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Festival Line Ups 2020

At the time of writing this, I know not every festival line up has been announced and I know many of these festivals have more line up announcements as well, so this isn’t everything. Today I wanted to write about 2020’s festival line ups, which I get very excited about, I like to see who’s playing where and I like to decide what festivals to go to. I have to admit though; I am a bit disappointed this year. I feel like some of last year’s line ups were very good and I thoroughly enjoyed the festivals I went to (Slam Dunk, Community, Latitude, Leeds) and so I was very excited for this year’s line-up announcements. Although we have yet to have the full Glastonbury line up, or the final line ups for others such as Reading/Leeds and Latitude, from what I have seen, I’m not the most impressed.

I feel like every line up this year looks the same. There are very few that are significantly different, this of course can be down to which bands are touring this summer, and other commitments made by the band, but I’m even talking headliners here too. Liam Gallagher is headlining both Latitude and Reading/Leeds? They are two very different festivals, with different crowds, and yet they have the same headliner? I feel like some festivals are just trying to be bigger and bigger each year by getting better headliners but forget about the rest of the line-up. Take Boardmasters for example, a festival I attended in 2016 and loved, one of my favourite festival experiences, yet the line-up wasn’t massive. Yes you did have James Bay off the back of his first album, and Catfish & The Bottlemen and Kaiser Chiefs too, but after looking down the line up there weren’t many big names, but some amazing acts. However since then they’ve had Florence + The Machine and this year The 1975, both artists who have headlined much bigger festivals such as Reading/Leeds and Glastonbury. But when I looked at the rest of the line up, I really wasn’t impressed.

I said earlier how much I enjoyed going to Leeds last year, and I did, it was so fun and I loved every act I got to see and thought it was one of the best weekends of last summer. With this in mind, I was very excited for this year’s line-up announcement. Reading/Leeds are known for having big headliners, a festival in the UK almost as big as Glastonbury in terms of the size of an act. So many of my favourite bands have played this festival, and yes, not every year has been amazing, but usually I am on boards with the line-up. I had some ideas in my head of who it could be, thinking along the lines of Green Day or My Chemical Romance, as it had taken the festival a bit longer to announce the line-up than usual, a few months longer in fact. So by now I guess you’ve guessed, I was slightly disappointed. It’s raised the question for me now to of whether I’ll go to the festival or not this year. I think there are some great bands playing on other stages throughout the festival, such as Waterparks, Creeper, Declan McKenna, but when considering the price of this festival you have to take into consideration the headliners.

Rage Against The Machine would be pretty cool to see, I’m not going to lie there, the impact they’ve had is massive and I think they will put on a great show. Liam Gallagher I feel is a safe choice for the festival, he will draw in a crowd because of Oasis’ impact, but I’m not sure what the performance aspect of the show will be like. Having seen Liam Gallagher at Leeds in 2017, which was good, I don’t think there will be huge performance aspects to the show, not like last year’s headliners (Foo Fighters, The 1975, Twenty One Pilots, Post Malone) which of course then raises the argument that to put on a good performance you need a show, which I do agree with to some extent. The final headliner is Stormzy. I do think Stormzy will be able to give a good performance but personally I am not a massive fan of Grime music, so for me this wasn’t the type of headliner I was looking for. However if the other headliners were bands like Green Day or Foo Fighters, I perhaps would’ve overlooked this. I understand the festival is trying to show what music looks like in 2020 by having Stormzy there, I don’t think it’s a bad choice, it’s just not for me personally.

Another problem with festival line ups, that has been a problem for a long time is the gender balance on festival line ups. I looked at this in detail for the first time last year and it did really shock me, as it wasn’t something I’d noticed massively before, probably because I wasn’t looking for it. After a pledge made a lot of festivals in 2018 to make all festival line ups 50/50 in gender balance by 2022 I was expecting to see more of a balance this year, but again I was very disappointed. I have made my own graph of this to show the severity of this. I chose 14 popular festivals, not all British ones, and counted the amount of male, female or mixed gender acts on the line up posters.

As you can see clearly here, men still dominate the festival scene. I know that not all the full line ups have been confirmed yet, but this is still disgraceful. Both Slam Dunk and Rock Am Ring only have one female act on the whole of their line ups, and I want no excuses of them being mainly a rock festival as I can name many female or mixed rock acts. Another excuse I have seen is that there are not a lot of female artist around right now, or no big ones. This is also untrue, if you can’t see them you haven’t been looking.

Another blogger Lucy McCourt has raised the same issues in her blog recently, I will link her posts below as they are very interesting to read. This is an issue we really need to sort out, sooner rather than later. In one of the posts is a long list of some amazing female artists that should be on these festival line ups, many of which are artists I love to. Definitely check that out if you’re interested, and if you haven’t heard of them then please give them a listen because they deserve the same attention as their male counterparts.

I’m sorry this post has kind of been all over the place, I had a lot of thoughts and didn’t really want to make multiple posts about it. Maybe when we get closer to the summer I will do another post about which festivals you should go to and maybe give some tips for festival season, as it’s one of my favourites.

Leave a comment below, or on my Facebook, with your thoughts on this topic. It would be great to open a discussion and create awareness of the severe lack of equality at festivals right now.


Link to Lucy McCourt's blog post.

Link to second blog post.

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