Glastonbury 2016: The Best Bands You Haven’t Heard of

Often heralded as the UK’s finest arts and culture festival, Glastonbury will this year celebrate its 46th edition with yet another star-studded line-up. Headlined by Devonshire rockers Muse, international pop star Adele, plus Glastonbury veterans Coldplay who will headline the festival this year for a record-breaking fourth time, the bill also includes anticipated sets from the newly reformed LCD Soundsystem, New Order and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. While the limelight and television coverage will inevitably gravitate towards the festival’s big names, Glastonbury is a festival celebrated for its eclectic mix of acts which grants festival-goers the opportunity to discover new talent in often intimate settings. Rather than trying to cover Glastonbury’s 900 acres for the hottest new acts, here are the bands you should look to catch in close quarters before their inevitable rise to stardom.

Listen to an extended playlist of our selections over on Spotify.

  1. Vince Staples

    The release of Staples’ debut studio album in June last year earmarked the Californian as one of the most exciting and promising rappers working in hip hop today. Summertime ’06 was regularly quoted in lists of the best albums of 2015 and his hour-long slot on Friday will be one of the most anticipated performances of the weekend for hip hop aficionados.

    Where? West Holts Stage, Friday 24th June, 4-5pm.

  2. Anna Meredith

    After two decades as an award-winning classical composer performing everywhere from the BBC Proms to PRADA fashion campaigns, Scottish musician Anna Meredith’s debut album, Varmints, was greeted with universal acclaim on its release in March this year. A classical education and a vast weave of musical influences feed into Meredith’s music which is sometimes described as ‘maximalist’ for its rich, powerful feel.

    Where? West Holts Stage, Saturday 25th June, 11.30am-12.30pm.

  3. Ezra Furman

    Dubbed ‘the most compelling live act you can see right now’ by Michael Hann in the Guardian last year, Ezra Furman won many hearts with his third studio album, Perpetual Motion People, in 2015. Famous for performing in a dress and vigorously applied make-up, Furman’s music and live performances have become events to savour, fused with a flamboyant, hectic energy that will be ideal for a good stomping dance on Friday afternoon.

    Where? The Park Stage, Friday 24th June, 5-6pm.

  4. This is the Kit

    Despite having now been around for a decade, This is the Kit have only recently begun to come to the fore with radio play on Radio 6 Music and outstanding reviews of both the band’s live shows and their third studio album, Bashed Out, released last year. Elbow frontman Guy Garvey described that album as “one of the best things I’ve heard all year”, and the charming, twee sounds of Kate Stables’ band will find the perfect backdrop against the hay bales and multi-coloured bunting of Worthy Farm.

    Where? Avalon Stage, Saturday 25th June, 5.15-6.15pm.

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  5. Levelz

    Comprising a 14-strong crew of DJs, producers and MCs, Manchester-based group Levelz have garnered a reputation for their electric live shows which in recent weeks have included one MC surfing the crowd in a rubber dingy. Expect chaos and a lot of fun.

    Where? Wow! Stage, Saturday 25th June, 7-8pm.

  6. Band of Skulls

    Something of a blend in sound between the Kings of Leon, Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys and T Rex, Band of Skulls are a rock band oozing with an infectious blues and classic rock’n’roll vibe perfect for the festival scene. Now with four albums under their belts, the three-piece today sport a strong set including crowd-pleasing hits “I Know What I Am” and “Death by Diamond and Pearls”.

    Where? The Other Stage, Saturday 25th June, 4.15-5.15pm.

  7. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

    A soulful R&B outfit based out of Hermann, Missouri, Nathaniel Rateliff channels influences ranging from Otis Redding and Chuck Berry to Van Morrison and Sam Cooke to produce a warm, energetic, upbeat sound sure to please festival audiences this summer.

    Where? The Park Stage, Sunday 26th June, 3.10-4pm.

  8. Unknown Mortal Orchestra

    A psychedelic rock group from Portland, Oregon fronted by New Zealander Ruban Nielsen, Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s latest studio release, Multi-Love, intrigued the music world with its funk-inspired psychedelic rock as much as with its lyrical content. Nielsen revealed that the album deals with the complicated polyamorous relationship he had with his wife and a second lover during the making of the album—hence the album’s title. Nevertheless, the band have collected an avid following over the past few years and their trajectory seems to be taking them to headier climes.

    Where? The Park Stage, Friday 24th June, 3.30-4.30pm.

Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert