Parisian Love Affair: Adventures At We Love Green 2019
This year’s We Love Green was a scorcher, with hot, hot weather and acts across the board bringing the heat. The eco-minded Parisian festival’s line-up spanned nebulous pop, rap, techno and electro-rebetiko but also included many it’d be easiest, and quickest, to refer to as “genre-shifting.”
Things kicked off with Peggy Gou, who drew a solid crowd, and it was good to see she’s still bringing out KH’s ‘Only Human’. The slightly-twee Metronomy are made for summery weather and cuts like ‘The Bay’ work well.
Christine and the Queens were one of the highlights. Chris manages to find the sweet spot between a certain slickness, the distance that comes with the impression that you’re really watching something impressive and Gesamtkunstwerk-like, and human warmth. The choreography is on point. There’s the muscular intermezzo where Travis Scott’s first verse on ‘Sicko Mode’ rings out but also the more delicate meditations on love over hushed backing, with a hushed crowd to match. It feels like you’re in on something.
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Ditto for FKA Twigs, who goes in for the more ethereal and gauzy. She starts off alone as dancers join, and stabs of harsh noise emerge amid fractured, glitchy electronics – on the strength of ‘Cellophane’ and the “a woman’s prerogative” vocoder refrain that pops up a few times, whatever she releases next will probably be special.
In between, Sleaford Mods are reliably angry: “Smash the fucking window in!”, bellows Jason Williamson at the end of one song. ‘Tied Up in Nottz’ might leave a few bemused but many more are agog or, like the frontman, going for it. Mega rapper Booba turned up pretty late, so it was up to Leon Vynehall to keep up the energy, and he whipped out a jungle track at the end.
Sunday was also hot and on site these weird arches you stepped through that spurted water vapour were very welcome. Courtney Barnett might turn a few more heads on a line-up with more guitar music, but here the vibe is a bit more forward-thinking and zeitgeisty. At Lalaland, the transition from Lena Willikens’s chug to Marie Davidson’s swagger is a good one. The latter approaches the mixer and synths almost studiedly, with her rigidly structured techno, and then emerges from behind and struts around, reeling off one-liners.
It’s easy to see why Kali Uchis is a big draw but she’s maybe proof that live bands need to rein it a bit, go easier. Similarly, Tierra Whack’s DJ/hypeman is kind of wack and off-putting – she has enough energy as it is.
There was a different kind of excess at Yves Tumor. In a red wig, rockstar shades, a white suit and studded black heeled boots, he’s engages in some subversion, some turning tropes on their head, as the electronics on record are melded with more theatrical rock. His snakeprint-trousered guitarist sometimes oversteps the mark but it’s an enthralling performance, and ‘Noid’ is a big tune that sounds great live. When he ends on ‘Applaud’ he sings, “will you be my rock’n’roll baby?”, and it feels at once sincere and jokey.
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Over to Future for some hard, trappy energy, which he delivers. Flanked by dancers in black and yellow hoodies, he has the packed-out tent jumping. Tame Impala are a mellower affair, and they mix drawn-out psych with a small p and pop nous with aplomb. Each time you wonder how they’ve got to where they’re at now, when they’ve turned on the flanger again, some snappy melody emerges. It’s quite a winning formula.
So, We Love Green 2019: some brill performances from an eclectic bunch in a super setting. With green credentials to boast about and good food and things to check out, all eyes should be on next year’s edition.
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Words: Wilf Skinner
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