Neighbourhood Noise guide to Pitchfork Festival Paris 2014

SATURDAY 1st NOVEMBER – PITCHFORK FESTIVAL’S closing night in Paris. Having previously hosted the likes of James Blake and Belle & Sebastian the two nights before, along with some amazing pre-parties (most notably, Kindness), neighbourhood noise were graced with an equally impressive line-up: Foxygen, Jungle, Jose Gonzalez, Tune-Yards and – act of the moment – Caribou.

An unusually hot summer’s day of chilling in the bars of Le Marais created a perfect and surreal setting for this Autumnal festival. Hopping off the metro, the lights of Pitchfork at the Grande Halle allured a rush of excitable and alternative festival goers – this was to be a festival that would exceed all expectations.

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The venue was overwhelmingly grand. With two stages placed at either end of the hall, people were dancing their way over from one act to the next, with no wait in between to stop the mood – it was neat, tidy and run to precision. In between the two stages, merchandise was being sold, but not just standard tour stuff, (although you never can ignore a tote saying you were at a Parisian hip festival) but antiques such as old French vinyls that intoxicated Pitchforkers were rummaging through. As if that wasn’t enough, there was a playground with swings, a large twister board, stalls offering jewelry, clothes, hats, beard trims and a do-it-yourself party mask construction stall.

Before paying any attention to the music, the artistic atmosphere of the festival alone had got the crowds buzzing. The music, in fact, became an added bonus to an already fun-filled festival. Movement, the Australian band, pleasantly surprised us with their slow heavy bass and impressive, faultless vocal performance; but, there was an obvious distraction in the crowd, who were itching to see Foxygen on stage.

Foxygen are famed for their energetic performances, but we certainly felt exhausted from watching (and trying to keep up with) Sam France’s energy. A little contrived, his performance was reminiscent of Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury – it was flamboyant and attention grabbing but that is about as far as the comparison went. France’s voice was lost through all the movement and we found ourselves watching and listening to the backing singers to decipher what song he was actually singing. He was fluttering around the stage, kicking his legs in the air and then occasionally picking up on the song.

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Without a doubt, he is a mesmerizing character and has real charisma – working the crowd was definitely not a difficult feat – but as big Foxygen fans, it was a shame that we had to strain to hear the song through France’s wild and unnatural performance. Let’s face it, if you have to sit on the amps to catch your breath, maybe it’s not a bad idea to just stand and sing sometimes. Having enjoyed their last album, ‘We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors’,  playing “San Francisco” on repeat, there were high hopes for their latest release “…And Star Power”. With its take on modern psyche rock through wonderful harmonies and well written lyrics, Foxygen still have an album that we continue to love, with “Could’ve Been My Love” slowly becoming a neighbourhood noise favourite this year. It was just a shame that the focus wasn’t on the music but rather France’s theatrical performance.

A quick interlude from Jose Gonzalez – not sure why he was placed so late – and the night was back on form with fun and groovy performances from Tune-Yards and Jungle. Big on Radio 6’s playlists this year, both did not fail to provide. It is hard to not move to the beat of both and they certainly put everyone in a good stead for Caribou who was next to follow.

Opening with “Our Love”, the crowds went wild, bobbing up and down to the contagious beat that Caribou has infected everyone with this year. The simple yet spellbinding sounds Dan Snaith creates is one to put you in a good mood, breaking out smiles on usually unbreakable faces. The addition of balloons pouring out above certainly added to the electronic experience, but then who isn’t a sucker for a little kitsch in the early hours of the morning? Caribou is an electronic-lover’s dream to see live and if given the opportunity, make sure to catch him.

Pitchfork Paris was mind-blowing. The scale of the festival was nothing we had experienced before. A great line-up, chilled atmosphere, arts and crafts, with a good amount of drunkenness, some silly dancing and an honest, if too serious, game of human twister, it is everything a festival should be. And its in Paris.

neighborhood noise recommends: La Petite Chaufferie – organic drinks, food and electro music for the perfect pre-gig warm up.

8/10

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