Festivals Reviews

Rock en Seine 2018 : our best moments of this edition.16 min de lecture

Dust of Music was this weekend at Rock en Seine festival, the great musical rendez-vous that marks the end of the summer in the most beautiful way. We tell you a bit more on our favorite moments!

It was still a beautiful festival season in France! With behemoths like Les Vieilles Charrues, Les Eurockéennes or Solidays, which has set a record of 212,000 festival-goers, the country blooms every summer with a beautiful array of festivals which are an integral part of the country’s cultural life. But all good things have an end and this weekend, it was THE festival made in Paris: Rock en Seine.

Rock en Seine, the greatest 

Created in 2003, Rock en Seine welcomed the most beautiful heads of rock through Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters, Radiohead or Arctic Monkeys. This year was still different with more hip-hop and electro headliners such as Die Antwoord, Macklemore, or current US number 1 rap artist Post Malone. As part of the festival’s eclectic rock line-up, it’s Thirty Seconds to Mars with its epic stadium rock who has returned the Domaine National de St-Cloud but also Liam Gallagher who made his come back to Rock en Seine after Oasis’ tumultuous separation backstage in 2009. The festival finally counted on the French artillery with popular spiritual duo PNL who came back on stage after a silence of 6 months, on singer Charlotte Gainsbourg as well as on Justice who ended in the most beautiful way the event’s 16th edition. Dust of Music was there and we tell you more about our best moments during these 3 crazy days!

DAY 1: PNL, Die Antwoord, Mike Shinoda, Parcels, The Liminanas, …

Sun is shining over St-Cloud and everyone is ready to welcome the tens of thousands of festival-goers at 2pm. Foodtrucks, shops and other stalls are dispatched which allows more than just simple concerts in terms of experience. With 6 scenes, Rock en Seine offers an eclectic program to adapt festival-goers’ varied tastes. At 3:30 pm, first concerts begin with Attaque 77 on the biggest stage of the festival (Grande Scène), an astonishing Spanish punk band, and the French duo Terrenoire, which attracts the curious ones in front of the Scène de l’Industrie thanks to its dark pop. On this same stage, MNNQNS will be the next band to step on it and go wild through guitar games and slams in the audience!

On the side of Scène de la Cascade, it is the turn of young hopeful French rapper Josman to go on stage and this, in front of a gathered and young public. After him, American alternative rock band Dirty Projectors will perform. Nick Murphy (Fka Chet Faker) will afterwards impose his electro/soul/r’n’b sound. A surprising mix that yet has its effect! On the side of the Firestone stage, sponsored by the giant American tire company, we discover the artists of tomorrow and this Friday it will be West Thebarton, The Orielles or Deaf Havana who will perform.

Back at the Grande Scène, Swedish duo formed by the Söderberg sisters of First Aid Kit seduce the audience with its folk. In addition, they will be back in Paris on November 26 at Salle Pleyel and we recommend you to discover them! A little later, a first headliner is up on stage: Mike Shinoda. The Linkin Park member whose first solo album Post Traumatic was released earlier this summer, delivered a live full of emotion and hope, while paying a heartfelt tribute to his friend and leader of the band Chester Bennington, who died a year ago. Indeed, Mike wanted to personally thank the fans for their support, which has been essential in his reconstruction after the loss of his “brother”. By incorporating some of the band’s major titles in his set like In The End or Castle of Glass, Mike Shinoda wants to revive the Linkin Park era and music that has marked several generations.

 

However, serious things begin with the first act of the evening: Die Antwoord. This South African composed by Ninja and Yolandi Visser is a surprising blend of cultures that converge on hip-hop, electro and even rave music. With a stage reminiscing shantytowns, they set everything on fire with their hits Fatty Boom Boom, Baby’s On Fire and I Fink U Freeky, and the audience is going crazy!

On the Scène de l’Industrie, the French group The Limiñanas is burning the place down as well. Coming from the South of France, this singular formation offers a psyche garage rock infused with French yéyé music and sublimated by texts in both French and English that makes the music universal. Not far from there, Australian band Parcels balances its refreshing pop on the Scene de la Cascade, a synthesis of a wide range of genres that influenced the musicians. They attracts a dense audience that sways on the rhythmic orchestration of most of the titles played and the place becomes a real dancefloor.

But there is another duo who is highly anticipated and on which the festival has been resting to attract thousands of festival-goers on its first day. Although the audience waited nearly 30 minutes with whistles, Ademo and N.O.S landed like kings on the stage. Happy to be back on stage after more than 6 months of absence, PNL performed hits from their first album and which contributed to their meteoric rise. We even had the opportunity to hear two new tunes A l’Ammoniaque and 91’s, announcing an upcoming album maybe.

The challenge was huge for Rock en Seine that despite the criticism of rock fans, managed to get exclusivity and resonate the slef-tuned melancholy of PNL and this, to the delight of fans occupying the front row. And although this first day was not the most fruitful for the festival, we only ask to come back the next day to discover a range of artists more rock-oriented.

JOUR 2 : Thirty Seconds to Mars, Anna Calvi, Liam Gallagher, Charlotte Gainsbourg…

The crowd is a little more dense on the Domaine National de St Cloud this Saturday. We mostly meet young girls wearing t-shirts, flags or signs bearing the image of today’s headliner: Thirty Seconds to Mars. These fans or commonly called “Echelons” are drying up in front of the Grande Scène knowing that the show is in several hours. Nevertheless, the first group to tread the stage is the French formation Theo Lawrence & The Hearts, which turns out to be a great discovery. Originally from Gentilly in the region of Val-de-Marne, this band offers a sumptuous mix of soul music, rock and blues that attracts the most curious. The musicians string together tunes mostly from their first album Homemade lemonade out last March.

On the Scène de l’Industrie, it’s a whole different atmosphere with incisive rock band The Psychotic Monks. On the stage of la Cascade, London-based DJ SG Lewis, fan of Calvin Harris, gets the audience moving and dancing with a mix of disco, dance, electro and hip-hop.

A nice surprise also this Saturday, finally no, it’s not really a surprise. For having seen them play at Firestone’s talent show last June, Waste is a band who needs your attention right now. With their music influenced by britpop and electro, the Parisian quartet enriches their sound thanks to a singular and precise orchestration qhich offers a certain depth to their compositions. We are far from beginners and they confirm it on stage with an ease and a euphoria that makes us want to unleash. This Saturday, they ignite the Firestone stage and we hope they will ignite others in the future! Also on the Firestone stage, the band Weshly Arms wins with its pronounced blues/rock.

Meanwhile, on the scene of la Cascade, the great Calvi returns after her concert at Gaîté Lyrique. The sulphurous artist has shortened her set, mixing some songs from her new album released this Friday Hunter, and her previous tubes like Desire. The singer/guitarist seems more restraining herself, probably because of the difficult adaptation of her original show in an outdoor festival. But the complex and carnal music of Anna Calvi seems to seduce the public who ask for more at the end of her cover of Suicide‘s Ghost Rider.

On the Grande Scène, it’s the romantic alternative rock of Cigarette After Sex that resonates. With the soft voice of Greg Gonzalez, the band presents its minimalist music with sensual and unfiltered lyrics. Although the sun beats on the field, the atmosphere created by the American formation is very dark. But it changes radically with Australian psyche-rock band King Gizzard & The Lizzard Wizard who let off steam in front of a public fond of pogos and slams.

The night begins to fall slightly on St-Cloud and the first headliner of the evening makes its entry. Liam Gallagher returns almost 10 years after the tumultuous confrontation with his brother Noel that resulted in Oasis’ dissolution and this behind the scenes of the Parisian festival. It’s also with Liam’s sarcastic “humor” that he seems to recognize the backstage: “My little finger told me that’s where Oasis screwed up. At this festival, huh? I knew the backstage was familiar.“With his sulky look, his parka, his arms behind his back or dangling along his body and his hoarse voice, Liam Gallagher revives Oasis in Rock en Seine with a setlist mainly composed of the band’s tunes. Champagne Supernova (which he also dedicates to his brother), Whatever, Supersonic, Cigarettes & Alcohol, Some Might Say and the classic Wonderwall on which all the passions seem to converge. The public screams the words of the famous song and Liam, perhaps tired of this hit, let the audience sing for him. Finally, it is Live Forever that will complete the set of Liam, who then signs a nice return to the festival that has indirectly launched his solo career.

While Liam Gallagher is finishing, it is Charlotte Gainsbourg who takes control at la Cascade. She came to defend her new album Rest released late 2017. The artist impresses with her music more updated and modern and especially with a neon-based lighting staging that seems to turn the scene into a giant nightclub, for exampe during Deadly Valentine. The audience is dense to greet the artist who seems to be stronger. Indeed, the singer was hit by a drama 4 years ago with the death of her half-sister Kate Barry. It is besides to her that she dedicates her album but also all shows of her tour.

Finally to finish this second day of festival, we return on to the Grande Scène to find Jared Leto and his brother Shannon, ready to embark the audience in their ode to dreams and hope. On Up In The Air, Jared arrives on the scene like a messiah under the cheers of the fans. The former trio duo with Tomo Milicevic who left the group a few weeks ago, plays the various hits of their career This Is War, Kings and Queens, The Kill, Do or Die, as well as the most recent ones like Walk On Water or Rescue Me. A terrible energy emanates from Leto who, like a guru, addresses the public several times, urging them to go wild like never before and jump to heaven. Quickly comes a cult moment of Thirty’s concerts, where the singer invites several fans to come on stage. Although the safety of the festival does not seem comfortable with the manners of the singer who does not hesitate to bark at them, more than 80 fans are jumping alongside the singer on Closer To The Edge which concludes the set of the group in an explosion of joy. This exceptional moment completes the penultimate day of Rock en Seine.

DAY 3: Justice, Macklemore, Post Malone, Alice Wolf, Mashrou ‘Leila, Idles …

To enjoy this beautiful and last day at Rock en Seine, the festival opens its doors earlier. People flock to the area from 1pm and we feel that the public responds more present than the first two days. In the late afternoon, 35,000 festival-goers are on site and wander between scenes to applaud the various artists programmed today. At 3pm, two ambiances are opposed: on the Grande Scène, the authentic soul of Ady Suleiman resounds while the French prodigy Lord Esperanza unwraps his aggressive rap on the Scène de l’Industrie.

At La Cascade, this one welcomes the punk rock band The Regrettes led by the young and ferocious Lydia Night. Dressed in a short red jumpsuit with fishnet covering her limbs, the singer is about to become the new Joan Jett or Peaches. A little while later, it will be the turn of Arab rock band Mashrou’Leila who will import his alternative music and blow on the field an oriental air. With their songs in Arabic, they deal with various hot topics in Lebanon whose musicians are from, including individual freedoms, homosexuality, religion… The band fuels curiosities because the audience is becoming increasingly dense in front of the band and let himself be carried away by the voice of Hamed Sinno.

It moves, it dances, it jumps at the Grande Scène and we hear in the distance as if a party started. It is Confidence Man who arrives with their electro and jubilant choreographies even humorous. Led by the Janet Planet/Sugar Bones duo, the Australian pop band seduces the audience who imitates the movements of the artists on stage. The atmosphere is on fire for this ultimate day at Rock en Seine! But the next group brings rock back to the main stage. British band Wolf Alice launches into an effective set with a setlist mainly composed of songs from their latest album, Heavenward. We go through the angry Yuk Foo while going through their Beautifully Unconventional tube or the psychedelic Don’t Delete The Kisses and the dreamer Heavenward.

We go back to the Scene de la Cascade with IDLES, whose wild scenic presence leaves no one indifferent. With their political conscience, “idle” musicians from Bristol roar their sharp guitars while denouncing the failings of their country of origin through songs on Brexit, immigration or the health system of the country. Everything’s destroyed!

Although IDLES unleashes passions, the first headliner this Sunday is about to go on the biggest stage. Many people came together to cheer international star Macklemore. With an explosive show breathing good mood, the American reminder impresses by chaining its Thrift Shop, Can’t Hold Us tubes or Same Love, Glorious, Good Old Days and many others. What we remember from this set is the surfer energy of the singer and his benevolence. Anti-Trump, the artist has always defended the LGBT cause. With his various speeches during his concert, Ben Haggerty as his real name, reminds us that fear should not prevent us from realizing our dreams. Its authenticity makes everyone agreeing and it feels good to see such a modest artist. It will not melt when he will dance his little daughter Sloane in front of the 35,000 festival-goers atRock en Seine.

 

As Macklemore‘s crazy gig draws to a close, another headliner is on its way, and not just any. American new hip-hop sensation Post Malone sets foot in France for the first time since its rise and his fans are here. It goes without saying that the sequence Macklemore – Post Malone then later Justice is a strike because the festival knows tonight the peak of its total attendance. On the Cascade, smoke gushes as if to create a dark and mysterious atmosphere and Posty quietly arrives a beer in hand and under the applause and shouts of the public. The artist launches into his setlist made in Beerbongs & Bentleys, his first album which has been a great success and contributed to his meteoric rise in recent months.

However, comes the time when we must once again run at the Grande Scène. Indeed, the closing of the festival is assured by French electro duo Justice who finishes his tour in their city of origin. With a special device set up exceptionally for their show, we expect something quite impressive. And that’s an understatement. The two artists arrive on stage to rock the remixes of their new album released this week, Woman Worldwide. With a staging based Marshall amps, synthesizers and mixing tables, they lend themselves to face-to-face and back-to-back games that gives a superb visual dynamic. A visual dynamic, which is enhanced by an impressive, complex and custom-made system of illuminated and moving panels that responds to the melodies of Justice. It goes without saying that the show is a scenery wonder and Xavier and Gaspard seem to have worked on their desire to create an experience going beyond the simple concert. That is to say, we find them at a time perched on a small stage near the control room in the middle of the audience, with a simultaneous broadcast on 16 screens along the crowd. Although quite excessive, the rendering is simply masterful. After a track played on this small platform, Justice joined again the stage for a last part a little less explosive than the first, but just as effective. Rock en Seine has offered a fence worthy of the name!

 

In the end Rock en Seine 2018…

Although the start was quite stormy for the Parisian festival, Rock en Seine has innovated in a very long time thought rock. But wait, I don’t say that rock has abandoned the line-up but the genre has been very well represented by new talents, who have quite well distinguished themselves from the festival’s headliners. With 90,000 festivalgoers recorded over the three days, the festival has taken risks by incorporating less rock artists like Macklemore, Post Malone, and especially the French duo PNL. People will be able to say whatever they want and we hear them from a distance: “But where is rock?“, “It’s not Rap en Seine?” “I’ll come back when you bring me the Arctic Monkeys“, time evolves and we do not listen only to ONE music genre in particular. We can appreciate Macklemore, but also Confidence Man‘s pop-electro , Mashrou’Leila‘s traditional music and sensitive or the savagery of IDLES. Let yourself be surprised, damn it! A second point is that we focus too often on headliners and not challengers. It turns out that by taking the time to listen to all the groups and artists programmed at Rock en Seine, most of them turns out to follow rock music. It’s easy to stop at PNL isn’t it? In the end, the event was able to diversify itself with an eclectic program that has attracted both a loyal audience and a new and fresh one.

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