The Mumford and Sons dude. Image via Getty.
The Arroyo Seco Weekend, a two-day music festival, will debut this June in Pasadena with a lineup that not only sounds like dad hell, it also achieves the unique distinction of being comprised of almost entirely male musicians. Booked by Goldenvoice, the company that stages Coachella, giving this much airtime to men on a festival lineup—even one centered more or less on rootsy rock music and jazz—seems like something you’d actually have to try to accomplish.
As a matter of fact, maybe they were trying; last year Goldenvoice booked what became colloquially known as “Dadchella,” a short music festival in the Coachella Valley that was comprised entirely of men. So they had some practice before putting together Arroyo Seco Weekend.
Of 29 listed acts on this particular bill, only four women are included as a solo artist or as part of a band: the fantastic Alabama Shakes (led by singer/guitarist Brittany Howard), Calabasas rock band The Mowgli’s (which features singer/percussionist Katie Earl), and solo artists Alice Smith and ZZ Ward. It’s not that I’m interested in scampering on out to Cali to get a piece of this festie—the headliners are Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Mumford & Sons, hardly what I’d describe as raging fun for me personally—but as a music journalist and fan, it offends me that this blinding lack of gender parity can even still exist. To add insult to injury, of 11 chefs listed as providing food at the Arroyo Seco Weekend, all but one (Dakota Weiss) is a man! Seriously? Even corporate EDM festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival, which have long had a problem with not booking enough women, have righted their ship somewhat in recent years after years of criticism from women within the electronic music community. And Coachella, which is also booked by Goldenvoice, often relies upon the starpower of women musicians to create a draw. This year, for instance, Lady Gaga is headlining, replacing Beyoncé, who will be too pregnant to perform.
Sure, in the scheme of things this might seem like a small gripe, especially for a boutique rock and jazz festival held over one weekend in California. But representation is important, and the lack of it is something women musicians and music journalists have been combatting for decades. The exclusion is tiresome, and we shouldn’t stand for it.