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Erykah Badu Tops Field Day 2018's Refreshingly Gender Balanced Bill

It's a UK festival exclusive, which sees Badu joined by Fever Ray, Thundercat, Charlotte Gainsbourg and more at Field Day's new south London location.
Lauren O'Neill
London, GB

Festival lineup season is very much upon us and today is the turn of London's Field Day, which this year will be relocating from east London to south. The festival's move from Victoria Park to Brockwell Park seems to have reinvigorated its organisers, who have presented fans with a tantalising – and, crucially, gender balanced – bill.

Heading up proceedings on Friday night is the queen of neo-soul Erykah Badu. Badu, who won't be playing any other UK fests, is a huge coup for Field Day, and it's also extremely cool that the biggest name over the entire weekend is a black woman. She's joined across the electronic-and-R&B-skewing weekend by DJs Donna Leake and Helena Hauff, Nao, Mafalda, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Fever Ray, Princess Nokia, and a number of other killer woman musicians. Representing the dudes, there's Thundercat, Four Tet, Mount Kimbie, and Animal Collective's Panda Bear just to pick out a few.


Field Day 2018 as it stands is a great example of how interesting and varied a gender balanced lineup can be. Bizarrely, this is still an area where festivals in all genres are falling down – this year's initial Wireless lineup, for example, featured three women across three days of hip-hop and R&B, to which I simply ask "HUH?" – though it seems that some, like Field Day, are picking up on the problem. Last week I noted that Barcelona's Primavera Sound (a destination which will see many a Brit abroad in 2018) seemed to have taken care to put women in bigger slots, with performers like Haim and Chvrches enjoying high-ranking places on the bill. That women playing big festival shows is still news, however, points to the music industry's sad state of affairs which goes all the way to the top, as evidenced by last week's Grammy's backlash.

Festivals perform a special function within the music industry, because they are important sites of discovery for many fans. Having woman artists playing big slots atop lineups leads to more exposure and demand, and for a music industry which is quite clearly having a gender-related crisis, bills like Field Day's can feel like an example of real improvement.

See the full Field Day 2018 lineup below:

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