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).
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.