Lollapalooza 2011: Dudefest Midwest

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Brooklyn Vegan released the lineup for Lollapalooza 2011, Chicago's contribution to the summer festival circuit, today, and I'm sure they just MISPLACED the list with all the female acts on it, and that's coming shortly. Right? There's no WAY such an enormous festival wouldn't include a SINGLE WOMAN in their list of headliners? Ouch, Lolly. Ouch. I thought our love went deeper than that.


Mega-Feminist Eminem is the headliner this year (last year Lady Gaga ran the show), which is sort of, you know, THE OPPOSITE of having a lady-fronted band, but that is far from the only issue here. Sure, talented male acts exist all over the place, and absolutely, they deserve to headline festivals. But reading the list on Brooklyn Vegan, I got to the TWENTIETH ACT before finding a band with a female member. And those are the 20 biggest acts in the show. A male headliner? Totally cool. 19 main attractions with not a single woman anywhere to be found? Not even a little bit cool.

The rest of the lineup is more of the same. Five or ten dudes or dude bands, one lady or lady band. There are 100 acts playing at Lollapalooza this year. 32 of them have a woman in the band. Not at the center of the band, not necessarily the singer. Just in the band, anywhere. 32, out of 100. I think that's pretty disgusting. But, because I like to look on the bright side, here are three acts to watch at Lolly this year. (If you feel like paying at least $215 to see women get utterly ignored by the music industry, that is.)


Ximena Sariñana is a 25-year-old Mexican singer and songwriter whose videos have been known to include Muppets along with messages of self-love. Did you need to know anything else? She was nominated for two Latin Grammys? Was a successful child actor in Mexico? No? Icing on the Muppet cake? I agree.


Imelda May is an Irish musician who, like Ximena, has had huge success at home and is using Lollapalooza as a launchpad into American earholes. (Being a woman and all, she's bound to stand out, amiright? HEYO!) Imelda is, in my mind, one of the queens of contemporary rockabilly, and I'm counting down to the day when junior highschoolers are sporting her famous updo and singing her bluesy, no-nonsense songs.


Lissie, born Elizabeth Maurus, is that old-school kind of musician with a mysterious past who lets her folksy brand of country-rock speak for itself. She doesn't talk about her age, her relationships, or really even her song material. She just takes fabulous vintage-looking photos and releases excellent music. She's got a husky, soulful voice that can only be sung along with properly after staying up too late and drinking heavily. Just the sort of act a summer festival should have.

So, to sum up, there WILL be some women onstage at Lollapalooza this year, kicking a lot of ass. But there won't be enough of them, and it's our job to let the festival organizers know that we noticed.

by Katie Presley
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Bitch Media's Music Editor. As heard on BBC, CBC, and NPR's All Songs Considered and, very occasionally, Pop Culture Happy Hour. I've always wanted to be a talking head in a feminist documentary or commercial, so if someone out there can make that dream a reality, I'm here for it.

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8 Comments Have Been Posted

don't erase the women that do perform b/c you don't know them

Yeah Yeah Yeahs headlined in 2009 (instead of the Beastie Boys), which has Karen O an incredibly powerful female lead (I don't like her voice, but she's pretty huge). Santigold was also an insanely popular subheadliner in 2009 at Lolla. the Decemberists, Bat for Lashes, Chairlift, Lykke Li, and Los Campesinos! in 2009 also have huge, important contributions from their women musicians. This doesn't even touch the amazing women at the bottom of the lineup.

last year, there were Mavis Staples, Erykah Badu, Metric, Matt & Kim, Stars (OMG SO AMAZING), Company of Thieves, the New Pornographers, Lady Gaga, and Arcade Fire, all of which have very strong to leading females, plus all the others that I couldn't make it to.

I know that doesn't make up for the fact that this year the 4 main headliners are a huge sausagefest. it definitely doesn't. but every year, some of the most well-attended acts are up-and-coming female artists. Just because you don't recognize their names doesn't mean they aren't there. Don't erase them because you don't know them!!!

They're still a minority at Lolla, but they're also a minority in the music business. I think Lolla does a pretty good job at giving stage time to great female artists that otherwise wouldn't be getting stage time at *any* festivals. 32% of the music industry is not women. Lolla is doing better than the average, which IIRC is 23%.

This year, half of the acts I plan to see right off the bat have important female parts - Crystal Castles, Lykke Li, The Kills, Elle Goulding, Sleigh Bells, Best Coast, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Lissie, Naked and Famous, the Joy Formidable, Wye Oak, Tennis, An Horse, Grouplove, Gold Motel, Black Cards, and Pretty Reckless.

The OP says that there are 32

The OP says that there are 32 women in 100 acts. 32% female musicians would be much better than 32 women in 100 bands. say there are an average of 4 people per band, that's 400 hypothetical people - and of those 400 people, only 32 are female (according to the original post). that's around 8% if i have my maths right, and if my guess of average number of people in a band is close to accurate. That is pretty fucking shit, if you ask me.

I get wanting more female

I get wanting more female acts, but which female act would headline that could fit the prototypical Lollapalooza billing? Lady Gaga played last year, so she couldn't headline again a year later (no headliners do).

there is a real dudefest

the real dudefest happens in indianpolis every summer which well, is a bunch of dudes in bands - the scale is much smaller and underground, and also fails to feature female musicians, but thats in the name. lollapalooza, just in name alone, should have a more diverse line-up.

Where's my alternative nation?

What is upsetting to me is what this means for how "alternative music" is going to be remembered in history. Whether or not Lollapalooza in its current incarnation as a one-city multi-day festival has any more connection than just name to the early-'90s touring show, the name alone is strongly connected to Alternative Music. Even though those original Lolla' tours weren't exactly gender-equal (two women in headlining acts in the first two years (out of 17 bands), "Alternative Nation" was something of a highwater for feminism in pop culture. Female fronted bands could get press without it being just "hey look, a female fronted band", and male-fronted bands weren't the dude-centric misogynistic swill that surged in the late '90s.

So even with early Lolla' being a sausage fest, it was tied in with early Alternative's ideals of feminism, equality, etc, etc. And now it gets to keep that connection, without representing the ideals.

i agree!

well said, automator. i agree entirely! another thing lolla gets to do is keep its indie cred, even while charging exorbitant prices...

Bring on the recommendations

I definitely agree on the lack of female artists - particularly in alternative genres. I have always loved music and have a voracious appetite for all sorts of stuff - branching from punk rock to russian electronica and indie pop; anything that has heart and soul. However, when I look at my record collection from a feminist view, I do feel embarrassed, and I wish that it was as close to 50/50 women's/men's acts as possible. I hate to say it, but for every 50 male artists/bands I listen to, there are maybe one or two female acts.
This is not due to any preference for the male sex - for instance, I think that Cinder Block and Brody Dalle are some of the coolest musicians ever, and I wish there were many more than that - or maybe more specifically, that I knew many more like that.

I think I always run into the challenge of actually finding good female artists. Especially as the subcultures I frequent are rocka/psychobilly and punk rock, which (at least here in Denmark) are extremely male-centered cultures, and I often experience members of these subcultures being dismissive to female bands/band members. Boo!

I would love to hear what anyone of you would recommend (other than what's mentioned in this article)? As long as it's not manufactured pop, any genres are welcome. :)

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