Pitchfork Music Festival Paris
Grande halle de la Villette, 2018
There’s a certain feeling of familiarity when you see the artists you love performing under the sign of the magazine that brought them to your attention in the first place.
Over the years, Pitchfork helped us discover hundreds of artists, albums and even genres, but most importantly helped us develop our critical thinking regarding music. When we discovered Pitchfork we felt like VU’s Jenny putting on a New York station. Since then “the most trusted voice in music” became a guide, often the funny mate, sometimes the voice that slams our idols, but above all it became a constant.
Looking back to the first time we attended Pitchfork Music Festival Paris, it was quite a unique and personal experience. It’s nice to see the festival becoming a constant as well. Each autumn finding La Villette the way you left it the previous year and beginning to recognize some of the people from other editions gives a feeling of belonging.
L’amour est réel!
The festival spreads over 3 days at the Grande halle de la Villette, an indoor venue located in the 19th arrondissement. One of the best things about it is that there are two stages which allow the artists not to overlap so you get to see all the bands. The flawless quality of the sound and the lack of daylight create an ideal environment to experience the festival.
Some of the bands on the bill are rare finds in Europe. There are always the French artists that you will obsess over later and artists you didn’t know before, but you will always “remember where you saw them first”. And then there are your favorites.
If you feel like taking a break, you have lots of other things to do, like browse through the amazingness Klin d’œil gallery has to offer. There is also the Greenroom Record Market, you can get a tattoo or even a haircut courtesy of Dr. Martens. The food is delicious – it’s France after all!
Grande halle de la Villette was initially a slaughterhouse, called “The Great Hall of Cattle”, and the neighborhood was known as the “city of blood”. This led us to asking Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever about the weirdest, most unbelievable venue they ever played.
Wow, ‘City of Blood’ is a very evocative and badass name. We once played a tiny homemade festival right on the beach in the middle of nowhere in South Australia. The stage was in the open air, there was a strong wind coming off the ocean, and once the sun went down it was absolutely freezing. We had to play with coats and beanies on, but our fingers were still too cold to play properly, and our guitars kept going out of tune. We slept on the floor of a little shack on the beach, swam off our hangovers in the ocean, then drove a long way through outback South Australia back home to Melbourne.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
The cool Aussie band and their breezy songs warmed our hearts but left one of us sobbing over the absence of Sick Bug from the setlist.
When the time comes for the headliner of the first night, Mac DeMarco, to perform, you know you’re in for a show (and yes, especially the shirtless dance). DeMarco is the perfect combination of “not taking things too seriously” yet singing about aging and other serious life matters and that’s something that truly speaks to us.
Lewis OfMan got on our radar with the single “Flash” from his debut EP. It was a live recording of him performing in a radio studio that impressed us. The layered composition and his dexterity immediately reminded us of Jamie XX. The young French producer already created tracks for Paris Fashion Week’s runway shows and released several singles this year. We are happy he was accompanied on stage by his collaborator Milena Leblanc. They definitely have that je ne sais quoi and their performance won the public.
Dream Wife takes over the stage. Started as an art school project, Dream Wife is a band worth watching for sure. Delivering a full of energy performance and a strong message, Rakel, Isabella and Alice proved that punk is alive and kicking at La Villette.
The night went on smoothly with the Canadian electro-funk duo Chromeo but they’re probably “too cool to admit it“.
Synth-pop darlings CHVRCHES killed it and the fans went wild, knowing by heart every word that was about to come out of Lauren Mayberry’s mouth.
We love Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) for the beautiful human being he is and his music has been haunting us for a long time but we were not ready for such a supernatural appearance at Pitchfork Music Festival Paris.
At the beginning of his set we found ourselves absorbed by the chemistry between Dev and his incredible backing vocalists Eva Tolkin & Ian Isiah. Not to mention his dance moves that made us wonder if he ever touches the ground or he just floats.
Deep into his set it was clear we were witnessing greatness. Maybe it was him playing the guitar with such ease or the purple lights, but it was impossible not to think of Prince.
The moment they catch a glimpse of him, Kaytranada’s front row fans start screaming “OMG, he’s so cute!” and the party is now ready to start. His stuff, other stuff, new stuff, old stuff! Damn, Paris can dance!
On the last day, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks quickly become one of our favorite performances of the year, to ultimately fulfill our love for Pavement with Starlings of the Slipstream.
Headlining the festival, Bon Iver is the kind of experience that disconnects you from anything else and takes you by the hand in the middle of the woods so you can simply enjoy it.
At some point, if it wasn’t surreal enough, we notice that the guy standing next to us takes a sketchbook out of his backpack and starts drawing his view towards the stage and the tallest-guy-alive standing in front of us.
By the end of the show everyone is mesmerized but ready to hit the floor with Jeremy Underground, DJ Koze, Peggy Gou, Avalon Emerson and Daniel Avery. That’s when we notice singer Vie Boheme dancing veiled by blue light.
Known for his selection of super rare gems, Jeremy Underground obviously caught our attention. We asked the French DJ and head of the label My Love Is Underground what are his favorite record stores in Paris.
My favorite shops are Betino’s & Heartbeat. Both Betino & Melik (from Heartbeat) are some of the nicest people I’ve met in the music world.
A lot of my education was done while spending time at Betinos’ (started going there in 2003). Melik’s shop opened later (2013) and provides a rather small but killer selection!
And of course after the festival we went to check out the places Jeremy recommended and met indeed the nicest people!
As the morning comes and it’s time to wrap up another great edition of Pitchfork Music Festival Paris, we are not ready to say goodbye just yet.
For the Pitchfork Avant-Garde article we asked some of the artists playing there what are their favorite things about Paris. This time we asked ourselves the same question and it’s quite easy to come with an answer – it’s definitely the people. We met a lot of passionate, kind and wonderful people during these days, and for this we are truly happy.