Pitchfork Music Festival Paris, Day One
Somethingyousaid.com’s Carol Bowditch ventures to gay Paris:
I thought, after months of joyful adventures as a result of unemployment while living in Europe, that I would do Paris on the cheap for a few days in order to go to the Pitchfork Music Festival. It boasted a ridiculous lineup and I would have to get there on any budget, any way, any how.
My scrimping led me to take an eight-hour bus ride from London to Paris, crossing the English Channel in the transportation version of a turducken: a double-decker lodged inside a train, inside a tunnel, was my own hellishly humid, claustrophic nightmare. After a number of hours in transit I rested my weary head in my hostel room that I shared with two others. It and had the convenience of having the shower, basin and three tiered bunk bed all in the one cramped room, which should really only be occupied by a single body. Despite living in a stinky cell, I was still in Paris, I could watch people with armfuls of baguettes going about their daily routines from my window.
I spent my first day navigating Cimetière Père-Lachaise, looking at Max Ernst and Oscar Wilde’s lavish grave plots before venturing to the north of the city centre to the Grande Halle de La Villette. The site which would host the Pitchfork Music Festival over the next three days. The entire festival was housed in the one venue; the Grande Halle turned out to be exactly as the name suggested, a big bloody hall with ample bars and two main stages. This set up meant that one band could play without delay straight after another, cutting out the usual waiting time and irritating timetable clashes. The first night of the festival fell on Halloween. As a cynic of this particular day of festivity I was relieved to see only a smattering of costumed people in the crowds, that overdosing Mia Wallace’s and attempts at Day of The Dead makeup seemed to be left to rest this year.
Playing at 18:00 sharp was Blood Orange, a man whom I have had an enormous crush on for many a month. Dev Hynes was dressed in a fly white ensemble, he pulled serious shapes, and was joined on stage by Friends’ lead singer (pictured right), Samantha Urbani, or ‘the hipster Mariah Carey’ as I like to call her, for a few duets.
Changing the pace next was No Age, another band that I had been actively following since listening to their wickedly brutal record, Weirdo Rippers back in 2007. The American duo played fast and loud, I worried for my ear drums as I thought I might need them for the new few days, but I still remained under the stacks of bouncing speakers while they smashed through fuzzy tracks like Glitter and Teen Creeps.
London outfit, Savages, took to the stage soon after, they’re a band that I had been meaning to give time to beforehand but hadn’t. I was impressed by the lead singer, Jehnny Beth (pictured, top), who had the voice and commanding presence of Siouxsie Sioux and the looks of a Natalie Portman circa 2005, in her ‘V for Vendetta’ days.
I’m not sure if I was slightly deaf after No Age, but Mount Kimbie‘s set a few hours later seemed to be remarkably quiet, even when situated front of stage. As an avid fan of the group and their newest record, Cold Fault Spring Less Youth, I found their mixing of samples from their tracks quite clumsy, and the volume level did not do the band any favours in their performance. Perhaps their music is more suited for a smaller, more intimate club/dive atmosphere rather than a consuming massive hall. They did however play Made to Stray and Carbonated, which are two of my favourites.
The new electronic rock outfit that seems to be the flavour of the month in the scene at the moment, Darkside (pictured right), played a very strong, very dark set. Producer Nicholas Jaar and multi-instrumentalist Dave Harrington spent their performance facing away from the crowd with the lights dimmed low. The audience were entertained however by impressive visuals that were reflected of a gigantic mirror that rotated above the duo’s heads onstage. Darkside’s rendition of Paper Trails was perfectly executed in the smokey live setting and set the crowd into a disco frenzy. My eyes were taken away from the stage for a large portion of the set as there was a girl who caught my attention with her antics. Seemingly alone, she performed some form of freestyle dance routine complete with split kicks and and excessive shimmying, just ’cause. It was nice to watch her enjoying herself to the math-rock-electronica in such a way.
The Haxan Cloak followed, making low-frequency, slow-tempo, durge sounds from one side of the hall. It was messy and sounded absolutely terrible. Luckily, my evening was soon salvaged with an energetic set from The Knife, and their all singing, all dancing musical theatre extravaganza. Their set was a carefully orchestrated, live performance of their newest record, Shaking The Habitual. The sparkly jumpsuit wearing performers that joined the band urged the audience to ‘shake every habitual, your friends, your family, your worries‘ during the set. They mimed along with songs from the record with conch shell maracas, LED harps, and an amazing cylindrical pedal steel-like contraption between dance breakdowns. The founding members of the band, brother sister duo Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer, took turns in the spotlight, lending the mic to their performers frequently. I would have liked them to play classics from Silent Shout front and centre but the whole live art/dance performance was totally unexpected and a welcome finale for the first day at the festival.
You can see the full gallery on the Something You Said Facebook page, here. And check back for reviews of days two and three soon.
Words and photos by Carol Bowditch.