Preview of Leeds Festival 2012

Ahhh we always make a brief sigh of relief when we realise the August Bank holiday weekend is almost upon us, not that we here at contactmusic are planning a relaxing weekend; we'll be at our old home away from home Leeds Festival. Once again organisers have surpassed expectations and formed a line-up that embraces bands of all ages, sizes and genres.

Leeds & Reading Festival

Leeds boys Pulled Apart By Horses are set to open up the main stage on Friday and they are sure to set a high standard for the 200+ bands that'll be appearing on six stages over the weekend. There are SO many bands that are unmissable over the weekend, we had trouble cutting it down to just 10, but here are some of the bands we will not be missing over the weekend.

The Black Keys - Main Stage Friday
It wasn't long ago when The Black Keys were still a relatively unknown name. Their earlier albums such as 'Thickfreakness' and 'The Big Come Up' were both released this side of the new millennium, yet up until the release of Brothers in 2010 it was very much a slow growing process for the duo. It's amazing to speak to new Black Keys fans who haven't delved into their back catalogue and discovered so many incredible treats. One thing is for sure, The Black Keys 7 studio albums and recent performances at Coachella and are sure to set them up to perform one hell of a set.

Of Monsters And Men - Radio One Stage Friday
Icelandic indie folk rockers Of Monsters And Men are quite easily one of our favourite bands to emerge in 2011/2012. Argh, 'indie folk' what a horrible term, however it's quite just for this band. Beautiful harmonies accompanied by traditional 'pop' song writing at its best, Of Monsters And Men's debut album 'My Head is an Animal' is full of wonderful songs and with a little luck, we'll be hearing much more from them in the future.

Gallows - Lock Up Stage Friday
The prodigal sons return. Next weekend will see a rejuvenated Gallows returning to the festival that helped to propel them into the media spotlight. Following the departure of talismanic singer Frank Carter (also appearing over the weekend with new outfit Pure Love) their profile nosedived but the arrival of former Alexisonfire vocalist Wade MacNeil saw Gallows reborn. This new excitement around the band has grown following the release of excellent new material and rave live reviews. Performing only three weeks ahead of the release of their highly rated self-titled record, this promises to be a frenetic and highly charged set. Do not miss it.

Future Of The Left - Radio One Stage Saturday
Some people mellow with age. They take up golf, collect stamps, get up early on a Sunday and clean the car. Thank heavens that Andy Falkous has not succumbed to such fallacies, or we would not have the The Plot of Common Sense, this year's FOTL album which remains just as angry, witty and despairing of modern society as Mclusky Do Dallas, the album that all but launched his career in 200. If anything, Falko has garnered an even more razor sharp, side splitting edge these days - if you don't believe me then just consider his hilarious riposte to Pitchfork's review of the album, which began with the statement: 'rebuttals of unfavourable album reviews are lame, self-serving and immature - this one is no different.' It helps that the album is probably one of the best of their career, and that their lives shows are so acerbic and tighter than Rupert Murdoch's wallet.

The Shins - Main Stage Sunday
It might've taken a little longer than fans wanted to produce their new album 'Port Of Morrow' but the results make the wait all the sweeter; and boy, it's a great album. 'Simple Song' is one of our favourite songs of the year and the rest of the album is home to many songs that match up to its lead single. James Mercer, Richard Swift and Co have a busy summer performing at festivals around the world and we're really looking forward to seeing the band play one of their few British dates.

Mastodon - Radio One Stage Sunday
Georgian progressive metal titans Mastodon are bringing their swirling brand of heavy to Leeds this bank holiday weekend. Recent release The Hunter's commercial success and a February UK tour including an historic sell out Brixton Academy show has confirmed Mastodon's passage into the mainstream consciousness. Six years since opening this very festival's main stage in 2006, Mastodon have become one of the most important bands in the Rock & Metal world and can only be set even bigger things in the years ahead. Expect beards in abundance and some of the most accomplished musicians on the bill all weekend.

Billy Talent - Radio One Stage Sunday
Appearing as part of an extensive European tour running from June into November, festival favourites Billy Talent are set to return to Leeds for another masterclass in punk rock. The Canadians have proven themselves to be one of the most consistent live performers of recent year, their high billing at Rock Am Ring and Download reflecting that. New album Dead Silence is expected later in the year and with lead single Viking Death March receiving widespread airplay, the band's buzz has increased exponentially ahead of their appearance at Leeds. If that wasn't enough, guitarist Ian D'Sa is criminally underrated, making the trip to the Radio 1 Stage on Sunday well worth it.

At The Drive In - Radio One Stage Sunday
Hot. Sweaty. Smelly. It's inevitable really, the Radio One stage on night Sunday is going to have some horrendous smells and an incredible amount of heat emitting from it, but it'll be worth it! It was rumoured that At The Drive In would be performing for MONTHS before the Leeds/Reading line-up was announced and when the news was finally delivered, it put a smile on thousands of fans faces. What a way to finish your weekend but by watching Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Omar Rodríguez-López & Co doing what they do best and rocking it.
The Japanese Popstars - Dance Stage Sunday
Electronic trio The Japanese Popstars are particularly well-loved for their interesting and energetic live performances and we are really excited to see them perform on the Dance Stage. Having remixed bands and artists such as Beyoncé, Daft Punk, Depeche Mode and Gorillaz you know you're going to hear something pretty special and the Irish trio's second album 'Controlling Your Allegiance' is packed full of huge tracks which are sure to sound brilliant live.

Katy B - Dance Stage Sunday
You may not like pop music. And more fool you. If you didn't get chance to listen to Katy B's album, On a Mission, or else you thought yourself better of it, then I'd urge you to give it a spin. Literally the forerunner of her field, Miss B is head and shoulders above any of her schoolmates at the Brit School (Jessie J? No thanks). On a Mission was a wild success, and brimming with danceable, intelligent pop classics including the monster title track and her collaboration with the inimitable Miss Dynamite, Lights On. Okay, so the tent is likely to be filled with teenage girls, and there's a good chance that there will be at least 40 glowsticks to every person, but loosen up already, it's bound to be a spectacle.

If that wasn't enough, we also suggest heading along to watch these bands:
Justice - NME/Radio 1 Stage
Iceage - Festival Republic Stage
Rachel Sermanni - BBC Introducing Stage

The Cure - Main Stage
Spector - NME/Radio 1 Stage
Friends - NME/Radio 1 Stage
Passion Pit - NME/Radio 1 Stage
Niki & The Dove - Festival Republic Stage
Alt-J - Festival Republic Stage
Mikill Pane - BBC Introducing Stage
Wet Nuns - BBC Introducing Stage
Family Of The Year - BBC Introducing Stage

OFWGKTA - Main Stage
Mystery Jets - Main Stage
Hawkeyes - BBC Introducing Stage
Blackmoth - BBC Introducing Stage