French festival Rock En Seine opened last weekend for its 15th edition, under a heat wave, with many reminders to festival-goers to not forget to drink (water, sodas or.. beer).
This year, the festival did not rest on its laurels with a killer lineup. Indeed, the previous editions seemed to have lost its rock ’n’ roll side, and the event could have seemed to dangerously divert to an umpteenth Parisian festival without any interest.
In addition to a promising lineup, the festival added many new booths (Netflix, Spotify, Uber, or Pringles, giving away free tubes) and brand spaces to allow festival-goers to spend a weekend full of emotions.
If the organisers prayed for enjoyable weather, they might have prayed a bit too much as the sun was up in the sky all weekend long, with an average of 35°C / 95°F for the three days. That didn’t stop the craziest fans from wearing their Pikachu onesies in the pit, though.
Slaves was one of the first bands to open for the 2016 edition, and we were far to be disappointed. The duet from South-East UK have been giving a modernised and freaking invigorating rebellion to music. The British know how to entertain the crowd with their impressive stage presence. When he is not banging hard on his drum set, the drummer/vocalist takes the crowd to an exhilarating trance.
Still on the first day, other bands such as Bastille, known to be a powerful band, who have given a show that no one in the audience could ever forget, as much frontman/singer Dan Smith was energetic.
The main stage got its rock pill as Two Door Cinema Club appeared and vowed the huge crowd that gathered in front of them.
That being said, if a “best band/crowd interaction” award existed, Royal Republic would get it on this first day, as the Swedish band surprised everyone, and the charismatic singer/guitarist Adam Grahn gave an amazing performance as he improved a breakup scene with a front row fan.
On the second day, the weather was still hot, but festival-goers grabbed bottles to fill up during the day, while staying in the shadows, such as in hammocks. If Rock En Seine is originally a rock festival, the line up also includes rap and electronic music. The second stage was given a huge hip-hop slap as the trio of the Underachievers jumped on stage. That same stage got its ass kicked again when French trio Casseurs Flowteurs, featuring two known rappers in France—Orelsan, Gringe—and received a well-deserved welcome for their last summer festival date. This day also got a good dose of good old rock ’n’ roll with Wolfmother, and goofy music with French Naive New Beaters, making their comeback to Rock En Seine after six years, and it is safe to say that the band was awaited this night.
The third and final day was a relief for everyone present, as the weather was better and a little wind chilled the whole fest. The main stage was filled all day, as many great acts performed. It started with indie female-fronted band Blues Pills who did their best, and it totally worked, to warm up the audience, with front-rowers already there to see their favorite bands playing later, as Sum 41, Iggy Pop, and Foals were next. In order to prepare Rock En Seine for Sum 41, who had already played two shows in Paris earlier this year, the British post-punk band Editors made the stage move up and down.
Sum 41 is one of those bands you don’t need to introduce anymore, even to people who are not from the punk-rock scene. Everyone jumped as the band presented their new song “Fake My Own Death” and the lyrics of “In Too Deep” or “Fat Lip” were chanted from the first to the last row. Just an hour later, a monument, one of the most known singers still alive appeared, topless, and jumping everywhere.
Iggy Pop’s fans couldn’t expect a better show, and this statement also applies to everyone present for his 1:15 act, as the singer approached the front row fans, sang with them, and high-fived some lucky ones.
Another stage welcomed an alien band, as three drum sets, cockpit-like instruments and cases were put on stage before Soulwax literally made the festival shake, with huge bass from the UFO-shaped drum sets.
Back on the main stage, in order to close this three-day festival, Foals was there. Doing what they do best, a perfect performance with smooth guitars, hard drums, all joined together by a voice recognisable from miles away. The audience wasn’t disappointed to interact with the singer/guitarist Yannis Philippakis, who, when asking the fest to “shut the fuck up for two seconds” also shouted, “SHUT UP, SOULWAX!” who were being heard from this other side of the festival site.
Once again, Rock En Seine was multicultural by its lineup, as rock bands were playing next to hardcore bands, before or after hip-hop bands, who were themselves getting the audience ready for a huge EDM slap.
Photos by Edouard Camus, text by Emilie Cuer.