Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dude Dude Dude Fest

There’s a music festival this weekend and we’ve been doing some math.

Yep, we’ve been counting.  Men and women. Not because we want to, but because when the gulf between the two is so wide, we feel like we have to. 

Let this be said:  We like Fun Fun Fun Fest.  We like the grassroots vibe, the small (-er than that other festival) stages, the local vendors and hanging out with our friends in the glorious fall sun.  We’re looking forward to watching teenagers rock the skateboard ramp and hipsters fall off the mechanical bull.  Most of all we like the bands.  The organizers of this festival, Transmission Entertainment, obviously know what’s what. 

But there’s something missing:  women. 

Not completely missing, mind you.  There are 22* women gracing the four stages of this two-day event.  Likewise, the acts at FFF contain 247 men.   That’s a total of 269 performers – 92% men. 

I wonder how Transmission would feel if 92 percent of the audience were men.   Hmmm

Anyway, here’s the breakdown of women performing at Fun Fun Fun Fest:

ONE drummer - Shonen Knife. 
TWO guitarists -Shonen Knife, Mika Miko.
SIX bassists  - Flipper, Fucked Up, Shonen Knife, Mika Miko,
Melt Banana, Shearwater
FIVE Keyboardists/Electronica  - Of Montreal, Times New Vikings, Broadcast, Growing, LAX.
FIVE vocalists (only) - Crystal Castles, Mika Miko (2), Kid Sister, Melt Banana
ONE back-up singer – Sugar and Gold
TWO comedians - Chelsea Peretti, New Movement Comedy Group

Furthermore, the total number of music acts with a female member is fourteen.  But two bands (Mika Miko and Shonen Knife) contain 1/3 of the total women.  Six bands are female-fronted (Broadcast, Crystal Castles, Kid Sister, Melt Banana, Mika Miko, Shonen Knife).  Two bands are co-fronted (Times New Viking, LAX).  Two of the female-fronted bands are from Japan.  Three bands with women members are on Matador Records, whose Co-President happens to live in Austin.  

Remember, there are over 80 bands playing.

What does this say about the state of women in rock?  About the booking policies of the nationally recognized music festival that probably best represents the spirit of our amazing hometown?  Of the need for Girls Rock Camp?  You tell us!

*We did the best we could to get accurate counts – tallying from band photos, bios, and videos – so while these numbers might not be exact, they’re very, very close.


  1. Thanks for posting this, Melissa! Though I was happy to see the bands I saw at FFFF, I was annoyed at how underrepresented the women and girls were this year.

    Do you know what the selection process is like for FFFF? Is there any way that we can lobby harder for more female (and queer) acts to get put on next year's bill?

  2. Hey Alex,
    Thanks for the comment. Sorry I never responded before. As far as I know, FFFF is booked based on the tastes of the organizers (in addition to I imagine labels, managers, agents, etc advocating for and making deals for their artists). It's my hope that the more the underrepresentation of women is talked about, the more likely it is to change. I mean, no festival wants to be known as the 92% dude fest, do they (except maybe Chaos in Tejas)?