Guest blog by Rosie Solomon

Do you remember the time when photos of festival line-ups with the male acts blacked out were floating around the internet? These now-incredibly empty and sparse photos went viral, and brought to our attention yet another knock-on effect that this man’s world brings us – the lack of representation in the music industry. And if you think pop and indie festivals are bad, wait ‘til you hear about rock and metal.

Take Download Festival for example. One of the leading names in the rock and metal world, Download Festival has been running for 17 years (30 years when considering it as a follow-up to Monsters of Rock, which started in 1980) and not once has there been a woman in the headline slot. Not as a bassist, drummer, guitarist, singer or anything else. During last year’s festival, only two women were on the main stage over the entire weekend. And one of them was a featured artist as part of Smashing Pumpkins’ set (Myrkur). The other was Yolandi from Die Antwoord.

Andy Copping and the other bookers have let us down once again with the line up announcements for 2020 – there are three headliners who, not only are (as usual) all-male acts, but have each headlined multiple times before. If we don’t widen the definition of what constitutes a “rock ‘n’ roll legend”, it will remain an exclusive club forever. As philosopher and composer Claire van Kampen says, “without role models you can’t feel empowered or inspired to do the job”. Without womxn headlining this festival or even getting equal space on the bill, how are new non-male musicians supposed to feel inspired to work hard at their craft?

This is, obviously, only one small symptom of the much wider problem that the patriarchy presents us. But, since we can’t take down the patriarchy all at one (however much we’d like to), we can start by tackling one of the smaller problems. It’s not going to be easy. Misogyny is rife in the world of rock and metal. How many female rock/metal musicians have you heard recently? It’s less likely that you will hear about women in rock because they don’t get as much publicity. Women playing instruments as well as/ better than men in a genre of music notorious for its testosterone-fuelled power? Unthinkable.

Luckily for us, there are some women out there who want to see a change and are doing something about it. Rosie, Sophie and Nicky were headbanging at the front of Nova Twins’ Download set when a realisation dawned on them simultaneously. Why aren’t more bands as badass as these ladies given more of a platform? Why were JINJER, an internet sensation and all-round fantastic band, delegated to the smallest tent? Why was there only one woman on the main stage on the line-up?

Nova Twins – photo (c) Keira Anee 2019

Conducting some research once the headbanging was over, this trio of gal pals realised that this has always been the case. Download has never had a woman in the headline slot. This, they decided, needs to change.

Our heroines have created a Facebook page to support this campaign. The aim to get this to change by 2021 might be a little ambitious, but hey, no harm in aiming high. The page features a song by a non-man every few days to show just how wide and varied the choices could be. This can include female-led acts from the history of rock music as well as some modern-day options for bands who could realistically play in the headline slot.

Attached to this Facebook page is a petition which needs more signatures! Please sign the petition; liking the page alone is not enough. Please send us your suggestions for more artists we can share on the page! Any new non-male rock and metal acts are welcome! You can find the campaign page and petition below, or search #DLGRL2021 on Twitter! Please like, sign, tweet, share and keep making noise! We’re not going to shut up until we get change.

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