Inspired by the industry’s gender imbalance, Britain’s first all-female music fest takes place on 20 October

These days, firsts in the music world are hard to come by. But for Yorkshire, a revolution is on the cards this October, with the arrival of the county’s first all-female music festival. Forget tired notions of ‘girl power’ – this is a day of great music, talent and equality, and it’s a recipe for a blast.

HER FEST (caps because this is important and needs your attention now) is the brainchild of social enterprise Come Play with Me, female-focused PR agency HER Music and creative music charity Brighter Sound. It hits Brudenell Social Club on Saturday 20 October, and boasts an all-day line-up packed with female talent.

They talk about sexism, feminism, politics and they’re absolutely brilliant

Inspiration for this day of gender balance redressing came from the sobering statistic that a mere 14% of acts at UK festivals were female in 2017. It was time to set the record straight - time to channel time and dedication into a celebration of female musical talent, and create an entire day to platform the incredible women doing their thing in the UK today.

2018 10 05 Her Fest Stealing Sheep
Stealing Sheep will headline HER FEST

Electro-pop trio Stealing Sheep will bring their unique sound to the headline slot, with punky pop outfit The Tuts second on the bill. When I chat to Emma and Rachel, founders of HER Music and champions of the festival’s entire ethos, their excitement overflows.

“The Tuts call themselves a three-tone girl band”, says Emma. “They talk about sexism, feminism, politics and they’re absolutely brilliant”. 

Joining them on the line-up are local punk five-piece VENUS (main image); rock star trio Dead Naked Hippies; and artist collective No Fixed Identity.

Singer-songwriter, Elizabeth Walshaw (aka 50ft Queenie) will perform her repertoire of powerful classics-in-the-making, alongside North West dream pop four-piece Dream English Kid and more electro-pop strains from Leeds duo Kata Rayna.

2018 10 05 Her Fest Kata Rayna
Kata Rayna

Emma and Rachel’s own band Park Fires - the group that began the HER Music dream for women to have equal representation in the music industry - will also take to the stage this October. It’s set to be an unpretentious day of positivity, energy and fairness; a bold statement of ambition for the future of music in Leeds, in Yorkshire and beyond.

The focus on gender is strong and unapologetic, but the festival’s pioneers are clear that it’s what the industry needs right now. “We’re looking forward to a point where people don’t ask about gender, but right now it needs to be talked about”, says Rachel. “We need to be shouting about it until we get it right”.

Tickets are on sale now for £8. Doors open at 3.30pm on the 20 October and, with more acts still to be announced and the Brudenell’s ever-appealing promise of £3 pints and autumn cheer thrown into the mix, HER FEST is not to be missed.

2018 10 05 Her Fest The Tuts
The Tuts

HER FEST continues its journey at Sheffield’s Picture House on 3 November with She Drew The Gun headlining. Pick up your tickets here