Stormzy’s headline set highlights lack of crowd diversity

Stormzy is arguably the man of the moment, making history as the first British Black Solo Artist to headline Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage. When we’re watching those Christmas compilation shows where B List celebs recount a decade, his performance will be the main feature in a countdown of what made the teenies – alongside further videos of knobhead Conservatives stumbling into power.

This performance was for the people Stormzy represents, yet as he performed, and the TV cameras swept around the crowd to show people attempting to sing-along, it was notable that… er… the people he represents were missing. It became more obvious than ever that Glasto is and always has been a white middle-class festival.

It seemed Stormzy predicted this, however, playing up to the audience’s whiteness, by bringing on music’s most bland and safe artist out there, Chris ‘middle class’ Martin – indie’s Gary Barlow. Was there not another black artist Stormzy could have shared the limelight with? Someone to truly take-down the overlords in one giant leap? I mean, Jorja Smith was kicking about on Friday, that would have been perfect!

When we discuss equality in music and festivals, we focus on the artists, but what Friday night indicated is that we should be addressing the lack of diversity in audiences as well. Glastonbury is a huge festival and watching it on the telly, you do only capture a snapshot, but that snapshot is still undeniably white. Do young black people feel they don’t belong in this audience? Could it be that black artists rarely get the main slots at Glasto, and as tickets sell out before the artists are even announced, just don’t bother? Why would you really, when Glasto has been dominated by white people since its beginning.

Perhaps this performance will encourage diversity in audiences, perhaps it won’t, but in the end, we have to ask what are they / we / you, actually doing to create an inclusive society? Anyone and everyone can enjoy Grime, white, black, whatever. Race, religion and background in this respect really don’t matter, but what does is that this same “anyone and everyone” is as diverse as possible. And, if there is a black headliner, there are black people in the audience. Simple.

Stormzy is changing the music industry and changing attitudes towards young black people, but just because an artist uses politics doesn’t mean that the rest of our HUGE industry shouldn’t either, and this includes you ticket offices, event organisers and even farmers I guess in this case. You are what creates change and positivity just as much as the people you put on the stage.

My Cart Close (×)

Your cart is empty
Browse Shop
Join Waitlist We will inform you when Volume 16 arrives in stock. Please leave your valid email address below.