Rocking Paléo- Danko Jones, Arctic Monkeys and Smashing Pumpkins
Several generations of rock legends united last night as 90’s band the Smashing Pumpkins mingled with their younger colleagues of the Arctic Monkeys. Varying from metal to calmer pop, all the bands on stage had a resolutely rock feel to them.
The Arctic Monkeys. Courtesy Paléo / Boris Soula
On the main stage, Canadian rock band Danko Jones opened the show, trying to get started an audience that stayed rather calm, despite the energy and brawn of the lead guitarist.
They were followed on the main stage by the main act of the night, Arctic Monkeys, the Sheffield rock band who have shaped rock music over the past ten years. This was their second time at playing on the grounds of l’Asse, and it was plain to see the band had gotten much more confidence than when they came in 2007. Whilst their first concert had lacked any contact with the crowd, a visibly intimidated band coming on, playing their music and then leaving the stage without a nod to the crowd, Alex Ferguson was far chattier this time round. They played all the favourite songs, from “I bet you look good on the dance floor”, “Fluorescent Adolescent” to the songs which will feature on their next album, due for this Autumn. The crowd was pretty mad, and there was quite a bit of dancing (and its slightly more violent version, “pogoing”) going on. Quite a few people, who hadn’t reckoned with the heat and the crush you find at the very front of the crowd had to be taken out by the security staff, pulled over the barriers in front of the stage. This tends to happen quite often, as enthusiastic but inexperienced fans wander into deeper waters than they can manage. Paléo takes good care of its festival-goers, and glasses of water were handed out several times during the show to the sweaty fans at the front, to prevent any dehydration, something that can happen all to easily with such heat and an hour and a half a frenetic jumping about.
From high-pitched pop to roaring metal
Aficionados of high-pitched soaring pop gathered in front of the Arches to listen to Asaf Avidan, the Israeli singer known for his distinctive voice. The rasping, high-pitched vocals enraptured the crowd, who enjoyed a great musical experience. Smaller bands played too last night, including Dorset native Merz, who unfolded his mix of electro, folk and world music under the club tent. School is Cool, a Belgian pop band, delivered their joyous and cheeky pop under the Détour. I should also mention the high-octane performance of Mass Hysteria, a French band who combine heavy metal music with hip-hop like vocals. They played with the crowd, inviting people to dance on stage, climbing down to play in the crowd, or initiating a “wall of death” (for people who have never been to a metal concert before, this is basically a moment where the crowd parts facing each other, leaving a huge gap in the middle, and at the start of the next song, hurl themselves at each other in that space).
Street theatre around the grounds
Street theatre isn’t only to be found in the Ruche (the Hive), as the artists such as bees collecting their precious pollen, wander about the grounds, collecting bits of laughter and a few smiles wherever they go. Look out for the several troupes who walk the grounds every day, for moments of visual poetry or outrageous comedy. Street performances are all about occupying the space around you, and interacting with passers by. La cie Tonne have a very interesting way of doing this. This couple, inspired by a couple of love songs and animal documentaries on mating, tease each other, courting wherever they go, totally oblivious to the surrounding crowd of slightly bewildered people. Clad only in white underwear, they stay really discreet and silent, weaving their way through the crowd, sometimes hiding behind a tree or climbing on a table. Suddenly, they might be lying on top of each other on a table top in the middle of amused drinkers.
Courting in public….
La cie La Passante are slightly more visible, but just as silent. These unsettling women, clad in black and veiled by tent-like umbrellas, walk around the grounds in groups, waltzing around the people in high heels. If you are lucky enough to get invited inside,you will live two or three minutes of intimate poetry, as a lipsticked woman quietly recites you a story in the dark. But try entering without their consent, and you will get pushed away, as they evade contact with people who approach them to brusquely. I myself spent a couple of minutes in a slow dance with one of them, as a sort of introduction, before going under the veil. What a great experience!
La Passante, and their intriguing veils
You might also meet three boxes with ping-pong like heads walking around the grounds. When they stop, Les frères cartons become live jack-in-the-boxes. These three awkward, monstrous characters, with their terrible haircut and abominable dentition will clumsily try to seduce you, or maybe play a nasty trick on one another.
La Grand-Mère Indigne
You can see all of these acts across the grounds all week. Just keep an eye out!