As the gates swing open...

It’s that time again. Reading and Leeds festivals kick off today (August 25th) with headliners Eminem, Kasabian and Muse, the latter who’ve hinted at a pyro-filled extravaganza which may include some rarely-played cuts. As usual though, it's not just about the big names. There's plenty of acts on the line-up that demand your attention.

While honourable mentions go to P Money, Yonaka, AJ Tracey, Tigercub and Loyle Carner, here's the Clash picks for the acts you need to see.

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At The Drive In
Post-hardcore veterans At The Drive In recently returned with storming new album ‘in.ter.a.li.a’, their first release since their 2000 masterpiece ‘Relationship Of Command’. Having managed to recapture the incendiary fire that made them such a thrilling prospect a decade and a half ago, their main stage set will be an absolute must see.

Catch them: Main stage: Reading: Saturday, Leeds: Sunday

Vince Staples
The Cali rapper has quietly released one of the most exciting and unique hip-hop albums of the year in ‘Big Fish Theory’, which features appearances from Kendrick Lamar and Damon Albarn and production by Flume (who happens to be headlining the Dance stage this year) and SOPHIE.

Catch him: 1Extra stage: Reading: Sunday, Leeds: Friday

Hotly-tipped Peckham soulstress Cosima released EP ‘South Of Heaven’ last year, followed by a spate of sultry 2017 singles. On tracks like ‘Hymns For Him’ and ‘Girls Who Get Ready’, her smooth R&B treads the line between heartbroken vulnerability and unyielding female empowerment.

Catch her: Festival Republic stage: Reading: Friday, Leeds: Saturday

Their hometown Bergen might be better known for a thriving black metal scene, but Sløtface have already built a rep as one of 2017's most exciting guitar bands. Inspired by 90s Riot Grrrl bands, the Norwegians want their exuberant and openly feminist punk-tinged pop to encourage lasses into the mosh pits. Sonically, think Robyn fronting Bikini Kill: as awesome as it sounds.

Catch them: Lockup stage: Reading: Sunday, Leeds: Friday

Off Bloom
Danish electro-pop trio Off Bloom have been causing a buzz with their futuristic take on pop. Luscious tracks like ‘Love To Hate It’ and ‘Falcon Eye’ draw as much from MO's leftfield iciness as they do the clipped, glitchy beats of Hudson Mohawke and Diplo.

Catch them: Festival Republic stage: Reading: Friday, Leeds: Saturday

Over the last decade, and despite the tragic death last year of guitarist Tom Searle, Architects have steadily fought their way into metal's upper echelons. Their 2016 album, ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’, saw them nail their sound: expansive, atmospheric and relentlessly heavy and their main stage promises to show a genre-leading band at the top of their game.

Catch them: Main stage: Reading: Sunday, Leeds: Friday

J Hus
Already, East London rapper J Hus has had an incredible 2017 putting in a scene-stealing performance on ‘Bad Boys’, the standout track from Stormzy's ‘Gang Signs & Prayer', and releasing his debut ‘Common Sense’ to near universal critical acclaim.

Catch him: 1Extra stage: Reading: Sunday, Leeds: Friday

Bring on the bass gurn! Just a month after the release of their second album, ‘Something To Tell You’, the follow-up to 2013's slick, Fleetwood Mac-nodding debut, LA sisters Haim will play massive headline set on the NME stage. Expect immaculate, sunny and blue-skied pop and blissful singalongs galore.

Catch them: NME/ Radio One stage: Reading: Sunday, Leeds: Friday

Zeal & Ardor
One of the most unique heavy bands currently on the scene, the music from one man project Zeal & Ardor, led by Manuel Gagneux, draws on black metal, smoky blues and African-American Slave music for an atmospheric exploration of themes like satanism, religion and the American slave trade. Heady, emotional and gut-punching tracks like ‘The Devil Is Fine’ and ‘Blood In The River’ will be set highlights.

Catch them: Lockup Stage: Reading: Saturday, Leeds: Sunday

Of all the bands to have surfaced as part of the South London scene (along with Goat Girl and Nova Twins), Fat White Family affiliates Shame are surely the most exciting. Their snarling garage punk is uncompromising and unapologetically political - just check out anti- Brexit, Theresa May shading track ‘Visa Vulture’.

Catch them: Festival Republic stage: Reading: Saturday, Leeds: Sunday

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Words: Dannii Leivers

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