French festival Rock en Seine, which sets up in the historical park of Saint-Cloud, offered us this year its 16th consecutive edition on the last week-end of August. Substream team was there to give you an overview.
While the competition for Parisian festivals has increased considerably this summer (Download, Lollapalooza, We Love Green, Solidays …), the rich and varied line-up of RES, its gain in the number of stages (6 in total) and its reputation have made our French festival resist this still hard economic context.
On the menu this weekend: Big international artists as well as interesting discoveries, new activities once on the spot (numerous stands, partnership with brands …) and their famous stands of multicultural street-food (because, yes, it’s possible to eat properly in festivals)!
Friday : Frank Carter, The Pretty Reckless, At The Drive-In, Franz Ferdinand, Beach Fossils
The pouring rain struck Paris on Friday morning, which didn’t announce anything good for the beginning of this festival. Miraculously the horizon cleared up in the early afternoon, oscillating between rain and something a bit more bearable. The public spent their day removing and putting back their K-Ways, but that’s the vagaries of Parisian’s days in a late summer – you have to deal with it!
The festival, which from years to years still receives the same (sometimes unfounded) criticisms of losing its “rock” side, worked doubly hard on it, programming as its first concert Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes.
Scarcely arrived on stage, Carter throws himself into the public doing a handstands on his fans and swimming in the crowd. The crowd becomes uncontrollable as the front man encourages them to form circle pits, which spin with a rare ferocity.
This set of energy has nothing to do with the performance of The Pretty Reckless, who follow immediately after on the same stage. Taylor Momsen remains mainly static, deigning to remove her glasses only after 30 minutes. If the fans of the first hour already know her character, her behaviour won’t manage to attract new ones. Far from being totally negative about it, musically the show was still impressive.
A 40-minute break between The Pretty Reckless and At The Drive-In will allow us to take a tour in the park to see the other stages and bands, like Beach Fossils. This Brooklyn group has been in permanent ascension since its founding in 2009. With their atmospheric pop with sepia tints, the trio recalls bands like Real Estate or Wild Nothing. The disillusioned voice of their leader Dustin Payseur, will carry the audience throughout the set.
After Beach Fossils, back on the main stage with At The Drive-In. As every year at Rock in Seine, what is appreciable remains the diversity of generations in the public : ages are intermingled and seem to appreciate as much the performance of the mythical group for their only French concert of the year. Each track is played with an unusual energy and the singer will even make us a few dance steps on the front stage.
Our back, legs, and feet would hurt as we walk to the main stage to see the last show of the day : Franz Ferdinand. Their reputation is no longer to be done. Nevertheless, by dint of performing in every festival, their sent tends to gives us like a feeling of déjà vu, with those always same ingredients. One can not say that we overflow with joy but we still had a nice moment, neither more nor less. We hope to hear new songs that will make us take off as much as they did at the beginning of their career.
Saturday : Jain, The Kills, Her
The favourite French singer of the moment JAIN, will bring back a lot of festival-goers in front on main big stage on Saturday. Always smiling JAIN was also very impressed to be standing in front all this audience (she played on a pretty smaller scene at Rock En Seine a few years ago) and couldn’t stop expressing her gratitude.
The artist is both sure of her, and energetic: she blows to the audience over and over, walks from one end of the scene to the other as if she wanted to touch as many people as possible with her music, and that actually works. 10/10 for the singer who has some energy to resell with a performance like this.
One of the most stirring moment of the festival was probably the show of the band Her on the stage ” Le Bosquet”. The group paid tribute to their dearly departed friend and band member Simon. The emotion was palpable between the members of the band, this concert being the first without him. On stage, the singer Victor keeps his head high, and seems more determined than ever. The crowd will sing with him the chorus of « Five Minutes », a song that the two friends particularly appreciated.
Songs go on one after the others in a communicative trance. The singer dedicate a cover of « A Change Is Gonna Come », to his friend forever. Magic. Between homage and an ode to life and love, the crowd emerges impressed by the artists.
One of the headlines for the weekend that closes Saturday evening is none other than The Kills. The duo will start with “Heart Of Dog” and as usual are always filmed in black and white, which plunges the audience into a very vintage atmosphere. The show is powerful, the guitars are heavy, and remind us of the old rock’n’roll years.
Sunday : Mac de Marco, George Ezra, The XX
On the last day, Mac De Marco arrives under the shining sun on the biggest stage of the festival. The heat being at the rendez-vous, the singer doesn’t forget to stay hydrated.. with some kind of alcoholic beverages we certainly don’t want to know what they are made of.
Once his guitar under his arms, the singer feels like the master of the place like the French king Louis XII in his park of Saint-Cloud and invites by the first song two fans to dance with him, a cigarette and a bottle in his hand .
After this choreography, they will be placed on the “super-VIP” table, located directly on the stage where our star of the moment had allowed himself to install his friends and family with a beautiful tablecloth and cutlery.
After having scoured his best titles (On The Level, Chamber Of Reflection …), the Canadian will try a cover of Vanessa Carlton « A Thousand Miles » though he doesn’t remember any words, but we forgive him because it’s Mac and it was quite funny.
George Ezra will then play on the Cascade stage, the second biggest stage of the festival, offering a refreshing, calmer touch to the festival.
The XX show’s announces the end of Rock En Seine while the sun is lying down, and even if you like the band or hate it’s impossible to remain impassive in front of a set containing such emotions.
It’s with aches in the legs but with the heart filled, that Substream’s team leaves the festival along the river in Paris, in light of buildings and dwellings. If you’re planning to visit Paris, Rock En Seine is definitely the perfect festival to end the summer, and we hope it will go on for a long time.
Photos: Emilie Cuer / Text: Charlotte Zyck for Substream Magazine