Live Review

Les Eurockéennes: Day One

The crowd is merry, but not aggressive nor vomiting, and yet still nobody’s pissing in the bushes.

The ‘festival experience’. Something which has been lost in recent years in the UK, as events either attempt to brand you in to submission, or create a sense of ‘authenticity’. It’s all fake. Then there’s sitting at the side of a lake watching strange people dance to even stranger music. The sun has shone relentlessly all afternoon, yet there’s no aggression in the air and (relatively) few lobster-esque bodies on show. Nobody’s even pissing in the bushes.

France’s Les Eurockéennes isn’t small, unique or even – let’s stifle vomit here – boutique (by which we mean contrarily pretentious of course). It’s a large festival with a mostly ‘mainstream-alternative’ line-up, littered with brand tie-ins and people wearing Tool t-shirts. It also happens to be set in stunningly beautiful countryside. There are mountains everywhere. The whole site is littered with lakes. There is also a strange obsession with boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

Tonight’s line up appears to be largely French. We’re repeatedly told, excitedly, of Shaka Ponk’s monkey-on-a-screen, or how Hubert Felix Thiéfaine is ‘really important’. So what’s first – an American. Granted, his name may do most of the talking, but Hank Williams III’s ‘country-metal’ proves insanely popular with the La Plage crowd. So much so, we filmed it.

And if they’re crazy for that, they’re even more – albeit, ahem, chilled – for Hollie Cook’s brand of pop-reggae on the Club Loggia stage, notably including her cover of The Shangri-La’s ‘Remember (Walking In The Sand)’. From chilled to positively horizontal for the last few notes of Michael Kiwanuka’s La Plage set, via the diversion of a strange song about American tennis brat John McEnroe from French rockers Dionysos, before we’re woken with a jolt.

France really loves The Kooks.

It’s a massive crowd for the Brighton also-rans at the Esplanade Green Room, a stage presumably so-called after the colour of the Heineken branding smothering it. Not only a massive crowd, a massive, singing, cheering, dancing crowd. A massive, singing, cheering, dancing crowd for a man wearing the strangest trousers we’ve seen this side of Matt Bellamy, and wielding the ugliest guitar not bought by a fourteen year-old metal fan in Basingstoke.

And if the continued existence of The Kooks’ Gallic fanbase wasn’t confusing enough, there’s The Mars Volta. Performing on the gorgeous La Plage, surrounded by lake and starlight and a lot of boys wearing assorted heavy rock t-shirts, the Texan band use as little of the stage space as they possibly can, playing only to themselves and interact so little it’s unclear whether they’ve played one song or three. The most animated element of the whole performance is Cedric’s hair.

It’s post-midnight, there are still hours of bands to play – the curfew isn’t until 3am – and the crowd is merry, but not aggressive nor vomiting, and yet still nobody’s pissing in the bushes.

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