Since Woodstock and the Summer of Love, music festivals have evolved, and in some cases, devolved. In 2018, lineups are changing, and whether that’s a good thing is completely up to taste.
Coachella has moved from indie rock to hip-hop headliners, with this years’ being Beyoncé, The Weeknd and Eminem. Just under 10 years ago, the headliners were the Killers, Paul McCartney, and the Cure.
Does this massive change translate well to Coachella’s target demographic? The radio hits today are almost completely consistent with the pop and hip-hop genres, so it makes sense why this famous festival lineup has changed with the charts. Even the more exclusively indie festivals are starting to skew this way, besides maybe our very own Boston Calling, which has done a great job of integrating both rock and hip-hop.
It seems that every time a new lineup is announced, there’s always somebody saying, “rock is dead,” which is couldn’t be farther from the truth. Even the Coachella lineup features some great up-and-coming rock bands, a plethora of them being female-fronted, like Cherry Glazerr, Angel Olsen, PVRIS, The Regrettes and St. Vincent, just to name a few. Just because the “golden age” of rock and roll festivals of the ‘60s has passed doesn’t mean they are forgotten. If anything, rock music is growing and becoming more interesting, as what it means to be a “rock” band is widening.
Governors Ball in New York City has both a talented and problematic lineup this year, with Jack White, Travis Scott and Eminem as headliners. Those complaining about a lack of rock are focusing too much on headliners and not enough on the smaller bands performing. Also, the pro-rock fans are ignoring the fact that there hasn’t been enough inclusivity in the genre, especially for black and female artists. Gov Ball certainly lacks in the department of female headliners. So how could the changing nature of music festivals be seen as anything other than a step in the right direction?
According to Nylon, only 14 percent of acts last year, from all music festivals, were women. Because we’re finally starting to notice this massive problem, festival coordinators have been making sure to attempt inclusivity, even if they’re still not delivering an equal showcase of artists. I would love to see more female-led rock bands headline festivals, instead of being thrown to the bottom of the docket. Bands like Wolf Alice, Sunflower Bean and Black Honey could easily bring in crowds, and deserve way more of a spotlight then someone like, dare I say, Eminem.
We need to start holding festival organizers more accountable for their lack of progress when the music industry is desperately trying to progress. Let’s start telling women and people of color that they belong at the main stage, and not just in miniscule fractions, whether they fall more into the rock or hip-hop category.