Tour de Bastille: Pitchfork Avant-Garde
Every autumn Pitchfork takes over Paris for 5 days of live music and parties. A beautiful spectacle and a nice introduction to an even more spectacular festival – that’s how Pitchfork Avant-Garde unraveled before our eyes. Pitchfork Avant-Garde is a series of events that precedes the festival and spreads over two nights and 7 clubs around Bastille, gathering no less than 46 incredible artists and bands.
The main event is the 3 days festival that takes place at Grande Halle De La Villette. And because this is happening in Paris, of course the first two nights of the festival have their own after-parties. Few minutes away from the venue, at Trabendo, even more live performances and DJs are waiting for you to party till the break of dawn. Saturday is the last day of the festival and usually the headliner is followed by an impressive lineup of DJs that will get you going until 6 in the morning.
We missed the first day of Pitchfork Avant-Garde because of our flight connection, so we landed in Paris on the afternoon of 31st of October, right on time to check in our Airbnb, grab something to eat and head to the vibrant Place de la Bastille. Once we arrived there we knew we had a great night ahead of us and so we ventured out into the bustling streets of Bastille that were flowing with creepy Halloween costumes.
„What a nice camera – what camera is that?” asks Madison McFerrin’s manager as they’re approaching us.
Madison just finished her soundcheck and she was magical. We watched her from upstairs preparing and building the single “Insane” from scratch, just by sampling her voice and snapping her fingers. Suddenly the club was submerged by the warm sound of her voice. It took Madison a few minutes to make us think about creativity and the endless possibilities of her voice for the rest of the night.
My favorite thing about Paris is how many brown people there are. It made me really happy to be walking around a European city seeing people who looked like me.
I haven’t spent enough time in the city to have any tips — do you have any for me?
Yuno is also playing Supersonic and it’s his first time in Paris. He’s not sure what to expect from the city but he’s as excited to discover it as we were when we discovered his music.
I’ve seen Paris in movies and listened to musicians from Paris but I feel like I’ll get a better sense of it once I see it in person.
La Chapelle Des Lombards
Even though we didn’t make it to La Chapelle Des Lombards, where Helena Deland and Honey Harper were playing, we were curious to find out what’s their favorite thing about Paris.
„One of my favorite things about Paris is the hospitality: the conviviality around meals, how long they last, how everything is shared and windows are opened so smokers don’t have to leave the party”
Last time she was in Paris alone she hunted down the classical music concerts and apparently there are a lot of affordable or free ones. Helena strongly recommends us Le Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature and we’ll definitely keep that in mind next time we’re in Paris.
Honey Harper has a more personal view over Paris. He took us directly into the most dreamy Parisian atmosphere, telling us about his favorite place in Paris: „the apartment in the 3rd on Rue Meslay”.
I remember my first time visiting the city almost exactly four years ago. It was fall and it was grey, and my soon to be wife and I came to see her best friends who lived there.
We pulled up in an Uber and Gustav, who now plays bass in my band, was waving at us enthusiastically from his balcony, with a lit cigarette in his mouth and a full glass of red wine splashing slightly onto his thick cashmere sweater and then finally onto the street below.
We were buzzed upstairs where I was introduced officially to Gus and his girlfriend, Philomena who my wife had met living in New York. Though they had all known each other for many years, I was immediately welcomed so fully into their lives and into their home that it felt like we had all once lived together, perhaps in a past life, maybe in Paris.
We spent the night talking, eating, smoking, and drinking (excluding Philomena who told us the next day she was pregnant with their daughter).
I fell in love that night for the second time that year.
As a teenager living in the suburbs of Atlanta I always romanticized Paris. I thought I would move there one day and become a cliché of an American with a typewriter in a cafe drinking an endless cup of espresso. I grew out of that phase but I never grew out of thinking of Paris as a magical place with magical people and countless opportunities to fall in love.
And it’s true – Paris does have the ability to make you fall in love countless times. Proof? We just arrived at Le Reservoir to meet SASAMI. As we’re scooping the place and spotting a nice chandelier, before we realize it, Sasami climbs up the sofa, reaches the chandelier and becomes the best model ever. „She’s a tigress”, we hear her manager telling us and we couldn’t agree more.
„An all-around music badass”, Sasami Ashworth has been making music in all the possible ways for the last decade: from playing the French horn, keys, bass, guitar and contributing vocals, to producing.
My favorite thing about Paris isssssss the architecture. I love the art-deco apartment buildings, the Romanesque and Gothic style churches and the large towers of bread and cheese they feed you before the gig. Eat the bread. Eat the cheese.
Café de la Danse
Over at the Café de la Danse, Naaz has already started her performance and she’s having a nice moment with the public. After missing her show at Best Kept Secret this summer, it felt good to finally see her live.
Later we meet Joshua Karpeh (Cautious Clay) outside of the Café de la Danse. After taking a stroll in the neighborhood and not knowing if we dig the rain or not, we stop by his Airbnb and shoot some more photos in the elevator.
When he’s up on the stage, the multi-instrumentalist Cautious Clay effortlessly charms us all, swinging between guitar, flute and saxophone and filling the whole room with his out of this world voice.
For the next day take Joshua’s advice and enjoy a cup of coffee at the Broken Arm Café and make sure Palais de Tokyo is on your must see list.
Last stop of the night is Le Pop Up du Label where Buzzy Lee is playing. We discovered Sasha Spielberg (Buzzy Lee) thanks to her powerful song „Facepaint”, which to be honest, „makes a big mess of your heart” the moment you hear her voice.
J’ai trop des choses que j’adore de Paris. I love that it never changes. For a nostalgic like me, ca c’est parfait.
The venue is suddenly filled with blue smoke and Buzzy Lee starts giggling because of it. Needless to say, we find ourselves in the most Halloween-ish atmosphere possible that somehow sets the mood for the walk back home we were supposed to take through the Père Lachaise Cemetery if it was still open (and not to worry, we did stop by Jim Morrison’s tomb the next day).
The thing that always stands out about Pitchfork Avant-Garde is the way the lineup is curated – the artists on this bill will most likely make your playlist and they’re also the ones you will not want to miss at next year’s summer festivals.
There were many exciting things about Avant-Garde: the performances, the general enthusiasm and the energy, the city, to name a few. One thing’s for sure: there shouldn’t be an autumn without Pitchfork in Paris.
And the festival hasn’t even started yet!