You may have seen some of these images of this year’s Reading and Leeds line ups floating around the internet over the past few months. The first is what the poster would look like if there were no male-only bands and artists on the line up:
This to me is shocking, but not surprising. Last year a whopping 16 year precedent was broken by Hayley Williams of Paramore being the first female headliner in the festival’s history; and even then the female-fronted band were only co-headliners, sharing the honour with Queens of the Stone Age.
So why are women being so dramatically underrepresented in festival line ups? Because it isn’t just Reading and Leeds. Across the broad spectrum of UK festivals, men dominate the majority of line ups.
Some would have you think that it’s because in the rock and indie scene, the genre Reading and Leeds cater for, there just aren’t many female acts. This could not be further from the truth. I could use the rest of the space in this article listing all of the talented female performers that are playing music right now who would fit in perfectly at any rock festival.
Luckily someone has done it for me, and put together this poster of what the line up would look like if it only had all-female acts or bands with females in, and it looks pretty freakin’ cool to me:
It is true to say that particularly in the rock scene women find it harder to make it, but that path is being paved and trodden on more and more these days. Just look at the likes of all-female band Haim, or Blood Red Shoes, or Chvrches, or Lucy Rose, Tonight Alive, Laura Marling, Halestorm, War Paint, Pvris… The list goes on.
Reading and Leeds act booker Jon Mac told the Telegraph last year that “[there is] a historical precedent that needs to change. If you look at aspiring musicians in the past, particularly in the rock, indie and dance worlds, there were more boys than girls trying to make a go of it and therefore more breaking through. Things need to and I believe are changing.”
And Melvin Benn, organiser of the twin festivals, said that “The idea that female bands are sidelined as a suggestion is just not there.”
How do festival organisers expect women to be inspired to get into music and continue breaking the mould if they don’t showcase all of this talent at their events?
And excuse me Melvin, but nine female acts out of over a hundred seems like sidelining to me.
Ladies in music are killing it right now, and festival-bookers, gig organisers and music magazine editors need to listen up and start showing them the respect they deserve.
[This is another thing I wrote for Her Campus a while ago but the email never got through.. Or maybe I’m just being ignored, who knows?]