Seven days of music next year at Paléo!

The latest news from Paléo is that the music festival will run over seven days in 2015 to celebrate 40 years of the festival! To those new to Nyon and who have never heard of Paléo, it’s an annual event for the town and is one of the biggest rock, pop and music festivals in Europe.  Normally, for six days, the Paléo fields (just above Nyon) are rocking to the sound of music. Next year they will rocking for seven!

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There are lots of surprises planned for the celebratory year and they will be revealed at the line up on Tuesday April 14 2015. More details to follow

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Paléo Day Five: Mud, Groove and Style

By the time the rain had stopped falling on Saturday, just in time for the beginning of the festival, the grounds were covered in the largest amount of mud since the start of the week. A mix of wet straw, wood shavings, mud and water turned the ground into a swamp with a delicate smell of stables (the award for the worst smell probably goes to the camp-site drying out, the heat making the smell absolutely unbearable).

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All photos- Jonas Parson

 

Mud, mud, mud….

Despite the (very) muddy situation, people came prepared, arming themselves with wellies (or plastic bags tied to their shoes), others took the radical opposite of bare feet for the very satisfactory feeling of mud oozing between your toes.

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Ditch the shoes!

The heavy rain having turned l’Asse into a swamp, all the car parks have been closed (this goes for Sunday too!) and most of the train stops above the festival turned into impromptu car parks, as people left their car there before taking the train down to Paléo. The trains coming down, having no extra carriages or even extra trains (they only run once an hour on the weekend, and the extra trains only run between Nyon and l’Asse) were bursting with people.

Le Muids station, unusually busy

Le Muids station, unusually busy and full of cars

If rain can some times dampen spirits, mud tends to have the opposite effect, and the mixture of mud, dry weather and general festival-related motivation made for a great vibe on the grounds. People jumped in puddles, skidded through the mud, slipped and slid up the slopes, to the great amusement of onlookers.

 From pop hearthrobs to stylish tango and hip-hop

Music-wise, their was a clear separation between the line-up of the Grande Scène and that of most of the rest of the stages. The main stage was the temple of pop and French “variété” on Saturday night, Vanessa Paradis starting off the evening, before a double serving of pop heartthrobs, Julien Doré then James Blunt. This kind of music not exactly being my cup of tea, I only saw a couple of songs from James Blunt’s concert (out of the most serious professional sense of duty), who played in front of a giant screen with animations directly linked to his songs, incorporating lyrics of the songs as they were being sung (impressive visual shows seem to have become the norm with famous bands)

Some family fun despite the mud

Some family fun despite the mud

The Arches and the Détour hosted a groovier night, with a series of world-class hip-hop artists. The Coup delivered their socially and politically engaged texts with about as much class and punch as is possible. The American sextet who have been playing for the past twenty years are still just as impressive and passionate.

The traditional sunflowers have been replaced by wildflowers this year, to let the earth regenerate

The traditional sunflowers have been replaced by wildflowers this year, to let the earth regenerate

Following up at the Détour, poetess Akua Naru, American hip-hop artist who has settled down in Germany, made the whole of the tent move to her incredible cocktail of top quality jazz and energetic hip-hop. Critically acclaimed by jazz connoisseurs and the hip-hop scene since she brought out her breakthrough album out three years ago, Akua Naru delivers her message of love, justice and female empowerment with style. Dreadlocks flowing down to her waist, she engaged with the crowd, saying she reckoned the 10 hours it had taken to get to the festival (thank you traffic jams!) were worth each and every frustrating second for the amazing moment she got to share with us. “Do you realise, that right now on stage, I am a woman, and I am making hip-hop?” she called out to the crowd, before listing a list of all the women who have shaped the landscape of hip-hop, and launching into an homage to Lauryn Hill from the Fugees.

Akua Naru gave a performance reminiscent of the best 80’s hip-hop concerts, making the crowd go crazy, with the added value of a series of very good musicians for one of the best concerts of the week.

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Tango awesomeness

But if one might think that more class and style would be impossible to find, the band playing at the Dôme showed that it was. Plaza Francia, the new tango project led by Catherine Ringer,ex-member of the Rita Mitsuko, in collaboration with two musicians of Gotan Project was a moment of pure magic. The sleek and racy class of Gotan Project’s special brand of tango, mixed with the utmost elegance of Catherine Ringer delighted the crowd that had flocked to see this amazing concert. Dancing to the music in an incredible red dress, the 57 year old rock icon was as stylish as ever. The band played mostly original scores, but finished the concert with cult songs from their respective repertoire, including the cult “Marcia Baila”.

Straight after the concert, the place to be was definitely l’Escale. This tiny stage situated in a tent in the Village du Monde hosts intimate sets by some of the bands scheduled under the Dôme. La Yegros, an argentinian singer who plays a amazing electro-cumbia was on after her earlier concert at 17:00. The intimate setting was perfect and the small enthusiastic crowd danced to the sexy groovy sound of La Yegros’ voice. You can find today’s program for l’Escale here.

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La Yegros at L’escale

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Migrant music

Che Sudaka, a band of argentinian ad columbian musicians based in Barcelona, where they started off as illegal migrants and street musicians, were the next band to rock the Dôme. Their electrifying mix of ska, punk and cumbia delighted the crazed crowd, their energy and joy communicating with everybody under the tent. In between messages of solidarity with the Palestinian people and migrants all over the world (they have great parody of Sting’s Englishman In New York about illegal migrants), the quartet jumped up and down with their guitars and accordion (quite an impressive feat actually), before one of the singers sang an entire song whilst crowd surfing. If you want to check their crazy show, they are playing again on Sunday at 16:00!

Finishing the night with a DJ set at les Arches has become a tradition at Paléo, and the French Monsieur Oizo was responsible for some serious body-shaking as people moved as one large, rather muddy entity.

Paléo- Prodigy-ous amounts of rain

Friday’s line-up was a perfect example of Paléo’s eclecticism and tendency towards pleasing various tastes. The main stage saw a trio of explosive and chaotic punk-rock bands deliver their crazy show, starting with the French Skip The Use and Shaka Ponk, before The Prodigy. At Les Arches on the other hand, the crowd was a few generations older, as Maxime Le Forestier and Bernard Lavilliers sang all of their old classics.

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A flowery sculputure in the Off Festival- All photos Jonas Parson

 

The first concert of the evening was-according to this Living In Nyon reporter- the best concert of the year. Musical geniuses and incidentally brothers and sisters, Les Ogres de Barback enchanted the crowd at Les Arches with their amazing mix of touching lyrics (written by Freddo, the singer) and beautiful music. Celebrating the 20th year of the band this year – when they started, the twin sisters were 16 years old, playing in venues they were technically not allowed into- they decided to bring along some of their friends, the Fanfare Eyonlé, a brass band from Benin. Most of their songs were rearranged to be played with 10 African musicians, and the additional oomph was great. It is always a great pleasure to see Les Ogres, as they really look like they’re happy to be here with the crowd, sharing a moment of musical bliss and joyous dancing. They finished the concert in style, coming down from the stage and playing acoustically through the whole crowd before disappearing down a side-entrance.

Just as the concert finished and the crowd started drifting apart, it started pouring with rain, taking the festival-goers by surprise. Rain at Paléo always makes for funny sights, as you can see people running through the mud bare-chested, or huddled together under one of the tents. One of the bars became the scene of an impromptu concert, as one of the troupes from La Ruche, a brass band, took refuge under the cover of the tent and played standing on the bar, for the pleasure of the dozens of bedraggled onlookers. The morale was high, the rain failing to dampen the spirits.

Skip The Use did most of their concert in the rain, but the die-hard fans and intrepid festival-goers stayed and pogoed despite the apocalyptic weather. The band’s high-voltage music made it impossible to stay still in front of their enthusiasm. They finished with a reference to the political situation in France, chanting”La jeunesse emmerde le Front National”, the crowd following with passion.

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A family of street artists, one of the many performances you might glimps across the grounds

Later on on the main stage, Shaka Ponk’s outrageous show rocked the Asse, as the extravagant singer played with the crowd and made everyone forget the shitty weather. Their delirious mix of punk, electro, pop and rock was accompanied by an impressive visual show. This is another band that the Front National dislikes, calling their music “degenerate”. All in all, I agree with that labelling. But what’s the problem with that, right?

Meanwhile, Fills Monkey delivered their weel-crafted mix of comedy and impressive drumming skills. The two members of the band are both professional drummers, and their show is really impressive. You can see them again tonight (Saturday, 21:30) at the Détour.

After the warm-up, it was time for The Prodigy on the main stage. It was packed, and people were jumping around to the onslaught of sound from the cult band. Pogoing in front of the main stage is part of the Paléo experience, and I would not have missed it for the world. It is always a very interesting place to be, and it is nice to see people show solidarity with one another, picking each other up, or creating a space to help someone try and find their glasses (they did, and in one piece however improbable that seems).

Mustering the remaining energy left over from Prodigy, part of the crowd headed to Les Arches, to check out Carbon Airways. A brother and a sister from France, these two kids (they are 17 and 18 years old!) do an amazing trashy electro, electrifying the crowd with their powerful music. Curious at first, I was very quickly impressed by the show, both of them completely at ease and exploding with energy on stage.

Paléo doesn’t necessarily finish after the last concert, and the camp-site is a good place to continue partying until dawn. A group of punks had brought a guitar and drum-set, and played through a good part of the night, finishing things off in beauty, with an authentic punk feel.

If you want to see what’s going on at anytime of the festival but can’t be bothered to get off your couch (especially with this weather), Paleo has installed a webcam with a live feed on the main stage. (You can currently enjoy watching a few wet volunteers run through the rain to get to shelter)

Due to Yesterday’s heavy rain, ALL the car-parks are closed today. The cars will be redirected to Nyon, where buses will take everyone up to the grounds.

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Paléo Day Two- Let’s dance with Stromae!

Wednesday night was probably the most sought after night this year, with Belgian pop phenomenon Stromae finishing the evening on the main stage. All the tickets for the night sold out in a record 8 minutes in April. Paléo boss Daniel Rossellat said they could easily have sold another 25’000 tickets that day and the remaining 1,500 that went on sale at 9:00 Wednesday morning sold out in a another record-breaking 2 minutes, with more than 15,000 people desperately trying to log in to the site.

Paleo's very own "Nyon Eye"

Paleo’s very own “Nyon Eye”- All photos Jonas Parson

The weather continued on its streak of greyishness with no rain, the grounds slowly drying up (and it is set to stay this way for the next few days). Spirits were high on this second night, everyone eagerly anticipating Stromae’s catchy hits. But Wednesday was not a one-hit act, and the line-up was again varied and incredible. Adieu Gary Cooper, a Swiss garage folk band whose music is heavily influenced by the gritty music of the west-coast,but who sing in French, started the evening with just enough style and grit, with some haunting riffs on the lap steel guitar.

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At the Dôme, Meridian Brothers -one of my favourites from Tuesday night were playing again, and it was a pleasure to delve even deeper into their complex tunes. Needless to say that I was also present later on for a second helping of La Chiva Gantiva’s boisterous tunes. IMG_2614

Before the young Stromae, and his crowd of even younger fans gathered in front of the main stage, it was time for blues legend Seasick Steve, who brought with him some of the sun of his native Tennessee. Living In Nyon managed to catch up with the 70 year old musician after his concert, read about it here.

Seasick Steve invited a young girl on stage to sing her a love serenade

Seasick Steve invited a young girl on stage to sing her a love serenade

Paléo isn’t all about the music, and one of the charms of the festival is its amazing street performers. Whether you see them performing through the grounds, such as this very special string trio, who play on custom made instruments. Shy yet mischievous, they play their way through the crowd, stopping to give some lucky soul a private concert. A variety of different artists can be seen across the grounds throughout the week, so keep an eye out for a magical encounter!

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But the real magic goes on at La Ruche, where the circus and street theatre takes place. This year, la Cie 2Rien Merci is back with a beautiful and poetic love declaration to the magic lantern and its first uses in fair grounds. The show, that goes on for about an hour, takes you through different installations, plunging you in the wacky and rusty universe of 2 Rien Merci, one of the best street theatre collectives that I know of. I won’t tell you more about the show, so as to leave the magic of the discovery, but note that as it takes place partly in a small caravan, the seats are limited- tickets are handed out 10 minutes before each show, which take place about 5 times a day, so if you want to see the show, make sure to get there in time!

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 Reggae at Les Arches

The night had a roots tinge to it, with Naâman playing earlier in the evening at Les Arches. This young musician from Normandie is one of the rising stars of the roots reggae scene in France. Once you get over the irritation caused by a young white French guy trying to sing in Jamaican patois, and saying “Jah” every other word, the music is actually really great, and he communicated his energy with the crowd. Later on, Ky-Mani Marley, a member of the great Marley tribe was on on the same stage. His hybrid mix of reggae, electro and hip-hop pleased the crowd, everyone moving their body to the reggae-man’s riddims.

 “Alors l’Asse dance”

Coming up to 11:30, everybody started drifting towards the Grande Scène for Stromae, including a lot of family with kids. Anticipating the high demand for this concert, additional screens had been set up to let everybody enjoy the concert. Intent on getting to the middle of the crowd, I engaged in one of the national Paléo sports, weaving through the crowd to get to the right spot. AN interesting fact about big crowds, is that although the edges seem packed out, and it looks like there is no way to get in, once you get yourself past the first few meters, the crowd loosens up, giving you more space, a better spot for the concert, and usually slightly less cross people (there is something about people who make a fuss about being touched in the middle of a crowd which always confounds me)

Kids having some fun before Stromae

Kids having some fun before Stromae

Stromae delivered a memorable concert, in front of a amazing crowd, who danced and sang along with him. Full of energy, he delivered some of his finest dance moves, dressed in the geek-chic outfits he is known for. The music was accompanied by an impressive visual show on a huge screen behind him, whether it was a squadron of dancing men mimicking Stromae’s choreographies, or rather disturbing insect legs crawling across the screen, covering it up with darkness during the song about cancer, making for a really intense moment. Really humble and chatty, the Belgian pop star thanked the crowd for being “so many, so fast”, before going off on a rant about “frites” being called French fries instead of Belgian fries in English an outrage he compared to calling Lake Leman “Lake Geneva”, or saying that wine was a Belgian drink.

His first big hit “Alors on Dance” had everyone dancing to series of sample from 90’s disco music, and he pleased the crowd with all the favourites, from his song on gender stereotypes “Tous les mêmes” to his touching tribute to Cesaria Evoria. He finished his concert by thanking his entire crew individually, before a last a capella version of “Tous les mêmes”, for the greatest pleasure of the crowd.

Remember you can watch some concerts live via the website, as well as check some full concerts and “best-of”s of the night before here.

Paléo kicks off with a bang-and a squelch!

Paléo kicked off with a bang and a squelch on Tuesday, with a variety of incredible bands. The right amount of mud, but thankfully without the rain that had been forecast made for the perfect Paléo atmosphere. People slipped and skidded through the mud, or picked their way carefully across the grounds, trying to stay away from the muck thanks to the large quantities of straw that had been laid down on the ground.

Everyone was able to rediscover the Festival, and some minor changes to the some of the stages, especially the Arches, whose tiered seating has been pushed to one side of the stage at an angle, leaving more room for the people who wanted to come and dance to the light rock of Girls in Hawai, the provocative and explosive Anglo-Tamil hip-hop artist M.I.A, or Gesaffelstein’s dark and compulsive beats.

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Les Arches, the second open-air stage – Photo courtesy Catherine Nelson-Pollard

The first stop in the musical marathon that is a night at Paléo was Doomenfels under the Club Tent. Juggling between light, folky guitar riffs, and heavier pieces creates the perfect dense atmosphere under the tent (one of my favourite stages), as it is small enough to be intimate – the Swiss-German formation gave a musical performance that set the tone for most of the night: a continuous stream of very talented artists.

But such is the fate of the musically curious at Paléo, and it before the concert finished, it was time to make my way through the mud and (increasingly muddy) crowd to catch the first few songs of belgian pop-rock band Girls in Hawaii a regular band at Paléo, before traipsing towards the Village du Monde and it’s stage, le Dôme.

 Alcohol prevention can be fun!

Stopping on my way to there at the Blue Cross’ alcohol prevention stall, I got to do a “drunk-simulation” obstacle course wearing blurred googles, the final test being trying to fit the key in your front door’s lock. I managed rather easily – should that worry me? Anyway, their stall, situated to the right of the Ferris wheel, is full of fun facts and puns on alcohol consumption, bringing a message of prevention without being patronising about it, which is definitely much more enjoyable.

Latino Madness

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La Chiva Gantiva- Photo courtesy Catherine Nelson-Pollard

La Chiva Gantiva was playing under the Dôme. Created by three Columbian percussionists when they moved to Brussels, the band mixes cumbia rhythms and grooves with more contemporary styles. Destroying stereotypes with every burst of saxophone and ever drum solo, their joyous energy was contagious, and people gradually flocked towards the stage to dance to their warm and crazy music. The musicians danced and bounced across the stage, emulated by the crowd, who quickly found it impossible to stay still in front of such an explosion of sound. The wind section (a sax and a clarinet player) entertained the crowd with their wacky dancing when they weren’t showing off their skills, the guitar player bluffed every one with his high-voltage performance, whether on the electric guitar or on a special Columbian ten-stringed guitar. My drummer friend also made me aware of the impressive skills of the drummer, making for a top-notch musical experience. I suppose the best part of all this is that La Chiva Gantiva will be playing again tonight (ie Wednesday night) at 20:00, for a second serving of musical madness.

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La Chiva Gantiva- Photo courtesy Catherine Nelson-Pollard

As Bastian Baker started playing in the distance on the main stage, we decided it was time to have a bite to eat, before heading down to fetch a bottle of mead from the Ruche (where you can also find some really good honey-flavored beer) and then back up to the Dôme, for round two of Latin American musical discoveries. This time for the psychedelic tunes of Meridian Brothers, a project of Columbian musical virtuoso Eblis Alvarez. Joined on stage by a very talented drummer (kudos my friend, again), a clarinet-cum-keyboard player, and a guy behind a computer, Alvarez displayed his musical genius in a series of complex musical explorations. Relying heavily on modified sounds- the clarinet sounded like a video-game console!- the psychedelic songs were intricate creations. Meridian Brothers will also be playing again on Wednesday, at 17:15 under the Dôme, and in a more intimate setting at 21:15 at L’Escale, a small stage at the far end of the Village du Monde.

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La Chiva Gantiva- Photo courtesy Catherine Nelson-Pollard

It might be starting to look obvious that I have a certain affinity with the line-up of the Dôme, and this where I was for the next band. Karamelo Santo are a ten-piece ska/cumbia/punk band from Mendoza, and got some fame from touring with Manu Chao in the 2000’s. Definitely one of the highlights of the evening, their concert was a cocktail of sun, groovy rhythms and explosive brass sonorities. The area in front of the stage quickly became a dance-floor where the more enthusiastic of the crowd joyfully bounced of each other in a chaos of jumping, dancing and general good mood. Unlike some concerts, where the pushing and shoving can get a bit nasty, everything went on really well, people picking each other up whenever someone slipped, giving them a pat on the shoulder and a grin before getting back to the dancing. The fresh evening air was most welcome after the concert, and we left the Dôme exhausted but happy.

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The colourful summits of the Village du Monde- Photo courtesy Catherine Nelson-Pollard

Cult Rock and Electro vibes

Watching cult rock band The Black Keys from the back of the crowd was the perfect way of getting some energy back, the band pleasing the huge crowd massed in front of the main stage with their own strain of rock (even though my friend told me that the drummer wasn’t very good). Half way through the great concert, it was time to go and move our bodies to the trance-inducing rhythms of A Tribe Called Red, a trio of Native American beat makers from Canada, who mix electro with traditional drums and chanting. Accompanied on stage by a traditional dancer, who mesmerized the crowd with his hoola hoop skills, the trio have taken it on themselves to break the stereotypes associated to their culture, and do a hell of a job doing so.

Last but not least, Gesaffelstein finally got to send l’Asse dancing to end this first evening, after his set was cancelled last year due to the huge storm that blasted through Neil Young’s concert. A year later, he was back to do what he couldn’t do last year, and the crowd went crazy in front of Les Arches, finishing an great first night for the festival.

For all of you who don’t have the chance to have a ticket to Paléo, the Festival has organised live streaming for some of the concerts taking place through the week. You can find the schedule here. Some full concerts are also archived on the site, here, alongside highlights of each night.