Forget the headliners, you'll be kicking yourself if you miss these
Cai Trefor
16:58 17th February 2016

Festivals aren't always about the headliners. It's often about discovering your new favourite music. Which is why we've put together a list to save you a lot of the hard work trawling through the small print on the poster. 

From Isaac Gracie's Jeff Buckley-esque songs to Drones Club's industrial techno, there's a beautiful range between these up and coming bands - and the future could be theirs. 

You'll get a chance to see all of these on smaller stages with a few people, meaning it's a much more intimate experience than being right at the back of a huge crowd. You'll be rewarded with music of just as high quality and in some case music that surpasses the main attraction.

Come next year though - for some of the bands here - you may have to push and shove a lot more to get a close glimpse, so make the most of this lot now while you can. 


  • Catholic Action: The band split their time between Glasgow's vibrant DIY scene, where they play makeshift shows that really suit their direct and melodic rock 'n roll style, and bigger shows like their upcoming one with Swim Deep in London on 24 February. 'L.U.V' is the best single yet and it's going to be out on 18 March via Luv Luv Luv Records. Expect a lot of industry heads at their Live at Leeds and Great Escape performances.

  • Blaenavon: An underdog now but not for much longer - Blaenavon have just received PRS funding to play the prestigious SXSW festival next month. They've also got an album produced by Jim Abbiss (Catfish And The Bottlemen, Arctic Monkeys) on its way. We're yet to hear their stuff with Abbiss but new single 'Hell Is My Head' shows their potential as a band likely to reach the level Bombay Bicycle Club and The Maccabees.

  • Isaac Gracie: His hyped performance in support of Blaenavon at The Lexington earlier this month was the most packed we've ever seen the venue . The London-based singer, who's garnered comparison to Jeff Buckley, performed solo as all he's put out so far the 'Last Words' which is just him and a guitar recorded on Garage band on his computer. The song has already racked up nearly 100,000 views on Soundcloud with barely any promotion as it just speaks for itself - it's a beautiful song. Major label deals are being worked out at the moment and by next summer he'll be one of the key names. For now, festival wise, you can catch him at The Great Escape and keep your eyes out for other announcements

  • Black Peaches: Considering one of their members is Rob Smoughton from Hot Chip, Black Peaches are still relatively underground, playing support slots and finding themselves fairly low down the poster on the Great Escape bill. But their music is a powerful live force and will be one of the most talked about acts of the summer by those lucky enough to catch them.

  • Blueprint Blue: Former S.C.U.M. members Melissa Rugby and Huw Webb have joined forces with Elliot Hayward who is a brilliant Neil Young-esque singer and guitar player. Their raw, powerful songs have been picked up by Tim Burgess who has picked them to perform at Tim Peaks for Liverpool Sound City, Kendal Calling and possiblly more that are yet to be announced. They are likely to surpass the brilliance of a lot of the mainstage performers. Don't miss them.

  • Cameron AG: 'Lost Direction' was one of the most beautiful songs we heard last year and new cut 'Way Back Home' shows a similar level of greatness. Annie Mac has been touting it on Radio 1 and Apple music included it in their best of the week. He's reminiscent of Tobias Jesso Jr and could easily reach a following of his level. For now he's in the small print at Live at Leeds and Great escape with hopefully more to be announced soon.

  • Drones Club: Industrial techno influenced band have recently signed with PMR (Disclosure, Julio Bashmore). A few moths ago we caught their performance at a makeshift venue in Dalston with 4AD signee Pixx and they stole the show. Dressed in white jumpsuits, they created a rowdy festival atmosphere in a portacabin as they referenced the likes of Primal Scream circa Screamadelica, Happy Mondays, and Andrew Weatherall. Live at Leeds and Great Escape won't know what's hit it.

  • Formation: Twin brothers Will and Matt Ritson play funky house and have an air of LCD Soundsystem and Happy Monday about them. It's catchy, experimental and varied enough - and they have a full live band so to attract pop and rock fans. Yet it all has a dancefloor groove that makes them a perfect party band for Lovebox, Green Man, Secret Garden Party, Field Day and myriad other places they've been booked. Warner Records imprint Meno is set to release their debut album which has been re corded by Leon Vynehall and Ben Baptie.

  • Horsebeach: After an impressive support slot with indie folk geniuses Vetiver, Horsebeach have been picked by Tim Burgess for the Tim Peaks stage at Kendal Calling. They play slacker indie in the vein of Mac De Marco with really heavily chorused lead guitars - perfect summer music.

  • Louis Berry: If Liverpool did Johnny Cash, this is how he would have turned out. Growing up on a rough council estate in Kirkby just outside of the centre of Liverpool, he writes his songs about his experiences growing up there surrounded by crime and poverty. The result is some really stirring heartfelt songwriting that comes straight from his heart and shoots like an arrow through yours. He's set to play a whole host of festivals.

  • Strange Bones: Move aside Royal Blood, there's new kids in town and they're threatening your throne. The Blackpool band make primal, rumbling rock music that's certainly one of the most exciting additions to the Download Festival line up. They're likely to be the heavy rock success story of 2016. Don't miss them.

  • The Vryll Society: In addition to the late, great Viola Beach, Vryll Society have been touring with Blossoms and their psych rock with vocals that touch on earl Verve and John Squire-esque guitars is the perfect accompaniment for chilling out at a hedonistic sunny festival. Their set to play all over the festival circuit this summer with dates yet to be announced.

  • Spring King: Spring King came to our attention last year after support slots with Slaves and a well regarded SXSW performance for BBC introducing. This year they're much more established - they just released their first single since signing to Island Records, 'Rectifier' and it's an absolute banger. This could well be their defining summer with Field Day, Blissfields, Truck Festival and more to play.

Photo: Press