Reading and Leeds boss responds to criticism over “worst ever” line up and gender inequality

"The key thing about any festival is that you don't stand still"

The head of Reading and Leeds festivals has responded after fans branded this year’s line up as the “worst ever”.

The first wave of acts for the twin festivals was announced earlier this month, with Fall Out Boy, Kendrick Lamar and Kings Of Leon taking top billing.

But the line-up soon faced backlash from fans, with some claiming that it was a far cry from the festival’s strong association with guitar bands.


Others criticised the apparent lack of gender equality, claiming that the festival had a substantial lack of female acts on offer.

Now, Festival Boss Melvin Benn has responded for the first time, claiming that the line-up is an accurate representation of current musical trends.

“The key thing about any festival is that you don’t stand still,” Benn told the BBC.

“I’m very clear on that.”

He added: “You can’t keep drumming up the same acts and expect people to continue to come and see them.


“Festivals have to be a reflection of what the public are listening to.”

As for gender equality, Benn remains sceptical of a new initiative, announced by PRS for music, that will see 45 festivals working together to achieve a 50/50 gender balance by 2022.

“Is that the right way to go about it – to say it’s got to be 50/50? I don’t know that it is”, he said.

Last year,Festival Republic also announced the launch of ReBalance, a new initiative that will address the gender imbalance in the music industry.

The Leeds-based project will run for three years and will provide one week’s studio recording to a UK-based female musician, solo artist or female-featuring band each month from 2018 through 2020. Studio and engineering costs will be paid for by Festival Republic, along with accommodation and travel.