The Top Acts To Watch This Festival Season

Gemma Exley

As you might remember, festival line-up gender imbalance hit the headlines last year when it was revealed that 74 percent of the acts booked at events across the globe were male.

Incredibly, at Reading and Leeds Festivals, the original line-up contained 57 men and just ONE woman. This year’s bookings demonstrate a slow improvement, with 33 percent of the acts on the Coachella line-up being either solely female or at least including one, up 8 percent from the previous year.

Aside from Queen Beyonce, headliners generally continue to be dominated by men, but if we’re honest, it’s not always the top names that we go for… Before the sun sets and the hordes arrive is often the best time the catch the buzziest acts before they explode and creep up subsequent bills. And since some of this summer’s most promising break-out acts are female, the future is looking bright indeed…

Nubya Garcia

Catch her: Field Day, 1 June

Photo credit: Adama Jollah

She might be a jazz whizz from Camden, but that’s where the similarities between Nubya Garcia and Amy Winehouse end. In fact, if you’re looking for any comparison, let’s say Solange. The 28-year-old saxophonist is one of the key players (literally) behind the hipsterfication of jazz and exudes the breezy kind of cool that festivals were invented for.

The Shacks

Catch them: JägerHaus, All Points East, 3 June

Photo credit: Sesse Lind

Comprising of 20-year-old singer/bassist Shannon Wise and 21-year-old guitarist/producer Max Shrager, The Shacks have been gathering buzz since the release of their debut album Haze. Seeming both vocally and lyrically older than their years, the pair have the potential to be the biggest rock duo since The White Stripes.


Catch her: TRNSMT, 29-30 June 

After previously busking on the streets of her native Glasgow, LUCIA’s newfound fame is well deserved. Thanks to her captivating blend of punk, garage rock, and classic 60s girl groups, the Scot has been making waves across the UK, playing everywhere from sweaty clubs to London Fashion Week, which shows just how broad her appeal is.

LUCIA is also playing at All Points East.


Catch her: Latitude, 12 July

After making a splash on the BBC Sound Of 2016 shortlist, NAO, real name Nao Jessica Joshua, has slowly but surely proven that she’s no flash in the pan with the distinctive style she’s coined ‘wonky funk’. She’s already lent Disclosure her vocals and now she’s set to become a star in her own right.

Goat Girl 

Catch them: Citadel, 15 July

Hailing from South London, Goat Girl signed a deal with Rough Trade on the very date that Britain voted to leave the European Union, which shows that at least one positive thing happened that day. Thanks to their expressive and catchy punk lyrics, which are political without being preachy, they’re just what the country needs right now.

Marika Hackman

Catch her: Truck Festival, 21 July

With fellow folk singer Laura Marling as a mentor, it’s not surprising that Marika Hackman has been rising high… She’s appeared in Burberry campaigns and counts Cara Delevingne among her friends, but the 22-year-old says she’s never considered herself as a model, which is the music industry’s gain. Her abstract, dreamy music is set to be one of the sounds of the summer.

Marika is also playing at All Points East.

Pale Waves

Catch them: Y Not Festival, 26-29 July

True squad goals right here… Best friends and ‘musical soul mates’ Heather Baron-Gracie (vocals, guitars) and Ciara Doran (drums) formed Pale Waves in Manchester. Creating ‘Nineties-inspired indie-pop, drenched in reverb and glitter’ and impressing The 1975’s Matty Healy so much that he co-produced their first two singles and invited them on tour.


Catch her: Wilderness, 2-5 August

Hailing from Manchester via Portugal and Angola, IAMDDB is the alter ego of 21-year-old Diana Debrito, whose fearless style of hip-hop earned her third place in the BBC’s Sound of 2018 list. Beats 1 DJ Julie Adenuga even described her as ‘the most exciting artist to watch’ this year. High praise indeed.

Snail Mail

Catch her: Green Man, 17 August

Snail Mail, aka, 18-year-old Lindsey Jordan, is the Maryland native who’s had the critics fawning thanks to her melodic style of indie rock. She started playing classical guitar at the age of five, proving that determination and practice go a long way. It’s not surprising that she was described as a ‘prodigy’ by Billboard magazine.


Catch her: Reading/Leeds Festival, 24-26 August

Unlike some of her peers, Sigrid Solbakk Raabe only wrote her first song four years ago, but lack of experience certainly isn’t matched by talent. The 21-year-old pop sensation is following in the footsteps of Adele after winning the BBC Sound of 2018 – and she’s not merely a darling of the critics; she’s already racked up more than 30-million plays on Spotify and YouTube combined.

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