Rock En Seine Festival 2011

A world class festival
Rock En Seine Festival 2011
On the outskirts of Paris, at end of the Metro line, is the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud. A park of staggering beauty, famed for its vegetation, Baroque landscaping, statues and monuments. For the next three days it is to play host to Rock en Seine, one of France’s premier festivals.

With a line-up including the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Interpol, WU LYF, The Wombats, The Horrors, The Kills, Foo Fighters, DFA 1979, My Chemical Romance, Étienne de Crécy and Tinie Tempah, there is a little something for everyone. And if gardens and music isn’t enough, there is a good selection of rock-related photography and art exhibits to wonder around.

Having heard the rumours that Parisians are rude and dislike us British folk, the thought of spending three days at their mercy was slightly intimidating. However, this just isn’t true as they are more than welcoming. The people here – from staff to punters – are very friendly, helpful and don’t even get too offended at our sorry butchering of their language. The festival itself has a very civilised vibe, but by no measure does this mean it's boring: when mosh pits go off, the French certainly know how to party – they just remember to apologise when they fall into you.

Playing early on Friday, Seasick Steve gets proceeding off to a rambunctious start with his hard-hitting grunge blues. Playing crazy homemade instruments, a guest appearance from Alison Mosshart, and Steve’s own personal, gut- wrenching storytelling is drawing a massive crowd – and no one appears happy when the short, forty five-minute set comes to an all to abrupt end. The calls for more resonate all the way to the Eiffel tower – well, maybe.

Headlining Friday night are veteran rockers Foo Fighters. As to be expected, most of the festival has turned out, though it’s not long till the tide turns and people are heading away from the stage. It all feels a little mediocre and old hat. How many times can Dave Grohl Scream “Yeeeooow”? Nonetheless they are a heavyweight band and it can’t be denied that on mass they are going down well; but for us, the final nail in the coffin comes when Grohl shouts out a message to the security: “Hey guys, be nice to the kids. They’re only kids you know. Be nice to the kids.” OK Dave, we get it, you’re the nicest guy in rock ‘n’ roll. Pass the sick bucket.

CSS prove a big hit. Looking like a little matador, Lovefoxx is a ball of energy, and swapping the traditional smoke machine for bubbles perfectly matches their catchy disco beats. The sizable crowd they‘ve amassed are cutting loose and the party has undoubtedly started.

Having reformed earlier this year and with a full summer of festivals under their belts, DFA 1979 pull no punches with their frenetic drum-driven noise punk, rip it up.

Headlining Saturday, Arctic Monkeys draw a crowd equal to, if not surpassing, the Foo’s. It’s evident there is a lot of love here for these northern lads. They don’t disappoint, with a much heavier, Josh Homme-influenced rock sound, they have filled out, grown-up and are proving they deserve to be topping the bill.

A nice little pick-me-up on Sunday afternoon came in the guise of Miles Kane, strutting onto stage he asks: “Are you ready for some rock and roll?” Then, enveloped in bravado, northern-swagger, boundless energy, and strong vocals, rock and roll is just what he is giving.

With great music, friendly people and an exquisite settings, Rock en Seine is a world class festival. And with the Eurostar at hand, it’s was actually quicker than driving to Leeds.

Words by Vanessa Higgins

Discover more French music HERE.

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