Metallica, And Other Festival “Mis-Bookings”

Daphne and Celeste getting battered,  not in a good way. (Image courtesy

Daphne and Celeste getting battered, not in a good way. (Image courtesy


With Glastonbury finally upon us, we are once again faced with the two usual talking points: One: the weather, and two: controversy and skepticism regarding one of the headliners. This year, the announcement of heavy metal titans Metallica as the festival’s third headliner raised more than a few eyebrows. Would metal and a Mumford type crowd mix?

Not long after this, a petition was launched demanding Metallica be removed as headliners due to frontman James Hetfield’s fondness and relationship with America’s hunting culture.

This petition hasn’t swayed Mr. Eavis and the headbanger kings will play as scheduled. How much of a crowd they’ll get is another question, but this writer is confident the band will be able to convert enough of the more open-minded in the audience. However, Metallica are only the latest victims in the “mis-booking” of acts in festivals. Read on for other more dangerous cases:

1. Daphne And Celeste – Reading 2000

Booked as “a bit of fun” for an early slot on the rock and alternative festival’s mainstage in 2000, these two insufferable teen-boppers never stood a chance. Sending the (then) notoriously tough crowd into a bottle and food-throwing frenzy, the two bravely soldiered on through their classic back catalogue including Oo-Stick You and U.G.L.Y, before one of the duo is heard to remark: ‘You guys are wasting so much food!’ Playing just before Blink-182 and Rage Against The Machine, the girls wasted a valuable slot.

2. Bob Dylan – Newport Festival

On the opposite end of the credibility spectrum, Dylan is always someone who’s gone at the beat of his own drum. At the peak of his powers as the voice of his generation and the leader of the folk revival that was reshaping America, The man born George Zimmerman released the now untouchable Like A Rolling Stone. This lead to much criticism of Dylan in folk quarters, with many of his contemporaries criticizing him for playing with an electric band and moving away from political songwriting. Plugging in at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, Dylan was booed by most of the audience (‘Judas!’), with grown men weeping in mourn of the perceived loss of their hero. Dylan didn’t care.

3. Backstreet Boys – Rock In India 2010

Perhaps the greatest example of “mis-booking”, when Rock In India booked the 90’s boyband to headline India’s premier Rock and Metal festival, fans were justifiably furious. Headliners in previous years included Iron Maiden in 2009 and Megadeth in ’08, so this was the equivalent of Download Festival in the UK booking One Direction, scratch that, Westlife. Following the inevitable backlash, the festival yielded, with Metallica and Biffy Clyro taking the main slots the following year.

4. 50 Cent – Reading 2005

Despite being primarily a rock, indie and alternative festival, the twin festivals Reading and Leeds have always had a place for hip-hop, providing early career headline slots to artists like Public Enemy and Eminem. The crowd may at times be a little bit too hostile, but boy can they smell a bullshitter. Receiving a barrage of bottles and bodily fluids almost instantly, 50 Cent and his G-Unit left after 25 minutes. At least Daphne And Celeste finished their set. Who would have thought Green Day fans wouldn’t take to Fiddy?

5. Jay-Z – Glastonbury 2008

In the interest of finishing on a high note, 50 Cent could have learned a lot from his rival Jay-Z in performing from an audience that isn’t always on his side. Not unlike Metallica this year, many questioned whether or not Hip-Hop was “appropriate Glastonbury headlining material”, with Noel Gallagher calling it: ‘Wrong’. Jay-Z smashed it anyways, converting not only the crowd, but festival bookers worldwide. Glastonbury took a huge risk to stick their neck out so much, but it paid off. No-one raised an eyebrow when Beyonce headlined three years later, opening the door to hip-hop as a headliner.

6. FF’ers – Reading 2011

Ok, forget ending on a high, leaving aside egos getting bottled: With Reading regulars Foo Fighters on the touring circuit, but surprisingly not on the years line-up, an unheard of band called FF’ers was spotted, listed to perform on one of the festival’s smallest stages. A huge crowd gathered for what was no doubt a secret set that each fan would tell their grandkids about. Imagine the mutual disappointment when decent punk rockers the FF’ers took the stage to what was an enormous crowd, but an immediately hostile one. Foo Fighters headlined the next year. The FF’ers weren’t so lucky.


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