Some of the world’s biggest musicians are female, yet year after year they seem to being disregarded by festivals. Big festivals like Glastonbury, Coachella and Lollapalooza are celebrant of the biggest names in music and help music fans all over the world define who those big names are. Yet a large proportion of the time, the release of festival lineups highlights the gender inequality in the music industry.
The Play Gap: Low Levels of Female Musicians At Festivals
The world’s most in demand artists are Ariana Grande, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Florence + The Machine, with rising stars like Halsey and Billie Eilish gaining increasingly more popularity at festivals. But not only is it a rare occurence to see female artists headlining festivals, it’s also rare to see established female artists play at festivals at all. A 2018 survey completed by Pitchfork found that on a whole women only make up 19% of your average festival lineup-
Based on the 19 fests we tracked in 2017 and 2018, female representation has increased from 14 to 19 percent, while the percentage of groups with at least one female or non-binary member, held relatively steady at 11 percent. Of course, that still means that seven out of 10 artists on festival bills are men or all-male bands.
Last year, out of 183 acts playing at Bonnaroo festival in America, only 38 of them happened to be female or had a female member and none of these were headliners. Yet this still is an improvement on 2017’s numbers, as 2017 saw only 7% of all artists being a female.
To excuse this, it’s also stated that female artists and bands are ‘typically’ up and coming, yet this is not the case. Billie Eilish for example is getting bigger and bigger by the second, breaking records and drawing huge crowds. Another example of this can be seen with Halsey, a HUGE female artist who’s only getting bigger. Yet both of these artists and those in the same league as them are being kept lower down festival lineups.
However, what should be celebrated is the growing number of women that are appearing on festival lineups. This year saw Ariana Grande headline Coachella, becoming the 4th female artist to do so. Glastonbury this year has more female artists playing than ever, seeing Janet Jackson, Kylie (Minogue) and Miley Cyrus filling big slots.
Announced this week, TRNSMT have a dedicated stage to female artists. A nod to the famous venue ‘King’s Tut’s’, ‘Queen Tut’s’ will host at least 18 female artists over the 3 days of the festival. TRNSMT aims to ‘pave the way’ for female headliners and want to close the gender play gap at festivals.
So as festivals begin to release their lineups and day splits, what female artists and bands should you go and see?
Top 15 female or mixed-gender artists to see at festivals in 2019
1. Wolf Alice
Wolf Alice are appearing at many festivals across the UK this year, they’re headlining Truck Festival in Oxford and have a huge slot at Y Not? Aswell. Wolf Alice are fronted by Ellie Rowsell and put on an insane live show. Already selling out venues like the Brixton Academy in London, and having won the Mercury Prize last year, Wolf Alice are certainly not one to miss on the festival circuit this year.
2. Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish has blown up in the past year, and this festival season will most definitely be the last time you’ll see her not on the main stage. Her debut album ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’ went straight into the charts at Number 1 and saw her become the youngest female artist (aged just 17) to top the UK album charts. You can see Billie Eilish at Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds , Pukkelpop and many more festivals across the UK and Europe this season.
3. Charli XCX
Charli XCX is one of the UK’s biggest female artists, with over 13 million monthly listeners on Spotify, she’s destined to draw big crowds. An activist of LGBTQ+ rights, Charli spreads love throughout her performances and is not one to be missed on the festival circuit this year. She has also just announced her third album Charlie . With a wealth of new music in her hands, Charli XCX’s set will be full of surprises. Catch her at this year’s Reading & Leeds before she hits the clubs in autumn.
4. Goat Girl
All female band Goat Girl are a post-punk band from London who’ve received lots of media attention for their relatable and intriguing lyrics. Named the best breakthrough act of 2018 by Q Magazine and are selling out various venues across the UK. Goat Girl’s sets promise to be one that leaves a lasting impact. You can catch Goat Girl at BST Hyde Park on July 13th and Manchester Psych Fest this summer and you don’t want to miss them.
5. Black Honey
Black Honey are iconic to festival lineups. The band, fronted by Izzy Phillips, have seriously taken off since releasing their debut self-titled album last year. Since it’s release, Black Honey have been touring non-stop and have refined their live performances. The band are playing at many festivals this year and they’re not to be missed. You can catch them at Y Not or Reading & Leeds festivals.
6. The Ninth Wave
When indie goes goth, The Ninth Wave produce something unique and wonderful. Fronted by Amelia Kidd and Haydn Park-Patterson, the band produce a beautiful live show that will leave a lasting impact upon attendants. The Ninth Wave are at True North festival in Aberdeen this year and promise a beautiful set.
7. Marika Hackman
Marika Hackman has had a huge impact on the indie music scene and now she’s back with a new album. Her latest The One promises to be a highlight of her festival sets. You’re able to catch Marika Hackman at Green Man festival in Wales this summer, promising a set full of classics and a wealth of new material.
8. Queen Zee
Queen Zee are flawless in what they do, supporting the likes of The Fratellis just last month. Queen Zee break conventions of gender and sexuality and put on an exciting, innovative live show. Fronted by Zena Devine, the band released their debut album this year and were deemed the ‘future of British rock music’. The band plays at Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds this year, don’t hang about and get yourself to their set!
9. Dream Wife
Flipping a middle finger to gender conventions, Dream Wife produce bruising punk with bounds of self assurance. Promising to provide an exciting set, Dream Wife play at festivals across the UK and Europe this season, and promise not to be missed. Catch them at Citadel in London this July. Tickets are available here.
10. The Japanese House
After playing at some of the UK’s most iconic venues earlier this year, The Japenese House is the moniker of Amber Bain, a singer-songwriter you don’t want to miss at festivals this year. Binding dreamy pop with electronica, The Japanese House has just released her debut album Good At Falling. Catch her live at this year’s Tramlines festival.
11. Swimming Girls
Gaining huge reception at Dot To Dot festival just last month, Swimming Girls are not to be missed this festival season. With a monthly listening of 61 thousand, this is looking like the last time you’ll be able to see Swimming Girls play some smaller stages. Fronted by Vanessa Gimenez, the band promise to have an unforgettable set this year. They can be seen at Truck and 100 Above among others.
12. Kate Nash
Boasting indie nostalgia through tracks like ‘Foundations’ and ‘Nicest Thing’ Kate Nash’s set will be full of sing-a-long hits and her newer riot grrrl influenced material. With each release, Kate Nash has reinvented her sound and this can be seen more so through her live performances. Nash plays this year’s Community Festival , Standon Calling and Truck to name a few.
Whenyoung have recently released their highly anticipated debut album, and festivals promise to be the place to hear that new material live. Fronted by Aoife Power, their lyrics and instrumentation possess heaps of energy and this energy is seen by the crowd reaction to their live performances. They play this year’s 100 Above and Tramlines festivals among others.
14. Pip Blom
Having released their debut album just last month, dutch indie pop quartet Pip Blom have played hundreds of gigs and festivals already. The band’s energetic live show picked up media attention quickly and shouldn’t be missed on this year’s festival circuit. Catch them at Truck or Reading & Leeds festivals.
Anteros are a London based indie band fronted by Laura Hayden, and draw influences from The Cure, early No Doubt and Blur to create something unique and special. Already drawing huge crowds at their headline shows, Anteros promise an exciting, high energy set which isn’t to be missed. They play this year’s Y Not, Tramlines, and 100 Above to name a few.
Which female musicians and mixed-gender bands are you going to see this summer? Let us know in the comments.