Thursday, June 06, 2019

Striking the right balance

Primavera won plenty of plaudits for the gender balance of its line-up this year - rightly so, set against a backdrop of depressingly male-heavy bills. Guardian deputy music editor Laura Snapes was one of those full of praise: "it felt so natural yet radical to see 95% women all weekend in such a vast array of genres".

Back in 2012, when I went to Primavera in Porto, the festival could have been justifiably referred to as ATP By The Sea. I loved it, but have to concede that the bill was both phallocentric and not especially varied, even with Rufus Wainwright and Suede among those rubbing shoulders with Shellac, Yo La Tengo, Codeine, Explosions In The Sky and Afghan Whigs.

Skip forward seven years, though, and it does seem to have become a much more musically diverse festival - indeed, there appears to have been a bit of a pop takeover. Can this change be connected to the presence of more female performers? Not necessarily - the likes of Julia Holter, Courtney Barnett, Julien Baker, Snail Mail, Soccer Mommy, Liz Phair and Lucy Dacus would all have fitted in seamlessly in 2012. But it's significant that the most prominent pop acts were almost all women: Solange, Cardi B, Miley Cyrus, Carly Rae Jepsen, Lizzo, Robyn, Charli XCX.

The rockist old fart in me had a bit of a knee-jerk grumble back in December when the line-up was announced, but the existence and emergence of more diverse festivals (both in terms of acts and attendees) should be welcomed. And in any case Shellac were still on the bill to appease moaners like me, along with a whole clutch of indie-rock-nerd magnets: Low, Built To Spill, Guided By Voices, June Of 44 and Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks. Primavera's character may be changing, but it's becoming more inclusive rather than less.

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