Pitchfork Paris 2016: A Review

Bizarrely once one of the largest slaughterhouses in Europe, the Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris’ 19th arrondissement, now plays annual host to one of the most hipster festivals (there was a recording studio and tattoo parlour on site!) in the indie music calendar, Pitchfork Festival.

With its attendees often being effortlessly chic twenty-somethings (it is Paris after all), this cultural pivot with its majestic features (even the Pitchfork décor compliments the striking structure), is a little different to the concert venues us Brits are used to, you’ll find no sticky floors or mosh pits here.

Offering a miscellaneous melange of independent and impending musical talent, this year’s festival showcased some of the most diverse acts currently around, from the alluringly beautiful Warpaint, to fresher acts, such as Egyptian Hip Hop’s former singer, Aldous RH.

With two stages either end of the building’s impending grand hall, the artists play simultaneously to an exceptionally cool crowd. Unlike British music festivals, where pints of beer/piss regularly fly through the air and various chants break loose, the crowd here remain calm and observe each act almost pensively with beer well and truly remaining in hand.

This behaviour is particularly noticeable during the set of Texan quartet, Explosions in the Sky, who deliver an enthrallingly intense performance featuring extravagant lighting and a well-used smoke machine. The crowd are quietly mesmerised by their musical expertise, and receive one of the loudest applauds of the festival.

Natasha Khan (aka Bat for Lashes), likewise offers a captivating performance as she strikingly stands on stage in a particularly alluring full-length, red wedding dress, well in theme with her upcoming fourth album, The Bride. Like a modern-day Miss Havisham, Khan appears particularly profound as her hauntingly, airy voice echoes throughout the venue. Her rare ability to lure the listener, inviting them into her intimate, melancholic, dream-pop world, is clearly working its magic, as the crowd watch in awe of the songstress.

Despite the typically Parisian audience however, French artists are well and truly lacking. Nevertheless, the fusion of electro psychedelic excellence Parisian born Flavien Berger (the only French artist on the line-up) offers, is indeed a crowd pleaser, with sporadic groups within the crowd bouncing every now and again and even achieve an impressive Mexican wave at one point (still no mosh pit though).

Most noticeable nonetheless, is the sheer number of people who have come to witness such musical delights. With the event being just weeks prior to the one-year anniversary of the attack at the prestigious Parisian music venue, the Bataclan, there was doubt the event would be such a hit. Yet despite this, and the Parisian’s tendency to remain ‘trés chic’, the sold-out event exemplifies the appreciation of creativity and the fact that regardless of such events, people here will continue to enjoy live music, a nice pint, and a pleasing atmosphere.