TRNSMT? MORE LIKE TRNS**T
Do you still have those “Summer ‘19” blues? Well then forget Christmas for a second, it’s that time of year where a handful of festivals are gearing up to announce their line ups for next summer. Amongst the upcoming Boomtown announcements and the Glastonbury “female headliner” rumours keeping everyone at the edge of their seats, TRNSMT’s 2020 Main Stage announcement feels more like a step backwards for the festival scene.
Out of the 13 (unlucky for some) acts announced, only TWO women have made the bill so far; Rita Ora, a ‘jill’ of all trades and Little Simz, whose album ‘Grey Area’ was nominated for The 2019 Mercury Prize. Neither of these artists are particularly ‘indie’ in nature but to see them squeezed under household names such as Courteeners and Snow Patrol, it not only seems bizarre but a little unfair to their talents. Sadly, the TRNSMT line up is just another bleak reminder that women are not only still suffering on festival bills but are also not being taken seriously regarding the genres they represent.
TRNSMT’s boss, Geoff Ellis, made some shockingly untrue statements about his festival line up choices. Speaking to BBC’s Newsbeat, he said, “We’d love there to be a higher representation of females but there isn’t, certainly on the acts we’re announcing today … It will be a while until there’s a 50/50 balance. That’s definitely several years ahead of any major festival to achieve because there’s far, far less female artists." He continued, "We need to get more females picking up guitars, forming bands, playing in bands.” This only raises the age-old question of, how are young women supposed to be inspired to be musical when there is a lack of even the most basic knowledge surrounding their music?
Ellis’ solution? A “women’s-only” stage to feature at next year’s TRNSMT. This seems majorly half-arsed considering that one of Europe’s biggest festivals, Barcelona’s Primavera, managed a complete 50/50 split between male and female acts this year, making it the first big festival to do so. As well as Latitude and Annie Mac's Lost and Found taking part in the 50/50 split, Ellis' poor excuses are just living proof that he is clutching at straws when it comes to the future of his festival. Last year, 45 international festivals pledged towards gender-balanced lines up by 2022, so why are women still battling for the top spots? With riot grrrl legends, Bikini Kill, having reunited earlier this year, and bands like Haim, Paramore and Wolf Alice, there is a clear abundance of women killin’ it in the industry that deserve the prestigious headline status. Hopefully when Glastonbury finally announce their “female headliner”, it will be an eye-opening step in the right direction.
Not only that but by putting performers on the Main Stage, gives smaller acts the opportunity to gain exposure from a bigger audience that perhaps other, smaller, stages might not always provide. Given, the “umbrella genre” of ‘indie’ is predominantly male, there are still hugely talented upcoming female artists such as Liza Anne and Snail Mail that well deserve a spot amongst the “big boys”. But this isn’t a competition of the sexes, this is down to the lack of women acting as talent scouts, booking agents and everything in-between. Girls need to stick together in this tougher-than-ever industry climate to ensure that there is an equal share of the limelight.
In these challenging times, recycling may be good for the environment but seeing the same acts headlining festivals is getting boring. It’s about time there was a breath of fresh female air across the Main Stages and with many festivals yet to release their line ups, we can only hope that we see more women rocking out and taking centre stage.
Written by Chloe Gorman