Another ‘dream edition’ of the Paléo Festival 2023 welcomed by an open and curious public as described by Daniel Rossellat at the Press Conference on Sunday. Six days of great weather albeit lots of dust in the air and in our hair – even the weather graciously waited until Monday before unleashing heavy rain and thunderstorms.
Each day brought a different energy, where the young and the young at heart were able to party in the same space. With a staggering 250 concerts over the Tuesday until Sunday, it is impossible to see them all but the diversity of the artists allows us to pick and choose who appeals to us. What started out as 250,000 spectators this year turned into 250,001 with the unexpected birth of baby Yago in the campsite. A first for the event and he now has a lifetime subscription – Paléo really does deliver!
A few of my highlights include Shaka Ponk. I did not know this band or their music but I was blown away by the stage set, though a little too late as it was their farewell tour. Visually, it was one of the best I have seen – a sort of tribal Mad Max versus Angelic Gospel with the choir all dressed in white. Every single person on stage was giving it 100 percent. Super show.
The much anticipated Rosalia was more captivating than I had imagined. I thought perhaps well choreographed dance numbers but it was a little more theatrical than that. Randomly wiping off all her make-up mid-performance and quite literally baring her soul to the crowd who just couldn’t get enough of her. Her scooter-riding dancers with cameras focused on them taking selfies, added to the theatrics and fluidity of the performance experienced on the screens. She sang all her hits and as a fan I enjoyed it very much!
One thing I found a bit awkward this year was the timings of the shows between the Grand Scéne and the Vega Stage. With no time in between the start and finish of acts. If you wanted to catch another act you would have to leave one early to get a good spot for the next show. On Thursday the Vega stage was absolutely packed out for Jain (I couldn’t get anywhere near to even see the stage) but I could still hear it and when her biggest hit Makeba came on the place went wild! A lot of people left a bit earlier to walk down to the Grand Scéne for Placebo. The same for Franz Ferdinand and Indochine on Sunday. Of course, no festival is perfect, and the Paléo organisers are always looking to improve each year.
I caught Hip-Hop duo Bigflo & Oli towards the end of their set and had managed to capture the spirit of the crowd with their high energy, fast raps and jumps!
Yung Singh – a UK Punjabi DJ and right up my street took me back to the good old garage days and I spent his whole set at the Belleville stage dancing away. Martin Garrix, for me, didn’t quite nail the big Friday night DJ hype compared to DJ Snake last year. But the crowd loved him and the music and to be honest that’s really what it is about! It really transformed the Grand Scéne into a massive dance party. What else do you need?
Paléo is known for having a good mix of up and coming or less mainstream artists as well as one or two big name international ones. A first this year was for Kt Gorique who became the first Swiss rapper to perform on the Grand Scéne. This humble folk festival has had to really open up its musical genres over the years in order to keep its appeal. It’s obviously doing something right, going from 18,000 for the first edition to where it is now. Home to so many genres, the word folk was dropped a long time ago.
This year the I spent more time than usual at the Village du Monde – Brazil was a cool theme and there were some brilliant acts on and off the stage – Da Cruz was giving serious energy on Sunday. Plus the l’Escala bar made a mean Caiparinha (It is also a great spot to watch the fireworks from)!
Also another special mention to the HES-SO installation this year. I was really impressed by all the fun activities they had created this year. From static energy making your hair stand on edge, testing your cogenitive function with a colour word game to proving the theory of 6 degrees of separation in the world. (Although I have always said it goes down to 2 degrees when you live in Nyon!)
Community, Creativity, and Convenience
As I spend more time on the grounds I notice just how much the organisers think about their audience. With around 85 food stands not including those in the Quartier Libre, 25 information stands and 30 craft stands including beautiful jewellery, clothing, plus a foot massage spot for your dancing feet!
My phone ran out of battery Sunday early evening so I popped into the Romande Energie stand and got it charged for 20 minutes. Right next door at La Mobilière you could store your stuff in a locker if you didn’t want to carry it around all evening. Super simple and easy. This year there was also a drug testing stand where festival goers could have certain drugs tested.
For me the jury is still out on the mixed toilets. Toilet waiting times were said to be 5 mins and 10 mins in busy times. I would have preferred there still be some same sex cabins available on site. Let’s see for next year.
The second biggest reason people come to Paléo – I will say no more…
Paléo should be given credit for being pioneers in sustainability since 1999. They’ve pledged to reduce emissions by 25% by the 50th edition – an initiative that aligns with the festival’s commitment to preserving our planet. Although the last day fireworks display is still under discussion but for now the fireworks will stay. A key tradition of Paléo closing day that, until they find a cost-matching alternative will be a hard one to let go of.
Farewell, 2023 – Hello, 2024!
Like I mentioned earlier, you can’t catch everything but I hope this article has given you a little taster of what is on offer at one of the largest music festivals in Europe that just so happens to be on our doorstep! Everyone has their favourites – let us know who you enjoyed or maybe not so much.
Next years Paléo is 23rd until the 28th July 2024. See you there!