have been few and far between. With comments from Albert Hammond Jr threatening that this could well be their final show, the fear was that this could indeed be a farewell and that New York's finest may be winding down. So much is noted and written about the volatile relationship between the band, and the often chilly atmosphere on stage. You can read as much as you like into their live nonchalance this evening, but nothing can distract from the sheer force of power that they deliver. Headlines aside, you can't deny the lasting class of the likes of 'Reptillia', 'New York City Cops' and 'Take It Or Leave It'. While the muted release of Angles and Comedown Machine may rank them as lesser in the eyes of the mainstream, 'Welcome To Japan', 'One Way Trigger' and 'Under Cover Of Darkness' are delivered with the compulsion of five artists who know that what they're doing is absolutely vital. Please don't leave us.

  • The Libertines at Reading & Leeds: It feels like they've everything to prove, but there's also a damn good reason for them to be here - their new album is a triumph, and 'Gunga Din', the Ed Harcourt-featuring 'You're My Waterloo' and Anthem For Doomed Youth's title track land like old favourites. This is the sound of a band in love once again, and its hard to not fall with them. After a killer five song encore, culminating in violent fits of joy during 'Up The Bracket, 'What A Waster' and 'I Get Along', its impossible to not get swept away in the camaraderie. "Reading!" howls a wide-eyed Gary Powell. "I hope you've had a good weekend. And remember - you are all Libertines." Amen. The battle has been won, and the good ship Albion sails on and on.

  • American Football at Reading: Playing for the first time at any UK festival, American Football performed a sincere and emotional set to a relatively small but attentive audience at the NME/Radio 1 stage. Having only put out one album in 1999, their UK following wasn't established until many years after that. Playing Friday afternoon on the NME/Radio 1 stage, the Chicago quartet performed low-key and sprawling renditions of tracks both well-known and considered rarities among the small but fervent audience. One of the few truly intimate performances that has ever graced that specific tent at Reading festival.

  • Du Blonde at End Of The Road: "All I needed was a little of your respect," sang Beth Jeans Houghton to conclude 'After The Show'. "We all know what that feels like," she said to the crowd, conspiratorially, as the song finished, before spitting on the floor and offering to swap her bassist for a burger. It was a playful, polished set, which meandered frequently into psychedelic pop territory, and proved once again that Houghton's debut album as Du Blonde, Welcome Back To Milk, deserved more attention.

  • Kendrick Lamar at Reading: Kendrick broke out the biggest party set of his career without forgetting his impact as one of the most influential voices in music today. 'Everything's gonna be alright', the crowd chanted for 'Alright', a track that bridges the gap between the two halves of the rapper's constituency. The progressive Kendrick that strives for a better world becomes intersected with the Kendrick that entertains flawlessly. A set featuring plenty of old and new, Kendrick pulled out a headliner sized Reading Leeds debut, a feat achieved by very few.

  • Portishead headlining Latitude: It's been over twenty years since Portishead released one of the greatest trip hop albums of all time - their 1994 debut Dummy - and in 2015, their enduring influence has never been more pronounced. It seemed only fitting, then, that they should restake their claim as pioneers of trip hop in the form of a headline set at Latitude. With wind machines, trippy computer graphics and sound effects reminiscent of dial-up broadband, the set felt like it had been lifted straight out of 1996 - in the best way possible.

  • Muse headlining Download: It was never going to be anything less than historic, was it? Here stands a band who have headlined Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds two times a-piece, sold out pretty much every stadium on the planet, yet still had a huge challenge to face: headline the hallowed hard rock ground of Donington Park and prove the heavy metal purists wrong. With flames, fireworks and a whole lotta' fury, the space-rock trio did exactly that - and for a 'stripped back show' it brought Vegas-style visuals and theatrics to the muddy fields of Donington. However, the lack of the usual bells, whistles, lasers and robots of the Muse show was noted, leaving only the music to do the talking.Matt Bellamy may have fallen on his arse halfway through opening track 'Psycho', but ultimately Muse further proved that not only are they the finest live act on this Earth, but the shining jewel in the crown of British rock. Huge hordes gathered as far as the eye could see, with thousands upon thousands witnessing what can only be described as pure rock pleasure. The challenge was accepted, the target was destroyed. There is nothing they can not do.

  • Susanne Sundfor at Oya Festival: "Is this the sound of your heart?" pines Susanne Sundf%uFFFDr on the bubbling elegiac grace of 'Fade Away'. Judging by the collective dumbstruck awe in which the masses stand, one could well hear a pin drop or the thud of a heartbeat in between the majestic blasts of pristine electropop and the wild screams of adulation. This is by far the biggest gig of Sundfor's career so far. With six albums to her name (numerous topping the Norwegian charts) and having collaborated with the likes of M83 and Royksopp, her influence on bringing credibility to the dancefloor over the last decade is never in question. She stands neck and neck with the likes of Beck, Florence The Machine and Nile Rodgers as bill-toppers this week, and while they may throw a great deal more weight internationally, there is an undeniable universal language to her majestic and soulful disco that makes that ranks her among the rarest of talents - and one capable of compelling and converting even the most casual of passers by. It's quite fitting that Norway's premiere festival ended on a high with the queen of their homegrown talent. Should she ask again, this is the sound of falling in love.

  • Ryan Adams at Glastonbury: What better way to end Glastonbury than with an emotional outro from R'Adams with the ones you love? Opening with 'Gimme Something Good' before giant amp stacks and arcade machines, Dr Adams played up the theatrical setting of the Park Stage and its flaming towers, with a set of heartbroken balladry and bad-ass guitar god noodling. It was a set of relentless Glasto-friendly highlights, the most fitting being the youthful decadence of 'To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)', the firey regret of 'Kim' and 'Stay With Me', and naturally the ever-enchanting 'New York, New York' and 'Come Pick Me Up'. Sealed with the kiss of the country-prog of 'Magnolia Mountain' and the unexpected and heart-wrenching encore of his now classic cover of Oasis' 'Wonderwall', he couldn't have done more. It's a shame that more didn't see it, but to those who did, it was a set never to be forgotten.

  • Wolf Alice at Glastonbury: Whether drawing a swelling mass of hysteria to the William's Green tent to their secret set on Thursday, or absolutely dominating the Park Stage on the Friday, Wolf Alice reigned like champions as band with their twice their years and back catalogue. The sheer momentum behind them is only matched by the love they receive, and the fire and fury they put in. There are few things that could make us stand through a torrential downpour of biblical proportions, but the sheer and infectious compulsion as they tore through 'Bros' and song of the summer 'Your Love's Whore' held us frozen in the swollen devotees - every moment felt absoltuely essential. Their album may have narrowly missed out on the No.1 spot, but victory is already theirs - 2015 is the year of Wolf Alice.

  • Missy Elliott's triumphant return at Bestival: Expectations for Missy Elliott's first UK show in six years? Not so much low, just a reluctance to get too excited, as there was a very real possibility that it could disappoint. We feel silly for ever doubting her, as she tore through classics such as 'Get Ur Freak On' and 'Work It' and left Bestival on a dizzying note of euphoria that would be hard to ever beat.

  • The Maccabees at Reading & Leeds : Warming up for Jamie T, Kendrick Lamar and The Libertines, The Maccabees put on a hit-packed and career-spanning performance - showing a testament to not only their longevity but why there seems to be no stopping them. It was a set worthy of headliners. Before they took to the stage, we asked them if they could see themselves topping the bill in future. "We'd love to," guitarist Felix White told Gigwise. "I think we could do it one day, we're just slowly getting better at what we do. About ten years ago we were the first on in the news bands tent, and I think we genuinely have got better as we got bigger. That's the best place to be in - if it keeps going like that, then great." And we're certain that the only way is ever skywards from here. Judging by the size of the crowd alone, the momentum behind The Maccabees is immeasurable, let alone the relentless dance that they inspire. As the masses stand tall on one another's shoulders, we can't help but agree. We have nothing but kind words to say, and could watch them all night.

  • Hudson Mohawke at Bestival: After bizarrely watching him play a short set above a Nandos food stall, Hudson Mohawke's official set was much more impressive. Utilising a colossal arsenal of lights and various pyrotechnics, the DJ unleashed shattering cuts of recent album Lantern, as well as a slew of Kanye West tunes he has produced. If Kanye's championing him, it's probably time for the rest of us to start truly appreciating him.

  • Slipknot at Download: Opening with 'Sarcastrophe', the band battled through torrential weather, proving that Slipknot would do all they could to keep their fans happy and wouldn't let a bit of rain stop them. The masked metallers also paused on more than one occasion to thank fans for making them feel like they were at home, in tern rewarding their cold and dedicated fan base with tracks such as 'Psychosocial' and 'The Devil In I'. During 'Spit It Out', the crowds were also asked to kneel down, before leaping into the sky when Taylor screamed, "get the fuck up". Even without former drummer Joey Jordison, the committed crowds seemed grateful for Slipknot's commandingly powerful presence, that managed to keep them more than distracted from the rain for a couple of hours. Never has 'Cut, cut, cut me up and fuck, fuck, fuck me up' been hollered in fuller voice. Who knew the nine could keep making Download history?

  • Shura at Bestival: Expectations are high for Shura, but the crowd she garnered in an early evening slot at Bestival did sadly not reflect that. It's everybody else's loss, in all honesty, because the songs she produced, from the twinkling '2Shy' to extended instrumental epic of 'White Light', were a joy, and reflective of how far she's inevitably going to go.

  • Beck at British Summer Time: "Summer time is officially here," beams Beck, "We arrived from California so we thought we'd bring it with us". Indeed he did, as we and his band soaked up the last of the early evening sun with a brilliant set worthy of a headliner, albeit far too short for an alt-rock icon of his stature. With elastic dance moves, exquisite showmanship and one hell of a back catalogue, Beck united Hyde Park in groove - flowing through college rock staples such as 'Devil's Haircut', The New Pollution' and 'Gamma Ray' - throwing in a Donna Summer cover for good measure and with 'Sexx Laws', 'Debra' and 'E-Pro' proving highlights, before sealing off the stage with police tape before returning for an explosive closer of 'Where It's At'. Come back soon please Beck, and play all night - hell, play all summer long.

Issue Four of the Gigwise Print magazine is on pre-order now! Order here.


Photo: WENN / Danny Payne