Last year an initiative called Keychange launched in the UK to push toward achieving gender balanced festival lineups across Europe. With wide support, 45 international festivals and conference pledged to have gender-equal bookings by 2022. In this study conducted by Pitchfork in 2018, only three of twenty large festivals reached a gender balance in 2018, zero out of twenty in 2017. In 2018, for example, the regional Firefly Festival had less than a quarter of acts with any female musicians. In Pitchfork’s 2018 study Barcelona’s Primavera Festival ranked nine out of twenty large festivals, one place below Coachella, so it was a surprise that with little fanfare Primavera announced a gender-equal lineup for their 2019 festival. Not only is the lineup gender-equal, it is truly impressive in its breadth and vision, a shining example that gender-equal lineups can thrive in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
The festival boasts three of America’s biggest acts in the space of Friday and Saturday alone: Cardi B, Solange, Janelle Monáe. Add to that, Robyn appears on Friday while FKA Twigs and Charli XCX appear on Thursday. Up and coming American acts Kali Uchis, 070 Shake, and Lizzo are also playing.
An aspect I really appreciate about Primavera’s bookings is their reverence for little known veteran acts in addition to breaking new acts. Where else will you see underrated rap legends Gangsta Boo and Hurricane G alongside a rare performance from Japanese sound artist Midori Takada and black metal vocalist Myrkur? With their finger on the pulse, Primavera books some of the club scene’s acts most on the verge of breaking: upsammy, Roza Terenzi, and a live set from Anastasia Kristensen.
With a fearless booking policy and no nonsense flair, Primavera shows the rest of the festival community how it can be done. It’s time for other festivals, especially festivals in America, to step up. Primavera proves with their 2019 lineup that there are no excuses to be made.