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Solidays review (1): Hockey, Magistrates, The Do

Jun 29

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Monday, June 29, 2009  RssIcon

We believe that you in Éire have been getting all het up over the queues and the wait to get into and out of Slane recently, with a general consensus that Something Must Be Done. Well, let us share our experience. To get in on the first day of last year’s edition of Solidays, the first big music festival of the Paris summer, the average wait was two hours. “Il Faut Faire Quelquechose,” said Jacques le Frenchman. And so it turned out: to enter this year’s Solidays last Friday we had to endure a queue of almost two whole minutes. And then waiting three minutes for the metro home! No doubt you’ll be in and out of Slane just as fast next summer.

Anyway, day one at the Longchamps racecourse and the first act we fell upon was Hugh Coltman, the Paris-based Englishman whose line in jazzy pop/poppy jazz is doing quite well for him here in his adopted city. It’s rather bland coffee-table fare for a sun-drenched festival, though. More in the spirit of the occasion were Lexicon, a pair of L.A. rappers much in the style of ‘Licence To Ill’-era Beastie Boys. If you’re not being too cerebral about it, then you’ll have a good time with them.

This year’s festival had a definite strand of electro-pop running through it. Magistrates are an Essex four-piece who sound like they’ve toned down the Ibiza-isms of Klaxons or injected a bit of white-boy funk into Hard Fi. They’re worth checking out if you happen to be passing their stage at some other festival, which we know is damning them with faint praise as much as comparing them to Klaxons or Hard Fi.

HockeyWe’re so cool about Magistrates because we’d much rather rave about Hockey (right). Where UK funk-pop tends to be stiff and slightly square, the US version as per Hockey is looser and sexier – though there’s an occasional bit of acoustic folk-rock thrown in to wreck your head. Still, singer Ben (in a mint-green headband/T-shirt combination straight from an '80s workout video) is likeably camp and eccentric on stage and the sense of fun is infectious. You should definitely try to catch them if you’re at Oxegen this weekend.

Mindful of this blog’s remit to report on French music, before Hockey we headed for the main stage to see some pleasant indie-pop by The Dø. That accented ‘o’ is only a mild inconvenience compared to how Björk-ly irritating singer Olivia Merilahti can be. Launching into their single ‘At Last’, it appears that her microphone isn’t working: the music plays while she mouths the words. After a first verse accompanied by whistles and boos for the sound engineer, she seamlessly starts the verse again in full voice. She was only pretending - probably to subvert the whole fascist hit-parade ideology, like, or maybe just to be wacky or even deliberately piss people off. What point she was making by balancing a folded towel on her head later in her set, we can’t say. If ever there’s a band you could like despite the singer, it’s The Dø.

You probably don't care that we skipped the French headliner, one half of rap duo NTM. (The other half was in jail.) More unforgivably for you, perhaps, we couldn’t stay for Yuksek or Digitalism, on at something like 3 a.m., because the trains stop at 2 a.m. and we had stuff to do at the crack of dawn next morning. For this unprofessionalism in not being willing to traipse home for two hours at night, the gaffer is deducting part of our CLUAS Foreign Correspondent Expense Account. And he’s sending us to Slane next year too.

[Parts 2 and 3 to follow.]

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Aidan Curran, based in Paris, has been writing for CLUAS since 2004. More info about Aidan...

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