With festival season rolling around again shortly, line-ups have just started to be announced and the diversity of headlining artists proves to be impressive so far. It seems to be that 2017 is shaping up to become the year of the more diverse festival headliner and isn’t that what the music critics and fans have been calling out for, for quite some time anyway?
Festivals like Citadel, Field Day and End of the Road have decided to take a chance on a fresh crop of artists that have recently worked their way up to headliner status. Instead of seeing the same tired headliner in the fields, this year newer artists will have the chance to step under the spotlight and show crowds why they’re so deserving of the golden slot.
Bands like The Stone Roses and Muse might sell tickets, and that’s extremely important to festivals or how else would they continue each year, but what’s more important is maintaining integrity and giving artists the chance to shine. This is something that smaller festivals have always done best and Latitude festival in Suffolk is a shining example of how to mix up the headliners year after year, yet still sell a large proportion of tickets.
This year’s Latitude line-up is yet to be announced, but if you look elsewhere you can see the changing attitudes of festival bookers. Truck fest in Oxfordshire is another annual shindig that is consistently impressive and this year they’ve really pulled it out of the bag.
The Libertines, Franz Ferdinand and The Vaccines have made it to the top of the bill and Truck are selling more tickets than they can keep track of as a result of this. The aforementioned three acts may not be the newest, but they have the tunes to back them and the fanbases to boot. It’s a line-up you won’t see elsewhere and that’s the unique factor that is proving popular and drawing in the crowds.
It’s a shame that not all festival bookers have been quite so brave. A few years go Reading & Leeds festival used to be valued highly as the festival to attend. If you could only go to one, it would be Reading/Leeds and for some it became a right of passage.
Things have changed drastically in the past few years though. No longer is it the festival of choice for many young people. Smaller festivals offer better line-ups and for a fraction of the cost. Reading & Leeds may have the name and the history but they’ve sacrificed their integrity to showcase the same headliners you’ll see everywhere else over the summer months and fans aren’t buying into it anymore.
This year’s Reading & Leeds line-up sees Kasabian and Muse take on the top spots. The third headliner is still yet to be announced but for the sake of ticket-buyers, let’s hope it’s more of a risky choice, otherwise they might start to see even more of a decline in ticket sales in future years than they already have previously.
The other issue with Reading & Leeds is the lack of female’s artists on the line-up. To say it’s because there’s not enough female acts that are worthy of performing at festivals is the wrong answer. There are plenty of sickeningly talented women out there but major festival bookers won’t take a shot at them and the only person they’re really harming is themselves.
Smaller, yet swiftly blossoming festivals like Field Day, End of the Road and Brighton’s very own The Great Escape are the ones now hosting the female acts that major festivals fail to and the crowds follow fit.
The sooner Reading & Leeds and fellow major festivals wise up to what festivals-goers want; the more successful they will be. Until then there’s enough smaller festivals to go around and they’re bound to provide an even better experience.