After a red hot start on Tuesday, the festival kept the rhythm going for its second day. The sun was out again for most of the evening, the rain making a light and welcome entrance during the last concert, before continuing for most of the night to the campers’ delight (or not).
Part of Paléo’s success lies in proposing an eclectic mix of big headliners and smaller, quirkier groups. Most days are usually arranged around a certain genre or at least a certain musical flavour. After Tuesdays heavier, noisier stuff, it was time for some slightly more melodic rock. The highlight of the evening was by far Midnight Oil who delivered an amazing show on the main stage. Peter Garrett and his band have lost nothing of their delightful energy and charm, sharing with the crowd that had gathered for the first main concert of the evening a moment of musical generosity and politically engaged songs.
Peter Garrett was particularly chatty, starting the concert with a “many many songs so little time” summing up quite accurately the generosity of their performance, excusing his poor French and joking about the fact that if the French had been faster, they might have colonised Australia and he’d be speaking to us in French! In between hits such as Blue Sky Mine and Forgotten Years, Garrett celebrated the Festival, especially the fact that it was run cooperatively and not for profit. Midnight Oil’s values of sharing and coming together through music were well in phase with the values that Paléo has been defending for the past 42 years.
The Australian band finished their concert with their greatest hit and social justice manifesto, Beds Are Burning, and truly the crowd of l’Asse danced and burnt with them, erupting with joy when the first few chords of the song resonated across the grounds. The world might still be burning, and things might not seem like they’re getting better on the international scene (Garrett celebrated the fact he’d managed to avoid using the “Trump-word” during most of the show and not have him ruin the evening) but Midnight Oil look like they’re ready to keep on fighting and dancing with their music and their hearts.
The Swiss music scene gave its best under the club tent, starting off the day with the galactic tunes of Len Sander. The Swiss-German band delve deep into an enchanting and synthesiser-heavy universe, dark and mysterious yet electrifying and light as well. The Club Tent hosts most Swiss bands, and as you might have gathered from past reviews of the Festival, I consider this to be one of the most interesting stages of the festival. If you want to discover the latest local talents, you’ll be sure to find them there.
The musical excellency continued under the tent throughout the evening, with double bass player Vincent Bertholet performing in two very different projects. The first was Hyperculte, an experimental post-punk duo with drummer Simone Aubert. An hour or so later, he was back on stage with slightly more people, as the XXL version of Orchestre Tout Puissant Marcel Duchamp had brought all 15 of their musicians to the Club Tent! This crazy orchestra lives up to the promise of its name, powerful and as wacky as their Dadaist hero. They build hypnotic loops and catchy tunes thanks to the multiple instruments played by the orchestra. A perfect case of technical virtuosity meets unadulterated and joyous energy.
On a slightly larger scale, at least in the star-system, but with quite a few musical similarities, Arcade Fire continued the evening on the main stage. They created an arresting visual show, the nine musicians partly hidden by copious amounts of smoke for most of the show, giving off a mysterious and magical atmosphere that reflects their music perfectly. The Canadian band differ from other electro-rock bands by the variety of instruments they play on stage, moving away from the (sometimes boring) guitar-bass-drums configuration. Their performance felt more lively and welcoming than the other headliner of the evening, the Pixies, who delivered a rather flat concert. Seeing such big groups live is always a risk, as you never know if they retain the enthusiasm and generosity of earlier times. In that respect, Midnight Oil was the perfect example of a band that never disappoint despite the decades of activity.
Talented French producer and DJ Rone capped off the evening with an amazing set on the stage of the Arches. His perfectly crafted beats had the whole crowd shaking and jumping, and he perfectly balanced his set between powerful and high-powered tunes and slower more contemplative pieces.
Also, a reminder that the festival is sold-out, but that 1500 tickets are released online every morning at 9:00!