We love a good DJ-centric festival. They're pretty much all we go to. But switching it up now and again is healthy—good for the ears and the soul.
And there’s hardly been a better time to hit festivals with both DJs and live acts, as the biggest bands from the past few decades return main stages across the UK and Europe, playing side by side with some seriously sick selectors, meaning you get to have your cake and eat it too.
So here are seven stellar live acts you need to see, and exactly where you should see them.
A Tribe Called Quest
Who? Forming back in 1985, this legendary hip hop group is widely considered to be one of the best of all time, releasing seminal albums like The Low End Theory, Midnight Marauders and Beats, Rhymes and Life to widespread commercial and critical acclaim. If you’ve never heard of them, we highly suggest acquainting yourself.
Where can I see them? We can’t think of a better place than Bestival, where the hip hop heroes perform alongside groups like Soul II Soul and The xx and the Pet Shop Boys, while selectors like Maceo Plex, Jackmaster, Annie Mac and Avalon Emerson keep house and techno locked down. Plus, there’s all sorts of magical non-musical happenings to lose yourself in, like paint parties and the world’s biggest bouncy castle, which sounds so freekin’ fun. So can you kick it? Yes you can.
More info on Bestival here.
Who? If you’re into electronic music and somehow don’t know who Richard David James is, you may wanna have a word with yourself. You windowlicker. Though you could be forgiven, as James is an intensely private and elusive figure, who sometimes goes years in between tours and albums. But with a string of dates coming up and plenty of new material to chose from, 2017 will be a great year to finally discover what the hype is about—no excuses.
Where can I see them? Barcelona’s Primavera Sound in May is a good shout. Though he’ll also play Primavera’s more intimate sister festival NOS Primavera Sound in Porto, Portugal just a few days later. Either way, James is sure to come guns blazing, known for some of the most mind-bending and unforgettable live shows on offer. In Barcelona, he’ll be joined by the likes of Arcade Fire, Grace Jones, Talaboman, Bicep, Romare and Young Marco.
Who? C’mon, it’s Radiohead.
Where can I see them? Glastonbury. Along with the Foo Fighters, they’re so far the only act confirmed, headlining the festival for the first time since 2003. And their recent tour has been heralded by fans and superfans alike, with the band reaching deep into their vast collection for each performance. But seriously, can you imagine hearing “Creep” on the Pyramid Stage? You could die a happy person after that one.
They’re also playing Coachella, and a spate of gigs at arenas and events across the US, UK and Europe this year. More info here.
Who? This fiery UK band helped pioneer big beat in the ‘90s alongside acts like The Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim, but did so with a lot more attitude. Part punk rockers, part dance music stars, The Prodigy channel political angst and rave energy for an unforgettable live show that’ll smack your bitch up. Plus, they’ve promised new material in 2017.
Where can I see them? Iceland’s Secret Solstice is a great choice. It’s packed with live acts like Foo Fighters, Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals and Chaka Khan, and DJs like Seth Troxler, Kerri Chandler, Wolf+Lamb and The Black Madonna, and features stunning natural Icelandic surroundings and wild perks like glacier raves, helicopter rides and boat parties. And the sun never sets, so you can party as long as you can stay awake. More info here.
Who? Started as a side project between Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary of Modeselektor and Sacha Ring of Apparat, Moderat has become one of the most celebrated live acts in electronic music, responsible for anthems like “Running,” “Bad Kingdom” and “Reminder”. November saw the release of their Live album, a 15-track compilation that captured some of the group’s biggest moments while on the road last year; moments you can bet will be duplicated more than a few times this summer.
Where can I see them? Your options are plenty in 2017, with the group stopping by Sónar Istanbul and Barcelona, Coachella, Field Day, Forbidden Fruit, Lowlands and Lost Village. But their opening concert inside a 2000-year-old Roman amphitheatre in Paula at Croatia’s Dimensions Festival will be one for the books. They play alongside Grace Jones and Yussef Kamaal. More info here.
Who? Exploding onto the scene with their 2007 debut album †, Justice showed there was room in the world for more than one mysterious French touch duo. While Daft Punk’s liberal use of disco samples has proved a better recipe for success, the punk-inspired rawness on subsequent albums like Audio, Video, Disco and the recently released Woman brought gritty filth to disco and electro like nobody else. And live, they fucking rock
Where can I see them? Justice seem to be firmly back in 2017, playing Bestival, Ultra in Miami, Coachella, NOS Primavera Sound in Portugal, and Spain’s Bilbao BBK Live alongside Depeche Mode, The Killers, Andrew Weatherall and Motor City Drum Ensemble this summer. Though it’s their Sónar by Night performance we have to recommend. Joining acts like Marco Carola, Nina Kraviz, Marcel Dettmann and Seth Troxler, Justice will bring their firebrand French touch sound to Barcelona's Fira Gran Via for what will surely be an incredible show.
Who? Forming in 2005, this London trio has become one of alt-pop’s most in-demand acts, with a mellow, seductive, melancholic approach to indie that usually ties in electronic sounds. Jamie xx is a DJ in his own right, so it makes sense. Their first album sold a million copies, and they’ve just released their third album, I See You, which scored an 8.4 on Pitchfork, so you can expect a summer full of lovely new music while on the road.
Where can I see them? Following a South America festival tour and an appearance at Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival, The xx return to Europe, playing Finland’s Flow Festival, Belgium’s Pukkelpop, Dutch festival Lowlands, then wind things up at Bestival in Lulworth Estate—a homecoming of sorts for the band, who “begged” to play in 2009 before finally getting their breakthrough chance in 2010. They headlined in 2012, and will return this year, “excited to bring our new show” to Bestival’s new home in Dorset.
Seems like the perfect chance to see them live.
Moderat photo by Feli Gutiérres, via