Hey fes­ti­val book­ers: girls rock too

What’s the deal with all the bloke-cen­tric fes­ti­val book­ings?

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - STUBS - Una Mul­lally

With Florence & the Ma­chine head­lin­ing Glasto this week­end, thanks to poor Dave Grohl’s bro­ken leg, the fes­ti­val has fi­nally put a woman at the top of the bill, even if it is by virtue of some­one else can­celling.

For a fes­ti­val with so many right-on cre­den­tials, Glasto fails spec­tac­u­larly when it comes to women head­lin­ing. Bey­oncé head­lined in 2011, but the pre­vi­ous fe­male head­liner was Skunk Anan­sie in 1999 (Kylie was booked in 2005 but pulled out). Be­fore that you have to go back to 1992 with Shake­speare’s Sis­ter cap­ping a three-year run of women at the top of the bill (Sinéad O’Con­nor and Suzanne Vega in 1990 and 1989). So what’s the is­sue with book­ing fe­male head­lin­ers at fes­ti­vals?

The first step in achiev­ing gen­der rep­re­sen­ta­tion on fes­ti­val line-ups is at the very least notic­ing the dis­crep­ancy. While a fes­ti­val line-up is turn­ing into a bloke­fest, does any­one ever step back and think, “hang on, these are all men”? It would be weird if nearly ev­ery per­son step­ping on stage at most Ir­ish fes­ti­vals was fe­male, yet no one seems to ask why this is the case when it comes to the male mo­nop­oly on fes­ti­val book­ings.

The head­lin­ers at Ir­ish mu­sic fes­ti­vals this year are re­sound­ingly male. From Slane’s all-male line-up (Foo Fight­ers, Ash, Kaiser Chiefs, Hozier, The Strypes), to Lon­gi­tude’s ter­ri­ble rep­re­sen­ta­tion of fe­male acts this year. The lat­ter has three male head­lin­ers and only a hand­ful of fe­male mu­si­cians else­where. For­bid­den Fruit was the same, an ab­so­lute bloke­fest with all male head­lin­ers across all stages. The big­ger is­sue with those three is that it’s not just about the top billings: women aren’t rep­re­sented suf­fi­ciently fur­ther down the bill ei­ther.

Indiepen­dence? Mostly guys save for the fe­male mem­ber of Dandy Warhols fly­ing the flag at the top. There were just a few fe­male acts play­ing Sea Ses­sions last week­end, and all of the head­lin­ers male. There are less than a hand­ful of fe­male mu­si­cians play­ing Castlepalooza, where it’s al­most wall to wall lads on stage. Elec­tronic mu­sic fes­ti­vals are blokey to the point of cliché, so it’s no sur­prise that Life fes­ti­val’s fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion was min­i­mal.

Body & Soul fared bet­ter than most, with acts in­clud­ing Sav­ages and Aus­tra high up the bill. But when it comes to the “big” Ir­ish fes­ti­vals, Elec­tric Pic­nic wins out, with Florence (above) up the top, along with Grace Jones, Roisin Mur­phy, as well as FKA twigs, Chvrches, Jessie Ware and more.

So one ques­tion, fes­ti­val or­gan­is­ers: the fe­male mu­si­cians are out there, so why aren’t you book­ing them?

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