meta-scriptPress Play: Liza Anne Champions Love In This Groovy Performance Of Their New Single, "Cheerleader" | GRAMMY.com
Liza Anne Press Play Hero
Liza Anne

Photo: Courtesy of Liza Anne

news

Press Play: Liza Anne Champions Love In This Groovy Performance Of Their New Single, "Cheerleader"

Rock singer Liza Anne celebrates queer joy in this electrifying performance of their newest single, "Cheerleader."

GRAMMYs/Jun 22, 2023 - 05:25 pm

Just over a month ago, rock singer Liza Anne released their first single, "Cheerleader," since coming out as gay and non-binary. As they told Paper magazine, the song was about creating "a space of healing in a physical place where before, I wasn't fully free." So, Anne returned to the unruly place it all began — high school — and reclaimed it with unapologetic queer joy.

"So cute, and you don't even know it/ You're walking that talk, and I love it, I love it!/ Show me how you do it, oh, I want it, I want it!/ I'll be your cheerleader," Anne beams on the chorus.

In this episode of Press Play, Anne delivers a euphoric performance of their new queer anthem. The performance is driven by a wavy electric guitar with interludes of Anne's infectious dance moves, and the rock singer intensifies the high school aesthetic, performing in a football jersey.

Liza Anne is hosting an ABBA-themed disco night in Los Angeles, California; New York, New York; Chicago, Illinois; and King's County, New York, to advocate for better abortion care. On June 24, they will perform at the Being Gay Is a Miracle: Poetry Reading in New York, New York.

Watch the video above to see Liza Anne's carefree performance of "Cheerleader," and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Press Play.

Sam Smith & Madonna Release Transgressive Club Banger "Vulgar": Listen

Queer country feature hero
(L-R) Orville Peck, Allison Russell, Lily Rose, Adeem the Artist, Jaime Wyatt

Photos (L-R): Jeff Hahne/Getty Images, Erika Goldring/Getty Images, Erika Goldring/Getty Images, Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Americana Music Association, Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach

feature

How Queer Country Artists Are Creating Space For Inclusive Stories In The Genre

As country music continues its global explosion, the genre is seeing a growing number of artists in the LGBTQIA+ community — including Adeem the Artist, Lily Rose and Jaime Wyatt — blaze a trail toward acceptance.

GRAMMYs/Jun 18, 2024 - 04:36 pm

When country singer/songwriter Jaime Wyatt announced she was queer with the release of her second album, 2020's Neon Cross, she was convinced doing so would destroy her career. Instead, something shifted — not only was she more free to be herself and to date women openly, but many fans reacted positively, too.

"Several times on the road I've had fans come up to me with their same sex partner, and they're like, 'Hey, we feel safe here. It's so awesome because we both love country music, and we're not out of the closet, and we're not out to our families, but we can be here,'" Wyatt says.

Modern country music is generally perceived as a conservative genre, and deep-rooted cultural and industry biases have long excluded LGBTQIA+ (and BIPOC) artists and stories from the genre. For example, in 2010, when successful mainstream country artist Chely Wright came out, her career stalled and record sales halved. Kacey Musgraves was criticized for lyrics supporting same-sex love in her beloved anthem, "Follow Your Arrow." More recently, even, Wyatt walked out of a recording session after the owner of the space asked if she was singing "'some gay s—.'"

But Wyatt is also one of a growing number of country artists who, in recent years, have blazed a trail through country music and toward acceptance. Among them, Adeem the Artist, Mya Byrne, Brandi Carlile, Brandy Clark, Mary Gauthier, Lizzy No, Orville Peck, Lily Rose, and Allison Russell. Together, they're celebrating queerness alongside their love for the genre, and pushing it into diversity with patience, tenacity, and darn good country music.

"If you listen to popular music, or if you listen to hip-hop music, it feels like there's a broader diversity to a lot of subcultures as far as what you're able to access," nonbinary country singer/songwriter Adeem the Artist says. "Whereas with country music, it's very linear, it's very myopic, and singular in its expression."

By way of broadening country's storytelling, Adeem plays a honky-tonk blend of classic and '90s country music that's sonically aligned with the deep musical traditions in Tennessee, where they now live. Lyrically, though, their propensity for gorgeous, frankly worded songs complicate stereotypical southern narratives in rare and provocative ways. On White Trash Revelry, their 2022 studio album, they grapple with racism, economic entrapment, gun violence, and family heritage. And their latest, Anniversary, released in May, includes songs about mental health, the poignance of parenthood, and the pain and fear of being a queer person in a world that threatens their existence.

Indeed, some of the places in the U.S. with the strongest ties to country music remain the least hospitable to queer people. Just last year, Tennessee, home of Nashville, the country music capital of the world, passed a total of 10 bills aimed at LGBTQIA+ people, while Texas, perhaps country music's second-best known state, passed 20 percent of all anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation in the U.S. What's more, LGBTQIA+ people and culture have been targeted by numerous attacks around the world — including the Pulse nightclub and Club Q shootings stateside — in the last few years alone.

For many, the consequences of not coming out, of not sharing their full selves with the world, are risky, too. Growing up, Wyatt had no role model to show her it was okay to be queer. She struggled for years with mental health and substance abuse and was convicted of robbing her heroin dealer as a young adult. "I needed to see someone who looked like me when I was a young child," Wyatt says. "And maybe I wouldn't have been a dope fiend in jail."

But while straight white men comprise most of country music's standard slate of forebearers, women and people in the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities have contributed to the genre since its beginning. Notably, it was Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a queer Black woman, who in the 1950s introduced reverb to gospel and rhythm and blues music — and in doing so, she forever changed guitar playing, and inspired some of country music's biggest trailblazers, from Elvis to Johnny Cash.

In 1973 — four years after the Stonewall uprising kickstarted a widespread gay liberation movement — Patrick Haggerty and his band Lavender Country released what is generally considered the first gay country album. But after it sold out its first pressing of 1000 copies, the album was mostly forgotten until 1999, when the Journal of Country Music published an article hailing Haggerty as "the lost pioneer of out gay country music." Haggerty began performing again and in 2014, indie label Paradise of Bachelors reissued the Lavender Country album, securing Haggerty status as a grandfather figure to queer country.

Haggerty's reissue landed in a different world than the album's original run. In the interim, a handful of artists released more queer country music, including Jeff Miller, aka "John Deere Diva," known for his George Strait parody, "Not Really Strait," as well as Doug Stevens and the Outband's When Love Is Right and Sid Spencer's Out-N-About Again, which put lyrically gay songs to country music.

In 2011, shortly before the Lavender Country reissue, queer country singer/songwriter and music scholar Karen Pittleman convened the first Gay Ole Opry in Brooklyn's now defunct Public Assembly performance space, launching more than a decade of queer country events, tours and a far-reaching network of performers and supporters. And in 2015, gay marriage became legal nationwide.

As progress has accelerated culturally in the near decade since, it has in country music, too. In 2018, Paisley Fields' debut album Glitter and Sawdust merged cowboy grit with queer raunch. In 2019, Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" provoked country music to re-consider the nature and identity of country music. In 2021, T.J. Osborne of the Brothers Osborne became the first openly gay male artist signed to a major record label; a year later, the duo's song "Younger Me" — which was written in response to T.J.'s coming out — became the first country song with an LGBTQIA+ theme to win a GRAMMY. And this Pride Month, longtime LGBTQIA+ supporter (and GLAAD's 2023 Excellence in Media Award recipient) Maren Morris declared on Instagram, "happy to be the B in LGBTQ+."

Read More: 9 Times Queer Artists Made History At The GRAMMYs: From Elton John's Collab With BSB To Kim & Sam's "Unholy" Union

"We as queer fans deserve to have songs that speaks specifically to us," says Rachel Cholst, a queer writer and educator. "And if that means putting in same gender pronouns, then we deserve that too. And if that makes a straight person uncomfortable, I don't know what to tell you. I've grown up my entire life having to internally change the pronouns to the love songs that really moved me."

Cholst started writing about music when she realized she couldn't be the only queer country fan out there. Her work aims to make queer country music accessible, and she has run the Adobe and Teardrops blog for more than a decade. In 2022, Cholst launched Rainbow Rodeo, a zine about queer country music, which appears bi-annually in print and regularly online.

"Everyone just assumed that country music is this one thing, and it never occurred to them to go look for it. That tells you a lot about how country music wants to present itself as an industry," Cholst says. "If we erase anyone who's not straight, anyone who's not white, then what you're saying is, you want those people to be erased from the conversation, from the culture."

Beyond using she/her pronouns in love songs (which she didn't get to do on her first album, Felony Blues), Wyatt's powerful, steely queer country music complicates social consciousness. Incisive and elegant in her delivery, she's equally compelling chronicling her conviction and jail time on Felony Blues, confronting demons and figuring out who she is on her Shooter Jennings-produced second album, Neon Cross, and outlining her hopes and frustrations for the world on her third album, 2023's sultry, groovy, Feel Good.

Wyatt's knack for catchy and advocacy-laced country bangers is clearest in "Rattlesnake Girl," one of her most popular songs. In it, she offers an anthemic celebration of joy unfettered: "I see my sweet friends out on the weekend/ They all look happy and gay," and a barbed warning to anyone who might impinge on that happiness: "Thank you kindly, don't walk behind me/ I've seen people slip that way/ And if you try me, boot heels beside me/ I might have to make your day."

Queer country music means something a little different to each artist. For many, it's about much more than simply being a queer person performing country music. Adeem the Artist considers queer country its own genre, complete with specific rules — many of which have nothing to do with sexual or gender orientation.

"It is explicitly political in nature. It is often kind of raunchy," they assert. "There's an element to queer country that is confrontational, that is willing to create discomfort for the sake of a relief that leans towards some greater social awareness."

To some degree, raising awareness and representation — which is essential for inclusion and acceptance — requires a bit of self-tokenization, Adeem says. "The very, very basic act of referring to me as a person who is queer, who is trans, who is nonbinary, who is whatever, those labels only do good as much as they illuminate the differences between us and the fact that I am more difficult for some people to relate with."

Adeem and Wyatt both operate within the alt-country scene, which has been marginally more inclusive than mainstream country over the years. Recently, though, rising country musician Lily Rose cracked through with her viral breakup single, 2020's "Villain." On her latest EP, Runnin' Outta Time (which she released in May), she sings a high-octane pop/country mix about her values and relationships. It's a well-worn country music landscape that has been almost exclusively dominated by heterosexual white men.

"To be one of the first to literally [and] figuratively, carry the flag... it makes me really proud. And it has its heavy moments for sure," Rose says. "Night after night, when I get to meet fans and see comments on social media that they feel seen for the first time in the genre, it's really special and it makes every single second of hard work to get here worth it."

The day after Runnin' Out of Time dropped, Rose made her Grand Ole Opry debut with two songs from the album, "Back Pew" and "Two Flowers"; Adeem and Wyatt also played the Opry for the first time in the last year as well. The Opry, one of country music's oldest and most lauded tastemakers, has welcomed a number of queer artists in the last few years, signaling a subtle shift toward a more inclusive country music institution. (In addition, all three artists recently scored high-profile touring spots: Rose with Shania Twain and Sam Hunt, Adeem with Tyler Childers and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit; and Wyatt wrapped up her first headlining tour.)

For Pittleman, an essential part of making music is ensuring space for anyone who wants to make music to do so, regardless of how they look or identify. "Most people who like country music, they just want to hear country music," Pittleman says. "I want to have a good time, too. But you have to ask at a certain point, 'Who is invited to the good time?'"

As she insists, there's a long way to go. In a digital world, radio play doesn't offer a complete picture, but it remains a dominant force in country music. For decades, women have been played sparingly on country radio and artists of color and queer musicians featured far less, a shortcoming which SongData's principal investigator, Jada Watson, spent years studying. Her research concludes that women country artists are played roughly 29 percent of the time, Black artists 5 percent, and other artists of color 7 percent. Queer artists, Watson estimates, make up less than 1 percent of radio play.

"The real problem is who's making those decisions; who has the power and as a result, who has the power and the resources to record their music, to distribute their music, to get it out on a broader scale," Pittleman suggests. "We have to make sure that everyone who's called to make the music has the resources and the power to make it and bring it into the world."

And in spite of multitude setbacks and naysayers, queer artists are creating country music. As Pittleman wrote in a 2020 essay in the Journal of Popular Music Studies titled "You're My Country Music," one of the joys of singing queer country music is making country music, plain and simple. "The point is to mark the deepest moments of human connection, our truest hopes and heartbreaks, and turn them into a sound that gives us joy and strength," she says.

"Because sometimes you love a culture that doesn't love you back," Pittleman continues on the Gay Ole Opry's about page. "We do it because we love the music and want to build a community to support queer country musicians. We do it because everybody needs a honky-tonk angel to hold them tight. We do it because we believe in country music for all."

Why 2024 Is The Year Women In Country Music Will Finally Have Their Moment

Sam Smith performing in 2014
Sam Smith performs at Q102's Jingle Ball in Philadelphia in 2014.

Photo: Taylor Hill/WireImage

list

How Sam Smith's 'In The Lonely Hour' Became An LGBTQIA+ Trailblazer

As Sam Smith’s massive debut album turns 10, revisit some of the ways it broke ground for the LGBTQIA+ community — from supporting same-sex marriage to making GRAMMY history.

GRAMMYs/Jun 17, 2024 - 04:11 pm

Before launching their own solo career, Sam Smith had already teased their pop prowess by guesting on two bonafide dance classics, Disclosure's deep house anthem "Latch" in 2012 and Naughty Boy's two-step garage throwback "La La La" in 2013. And upon debuting their own work in 2014 with In The Lonely Hour, Smith instantly cemented themselves as the master of the heartbreak ballad — and one of pop's new pioneers.

Self-described as the "diary from a lonely 21-year-old," the record was inspired by the love Smith felt toward an unnamed man which, it seems fair to say, wasn't exactly reciprocated. "I don't have that many sad things going on in my life and it was the only thing that was really affecting me last year," they explained to Digital Spy ahead of In The Lonely Hour's release. "So, it's my way of defining what is love, and how unrequited love is just as painful, just as powerful, as what we call 'normal' love." And audiences both in their homeland and across the pond immediately latched on to its overarching theme.

Largely produced by hitmaking extraordinaire Jimmy Napes (Clean Bandit, Mary J. Blige), In The Lonely Hour reached No. 1 in the UK and No. 2 on the Billboard 200, spawned five hit singles, and, in an era when the album format was commercially struggling, sold a remarkable 8.5 million copies across the globe. And alongside the chart success, the sold-out tours, and the four GRAMMY wins on the same night, the blockbuster LP also became a force for good, and a force for change, within the LGBTQIA+ community.

A decade on from its stateside release (June 17), we take a look at why In The Lonely Hour was such a landmark album for the music industry as a whole, but especially for a new queer generation.

It Made GRAMMY History

Smith famously put their foot in their mouth while picking up Best Original Song at the 2016 Academy Awards for Bond theme "Writing's On the Wall," wrongly declaring — much to Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black's disdain — that they were the first ever openly gay Oscar winner. However, the Brit can lay claim to being an LGBTQIA+ trailblazer at the GRAMMYs.

The year before his acceptance speech faux pas, Smith became the first member of the LGBTQIA+ community to win Best New Artist. The singer also won Best Pop Vocal Album for In the Lonely Hour, while "Stay With Me" was crowned both Record and Song Of The Year. (Eight years later, Smith then made history again as the first ever non-binary GRAMMY winner when their Kim Petras collaboration "Unholy" scooped Best Pop Duo/Group Performance in 2023.)

It Used Gender Neutral Pronouns

The use of pronouns has played a big part in Smith's career. And though they officially announced their they/them change in 2019, the singer refused to commit to a particular gender on their debut album. While In The Lonely Hour was based on their infatuation with an uninterested man, the Brit purposely left things ambiguous, as they explained to Fader at the time of its release.

"[It's] important to me that my music reaches everybody. I've made [it] so that it could be about anything and everybody — whether it's a guy, a female or a goat — and everybody can relate to that." This inclusive approach has also been adapted by several other artists, including singer/songwriter Bruno Major, whonoted how Smith's material "can be listened to by anybody of any sexuality and gender and still apply."

It Advocated For Same-Sex Marriage

While Smith kept all pronouns neutral on record, they were far more specific when it came to In The Lonely Hour's visuals. In the tearjerking video for "Lay Me Down," a flashback shows the Brit getting hitched to their boyfriend in the same church where the latter is later laid to rest. Although gay marriage had been made legal in the UK a year prior to the video's 2015 release, it was still illegal for same-sex couples to wed within the Church of England.

In a Facebook message posted to coincide with its premiere, Smith said, "This video shows my dreams that one day gay men and women and transgendered men and women all over the world, like all our straight families and friends, will be able to get married under any roof, in any city, in any town, in any village, in any country." Smith later performed the album's biggest hit, "Stay With Me," in front of President Joe Biden at the 2022 signing of the Respect for Marriage Act.

It Ventured Into Cishet Territory

Before Smith came along, the modern heartbreak ballad — the kind of emotionally devastating anthem that can reduce an entire stadium crowd to a blubbering wreck — had typically been the domain of heterosexual/cis-identifying artists such as Adele and Ed Sheeran.

However, thanks to radio-friendly chart hits such as "Lay Me Down," "Stay With Me," and "I'm Not The Only One," In The Lonely Hour proved mainstream audiences, no matter their sexual orientation or gender, could be equally moved by candid tales of queer love. Smith's lyrical themes may have been specific to their own situation, but they could just as easily be interpreted on a universal level. Soon after, LGBTQIA+ singers such as "Britain's Got Talent" graduate Calum Scott and Eurovision Song Contest winner Duncan Laurence were mining a similar tragi-romantic path to hugely commercial effect.

It Channeled A Feminine Energy

The tactile way Smith addressed their unrequited love — not to mention, how much it was embraced by the mainstream — meant that In The Lonely Hour wasn't considered an explicitly LGBTQIA+ album at the time. Yet, the singer insists they were deliberately trying to challenge notions of gender, sexuality and masculinity.

Speaking to Out five years after the album's release, Smith revealed it was, in fact, partly influenced by one of the all-time gay icons. "I'm in a suit and in that suit, I was channeling Judy Garland. I look back on those videos of me when I was 20, and I see a feminine energy." They further explained they were surprised when the record wasn't initially interpreted as intended. But thanks to Smith's non-binary journey, the album's inherent queerness has unarguably now become more apparent.

It Opened The Door For Several LGBTQIA+ Artists

Smith confirmed they were gay in the same week In The Lonely Hour hit the shelves, acknowledging the record was "about a guy that I fell in love with last year, and he didn't love me back." And the matter-of-fact way they spoke about their sexuality inspired several other artists to follow suit.

In 2017, Troye Sivan cited Smith as a role model for coming out without making any grand gestures. Years and Years frontman Olly Alexander has also applauded his fellow Brit for refusing to hide their true identity. Even some of Smith's collaborators, including Petras and Cat Burns, have touted the singer's self-assurance.

Indeed, while artists in less enlightened times often felt compelled to keep their sexuality under wraps, Smith has been able to express their true self from the outset. As a result, a generation of artists have seen that queerness needn't be a barrier to commercial success — and that celebrating it can change culture in a powerful way.

Listen To GRAMMY.com's 2024 Pride Month Playlist Of Rising LGBTQIA+ Artists

Troye Sivan performs in concert during Primavera Sound Festival on May 31, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Xavi Torrent/Redferns)
Troye Sivan performs during Primavera Sound Festival on May 31, 2024

Photo: Xavi Torrent/Redferns

list

9 Outstanding Sets From Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival 2024: SZA, Amaarae, Charli XCX & More

Barcelona’s illustrious city festival celebrated 20 years of big music moments at Parc del Fòrum. From Vampire Weekend to Troye Sivan, read on for nine unforgettable sets from Primavera Sound 2024.

GRAMMYs/Jun 5, 2024 - 06:04 pm

Primavera Sound is known for its heavy-hitting lineup and even bigger surprise guests. The Spanish festival celebrated 20 years in 2024, and transformed Barcelona's Parc del Fòrum into a masterclass of genre diversity and LGBTQIA+ inclusivity. There, under mostly sun-soaked skies, a wide range of international and native acts lit up multiple stages from May 29 - June 2.

Primavera Barcelona always promises an eclectic mix of performances that showcase native Spanish talent as well as major international headliners to get the party going. However, it’s not just the massive talent that pulls in the crowd. While the mainstages were graced by American superstars  Lana Del Rey,  SZA and Troye Sivan, the festival’s line-up was elevated by the vibrant non-stop DJ stylings of rising Brazilian star Clementaum and the divinity of Arca — who was rightfully labeled "madre!" by a buzzed up Boiler Room x Cupra activation. 

Primavera Sound’s diverse lineup guaranteed a highlight for every kind of festival goer: from the dad rocker to the 20-something throwing themselves head-first into new music. The festival amped up the energy and was keen to ensure a safe space for all music lovers (including regularly signposting a pro-LGBTQIA+ "Nobody Is Normal" campaign). If you weren't in Barcelona to experience the magic happening at Parc del Fòrum, read on for nine highlights from Primavera Sound BCN.

Arca Delivers A Divine Boiler Room Performance

Drawing on heavy doses of electronica, pop and techno, Venezuelan producer and DJ Arca’s unpinnable sound is exactly what made her sets unmissable. Arca set Primavera alight with two incredible sets: an early morning rave on the Amazon Music Stage on May 31, and a second, more intimate event inside Boiler Room x Cupra’s industrial set up on June 1.

The musician's Boiler Room set brought the club to Barcelona, weathering attendees through a humid thunderstorm with sweaty, fusion beats and remixes (Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Zedd) that made her experimental anthems even more exceptional. 

Read more: 8 Essential Latin Electronic Releases: Songs And Albums From Bizarrap, Arca & More

Vampire Weekend Ignite Indie Nostalgia On Their Primavera Return

We all love a bit of Spanish sunshine, but nobody seemed quite as home on-stage as Vampire Weekend. Having last played at the festival in 2008, the 16-year wait was well worth it with a set list doused with indie rock nostalgia and new bangers that kept the late-night crowd grooving.

It’s not easy to keep a mainstage crowd going on opening night (especially as the band faced some line-up changes for the festival) but Vampire Weekend's catalog-spanning performance rocked. They ran though hits "A-Punk, "Campus" "Oxford Comma," and new tracks ("Classical", "Gen-X Cops", "Connect")  from their new fifth album, Only God Was Above Us – a record which frontman Ezra Koeing described as "feeling perfect" on stage. 

No Vampire Weekend set is complete with some curveball covers. This year, to match the beat of their long-overdue festival return, the band kept things fresh with an incredible cover of Sbtrkt’s "New Drop, New York" performed against a smokey, dark red stage backdrop. Whether performing their own catalog, making surprise appearance alongside French rock band Phoenix  or dropping electric covers, Vampire Weekend prove they’re music more than hitmakers — they’re also a summer festival bucket list act too. 

Troye Sivan Kept His Headliner Set Hot

Troye Sivan kicked off his mainstage set on Friday night dripping with innuendo. Replete with sexy outfit changes (including a pair of crotchless pants), effortlessly cool choreography and a very well-positioned mic in his pelvic region, the two-time GRAMMY nominee showed Barcelona that he not only has stadium-worthy tunes but is a stadium-worthy performer. Performing a medley of hits from his third studio album Something To Give You, Sivan's infectious pop tracks were perfectly timed to sexy and immaculately polished dance choreography (featuring his reliable backup dancer troupe of Simone Nolasco, Mauro van de Kerkhof, Benjamin Williams, Ainsley Hall Ricketts and Theo Maddix) against a campily creative set. 

The singer yearned alongside Spanish musician guitarricadelafuente on a silver silk bed as they duetted "In My Room," and belted out Ariana Grande’s "supernatural" in front of a mesmerizing anime video backdrop. Whether it was intimately crooning to synth-pop summer banger "Honey" or throwback hit "1999," Sivan was undoubtedly a mainstage highlight. As he wrapped up his set, the singer shouted out Barcelona's art and culture as an inspiration for Something To Give You. The Primavera performance was one of the biggest shows of his life, and closed this set with his anthem queer hit "RUSH."


Read more:
Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Troye Sivan On "Rush," The Importance Of Dance-Pop & The Spirituality Of Partying

Yeule Opens Primavera With An Electric Set

Kitted out with tattoos, American flag-styled cargo trousers, a heather gray bikini top and chunky boots,  yeule is exactly as you see them: an uncategorizable phenomenon. While their set clashed with major alt-metal and indie acts Deftones and Pulp, yeule’s distorted, glitchy universe was more than immersive; it was an electronic, energetic undertaking that swept the audience away. Away from the main stages, yeule’s set felt like a charged techo-pop portal to their world of emotional, alt-rock tunes.

Shaped by everything from nu-metal, Avril Lavigne and My Chemical Romance, yeule sounds neither human nor computerized. Often conceptualized as being something of a "cyborg identity," yeule's music translates with a darkly alluring style onstage. They opened with the melodic "Electric" from their second studio album Glitch Princess, while the rest of the setlist beautifully emulated their recent album Softscares; an emotional futuristic electro-pop record. The musician’s punk rock inflected "cybermeat," "sulky baby" and "dazies" were highlights, pulling the crowd closer to the stage as well as new listeners in from nearby smaller stages. 

Performing against a flickering urban city backdrop illuminated the midnight sky, yeule's set created the perfect isolated, small-stage universe to hear their deafening screamo notes during "Bite My Neck" and the hauntingly mellow electro-rock closeout track "software update."

Clementaum Brings The Brazilian Party Spirit To The Boiler Room

The Boiler Room x Cupra stage was the place to be this year. While the Parc del Fòrum never fails to pull together an eclectic mix of talent, Primavera Sound truly thrived in showing its ability to channel the club, ballroom and EDM into a live festival setting. There was never a set that didn’t bring the festival goers in glam outfits and the ultimate dance party vibes. However, the raging techno beats of Clementaum that most caught our attention.

Playing to a packed room with festival-goers tightly crammed in even behind her decks, Clementaum led a chant ("Vai Brazil!") as her country’s flag was proudly waved in the crowd.  Feeling more like a late-night rave, the Brazilian DJ had us thriving on deep beat drops and pummeling beats that you couldn’t help but dance to. Artfully skilled, Clementaum fuses Afro-Latin rhythms, ballroom culture and amped-up electronica for an incredible, heart-racing high.

The trance beat-packed El NICK DGO x Clementaum banger "Dale Pal Party" had everybody dancing, while a full-throttle remix of "Puttuna" pushed things into another level. However, her live rendition of "Pirigótika" (a track with Brazilian singer Bibi Babydoll) was her hallmark performance, and proved that if you haven’t heard of Clementaum, be sure this won’t be the last time you come across her name. 

Amaarae’s Captivating Set Can't Be Boxed In By Genre 

There’s nothing Amaarae can’t do. Taking over the Amazon Music stage on May 30, the Ghanaian American Afrobeats musician can take on anything from punk to R&B. In Barcelona, Amaarae’s chameleonic talent showcases that no style (or genre) is too much for her to turn into a captivating set.

Amaarae proved that whatever mood she brings to stage, she devours, from effortlessly performing slow burner "Wasted Eyes" to silkily switching to "Disguise," a song of desire and domination, and segueing to alternative anthem "Sex, Violence, Suicide." 

Learn more: Meet The Latest Wave Of Rising Afrobeats Stars: AMAARAE, BNXN, Oladapo & More

Charli XCX Proves Her Pop Legacy For Primavera’s Final Night

Nobody throws a party like the ultimate "it" girl Charli XCX. From ranging pop bangers ("I Love It" to "Party 4 U"), the British pop star kept crowds dancing until 4 a.m. — and for good reason. While fans weren’t frightened away by heavy rain and thunderstorms during the festival’s final night, Charli XCX and her fans made Primavera’s final night one to remember. 

And, if you were lucky, you might’ve caught the star pull off an incredible surprise DJ set alongside co-collaborator A.G Cook, and finance The 1975 band member George Daniel. While the early announced pop-up set for her upcoming sixth studio album Brat fell just outside of the festival on Sunday, the sweaty beach-side crowd was packed with fans flocking from Primavera Sound to make sure they got their early hit of Charli XCX ahead of her mainstage set later that night. 

Ethel Cain Gets Political (And Personal)

Following the breakthrough of her sophomore album Preacher’s Daughter, Ethel Cain has been on an unstoppable rise. A goth-pop mix of Lana Del Ray and heartland-style emo rock, the Tallahassee-born musician is crafting her own Americana aesthetic shaped by desire, death and South Baptist Christian influences.

While playing a late afternoon set, the singer stepped out under the blazing sun delivering incredible vocals to fan favorites "Crush’’ and "House of Nebraska." The singer’s set highlights were elevated by two things: a new song and a political call-out that broke the divide between the festival crowd and on-stage artist. Dressed in a ‘Free Palestine’ t-shirt and with a keffiyeh hanging from her mic, the musician denounced genocide and advocated for the people of Gaze before launching into her viral anti-pop song, "American Teenager." 

Amidst her anti-war advocacy, the singer also slotted into a somber new song "Amber Waves," showcasing her penchant for eerie melodies and what fans can expect on her currently untitled upcoming project. 

Learn more: 15 LGBTQIA+ Artists Performing At 2024 Summer Festivals

SZA Brings Stardom, Swords & The Splits To 'SOS' Set

Whether it’s the instantly recognizable intro to "Good Days" or the viral rotations of "Kill Bill," SZA has long been dominating and driving contemporary pop and R&B. The GRAMMY winner highlighted her artistic versatility with deep cuts and chart hits (including those from her massively popular sophomore album SOS) to a packed mainstage crowd.

With a stage set designed to look like a ship, SZA was amplifying the message of SOS loud and clear – with hits, charismatic stage movements and impressive vocals to match. And, she didn’t stop there. From knife play routine to "Kill Bil" to full-throttle Miley Cryus-style and riding an anchor to dropping the splits mid-set, SZA gave a performance that continuously raised the bar. 

Read more: How 'SOS' Transformed SZA Into A Superstar & Solidified Her As The Vulnerability Queen

Music Festivals 2024 Guide: Lineups & Dates For Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo & Much More

Photo of Romy performing during the C6 Fest at Parque Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in May 2024. Romy is singing with her eyes closed in a blue and pink shirt.
Romy performs in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Photo: Mauricio Santana/Getty Images 

list

15 LGBTQIA+ Artists Performing At 2024 Summer Festivals

From Renée Rapp, Chappell Roan and Ethel Cain, to Megan Thee Stallion and Conan Gray, 2024 summer festivals are stacked with a rainbow of amazing queer artists to see.

GRAMMYs/Jun 5, 2024 - 01:27 pm

Festival season is well underway, both stateside and abroad, with NYC’s Gov Ball, Chicago’s Lollapalooza, Tennessee’s Bonnaroo, and the UK’s Glastonbury Festival offering an array of acts across multiple stages.

In honor of Pride Month, we’ve rounded up a bunch of LGBTQIA+ artists gracing this summer’s festival circuit  — as well as a few Pride-specific festivals —  that you won’t want to miss. Whether you’re in the mood to dance the night away, cry on your best friend’s shoulder, or just vibe out, there are established and rising artists to suit festival-goers with a variety of musical tastes.

Chappell Roan

After opening for Olivia Rodrigo on her GUTS tour, Midwest Princess Chappell Roan took the world by storm with her live-streamed Coachella performance during the desert festival’s first weekend, coming back just as strong in the second weekend. She also performed on NPR's Tiny Desk series, and her latest single “Good Luck, Babe!” slingshotted her even further into super-stardom. You’d be foolish to miss your chance to catch her on this year’s festival circuit. This time next year, she’ll probably be headlining.  

Where to see Chappell Roan: 

The Governor’s Ball  

Queens, New York  

Performing Sunday, June 9 

Kentuckiana Pride Festival  

Louisville, Kentucky 

June 15 

Bonnaroo  

Manchester, Tennessee  

Performing Sunday, June 16 

Lollapalooza  

Chicago, Illinois 

Performing Thursday, Aug. 1 

Hinterland Music Festival 

Saint Charles, Iowa 

Performing Sunday, Aug. 4 

Osheaga Music & Arts Festival 

Montréal, Canada 

Performing Saturday, Aug. 3 

Outside Lands  

San Francisco, California 

Aug. 9 – Aug. 11 

Performance date TBD 

All Things Go 

Columbia, Maryland 

Performing Sunday, Sept. 29 

Renée Rapp 

“Mean Girl” Reneé Rapp has had a banner year promoting her 2023 debut album, Snow Angel, the follow-up to her 2022 EP Everything to Everyone, reprising her Broadway role of Regina George in the movie adaptation of the "Mean Girls" musical, collaborating with Megan thee Stallion, and coming out as a lesbian. Snow Angel found the singer exercising her range both vocally and emotionally, and her live performances show off those impressive vocals even more. Luckily, you have a few chances to catch her at a festival this summer. 

Where to see Renée Rapp: 

The Governor’s Ball  

Queens, New York  

Performing Sunday, June 9 

Bonnaroo  

Manchester, Tennessee  

Performing Saturday, June 15 

Lollapalooza  

Chicago, Illinois 

Performing Friday Aug. 2 

Osheaga Music & Arts Festival 

Montréal, Canada 

Performing Saturday, Aug. 3 

All Things Go 

Columbia, Maryland 

Performing Sunday, Sep. 29 

Blondshell 

Previously performing under the moniker BAUM, Sabrina Teitelbaum has found her niche as Blondshell, writing unflinchingly honest and relatable lyrics about the human condition and belting them out over noisy guitars. Blondshell burst on the scene in 2022 with a '90s-inspired sound, reminiscent of the shoegaze bands of grunge’s golden era. Her self-titled 2023 debut album explores themes of failed relationships and shame, sobriety, unrequited love for a woman, and even a little murder, all with levity and vulnerability most 20-somethings can relate to. 

Aside from the obvious perks of the loud guitars during her live set, you might also be lucky enough to catch a cool cover–she’s known to perform Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon” at shows, and she just released a cover of the Talking Heads’ “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel” for the A24 tribute album, Everyone’s Getting Involved.  

Where to see Blondshell: 

The Governor’s Ball  

Queens, New York  

Performing Friday, June 7 

Day In Day Out 

Seattle, Washington  

Performing Sunday, July 13 

Lollapalooza  

Chicago, Illinois 

Performing Thursday, Aug. 1 

Hinterland Music Festival 

Saint Charles, Iowa 

Performing Saturday, Aug. 3  

All Things Go 

Columbia, Maryland 

Performing Sunday, Sep. 29 

G Flip 

Maybe you always knew who G Flip was. Maybe you were introduced to the nonbinary Aussie artist when they made headlines for their relationship with reality TV star Chrishell Stause. Or maybe you became a fan when you heard their incredible, sapphic-twisted cover of Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer” for triple-J’s Like a Version series (which even got Taylor’s stamp of approval).   

However you found G Flip, you probably became a little obsessed instantly, marveling at their ability to croon and play the drums simultaneously without missing a beat. The energy G brought to their in-studio performance at triple-J is indicative of the energy you’ll see on the stage when they play a couple of festivals this summer.  

Where to see G Flip: 

The Governor’s Ball  

Queens, New York  

Performing Sunday, June 9 

Nashville Pride 

Nashville, Tennessee 

Performing Sunday, June 23 

Backlot Bash 

Chicago, Illinois 

June 30 

Spin Off Adelaide 

Adelaide, Australia 

July 19 

Romy

Romy might be better known as part of British indie trio the xx, but her career as a solo artist is just as worthy of recognition. Making feel-good dance music about queer love, the 2024 GRAMMYs first time nominee has the unique ability to transport you to a world where everything is okay and there’s no better place to be than moving in tandem with the people around you. For a true one-with-the-crowd festival experience, jumping around to Romy’s electro-pop is the perfect option. 

Where to see Romy: 

Osheaga Music & Arts Festival 

Montréal, Canada 

Performing Friday, Aug. 2 

Lollapalooza  

Performing Saturday, Aug. 3 

Outside Lands  

San Francisco, California 

Aug. 9 – Aug. 11 

Performance date TBD 

Ethel Cain

Ethel Cain is a force to be reckoned with. Despite the unconventional nature of her music  — which explores themes of religion and conceptual stories about abuse — she’s made a place for herself in the mainstream with singles like “Crush” and “American Teenager" (the latter track nabbed a spot on President Barack Obama’s end-of-year playlist in 2022).   

More than just a great storyteller, she’s an easy to admire artist who is outspoken about human rights. Plus, her performances always feel intimate, even when they’re on festival stages in front of a huge crowd. 

 Bonnaroo  

Manchester, Tennessee  

Performing Saturday, June 15 

Lollapalooza  

Chicago, Illinois 

Performing Saturday, Aug. 3 

Hinterland Music Festival 

Saint Charles, Iowa 

Performing Sunday, Aug. 4 

Thing Festival 

Carnation, Washington 

Aug. 9 – Aug. 11 

Performing Saturday, Aug. 10 

 All Things Go 

Columbia, Maryland 

Performing Saturday, Sep. 28 

Ryan Beatty

Singer/songwriter Ryan Beatty may be your favorite artist’s favorite artist. He became a bit of a teen sensation in the early aughts for his YouTube covers of popular songs, later gaining wider recognition for his Brockhampton collaborations. His solo career has since taken off, making him a reference point for other singer/songwriters — especially following his 2023 album, Calico 

His knack for songwriting even led him to working on a number of tracks on Beyoncé’s COWBOY CARTER album. Ryan’s songs are tender and full of yearning, brimming with raw and real emotion–it’s best to bring some tissues when you catch one of his sets. 

Where to see Ryan Beatty: 

The Governor’s Ball  

Queens, New York  

Performing Friday, June 7 

Bonnaroo  

Manchester, Tennessee  

Performing Saturday, June 15 

Lollapalooza  

Chicago, Illinois 

Performing Friday, Aug. 2 

Outside Lands  

San Francisco, California 

Aug. 9 – Aug. 11 

Performance date TBD 

The Japanese House 

Amber Bain, or the artist known as the Japanese House, shied away from publicity at the beginning of her career. Hand-picked by Matty Healy of The 1975 to make music under his label, Dirty Hit, Bain's haunting melodies and painfully relatable lyrics resonated with listeners and critics — even when they didn’t know who was singing and producing the tracks they were falling for.   

Now, she’s proud to take all the credit for her hard work and talent. The Japanese House’s latest effort, In the End It Always Does, is packed with resonant tracks about growing up, longing, existentialism, and even a sweet, sad ode to man’s best friend — her dog, Joni Jones, is named for Joni Mitchell — all of which sound incredible live. 

Where to see The Japanese House: 

Bonnaroo  

Manchester, Tennessee  

Performing Friday, June 14 

Lollapalooza  

Chicago, Illinois 

Performing Thursday, Aug. 1 

Osheaga Music & Arts Festival 

Montréal, Canada 

Performing Friday, Aug. 2 

Outside Lands  

San Francisco, California 

Aug. 9 – Aug. 11 

Performance date TBD 

 MUNA 

When MUNA calls themselves “the greatest band in the world,” they aren’t lying. The L.A.-based queer pop trio toured for nearly all of 2023, including playing as an opening act for select dates of Taylor Swift’s record-breaking Eras tour. Their fanbase blew up since signing to Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory Records in 2021 and releasing their third album, led by the hit single “Silk Chiffon.”   

MUNA has built on that momentum by perfecting their live show, as evidenced by two stellar sold out tour-closing shows at Los Angeles' Greek Theater. While they’re taking a break from touring to work on their next record, MUNA are making a few festival stops this summer, including in singer Katie Gavin’s hometown of Chicago.  

L.A. Pride in the Park 

Los Angeles, California 

Saturday, June 8 

Summerfest 

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

June 20 – 22, June 27 – 29, July 4 – 6 

Performing Friday, June 27 

Pitchfork Music Festival 

Chicago, Illinois 

July 19 – July 21 

Performing Sunday, July 21 

Newport Folk Festival 

Newport, Rhode Island 

July 26 – July 28 

Performing Friday, July 26 

Ashnikko 

Ashnikko doesn’t fit into any box, and no two songs sound the same. The blue-haired phenom’s catalog spans from upbeat hyperpop-rap infusions about hard work, reimagined cheers from Bring It On with horror influences, and emo-tinged ballads about how scary it feels to be safely in love. With such a diverse range, you couldn’t possibly be bored watching her perform, especially since her live sets usually boast great visual effects and choreography.  

Where to see Ashnikko: 

Outloud Festival  

Los Angeles, California 

June 1 – June 2 

Performing Sunday, June 2 

Bonnaroo  

Manchester, Tennessee  

Performing Sunday, June 16 

Open’er Festival 

Gdynia, Poland 

July 3 – July 6 

Performing Wednesday, July 3 

Arlo Parks

GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Arlo Parks is the mellow you need in your hectic festival schedule. The 24-year-old is wise beyond her years, as reflected in the gorgeous lyrics about falling in love all over her 2023 album, My Soft Machine: On “Devotion,” she sings, “Your touch embroiders me/I'm wide open,” on “Pegasus,” which features Phoebe Bridgers, she muses, “Never felt luckier than I do right now/Tell me you love me, let me have it.”  

Arlo also released her debut poetry book, The Magic Border, last year, offering her lyrical talent in an even more raw form of expression. While her music is soft and dreamy, she doesn’t shy away from hard and fast guitars on a bunch of tracks, making live performances more exhilarating than you might expect.  

Where to see Arlo Parks: 

Glastonbury Festival 

Pilton, England 

June 26 – June 30 

Performing Wednesday, June 26 

Mad Cool Festival 

Madrid, Spain 

July 10 – July 13 

Performing Saturday, July 13 

Osheaga Music & Arts Festival 

Montréal, Canada 

Performing Friday, Aug. 2 

Thing Festival 

Carnation, Washington 

Performing Saturday, Aug. 10 

Palehound

Indie band Palehound got a shoutout from the New York Times for their 2023 single, “Independence Day,” a hopeful, if not deluded, breakup song with plucky guitar and a fun-to-chant chorus about “living life like writing a first draft.” Despite having a pretty major reach, Palehound, made up of El Kempner (they/them) Zoë Brecher, and Larz Brogan, is still a fairly DIY band, which makes them all the more fun to listen to, especially live.  

NICE, a fest  

Somerville, Massachusetts  

July 25 – 28 

Performing Saturday, July 28 

Hinterland Music Festival 

Saint Charles, Iowa 

Performing Sunday, Aug. 4 

End of the Road Festival 

Larmer Tree Gardens, United Kingdom 

Aug. 29 – Sept. 1 

Performing Saturday, Aug. 31 

Megan thee Stallion 

Despite people trying to keep her down, Megan Thee Stallion continues to rise and conquer, putting the work above everything else. As an independent artist, this feat is even more impressive, but the total creative control she benefits from has allowed for exciting opportunities of self-expression that align with all the things that make Meg one-of-a-kind.  

Her 2024 video for “BOA” let the self-proclaimed anime nerd tap into her geek side, rich with references to her favorite animated shows and video games. And if you’ve seen any of her tour outfits lately–you know that you don’t wanna miss the chance to catch her at a festival this summer.  

Where to see Megan Thee Stallion: 

Bonnaroo  

Manchester, Tennessee  

Performing Sunday, June 16 

Broccoli City Festival 

Washington, D.C. 

July 27 – July 28 

Performing Saturday, July 27

Doechii 

Self-proclaimed “Swamp Princess” Doechii is one of the most exciting new artists of her time, seamlessly blending house influences and smooth R&B vocals with hip-hop beats and clever raps. She’s not afraid to have fun, either, especially when it comes to self-expression in her stylistic choices. Her surrealist music videos have garnered her praise and comparisons to legends like Missy Elliott, but despite all the influences, Doechii is truly one of a kind.  

Where to see Doechii: 

Outloud Festival  

Los Angeles, California 

Performing Saturday, June 1 

The Governor’s Ball  

Queens, New York  

Performing Saturday, June 8 

Tinashe

Tinashe has been around for years, but she’s having a renaissance at the moment thanks to her new single “Nasty,” a sexy bop for the summer which has inspired viral dance trends on TikTok. The multi-talented singer is also a hell of a dancer herself, and her live shows give her the perfect opportunity to show off her moves. If you get the chance to catch her at a festival this summer, don’t pass it up.  

Where to see Tinashe:  

Nashville Pride 

Nashville, Tennessee 

Performing Saturday, June 22 

Open’er Festival 

Gdynia, Poland 

Performing Wednesday, July 3 

Underscores

No music festival bill is complete without a dubstep-adjacent artist, and Underscores is here to fill the gap with her Skrillex-inspired beats. A self-taught producer and vocalist, Underscores started playing around with making beats and loops as a kid, graduating to GarageBand before releasing music at just 13 years old.  

Now 24, she’s been officially releasing music for over a decade, showing off her wide range of influences in eclectic tracks that have hints of bedroom pop, hyperpop, emo, metal, and of course, dubstep. While her production is unique and stellar, her topical and tongue-in-cheek lyrics are not to be overlooked, either.  

Where to see Underscores: 

The Governor’s Ball  

Queens, New York  

Performing Friday, June 7 

Conan Gray

After rising to fame on TikTok in 2020 with his soft and sad unrequited love anthem, “Heather,” Conan Gray has kept the momentum going by not being afraid to try new things. His latest album, Found Heaven, is full of '80s new wave inspired synth pop, offering him a new slate to show off some powerhouse vocals. It also features production and writing assistance from powerhouse producer/songwriter Max Martin, elevating Conan’s sound to new levels that are good for more than just TikTok soundbites.  

Where to see Conan Gray: 

 Lollapalooza  

Chicago, Illinois 

Performing Sunday, Aug. 4 

Music Festivals 2024 Guide: Lineups & Dates For Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo & Much More 

PRIDE & Black Music Month: Celebrating LGBTQIA+ & Black Voices