Cabaret, classics and current smashers at Lollapalooza Paris.
To some, it may seem a little extravagant to hop on the Eurostar from London to Paris for a just a festival, but then you obviously didn’t see the 2018 line- up of Lollapalooza Paris
Squatting at what is commonly, the Long Champ Racecourse, the headliners at this gala fête made up the soundtrack of most (if not every) teenager of the 90’s. Kasabian, Gorillaz, Depeche Mode, Stereophonics and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds: well worth the trip across the Channel I’d say! And of course, Lollapalooza had its healthy mix of current smashers too who also didn’t disappoint, Bastille, Dua Lipa, Jesse Glyne, Catfish and the Bottleman, Lil Pump, Travis Scott, Fench Montana, Nekfeu, and Diplo to name but a few. The alternative stages saw the likes of Nothing But Thieves, Portugal, The Man, Bomba Estereo and Parov Stelar. Stelar being particularly memorable with his Parisian influenced Jazz House vibe. This was perfect for the setting and in keeping with the mini (but still quite massive) replica Tour De Eiffel, which was handy because you couldn’t see the actual one from that location or much more of Paris for that matter, but then this wasn’t the purpose. The purpose was to reminiscence your adolescent years and immerse yourselves into musical nostalgia and that’s exactly what we did.
The festival itself was extremely well executed, the line-up was exciting and diverse, housing a collection of worldwide artists, musicians, DJ’s and producers without favouriting any genre. The sound system, for a city festival, was impressive and it was in an okay setting. We say okay because it was a bit nondescript, no colourful abstract visuals you might be used to, no big wheel or oddly shaped tipis to wander into, and they could have done with just a few more bars and food stalls. Had the venue been filled I think they would have struggled to cope with queues, due to poor facilities. It was also entirely cashless so you had the annoyance of having to go back to the entrance to top up a wristband if you ran out of spondoolies. Why they felt the need for this complicated process in a day and age where you can tap and pay for almost anything is unclear.
Apart from that, we loved the simplicity of the whole shebang, especially when it came to the running order; 2 main stages next to each other, precision timing with little or no clashes and no massive long walks. They released the stage times well before the event so you could plan your day, and the venue was a decent size with a good enough sound system to allow you to have a real experience of seeing the performers you love live. There were also some quirky features which I think they could have done with more of. The Green Room was a collection of wooden huts all with their own DJs, some in themed costumes and funky décor, generally having a good time. You could flit from one to the other checking out the vibe and it was a great way to fill the time between acts.
The standout of Lollapalooza was the Stereophonics and they smashed it. The set list, Kelly Jones' faultless voice, the guitar solos from Adam Zindani (and Kelly), and the enthusiasm and passion of Richard Jones and his playing were all incredible – but a special mention has to go to the magnificent drumming of Jamie Morrison, he was outstanding. We knew we were in for a treat when we saw that Jamie had his own podium and how right we were, he was on fire. The egoless Kelly Jones allowed you to enjoy all the skills of his companions while still keeping his frontman status, not a balance easy to apply, but one he bossed.
Lollapalooza gave us the chance to get up and close to our favourite bands, if there was one criticism (apart from bracelet tapping-cash-popping and the fact that there needed more sequins and colour) then that would be our slight disappointment for the festival attendees themselves and that’s not really the fault of the organisers of Lollapalooza. For some acts, the crowd didn’t seem to be festival goers at all, in fact, more like festival no-goers. It was strange to see little or no fuss when Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds were belting out some Oasis classics. I can only assume that the reason for this lack of excitement was because the ravers were storing it all up for The Killers where they seemed to be unleashed like jack in the boxes the moment they got on stage. Of course The Killers are always on point and Brandon Flowers guarantee’s to deliver, but I do think that comparing them to other performances, the Vegas-based group seem to be becoming a bit more cabaret and less rock and roll (*covers head for fear of backlash) but of course, they were still fantastic.
And as the sun went down the impressive visuals took over, Gorillaz nailing it at the laser shows but then that’s to be expected when you’re a band made up of colourful animations. To finish, Excisions provided the perfect final French rave just to remind you where you were and it was a nice to wrap up with that. The party continued until about 12 and then it was a bit of a walk, bus and train back, mission, but all well orchestrated.
Overall Lollapalooza was well worth the long trip underwater, even if it was just for one night if nothing more than for the thrill of almost touching Kelly Jones' foot!
Photo Credit: Soundofbrit