Feature written by Mark E. Ortega
According to an April 2013 Buzzfeed article, Coachella hadn’t seen a ratio of male-fronted acts to female-fronted ones below 80% since 2008. Last year, female-fronted acts represented less than 16% of the lineup with names like Florence + The Machine, Alabama Shakes, Jenny Lewis and St. Vincent being some of the more prominent ones.
Only Bjork (twice) and Portishead have headlined the desert fest as female-fronted acts. With LCD Soundsystem, Guns N Roses and Calvin Harris headlining in 2016, that trend of exclusion will continue.
However, one positive change from last year’s bill is that Coachella acts have ladies at the helm of 46 of the 162 total names listed on the lineup poster that was released Monday night. That accounts for a little more than 28% of the total, the largest the festival has ever seen in its 17-year history.
It’s an interesting fact given that the lineup is a stark contrast to the mainstream-driven bill two years ago that featured names like Lana del Rey and Lorde. Ellie Goulding is the one mainstream holdover from that bill, meaning the flower crowns will still be out in full force this April.
While the ladies are wildly dominant on the charts, a good percentage of those acts don’t really fall in line with the commonly-thought of headliner types. Could you ever picture Taylor Swift or Adele closing out the main stage?
This year, there’s a high amount of rock and electronic acts in particular that has women front and center. Alison Mosshart of The Kills has been on this stage before, both with The Kills as well as The Dead Weather with Jack White. She leads a list of women rockers like Jehnny Beth of Savages, Courtney Barnett, reunion act Lush as well as newcomer Ellie Rowsell of Wolf Alice and L.A. favorites Meg Myers and Girlpool.
Grimes and Purity Ring will surely be two of the most-anticipated electronic acts of the weekend. Lauren Mayberry and CHVRCHES returns to the desert two years after their debut trip, armed with another stellar album. Other acts returning to Coachella for a second helping or more include Bat for Lashes and Of Monsters and Men.
The previously-mentioned Goulding, along with Halsey and the unbelievably talented Sia are some of the most mainstream acts the bill has to offer. I distinctly remember Ellie Goulding’s crowd being one of the largest of the weekend that took place before the sun went down. Halsey figures to have a similarly-placed set time, whereas Sia can be expected to close out the Outdoor Theatre on Sunday night.
Coachella and Goldenvoice are trendsetters in the music festival world. So though 28.8% isn’t enough, it’s nice to see them trending in the right direction. With more lineups – like Shaky Knees and Sasquatch – due to drop next week, we will see if this will be the norm rather than anomaly for 2016. Will other festivals follow Goldenvoice’s lead? We will have to wait and see.