M83, Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, Twin Shadow, Robyn, James Blake alongside with over 40 awesome bands. When I heard about the line-up, “I was like “WHAT?!” I guess I lost my conscious. I was in Paris when I opened my eyes. Here are my notes about the Europe’s biggest hipster gathering, the American invasion in the “city of lights”.
First, some tips that can help you for next year’s Pitchfork Paris and then my thoughts on 2012 line-up and some new acts to discover. Bon appétit!
Pitchfork Music Festival Paris is the second attempt of Chicago-born music broadcasting website Pitchfork. Last year, this Parisian festival lasted for 2 days with appearances from Bon Iver, Aphex Twin, Four Tet, Erol Alkan, Wild Beasts and Lykke Li. This year it went on for 3 delightful days.
In this festival over 40 bands took the stage in 3 days and ticket prices were: 50 Euros for one day, 90 Euros for 2 days and 130 Euros for 3 days.
There are over 40 – mostly American- bands in line-up (which gives us Europeans a chance to listen to bands that we don’t get to see often).
There is no specific genre. They have a wide range from rock to pop and a lot of DJ performances… But you can easily say that the music trends are moving towards electronica. There were a lot of DJ’s performing at the festival that took place in homeland of big stars of the electronic music scene, such as Daft Punk and Justice.
Grande Halle de la Villette is a 19th century French-styled, glass and steel constructed covered area. It’s part of the Parc de la Villette cultural complex that consists of many other concert halls, buildings and stuff.
At the beginning I couldn’t get into the “festival mode” since it was an indoor and “no-tent” event unlike what I’m used to. Still it was as exhausting and solid as the Reading. I listened to over 40 bands in 3 days.
Later on I realized that I must have grown some kind of immunity to festivals that made me not use a restroom for 2 days, out of a 3-day festival. And on my “essential” visit on 3rd day, I found quite hygienic toilets. There was a little line in front of them though there were toi-rents outside.
The Best thing about Pitchfork Festival is that two bands never coincide so you don’t miss a single show. It is perfectly arranged that while one stage is being set-up for the next band, you have the chance to listen to your favorite bands or discover new artists on the other stage. This way, you don’t have to make a choice over two bands playing at the same time. What’s happening on the stage is the main event of the festival.
It was nice not to make difficult decisions over two bands, or wanting to be teleported, being divided into two. At first, I felt a little irritated by the rule of not leaving the festival area during the day because I thought it was aimed to make more profit from food & beverage inside the area but I must admit that it turned out to be in my favor, because I “had to” watch the bands that I haven’t even heard of before. This made me discover new artists that I enjoy now and widened my horizon musically.
Even though it is an enclosed space, Grande Halle was still a little cold ‘cause it’s a large and high-ceilinged structure. There was cloakroom outside but lots of people decided to keep their coats.
Transportation to area is provided by subway and bus. Porte de Pantin bus stop in Ligne 5 is located in Parc de la Villette. There is a big parking space for bikers as well.
It’s easy to get to the festival area, but way back home is a bit fussy. The festival ended at 1.30 in Thursday night and exit scene reminded me of One Love Festival in Istanbul, ‘cause there was no subway service then as well. Cab drivers refused to take anyone in, buses were like scenes of humanitarian plight. So I decided to walk on the opposite side of traffic flow and took a cab with 2 French girls right before I froze to death.
It was easier on Friday night to get back since there was subway service on the weekends. Despite the fact that there was a long line for subway, I managed to get back home safely.
Festival lasted until 6 o’clock in the morning on Saturday. Returning was easier again as everyone left at a different time. We, for example, left at 4 A.M. and there wasn’t any crowd, we took the bus –there was no subway service- and headed to home.
Despite the exchange rate between Euro and Turkish Lira, our hero spent two thirds of her money on CD’s and band t-shirts which were sold at Le Super Market –a Parisian independent designer store- and London’s most famous record store Rough Trade.
Official merchandising was pretty cool. Both line-up bands’ and Pitchfork Paris’ t-shirts were admirable and they were 20 Euros only like everywhere else. Cloth bags were 10 Euros. All merchandise was from American Apparel.
In order to purchase food & beverages, you need to use coins. They cost 2 Euros each and you can divide them if you need to spend 1 Euro. It was a good implementation. Food court is outside of the area but it was not so cold and the line was not that long.
There were foods like French fries, hamburger, French baked goods (quiches, croissants, pains au chocolate, cupcakes…), and vegan food. Prices were average for a festival; i.e. 2 coins for French fries and 4 coins for wine.
There was one unfortunate food with garlic (I assume it was taco) that I pray to God it won’t be on the menu next year. You were one of God’s unloved kids if during concert you came next to one of those who had eaten that. Hereby I ask the authorities of Pitchfork not to sell that next year!
Beverages were served in very chic Pitchfork cups. You pay a deposit of a half coin for these cups with a Pitchfork logo and the line-up. They were so nice, I didn’t return them. I kept a few as a souvenir.
I loved the plug-in application in the food area. You’re allowed to plug-in your iPod and make everyone listen to some of your own music. We usually heard some great stuff and people danced all the time. At one point -of course- we heard Gangnam Style, it’s kind of inevitable, yet I must admit that it was entertaining. For a moment I wished I had some traditional Turkish music like Ankaralı Turgut on my iPod so that I could show my skills on belly dancing to the French.
Everyday, I tried to arrive to the area as soon as I can so I can listen to almost everything. On Friday night I ran a little fever, it was because I felt a little chilly on my first day in Paris. Yet I didn’t have the heart to leave as I was really looking forward to watch M83, headliner of the day. So I decided to stay and take a seat somewhere. VIP lounge had no other feature aside from seating, though I made 3 German friends in there. They came to Paris to watch M83 but they had come a little early because they didn’t know the exact time. We chatted until the show started. When I ran a fever, they took care of me as if I was their little sister. I don’t know what I would do without them or those 2 French girls who took me in their cabs.
November the 1st, Thursday
17:00 HOW TO DRESS WELL
He was the first act of the festival. A young guy with a sweet voice, full of talent. On slow songs, he literally shows off with his voice. He also has some groovy tunes. In fact he sang without microphone during a song. He teased the audience during the show, saying “You’re looking at the backdrop, right? Can you see it? You want me to switch down the lights a little?” Godspeed him!
17:40 ALUNA GEORGE
A cropped top, skin-tight jeans and lots of glam… A young, African-American, talented artist from Azealia Banks generation. I had just arrived to the festival area so I couldn’t show so much love to her. I chose to go and watch DIIV’s sound check instead. Well, that’s the kind of person I am. What can we do, right?
Just because of my admiration to their beautiful song Doused, I wanted to watch this New Yorker rock band from forefront. I also came by their sound check. They seemed a little in the mood of like “Why are we here?”. I assumed it was because they were too busy with studying on the field of “spit-and-sawdust” and their miscommunication with the audience was probably because their hair, covering their faces. This foursome who use their hair as a curtain between them and the real world, play their all-sound-alike songs in an energetic way. There were few ‘woo-hoo’s from the audience, it was not bad.
19:05 FACTORY FLOOR
After this point I slowed down a little as my fever started to make me feel cold. I moved across the crowd to back fronts and watched the show from there. The most remarkable thing that I remember about Factory Floor is their magnificent backdrop.
I’m getting worse. I have a fever running. After this point I could barely stand still, let alone watching the show. I went out and sat in VIP Lounge (which there is nothing else to do). I made 3 more friends and during our chit-chat, I heard Japandroids rocking the stage. I would be making different comments if I could watch them from the front.
20:40 FRANÇOIS & THE ATLAS MOUNTAIN
I was in pain while I was talking to my German friends. They came here for M83 but they were here early. I wanted to ask them, “How could you deem your favorite band for 4 o’clock?” I couldn’t. They’ve been here for 4 hours and yet they have 4 more hours to go. They are blaming one of their friends (Marc) for their situation but Marc’s statement is as clear as crystal: We wouldn’t meet Elif if we hadn’t come early. I can’t get enough of their chatting. I’m going down to check what’s going on the stage. François & The Atlas Mountain is singing and being quite ‘ethnic’. They have a brilliant knowledge of French audience. However I can’t hold on and go up to lounge again. Instead of sitting I am laying down this time.
22:20 SEBASTIEN TELLIER
My new German friends had covered me with a coat while I was sleeping. They brought me hot coffee for my throat and they keep saying “You should get better until M83”. I am listening to Sebastien Tellier from the lounge while resting. Of course I would prefer to stand in the front line of La Ritournelle and scream but… He is so good he is almost dominating the French audience. From what I heard, they were pretty good.
23:25 JAMES BLAKE
I am stubborn and I’m not leaving. Little time left. I could’ve came to Pitchfork solely for him though now I am somewhere between fainted and creep and it’s no front row. In and out of sleep, I’m high on fever. I couldn’t even see James, I only heard him. It wasn’t enough for sure.
I waited for this moment since I came here. Despite my fever, I took my place with my earlybird German friends right in front of the mixing console. I climbed up to the separators on the console as my friends were held me steady. Here they are! Right in front of me is M83. They collaborated with French contemporary theatrical collective Le Balcon for his concert. Visuals, sound, lights…They’re all magnificent. I’m standing a bit taller than anyone else, so I can see all hands shaking, clapping, moving… The view is perfect. I’m happy that I waited and hung on for this. I feel exhausted, still I listen to them for 40 minutes.
November the 2nd, Friday
18:25 JESSIE WARE
I am slowly getting shaking off my sickness from yesterday, so I missed Outfit and Ratking. Jessie Ware is the first act of “my” day. She’s so sweet, cheerful, talented…I loved her. She’s a little out of classic beauty norms but she looks quite comfortable in it. With a high-waisted trouser she wore despite her wide hips, her eyeliner and a hair up do, she has a unique presence on the stage. Her voice is brilliant and her songs are pretty good. Londoners definitely know this business. She makes the whole Pitchfork community dance their asses off.
19:00 WILD NOTHING
Best side of this festival is that you get to listen to cool and different things any time. Wild Nothing’s Cure-alike sound is different from what I heard during festival so far. I’m grateful that I had the chance to discover them at this show and I really liked them. They’re pretty good. They make me feel good with their guitar tunes when I was starting to feel like “Enough with DJs!” They weren’t that “wild” but they had some rock-like rootsç
19:45 THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH
After Wild Nothing I decide to take a look at Rough Trade and that ended up with me spending most of my money. There are amazing T-shirts, CD covers and posters of The Tallest Man On Earth, soon to be on the stage. However his music is really not my taste. I can never be interested in men sitting on the stage with a guitar, singing like whining and almost serenading even though they have a great voice. He must have so many fans since the front row was pretty crowded. I am wishing my best luck to this –not very tall- man with his career, which seems to be on the same path as James Blunt and Damien Rice. Well, I’m heading my way up to food area where people can make their own music with their iPods.
20:40 THE WALKMEN
One of the shows that made me say, “Thank God, I didn’t stay at home today” was the Walkmen’s. A very chic and handsome gentleman in a suit is on the stage with an epic voice. Even though he looks like he just came from his daytime job in a bank, he’s rocking the stage. It must be their guitar tones that remind me a little of Real Estate. Overall, yes I liked them.
Ladies and gentlemen here’s another Thank-God-I-didn’t-stay-at-home show; Chromatics is gorgeous! I like songs that sounds like remixed by Trentemoller and their songs definitely sound so. The girl is damn hot when she’s holding the guitar and also she does wonders with the synth. Her voice, her style is just so good, what else do you need? French really like dancing and electronic music, thus they look quite pleased of what’s happening on the stage.
In the most honest saying, Robyn is “the Girl” for years now. I love her. It was nice seeing her live on stage. There is a common ground of each song, as profound thinkers Lykke Li and Napoleon says: Dance, Dance, Dance! She says, “How could you possibly know a Swedish girl’s songs so well?” while she’s singing Dancing On My Own and Call Your Girlfriends with an army of girls. She’s acting like she’s surprised by her popularity over here. Oh modesty! I lose myself in “The Girl and the Robot” and “With Every Heartbeat”, her collaborations with Röyksopp and now we’re jumping while singing “Gonna love you like I’ve never been hurt before…”. “Indestructible” can be a perfect alternative to “I Will Survive” for our generation, right? Why not?
23:25 FUCK BUTTONS
A giant disco ball in the background and these two men look like they are trying to resurrect Frankenstein as they stand by the operation table with magnificent stage lightning. Pretty cool so far, right? Not only the fact that they’re a French duo, but also their sound and the performance remind me of the Justice. I really liked their music, though I couldn’t get why people were pogoing in the front row. All in all, I admired Fuck Buttons.
00:20 ANIMAL COLLECTIVE
I got excited just from watching the stage being set up for today’s headliner. There were giant teeth and a tail that flashed during the show creating a beautiful ambiance. It looked amazing from far behind but up close it didn’t make much sense since the band members remained behind the décor. I watched them from the front row for a while then I got the whole deal and decided to head back. I must admit that the oh-so-famous Animal Collective sound gave me a headache on top of my exhaustion. After they performed my favorite “Oh Rosie” I thought maybe it’s okay if I don’t stay ‘til the end and decided to go back home. This way I would not have to go through yesterday’s taxi problems since the subway was still running. Despite the chaotic crowd at the metro entrance, I was grateful that I could find something that would take me home.
November the 3rd, SATURDAY
Today’s the last day and it’s the weekend so there is going to be a lot of people. I already knew Saturday tickets were sold out a while ago. There were people looking for tickets on subway exits, holding cardboards marked “’cherche 1 place” and there were food carts outside the festival area. It was like our stadiums on game days. In brief, it was obvious this was going to be the most crowded day. Considering today’s line-up, it would better be.
17:35 CLOUD NOTHINGS
Why would I lie, after yesterday’s heavily electronic line-up, today’s first performance, Ohio-origin Cloud Nothings felt like heaven. It’s not that I don’t like electronic music; in fact I’m a big fan of it however there is nothing like a guitar tune that makes me feel better. They nailed it and stole my heart. Good job, kiddos.
18:25 PURITY RING
Best side of having two stages at a festival is that each artist/band has the chance to set their stage as they like. Purity Ring took the stage in front of a great décor formed with lights, shaped like a cocoon. Well, the word “décor” does not exactly meet what we saw on stage because both Corrin’s interesting drum instrument and Megan’s tambour flashed when touched. The décor, when put together with the songs, made us realize that it was not just a “pretty on the outside thing”. Personally, I’m a big fan of Megan’s unique voice and her accent. At one point there was a technical problem and her mic was cut off. If we were in Turkey, I’d think it was because it’s time of the call for the prayer but they’ve changed her mic and it was all OK. This Canadian pop duo Purity Ring was a perfect start to a perfect day.
19:05 TWIN SHADOW
Towards the end of Purity Ring, I made my way through the other stage and settled down in the front for my Twin Shadow, my Black Morrissey. I watched the sound check thus I had the chance to see them from the front <3 <3 <3 In my opinion he performed better on his romantic, slow songs like Run My Heart than the up tempos, like Five Seconds. He almost killed some people with his charm when he took of his sport leather jacket and revealed his see-thru shirt. As if him stripping down was not enough, he asked us to take off our clothes and wave them in the air. We didn’t reject our dear George of course. We did what we were told. My groupie spirit was let down when I realized that I had many layers of clothing and had to watch other girls revealing their bras.
I had heard about Liars before but this was it my first time watching them live and they blew my mind. Yep, I admit that I left whatever tiny smidge of brain I had, on the Liars’ stage that night. I couldn’t help myself thinking what kind of drugs they were on to make such good music. Hypnotizing visuals, front man Angus Andrews’ nonsense dance figures and his vocals laced with screams… While I was trying to figure out what was going on the stage, I also noticed that the number of couples making out was increasing. Liars did something pretty “hot” on stage. It is electronic, a little punk, mostly rock, hardcore and also experimental. Could it be my new sex music, I wondered? But it’s certain that, what they do is pretty seductive with brutal, hardcore and techno elements. It was a good change. Did I like it? Absolutely!
20:55 DEATH GRIPS
I sacrificed all left over crumbles of my Liars-abducted mind, to Death Grips. Aggressive vocals on dark rhythms, a beardy black man dancing topless in blood, sweat and tears on stage. Experimental hip-hop at its best! I watched astonishingly, trying to figure out how this man didn’t have a heart attack during their 45-minutes-set. We should have a big round of applause for band’s sound-tech guy, along with the stage members (vocal, drums and keyboard), for creating such a striking sound. Since I was close to the mixing table, I observed him changing the volume of vocal constantly that caused amazing effects on audience. Death Grips is exactly one of the bands you should watch live on stage. You open up new horizons again dear Pitchfork!
I already knew them before because of the remixes they made for bands like Local Natives and alt-J. Then I discovered their artworks on t-shirts at Rough Trade and I loved them even more after their performance. This foursome whose main job is video & sound designing, kind of sounded like Foals to me with their guitar tones. As a matter of fact I can say that Breton = Foals with Electronic / Dub remix. Their performance was essential. They should keep playing live but they should also keep doing those awesome remixes under the name of bretonLab.
23:05 GRIZZLY BEAR
I can easily say that Grizzly Bear is the main reason that made me buy an Istanbul-Paris flight ticket without hesitation. I already have a big admiration for the band’s front man Ed Droste since I’ve also been following him on Instagram for a while. Also there is the fact that they are my favorite band’s, favorite band; point in case: During Radiohead’s America tour, guitarist Johnny Greenwood’s said that Grizzly Bear is his favorite band.
They had raised the bar quite high when they released their first LP, “Veckatimest” 6 years ago and it was recorded in band’s bass guitarist/producer Chris’ mobile studio, in different locations with different moods. With their last album Shields, they challenged themselves and definitely fulfilled the expectations. I watched their performance like it was magic, as if I was watching a Beatles performance since they used all those traditional and electronic instruments together and also the harmony of 2 main vocalists when they sang in return at one time and together in another. Lights and visuals (lanterns that look like jellyfishes flowing on the stage) supported the performance perfectly. It was beautiful. They’re definitely one of the best bands of our time. In brief, they were absolutely worth travelling all the way down here <3 <3 <3
From United Kingdom, garage-house duo Disclosure turned Halle de la Villette into a huge nightclub. We danced a lot. It was so good. I loved them and that’s all I got to say.
01:15 TOTALLY ENORMOUS EXTINCT DINOSAURS
I think the mightiest stage show, the most magnificent lights & décor awards go to T.E.E.D. Even though it cultivates an image of a crowded band, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs is the stage name of an English producer / DJ Orlando Higginbottom. He performed one of the best performances of the festival with vocalists he took on stage, dancers, his costumes, hats and confetti rains. He made everyone dance like crazy with his own songs and live sets. It was like a carnival. We danced a lot and had so much fun. It was ravishing!
When he performed in Istanbul this year we had the chance to listen to him live and claimed that he is a good DJ. He didn’t disappoint me in Paris as well and made people dance in sweat. He played good. He jumped from one track to another and the main thing was, they were all sexy beats. He didn’t forget to play Kanye & Jay-Z’s “Niggas in Paris” that makes all French go crazy. He played with the tempo like an elevator. He left us all thinking, “When and where’s his next gig?”
03:30 SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO
Simian Mobile Disco…Moreover live on the stage…Needless to say it was awesome, and it was almost 4 o’clock in the morning. I never imagined it like that but Pitchfork was a way more hardcore experience for me than Reading was. SMD’s opening was quite a spectacle, despite their very basic stage set-up. They were almost giving us the message of “Don’t look at us, just dance.” I didn’t resist my already half-closed eyes, and I surrendered to the sound of music. It was so good that I couldn’t even move. It was like I was dancing in a dreamland. There was Julio Bashmore afterwards but I thought maybe some other time, and said goodbye to Pitchfork after SMD. It was a long night and people left at different times so we didn’t have any difficulty in finding a bus. We were at home 20 minutes later.
Pitchfork Paris was a tiring but a delicate experience. Will I go again? Yes. With a line-up like this? Hell yes.
For the videos from the festival, check out my playlist of Pitchfork Music Festival Paris 2012.
Radiohead @ Berlin Kindl-Bühne
Radiohead @ Berlin Kindl-Bühne
M83, Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, Twin Shadow, Robyn, James Blake alongside with over 40 awesome bands. When I heard about the line-up, “I was like “WHAT?!” I guess I lost...