On 21st June in France there is this 20 something year old habit of celebrating the music : this is la Fête de la Musique. Basically anyone can go out and play dance and sings. You ain’t gonna have any trouble because you’re making music or noise up until very late. Very funky.
What I love with it is you just wander around, and within about 50 yards you may listen to a rock garage band (very trendy in Bordeaux since the mid 00s), a house DJ, a dub soundsystem, a classical quartet, a neo metal combo. All in a great atmosphere with people from any age (many families with kids), cultural and social background enjoying the party.
The real thing and the artists
There also are some some official shows with some professional musicians on real stages. But in my opinion, these dont have the real spirit which is raw, casual, street based. Obviously for “real” musical artist, this is dead uncool to play during that very night since everybody do so. Since we dont consider ourselves artist, we dont really care.
So even if with my band we would have preferred the first option (real stage), for some reason we didn’t manage to get a chance to play in such context. So we decided to go the street way of Fête de la Musique, the pure amateur approach.
Mat the drummer lives in the old town here in Bordeaux. We just took an electric wire from his apartment on the fifth floor down to the street and we set up the stage there, on the sidewalk. We took crap amps (dont worry I didn’t bring my brand new one) and in particular I had a 15 watts amp for the vocals, sounding like a demonstration MC, which was extremely cool.
(Crap pic put just to give an idea of the atmosphere)
Like in a Hollywood movie
When we started the set, there was 3 persons in the audience : I was just focussing on playing properly the opening instrumental tune (called Elephant for the Guy Van Sant movie) and shoegazing. When we finished that tune, I raised my head and I could see the street full of people (about 100) applauding. I mean : applauding us. Playing our song.
Later, we had a couple of encore ! People would stay there for the whole set and clap their hands and sing. Even our mates in official shows dont do that. We were playing just within the crowd, feeling the energy.
After the first gig (we played another one during the night) we had many people coming to talk with us, saying lovely and encouraging things. “Is that you writing these songs ?“. One even said “you made me love la fete de la musique again“.
I guess that was the nicest thing he could have told us.
(Thanks Pascal for the first two pics ! Thanks whoever for the last one)