SZA opens Glastonbury headline set to sparse crowd amid major set clashes

Crowds at SZA’s Glastonbury performance on Sunday appeared unusually sparse for a festival headliner, as the Grammy-nominated artist’s set clashed with a number of other major sets.

The R&B star, 34, closed the festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset on Sunday night (30 June), following headline sets from Dua Lipa and Coldplay on Friday and Saturday.

SZA’s Glastonbury debut clashed with other big artists on the lineup, including Justice on the West Holts stage, James Blake on Woodsies, London Grammar on Park Stage and The National on Other Stage.

The Independent’s Louis Chilton reported a “surprising number of people” leaving the Worthy farm festival site ahead of her set, presumably in an attempt to beat traffic.

Meanwhile, viewers tuning into the BBC’s coverage also questioned the depleted numbers at the Pyramid Stage: “Have you seen the crowd at the Pyramid Stage?” one fan wrote on X/Twitter.

SZA’s debut Glastonbury performance comes after some festival-goers questioned the decision to make her a headline artist, with many claiming they had never heard of her before she was announced on the line up.

SZA headlined Sunday at Glastonbury 2024 (Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)
SZA headlined Sunday at Glastonbury 2024 (Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

One person on X/Twitter voiced their confusion, saying, “I’ve looked up SZA on Spotify, she’s got 70.5 mill followers and one of her songs has been streamed 1.9 billion times, I am clearly in a minority, I’ve never heard her or even of her.”

SZA began her music career in 2011, after co-writing hits including “Consideration” for Rihanna’s 2016 album Anti.

The musician gained further recognition in 2017 for her critically adored debut studio album Ctrl. Her next album, SOS, topped the Billboard 200 chart and won the 2024 Grammy for Best Progressive R&B Album, also leading to four sold-out shows at the O2 Arena in London last year.

Lana, her next album, is expected to be released later this year.

While crowds at SZA’s headline Sunday set were thinner than expected amid those multiple significant set clashes, there have been questions around placing other artists on smaller stages.

The Independent’s Adam White reported overcrowding at the Sugababes set at West Holt on Friday night, as well as swarms of people packed into the Other stage in an attempt to see Avril Lavigne.

He wrote: “Much like Sugababes’ overcrowded set, the grouchy, nostalgic pop-punk queen Avril Lavigne is one of the festival’s must-see acts, yet is shoved on a too-small stage in front of an overwhelming sea of people. “