Pin It
Reading Leeds festival women 2021 lineup
Liam Gallagher, Stormzy, and Post Malone are three of Reading and Leeds Festival 2021 line-up – it’s the seventh year in a row with no women in the headline slotsvia wikimedia commons

No female headliner at Reading and Leeds festival for seventh year in a row

Post Malone, Stormzy, and Disclosure are among the 2021 line-up – but once again, the festivals long criticised for lack of women fails to show up. Shock, gasp, horror

Today’s announcement of the Reading and Leeds festival line-up for the 2021 weekenders see Stormzy, Liam Gallagher, Queens of the Stone Age, Disclosure, Post Malone, and Catfish and the Bottlemen on the roster. Gallagher and Stormzy’s appearances roll over from their scheduled slots on the cancelled 2020 festivals. 

But once again, Reading and Leeds organisers have failed to book a female headliner, for the seventh year in a row.

Although it was announced today (September 1) that the events would have now have two main stages with three added headline slots, the bill is still hugely male-dominated. Seven women appear on the line-up, with 25 male musicians or bands. 

Reading and Leeds Festival have been criticised year on year for the lack of women artists on their lineups. The last time a woman appeared in a headline slot was Hayley Williams, performing with her band Paramore as a co-headliner with Queens of the Stone Age back in 2014. American rapper Post Malone has played the festival’s headline slot three times. As the Independent notes, Paramore is the only act fronted by a woman to to have headlined Reading and Leeds in over 20 years, with exception of Arcade Fire (singers Win Butler and Régine Chassagne co-front the band).

Further down the 2021 billing, acts include Ashnikko, Dazed 100-er Beabadoobee, Madison Beer, Mabel, and Doja Cat. Other acts also include 100 Gecs, Two Door Cinema Club, AJ Tracey, Da Baby. Rage Against the Machine were slated to play the 2020 event but do not make an appearance on the 2021 billing.

People on social media have been quick to condemn the failing, even suggesting acts like Dua LipaBillie EilishLana Del ReyLordeLizzo, and Charli XCX as major women artists that could headline the festival.

An online petition is calling on festival organisers, Festival Republic, to rethink their line-up and add more women to the roster. “There is a fundamental problem in the music industry with male artists being favoured over female artists, and this problem has rooted itself deeply into festival line-ups,” the petition says.

Fewer than one in 10 headline slots were found to be filled by female artists at 10 of the UK’s biggest festivals.

Back in 2017, Festival Republic launched ReBalance, a project to get more women musicians and bands on UK festival line-ups. It was touted as a three year project. The organisers committed to offering free studio time, engineers, and an act’s travel and accommodation, as well as a slot at one of its festivals. It is unclear how this will proliferate for the 2020 edition and if it will roll over to 2021 – Dazed has reached out for comment.

The Reading and Leeds festival was meant to take place over the bank holiday weekend, but was cancelled earlier on in the year due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent UK lockdown. The dates for 2021 are August 25-27.

Festival organiser Melvin Benn spoke last week about the safety measures they would be taking: “Everybody will be tested … I’m very confident that it’s going to be remarkably similar to what it’s always been like. There are some things that you cannot change. You can’t tell a bunch of 16-year-olds to go camp carefully with social distancing … we can work through the problem with a really good testing regime.”

More artists are expected to be announced over the coming weeks.

Tickets go on sale for Reading and Leeds Festival September 3.