Emily Eavis On Glastonbury Criticism: 'There Aren’t A Lot Of New Rock Acts To Choose From'

29 June 2024 | 11:31 am | Mary Varvaris

"Every year, we’ve been criticised for being too rock, too grime, too hip hop, too pop… it’s just part of our year."

IDLES @ Festival Hall

IDLES @ Festival Hall (Credit: Ryley Clarke)

Glastonbury festival co-organiser Emily Eavis – daughter of its founder, Michael – has defended this year’s line-up after receiving criticism for the perceived lack of rock acts on the bill.

While Glastonbury has locked in plenty of exciting alternative, rock, and punk-based acts across this year’s festival – more on that later – when people see the line-up is headlined by pop star Dua Lipa, pop-rock outfit Coldplay, R&B star SZA and country-pop icon Shania Twain in the Legends slot, they worry that Glastonbury has abandoned its rock roots.

That, Eavis argues, isn’t the case. She said that in her heyday, Glastonbury was locking in the likes of Radiohead and Pulp, and in 2024, the mainstream music landscape is far more interested in—and packed with—pop, R&B, and hip-hop artists.

“I think the line-up reflects what’s happening in the music world at the moment – there aren’t a lot of new rock acts to choose from, if I’m honest,” Eavis said in a recent interview with PA.

“Hopefully that will emerge again, my heyday was 1995 with Pulp and Oasis and Radiohead… and that was great, but music changes all the time and right now this is where we’re at.”

Eavis added that Glastonbury will be criticised no matter who tops the bill.

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“Every year, we’ve been criticised for being too rock, too grime, too hip hop, too pop… it’s just part of our year,” she said.

“Generally, it’s not from the public… everybody’s really happy and excited to be here.”

Glastonbury was indeed criticised last year for its rock-oriented, all-male headliners: Arctic Monkeys, Guns ‘N Roses, and Elton John.

That line-up followed 2022’s festival, which was led by Billie Eilish, Paul McCartney, and Kendrick Lamar. In 2019, Glastonbury hosted headliners The Killers, The Cure, and Stormzy. So, the festival has been diverse for a long time.

While a rocker doesn’t headline this year’s festival, there’s plenty of guitar-led music to love on the bill.

There are multi-generational icons like Cyndi Lauper, PJ Harvey, and Bloc Party; Scottish indie rockers The Snuts; British punks IDLES; alt-rock band The Last Dinner Party, The National, Nothing But Thieves; punk rockers Soft Play; post-punk group Squid, folk-metal outfit Heilung, The Vaccines, Indonesian metallers Voice Of Baceprot, Yard Act, Irish post-punk band Fontaines D.C., American groups Mannequin Pussy and Soccer Mommy, Kim Gordon, Skindred, Alvvays, Blondshell, The Breeders, Aussie rockers Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Frank Turner, and more.

Anyone who says there’s not enough rock at this year’s Glastonbury really isn’t looking hard enough. But, perhaps it’s time to elevate PJ Harvey to IDLES to headliner status.