A substantial and diverse female lineup at larger music festivals is important, but apparently a lot of festival organizers still haven’t gotten that memo. Many festivals today have little to no females billed to perform. Gender inclusivity isn’t a radical idea, nor is it at all complex, but it seems some people in the music world still can’t figure out how to do it.
But, wait, isn’t music becoming sweeter, softer, and more delicate anyway? At least that’s what Bono complained to Rolling Stone recently. Bono said, “I think music has gotten very girly. And there are some good things about that, but hip-hop is the only place for young male anger at the moment — and that’s not good.”
Of course, “girly” means never being capable of expressing rage or being powerful. “Girly” is only soft-spoken, right? Bono’s statement about hip-hop is problematic, too. Let’s move along.
More female-lead acts should be considered and billed side-by-side, just as male-lead acts are and always have been. Women create all kinds of music, just as men do.
A music festival should cater to and inspire its audience. All types of females attend festivals. So, intersectional representation is important and should be practiced more. Those behind Day for Night are all aware of this, at least.
The Day for Night festival is helping tackle this issue. This year there were many acts to fit so many tastes, wants, and needs for inspiration and empowerment.
Most of Day for Night’s headlining and Billboard-topping acts this year were female or female-led, including Solange, St. Vincent, Pussy Riot, Cardi B, En Vogue, Phantogram, Kimbra, and more. About a third of all of the billed performers at Day for Night were all-female acts, which is a good start down the path of gender inclusivity.
Pitchfork analyzed gender balance within acts billed to over 20 festivals this year. The festivals listed were from April to August, including their own festival. What they discovered in their analysis was that these festival altogether had poor female representation.
“Festival bookings overall remain far from gender-neutral — of the 996 acts we logged, only 14 percent were female, with an additional 12 percent from groups with male and female (or non-binary) members,” shared Pitchfork.
In my eyes, I experienced more female-empowering performances at this year’s Day for Night festival than I had at any other large music festival I have attended. I was immersed in music and discussions lead by females who were inspiring all females to be their best selves, in at least one way or another.
Among incredibly “girly” acts was rapper Princess Nokia. She riled up the crowd with tunes like “Brujas” and “Tomboy” with her brand of Afro-Latin style. She expressed her intersectional feminism clear as day and fostered a connection with every single person in the audience just by being herself and urging others to do the same.
But, wait, according to Bono, rap music is the only dynamic music left — right.
Let’s discuss other girly musics.
Priests is a female-fronted post-punk band. At Day for Night, lead vocalist Katie Alice Greer gave Danzig-like howls in a pretty blue dress. Meanwhile, St. Vincent enthralled on her own as the very highly talented electric guitarist she is. Sarah Barthel of the dance-rock Phantogram provided her girly and arena-ready vocal power. Pussy Riot expressed all things femme, including femme rage!
In the repressive environment we find ourselves in today, women are more often then not the ones who are leading the charge for change. We are expressing our powerful ideas and our rage on the daily, and sometimes the vehicle of expression for those ideas and that rage is music.
Powerful and “girly” female voices deserve a place on the stage at music festivals, and it’s a shame more music festivals haven’t gotten that memo.