ayl-fest-thirdFestival season is set to kick off this weekend with the sprawling mass that is SXSW, but over in the UK, well, we take a while to warm up. First on our list this year is ARE YOU LISTENING? Festivalwhich is set to return in 2017 for its fifth consecutive year.

The festival is a charitable affair set to highlight Reading Mencap – a charity local to Reading that assists and supports individuals with learning difficulties – with proceeds from ticket sales going to the charity coupled with donations on the day and made during online bookings. You can find out more about Are You Listening? and Reading Mencap over on the festival website.

Good causes aside, the line-up is pretty stellar. We round up six acts that you must not miss at this year’s festival…

SPRING KING

It’s been almost a year since debut album Tell Me If You Like To was released, and it’s fair to say that its been a bit of a whirlwind for Spring King. The Manchester band power through their high-octane post-punk and have built up a strong reputation of being a band that should not be missed in a live setting. There is a reason that they are headlining AYL after all, and that is their killer concoction of massive choruses, catchy guitars and punchy beats. It would be a crime to miss this lot.

MATT MALTESE

If you prefer your music a little less energetic, then look no further than Matt Maltese. Since he dropped his debut single, the soft and lulling ‘studio 6’, he solidified his status as one to keep an eye on thanks to his classic, piano-led tunes and crooning balladry. His latest single, ‘As The World Caves In’, sees his powerful voice soar to new heights; don’t miss this opportunity to catch his talents in person.

DREAM WIFE

Like your pop with a spikey edge? Good, coz Dream Wife have got you sorted! Hook-laden guitars and riffs galore, the trio – who first met in Brighton before relocating to London – create bold indie-rock with a swagger, pinned in place by big, rowdy choruses. Icelandic singer Rakel controls the fray with her childlike crooning, which frequently gives way to her wailing powerhouse vocal. Not bad for a band that began as a “fake girl band” art project!

KAGOULE

If you prefer 90s channelled, fuzzy grunge then be sure not to take your eyes away from Kagoule. The Nottingham trio are old hands by now, having formed back when they were teenagers. They have been plugging away on the gig circuit as of late, even supporting their AYL line-up mates Spring King, and appear to be preparing themselves to drop new music later in the year. Catch an insight into what they’ve got in store on the day, and get in the mood with their most recent single ‘Magnified’.

CLOCK OPERA

It has been a long time since we had last heard from Clock Opera, in fact, it has been five years since they released their debut album Ways To Forget. The indie rock band brewed up quite a storm with their ambitious fusion of electronics and guitars, though their latest material sees them shake up their formula. ‘Whippoorwill’ draws you in close before unleashing its full feeling, whilst ‘Closer’ is punchy and gripping. Take this rare opportunity to catch them live.

SALTWATER SUN

In the past year Saltwater Sun have been gaining momentum with merely a handful of tracks, with songs like ‘Now Or Never’ and ‘Making Eyes’ securing them coverage by cult indie publications DIY, The Line of Best Fit and Indie Shuffle plus spins and support on BBC Introducing and Radio X. Catch their sun-soaked tunes and get to know them a little better.

Are You Listening? Festival takes place on Saturday 22nd April. Visit areyoulistening.org.uk to get to know the rest of the line-up, Reading Mencap and purchase tickets.