The festival was criticised by activist group LISTEN, for what the group referred to as having “an atrocious history of male-dominated lineups”. Out of this year’s first announcement, only four of the acts include women.
The festival did respond to the criticism, saying not to judge the entire lineup based on one announcement.
“We are conscious of booking a variety of acts from all walks of life, take a look back over the years at our lineup and you’ll see the amazing diversity of cultures and genres,” the festival said.
“We host the Boomerang festival in conjunction with Bluesfest and celebrate Indigenous and local acts as well. Unlike other festivals we have more than one major announcement in the lead up, don’t judge too soon and stay tuned for more to come.”
However, in the comment section of LISTEN’s Facebook post, things got a little… heated.
A woman accused the festival’s lineup of being a “sausage fest” and the Bluesfest account absolutely unleashed upon them.
“Attacking events without doing any research on them and starting a media campaign based on your own isms and schisms is the sort of thing that worked well in Nazi Germany,” the account said.
“Find someone to attack because you have a screw loose. Bet you are an under or underemployed white privileged nobody with too much time on your hands. Going nowhere fast into a life of depression and loneliness due to you having nothing meaningful to justify why you continue to breathe.”
Since then, Bluesfest Director Peter Noble has admitted to The Herald Sun that he wrote the comment, and promised to apologise to the woman privately.
“After working from 5am to 11.30pm that night I exploded on someone,” he said. “I shouldn’t have done it, I will contact that person and apologise. It wasn’t a member of my staff, I did it.
“I shouldn’t have said that to that person, I know that, I was just tired of being abused.
“I had no right to say that to that one person. I’m ashamed of what I did.”
He did, however, stick with his Nazi Germany comparison.
“It is what was done in Nazi Germany, you keep saying a bad thing about someone long enough until you polarise and pillory them until people start to act in the same manner,” he said.
“It’s what Trump does. It’s what Turnbull and Peter Dutton do towards the Sudanese. It’s gutter politics, really low stuff.”
The Bluesfest Facebook account has also since criticised LISTEN, saying that “this group should actually LISTEN AND LEARN from this failed exercise”.
“They are being critiqued not only in their own Facebook page but across various media blogs in hundreds of posts pages as an epic fail for getting it so wrong this time in their poorly researched attack on Bluesfest,” the account wrote.
“As a classic single interest group, who employ a name and shame policy, it is fundamental they do their homework on issues before attacking. Much like Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton’s rants against the Melbourne Sudanese population, poorly researched attacks, not based on facts, and in truthful, will cause an enormous backlash.
“Whilst the cause of wanting to see more women involved in the music industry is admirable, it may be better to look at root causes and not one part only of the music industry in isolation I.e. festivals, or Listen takes the risk of further losing credibility, as they have clearly done here.”
LISTEN responded to the comment, saying that it was critiquing the lineup announcement as opposed to the festival or organisation itself.
“We made a post critiquing a male-dominated first lineup announcement on our Facebook page,” LISTEN wrote. “We haven’t made a single comment about your festival as an organisation, or its histories of booking.
“Positioning yourselves as the victims by drawing comparisons to the racist attacks on the South Sudanese community is absolutely disgraceful.”
This has been… a lot. We imagine the comment section of this article will be totally fine and there’ll be no arguments whatsoever.
Read LISTEN’s Facebook post below.