These days, in most genres of music — especially rock, as demonstrated by last year's wildly successful, female-focused Burger a-Go-Go festival — women are just as active as men. So why are so many major music festivals still big, hairy bro-fests?
The sausage party effect was cleverly illustrated in a recent post by the website Pixable, which Photoshopped several festival flyers to black out every all-male act on the bill. [Update: Pixable has unfortunately taken down that post, but you can get the general idea from something similar Slate did with the 2015 Coachella flyer.] The results of Pixable's experiment are striking: Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Coachella and FYF Fest's flyers all look pretty empty once you take away the dudes. Hilariously and tragically, one punk festival flyer from New Jersey goes completely blank — of the 38 acts listed, zero have any female members at all.
The lack of female-fronted acts at music festivals has spawned a thousand media think pieces but no real response from the festivals themselves — except unbelievably lame ones, like this actual quote from a 2014 L.A. Times article by a promoter who asked to remain anonymous because, presumably, he knew what a complete fucking idiot he sounded like:
“Where the girls go, the guys follow,” one promoter said. “It's terrible stereotyping. But the people leading the charge in going to see concerts are women. And women don't want to see other women. They tend to want to see men perform. The audience is fueled by females.”
The other commonly proffered excuse from festival promoters, when they bother to make any excuse at all, is usually some variation of the tired old “there just aren't as many female-fronted acts” or its even more insidious cousin, “we go for the biggest draws, and those tend to be male-fronted acts.”
To illustrate what a crock that is, check out this obviously fake but awesome FYF Fest flyer, featuring actual, real, female solo artists and female-fronted bands who are all currently active and booking shows. Would you go to this festival? We would. And we bet we could find 30,000 Angelenos who agree with us.
To be clear: We're not trying to single out FYF here. We're sure Sean Carlson loves the female and coed bands as much as any other SoCal promoter and didn't deliberately set out to only book 14 of them at last year's FYF. And we also totally get that booking these large-scale festivals is a herculean task and sometimes, try as you might, you can't make the scheduling or the finances work for a really big get like a Björk or a Paramore or even a St. Vincent.
But to all festival promoters, we say: You can do better. The women are out there. All you have to do is book them.