[EVENT RECAP] Pitchfork Paris Festival
A few weekends back, a very last-minute travel decision (not unusual with us) found us at Baker Street in London at 6am; bags packed, about to meet a complete stranger and get into his car to go to Paris for the Pitchfork Music Festival (ok ok. Parents - maybe don't read this). We'd managed to find ourselves a ride to Paris and back that was cheaper than flying or getting the train, and much more comfortable than a 10 hour coach ride. Yeah, we are full-time hustlers.
Luckily, our driver was a lovely (and normal) English gent heading to Paris to visit his girlfriend and family. About an hours drive into France, we stopped off at the only gas station in what like the middle of nowhere, and ran in to one of our favourite bands - the Dodos. We interrupted their car park game of hacky sack to have a quick chat about their tour and playing that evening at the Pitchfork opening party, which we just so happened to be heading to. This was going to be a good trip.
After an incredibly awkward experience with our Couchsurfing host (nb - last minute Couchsurfing is not a good idea and not condoned by us) which I'd prefer not to re-live by typing it out here...we found ourselves roaming across Paris on Halloween morning, in costume, desperately hopping from McDonalds to Starbucks attempting to find wifi (desperate times call for desperate measures). Judgement and everything aside, we managed to find a hostel, don our ghoulish make-up and find our way to the Grande Halle de la Villette. Unfortunately, Parisians don't seem to get quite as in to the spirit of Halloween as we did -- the token American and Australian in the crowd.
A last-minute timetable change meant we missed the beginning of Mount Kimbie, but we managed to claw our way through the throngs of the living to see Blood Orange (aka Dev Hynes) gracing the stage as an angelic 90's vision of white. Dev's dance moves on stage were something to be envious of as he grooved his way through Cupid Deluxe. Mac DeMarco and his band goofed around continually, before winding up their set with an epic mega-mix. Darkside were... well... shrouded in darkness, I guess we shouldn't have been surprised there.
The highlight of the evening was having The Knife as the headliner. Despite the fact that none of us in the audience knew what on earth was going on, there was some serious miming going on, and people weren't sure who was who - it was hugely entertaining. There were people running around in shiny jump-suits, strange geometric space-age 'instruments' being wheeled on and off stage before you even had a chance to question what they were. In between the costume swaps and energetic, choreographed dance moves we couldn't help but wonder if it was all just an illusion and The Knife weren't really there at all...
Friday morning saw us again traversing across town on the metro system, still in our Halloween costumes, as we attempted to re-capture our belongings from a peculiar Frenchman. Later, feeling settled again at our hostel and like we had escaped from the twilight zone we returned to the Grande Halle in time for Warpaint. Not usually ones to be huge girl-band fans (sorry Alex!) but, we were hugely impressed. The girls are effortless on stage - seamless and relaxed as if they are just practicing in their living room together. Cool, calm and collected.
Having seen José González years ago together in London, we had been really looking forward to seeing him again as part of Junip. The Swedish folk rockers brought the perfect mood to the Grande Halle - a low-tempo and slow-burning psychedelic rumble that seemed perfectly suited to where everyone was at that point in the day. (NB - pretty happy to say we also met José later on)
Next up were Aussie favourites Jagwar Ma who didn't fail to impress. As a fellow Sydney-sider Nicola was pretty stoked to see some home-grown talent on the line-up of this festival, and see how they've blown up this year with their debut album Howlin'.
Connan Moccasin, the Kiwi king of psychedelia, took us all back to the 60s as he made everyone in the room sit down and slowly sway back and forth to his kaleidoscopic jams. Wearing a dark cape and resembling Andy Warhol in his prime - he sarcastically thanked the audience for not clapping, even after his lengthy trippy number ''Forever Dolphin Love''. The French may not have been digging it, but we sure were.
Unfortunately, Pitchfork had decided to follow that delightfully chilled out set with the onslaught/verbal abuse of Danny Brown. He seemed to be well received, but personally, we had to walk outside to get away from it.
Luckily - our evening was saved by British electronic duo Disclosure, who most people later named as their highlight of the festival. The lights and electronic displays were immense, and the whole audience heaved as the Lawrence brothers blasted out hits from their chart-topping debut album Settle.
Somehow we found ourselves following a Scotsman, a couple of Frenchmen and their entourage to a small bar on a canal boat, where we ended the night in live music on the small stage - Nicola taking it upon herself to debut her solo career as a 1950's blues singer. Thankfully no video footage exists.
Saturday was our last day in the city of love, so we chose to venture over into Montmartre and roam the charming streets, complete of course with a delicious hungover Parisienne brunch. After our romantic ladydate, we headed back to the festival for Youth Lagoon, who had all the Paris hipsters dancing (rare for hipsters - most of this festival we had to weave our way through crowds of people too cool to dance, making it very evident that we were in fact the 'coolest' kids there).
Our tip for festival favourite had been Baths, aka LA-based electronic mastermind Will Wiesenfeld. He walked on stage looking as if he were about to go for a run in jogging shorts and a singlet - we almost expected sweatbands. Accompanied by a bald friend who stepped in on guitar occasionally, the two communicated well together and had what could only really described as tennis-like back and forth electronic battles (ok, now it sounds like I'm describing Pokemon, sorry). Will screamed into the microphone for more intense songs off his latest album Obsidian, it was truly brilliant watching the emotion he put behind ''No Eyes''. He then bobbed up and down for more upbeat tracks, such as one of our personal favourites ''Lovely Bloodflow''.
We obviously weren't boozed enough to appreciate Omar Souleyman and his obscure Syrian wedding disco music - only at Pitchfork eh? Then we watched Yo La Tengo alongside Hot Chip frontmen Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard, I can't speak for them, but we weren't personally too enthused. Although frontman Ira Kaplan did make a snide remark about the VIP area that made us giggle. Panda Bear (Noah Lennox of Animal Collective) seemed rather unenthusiastic about his set, although the sound quality was probably the best of the entire festival.
We brought in the end of the festival with Hot Chip (as we sadly had to get up at the crack of dawn to return to London the following day) who are always amazing live. We hadn't seen them since 2007 at Splendour in the Grass festival in Byron Bay on Australia's east coast - so it was a treat to be able to bop around like maniacs to all the music they've since released. They brought the crowd to a standstill momentarily to sing a stripped back cover of "Pale Blue Eyes" by the late and great Lou Reed.
We said a sad farewell to the hall we'd spent the majority of our visit inside (which was previously a slaughterhouse FYI) and made the long (and somewhat hungover) journey back to the white cliffs of Dover.