Live Report: We Love Green 2024

The Parisian festival is leading the way in carbon-neutral curation...

Music has always been a powerful tool of change. From soundtracking revolution and political protest to uniting crowds regardless of their differing backgrounds and experiences, it is a fantastically empowering and moving force that we encounter every day. 

Now, however, the music industry is facing a huge issue. In the face of looming, catastrophic climate change, the industry is beginning to confront its role.  According to one recent study, concerts in America alone contribute 115 million tonnes of waste and 400,000 tonnes of carbon pollution a year. On an individual level, the habits of jet-setter Taylor Swift resulted in annual flight emissions 1110 times higher than the average individual. 

As a result, there has been a growing awareness that the industry in its current state is not sustainable. From smaller steps such as the banning of single use plastics at festivals such as Glastonbury and Parklife, to wider pushes for meaningful change led by figures such as Billie Eilish through her Overheated movement, there is a drive to take responsibility and bring about the change that is needed. As Music Declares passionately remind us, there is in fact #NoMusicOnADeadPlanet

We Love Green festival is one of the pioneers attempting to set the standard for a sustainable future for live music. It does not take this issue lightly, explaining in depth on its website the exact steps and measures taken in order to push the festival towards being as sustainable as possible. This includes everything from sustainably sourced energy and vows to sustain the biodiversity of the festival site to recycling 76% of their waste (including 87 tonnes of litter and urine last year). 

From the moment you step onto the We Love Green site it becomes apparent that their commitment to sustainability is not a façade. As you walk through its site you encounter reusable water bottles, water fountains and even dry compost toilets (which according to the festival save 1,450,000 litres of drinking water each year). The fantastic food selection, which I has the pleasure of sampling over the course of three days, is all vegetarian, a bold and rewarding choice. The rich selection of food available all follows a strict charter – it must be seasonal, made using local products, and at least 50% of the ingredients must come from sustainable or organic farming. The result is a food selection that is elevated well above the standard festival grub, with flavourful and lovingly thought through dishes fuelling this year’s festival goers as they battled through the rain. 

But of course, what is a festival without its music? As my first visit to a European mainland festival, I was curious how the crowds would be different to those I’d experienced in the UK, who are often stubbornly passionate, battling through adverse weather to scream along to their favourite artists. The French crowd was no less enthusiastic. In fact the reception I saw for rising superstar Shay was one of the most electric I have ever seen, as she brought a stadium worthy performance to La Clarière with her bewitching stage presence. 

In many ways the Francophone acts were the real winners of the weekend. NINHO’s captivating lyrics and theatricality, emphasised by the elaborate stage design that placed him in front of half of a plane paired with clips of an air hostess guiding the audience through the performance, resulted with him going down a storm with the eager crowd. Elsewhere, Kabeaushé took the stage at the Think Tank adorned with a platinum blonde wig and eye catchingly elaborate costume. Originally from Kenya, Kaboushé successfully lured an initially tepid crowd in with his irresistible enthusiasm, and by the end of the set had everyone jumping up from the floor to his beats. 

The enthusiasm whipped up by these acts, alongside other Francophone highlights JRK 19, Mairo and the beloved Eddy de Pretto, left big shoes to fill for the international acts of the weekend, facing an largely French audience. This was a challenge taken up keenly by the likes of Kenya Grace, who was launched into stardom with her viral hit ‘Strangers’. Her energetic set was defiant proof that she refuses to let the opportunity of this success slip by, and by the end of the performance the crowd was buzzing with excitement. 

Of course, a difficult to avoid surprise guest for the weekend was the ongoing rain, which proved no issue for the electric reception of Burna Boy as he returned to his “Second Home” of Paris on the Friday evening, but persisted until the Sunday afternoon. On Saturday, Badbadnotgood were unfortunately victims of the weather, with their characteristically excellent set not receiving quite the reception it deserved on account of the ongoing drizzle. Over the rest of the day the weather proved beneficial to the covered stages, with Four Tet’s groovy set at Lalaland pulsating through the crowd, who were more than happy to dance the afternoon away, sheltered from the storm. The evening continued to ramp up the vibes, with Kaytranada delivering a thrilling set at La Clarière, before audiences made their way to see a classic set from iconic French duo Justice

The weather cleared as the weekend came to an end, providing a sunny backdrop for the popular offerings of the day Omar Apollo and, of course SZA, both of whom took the stage with a determination to prove their path to superstardom. Chilly Gonzales was a surprisingly energetic highlight, introducing a curious crowd to his new, pop-fuelled direction, and bringing one of the best sets of the weekend. 

As the sun set and Peggy Gou provided the closing notes to the weekend, it was hard to deny the festival’s success. Not only did We Love Green provide a fantastic array of artists, with generally outstanding sound and the best cinematography I have seen at a festival for the stage screens, but it did it all while taking a huge leap for the future of sustainable music. We Love Green, despite minor setbacks, is bounds ahead of so many leading festivals, and is a bright window of hope for what the future of music can look like if we simply care enough to try.  

Words: Eve Boothroyd
Photography: We Love Green

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