by Cole Schoneman
Photography courtesy of pollstar.com
An image circulated on Twitter recently, revealing that only four of the over 70 revealed bands on the 2018 Warped Tour lineup feature female lead singers. The reaction to this tweet was swift and multi-sided.
Ignoring the misogynistic outliers still harping on women not belonging in punk bands at all, several different groups seemed to be blamed.
Some believe that Warped Tour itself does not do enough to promote female-fronted bands. Others blame record labels and venue promoters for not taking female-fronted bands seriously or holding them to a higher standard. Still, others blame fans for not supporting these bands, arguing that the aforementioned groups are just responding to the demands of fans.
There is certainly some truth to each of these arguments. But as someone who is intimately connected with the scene, having attended five Warped Tour dates over the years, I have trouble believing that Warped Tour’s organizers are sexist.
Jarrod Alonge, a popular YouTuber and musician in the scene, responded to the original tweet, pointing out that “over half the people that run production and work tents are women.”
“Statistically there are just way more men in rock music,” he added. “It’s not Warped’s job to curate which bands get more fans, it’s up to the listeners.”
Still, many felt that this was precisely the symptom of a major problem. Why should women work in production, serving the men fronting their favorite bands?
Clearly, the problem extends beyond Warped Tour’s management. There is a level of sexism, conscious or not, still preventing female-fronted bands from succeeding in this scene.
Moreover, sexual harassment still affects many women on the tour. Take the controversy between The Dickies’ front man Leonard Graves Phillips and a member of Safer Scenes, an activist group created by feminist punk band War on Women.
Phillips harassed the woman protesting with the sign “Teen girls deserve respect, not gross jokes from disgusting old men! Punk shouldn't be predatory!” using multiple explicatives to defame her. The crowd laughed and jeered, chanting “Blow Me” with Phillips.
Many called out Phillips’ behavior, saying that it has no place at Warped Tour. Old-school punk bands like the Dickies, who formed in 1977, have often flaunted bigotry or encouraged bigoted fans. Clearly a concert by The Dickies is not a safe space for women who speak out.
Still, a disturbing number of people defended Phillips’ behavior. “I Stand with The Dickies” memes briefly circulated, and were promoted by many of their contemporaries.
Punk music has gotten more progressive over the years and instances like this are far less common. But bigoted fans and venue promoters who allow important feminist bands to fall by the wayside have made this a far slower process than it need be.
Change can only happen if fans commit to listening to the bands they want to see better represented. There is no shortage of talented female-fronted scene bands. CrazyEightyEight (Alonge’s female-fronted hardcore band) and Sharptooth are two such bands growing in popularity.
Especially with this being the final Warped Tour, make an effort to support progressive bands. I know I will.