Friday, June 30, 2006

Fete de la Musique

Having suffered a bit from a lack of live music action in Kielce, I was very pleased to learn that I had arrived in France in time for the Fete de la Musique. This basicly involves everywhere (cities to vilages) getting a few gigs for free.

I was lucky enough to be in Rennes, where there was a delicious range of different musics. Although I hit the town quite late there was still a lot to see and hear. We could see fireworks whilst we waited at the metro station, and we entertained by a short parp from a solo trumpeter as we zoomed towards the centre (the Rennes metro doesn't just go underground, it also quietly flies above the suburbs reminding me of the "monorail" episode of the Simpsons).

As Soph and i walked out of the subway we were imediately surrounded by boozy revelers, the first music we encountered was a karaoke blaring from the side of a restaurant, we quickly moved on searching for something else (I have a soft spot for karaoke, but had a feeling that the city would have more to offer) we came across a bit of disco/techno and continued strolling.

After weaving down a few streets (we appeared to be the only people heading towards the centre) we got to an area which had a host of instruments and a collection of very drunk people trying to hold one another up. The band had finished and i was starting to be of the opinion that we were just in time to see everyone at their worst.

Seconds later i was thankfully proved wrong.


The centre was teaming with bodies in various states of sobriety, and the air was full of sounds blending into a disorientating amorphous throb. Every square inch of ground had a body wobbling, dancing, nodding, or drinking on it.

Squeezing between the horde, Soph and I set up beside a twanging band of hairy types. I decided to get some beers, and was struck by the idea that it would be good to take a few pictures of the many minstrels that were scattered everywhere.

We found a small inky paper with details of who was playing where and when, but it was far from comprehensive. Despite being ful of info, there were improvised stages and soundsystems littering the place. Every pub and cafe worth a slice of attention having some sort of audible buzz.

Unfortunately, by the end of the night the slightly ugly side of such fab festivals was starting to show it's head, the empty bottles lying everywhere, (being kicked about and smashed by a few lads undoubtedly holding a tribute to some World Cup moment or other) the rubbish being thrown down at a disgusting rate (Sophie was actually pelted with an empty beer carton to the entertainment of a few drunk plebs - I was convinced that it wasn't a good idea to go slap sence into them) which was topped off with public pissing and liberal doses of vomit everywhere.

I don't want to sound like a prude, I've been to a few festivals before, and seen and doubtlessly contributed to the mess but was probably too pissed to notice. But as I had a clearhead this evening I was kinda surprised how much the debris reminded me of a scene from Mad Max.

So a quick run through the different styles I enjoyed that evening in no order of appearance or preference; reggae, singer-songwriter, art-rock, djembe jamming, drum n' bass (Soph's old school mate Maud - a.k.a Lady Late), techno, karaoke, gypsy folk, traditional jazz (standards), pub-rock, latin-beat, ragga, hip-hop, noise (random people mooing at the moon).

I am glad I've had the chance to be here at the right time.

And that the last bar of the evening ended up being the Hacienda. Madchester it wasn't. But a good time it was. I guess I would have to say that as far as free parties go this one had all you could really ask for. Proper.

I look forward to the days when Belfast City Council canget something like this together. If they can, they'll be less likely to be laughed at when dreaming up reasons to be taken seriously as a european city of culture.
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