tales from urban dilettantia


87% More Real Balls at The Big Day Out

It was watching Rammstein’s lead singer, Till Lindemann, ride a giant penis cannon across the stage that got me thinking.  I’d spent the day wandering around the Perth show of Australia’s biggest music festival, the Big Day Out, and as I watched Lindemann frolic on the cannon, spraying the joyful crowd with foam, it occurred to me that I’d seen an awful lot of cock.*

Now I’m a reasonably well-read woman and I’ve spent enough of my time around activists and feminist historians to know the deal. Structural oppression making it tough for women to ascend the slippery ladder of rock music fame, complex economic and historical issues, blah blah blah. I appreciate that there’s a wider context, and sure, it takes a little more effort to find and book bands with female musicians, and I understand tour promoters are in this game to make money. I get this; I really do.**

But was it possible that, during a whole day at the country’s biggest festival, there hadn’t been one female musician on either of the main stages?  As a curious data analyst I decided to find out more, and pulled together a spreadsheet with every act and every individual musician performing at the Perth 2011 Big Day Out.  You may draw your own conclusions:

Five minutes on the Googletubes indicates that The New Pornographers, Rasputina, The Firey Furnaces, Portishead, Shonen Knife, Skunk Anansie, Amanda Palmer, Florence and the Machine, The Postal Service, Goldfrapp, The Breeders, Le Tigre, Belle & Sebastian, God Speed You! Black Emperor,Juliana Hatfield, P.J. Harvey, Morcheeba, Okkervil River, Regina Spektor, Silversun Pickups, Architecture in Helsinki, Broken Social Scene, The Magnetic Fields, of Montreal, Tender Trap, Tegan and Sara, Jebediah, Moriarty, New Rules For Boats, Schvendes, Cat Power, The Jezabels, Sneaky Sound System, Sparkadia, The Arcade Fire, Paramore, Ladyhawke, Tori Amos, Lacuna Coil and Beth Orton weren’t home to take the Big Day Out promoters’ call.

(See, I can do half-arsed research and find bands with women in them.  I’m sure the people who are paid to do this stuff could do the same. It’s not that hard.)

* That said, anyone walking into a Die Antwoord show should expect cock.

** I also get that we’re not likely to see a sharp increase of women in rock, punk or metal until we promoters book more female role-models on the big festival stages, but that deserves its own rant.

Category: geeking it up, music

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5 Responses

  1. Amber says:

    I thought that the hair-metal band (Something Dan…I can’t quite remember…) on the blue stage around 1.30 had a female drummer. Might be wrong though.

    Also, on the UWA trading list the New Rules for Boats singer’s dad was advertising her want to get in a band due to New Rules for Boats breaking up? But maybe I am mis-remembering here too. 😛

  2. Alice says:

    And scarily enough, Soundwave is much much much worse. I remember looking at the first lineup, and noticing that there was ONE woman in the entire festival.

    And people wonder why we wanted something like Lilith Faire.

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  4. Helen says:

    @Amber I had this discussion with Grahame too, but I think he had confused Airbourne with Airborne. Wikipedia says Airbourne’s members are Joel O’Keeffe, Ryan O’Keeffe, David Roads, and Justin Street. If anyone paid more attention than I did, I welcome corrections!

    @Alice Yeah, I am sad that the metal/heavy alternative scene doesn’t see many women on stage. I can see that, for the Soundwave organisers, the talent pool they’re picking from is very, very small (although I did have the pleasure of seeing Paramore and Lacuna Coil play there.) The BDO, on the other hand, has far less of an excuse for failing hard.

  5. Suzanne says:

    noticed this at soundwave. cannot find ONE woman on the entire playlist. my happy teenage daydreams of being the next stephanie ashworth of melissa auf de maur appear to have been condemned to the 90s.

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@dilettantiquity is interested in an unreasonable number of things, including the wide and wonderful universe, happiness, well-being, wine, optimal human experience, non-violent communication, complex systems, existential nihilism, rationality, technology, grassroots organising, cacophony, music, creativity, learning and love.