PandoraFest: Screaming at Gender Inequality in Music

The rise in female-fronted rock and metal bands in recent years has been explosive to say the least. Defying the ‘boys club’ mentality of old, women are becoming ever more present in the alternative scenes and there are countless fantastic bands fronted by women. However, despite all the progress to gender equality within alternative music, there are still underlying issues which seems to put women at a disadvantage. PandoraFest aims to change that.

Looking at the larger and established festivals the UK has to offer, one issue seems strikingly clear, there is a massive lacking in female-fronted acts throughout festival lineups. Last year’s Reading and Leeds Festival made headlines when a photo-shopped image of the lineup surfaced showcasing the sheer absence of female-fronted bands performing at the festival; a clear indicator that there are issues that need to be resolved.

Reading & Leeds Festival 2015: The poster on the right has all the all-male acts edited out
Reading & Leeds Festival 2015: The poster on the right has all the all-male acts edited out

Enter PandoraFest, an emerging festival based at DunCarron Medieval Village in central Scotland, this festival bolsters a unique twist; the entirety of the lineup are female-fronted bands. For festival organiser Caroline Daalmeijer, PandoraFest aims to celebrate the talent and creativity of women in the rock and metal world. “The aim of PandoraFest is to specifically celebrate female artists and musicianship. You only have to look at the statistics to see that the ratio of male/female artists at festivals is woefully uneven. Very often festivals only book women of certain accepted genres for women to succeed in like country, punk or pop. The main reason we were inspired to create PandoraFest is because we all are, or have been, musicians ourselves. We have experienced firsthand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the obstacles thrown in front of women in music out of pure bias. PandoraFest will feature the talents of female artists representing as many different genres as possible.”

PandoraFest - Courtesans
Dark rock outfit Courtesans are headlining PandoraFest

Looking at the lineup, PandoraFest boasts a bill stacked of varying genres and styles. Despite this, the common ethos is as clear as day; a united celebration of the talents of women in music. From headliners COURTESANS, electro-pop outfit TWIST HELIX, acclaimed Dutch singer Mathilde Santing and pop-punk outfit HEEL, just a glimpse into the lineup of PandoraFest boasts a diverse lineup coming together for once cause. Voodoo-inspired metallers VODUN are performing at the festival and for frontwoman Chantal Brown, she sees PandoraFest as a perfect example to celebrate diversity. “I’ve had several conversations recently regarding events that celebrate different groups of our society, and how some feel they further serve to divide our society. I firmly believe that different groups of society should be celebrated, least of all when it comes to groups who are continued to be seen as less equal and, in real terms, treated as such. Festivals like PandoraFest is one of the best forms of celebrating women in music, as it highlights the fact that we tend to see and treat women in music differently, often negatively so – and we shouldn’t. It encourages diversity and unity amongst its audience to come together and celebrate the amazing force that is women making fantastic and innovative music. AND it’s set in a Medieval Village in Scotland! The whole band’s excited.”

Voodoo-influenced metallers Vodun are part of the festival’s lineup

With the festival set to kick off in the coming weeks, PandoraFest is set to make their statement to the gender inequality which still serves as an issue in the music industry today. Despite its ethos of being a celebration of females in music, festival organiser Caroline Daalmeijer believes it is crucial that the festival caters for all, regardless of their gender identification and their walk of life. “It’s important to us that PandoraFest does not exclude men, you’ll see many of them performing on the day, as part of bands and everyone is welcome to attend the festival, of every possible gender identification and walk of life. While I very much appreciate and respect women-only spaces and fully understand where that originates, I think you can’t achieve equality in the true sense of the word if you exclude an entire gender. That is a knife that cuts both ways. The day none of this is an issue anymore because there is no longer a cultural context for it, when art and music are enjoyed for their own sake, will be a good day. Until then, there will be PandoraFest!”


PandoraFest takes place on July 16th at DunCarron Medieval Village in Scotland.

For more information on the festival and to buy tickets, visit the official PandoraFest website or like their official page on Facebook.