posted on May 06, 2009 19:00
This Friday, 8 May, is a public holiday in France to commemorate VE Day. Last Friday, 1 May, was a public holiday too, the French being a socialist people at heart despite the efforts of their bling-bling centre-right president.
And Ascension Thursday, 21 May, is also a day off - the French may be socialists in a secular republic but that’s no reason to let a holiday opportunity pass by. Basically, during May no one’s doing a tap of work over here.
It’s fitting, then, that the last weekend of this holiday-strewn month serves up the first important music festival of the French summer. Europavox takes place on 27-31 May in the central French city of Clermont-Ferrand.
We’ve featured Clermont-Ferrand here before: bands like Cocoon and Quidam are at the vanguard of a thriving local scene that inspired Le Monde to call the city the French capital of rock. With the breadth and depth of its line-up, Europavox should put Clermont on the radar of the international pop community.
The first two nights are curtain-raisers featuring French stars Olivia Ruiz and Sliimy, the latter looking and sounding like a cross between Prince and Mika. Serious business begins on Friday 29 May – between three venues (Cooperative de Mai, Magic Mirrors and Le Cabaret) there are appearances by Maximo Park, I’m From Barcelona, Thecocknbullkid and Danish poppers The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, auteurs of the radio-friendly cracker ‘Around The Bend’.
Bloc Party are the main draw on the Saturday night in the Cooperative de Mai. But that same night in Magic Mirrors there’s a tasty show featuring French Letter favourite Emily Loizeau (even if we’re not crazy about her new album) and fellow piano-singer-songer Soap & Skin, one of many fine acts to emerge from Austria recently.
The final night features an impressive folk-pop bill: Herman Dune, Loney Dear, Lonely Drifter Karen… and our own Declan de Barra. G’wan Oirland! For something with a bit more BPM that night, the alternative is Vitalic.
While Declan de Barra is the only Irish act appearing in Clermont, throughout the five nights of Europavox there’s an impressive cast of acts from across the continent. The Scandinavian region is well represented, as you’d expect at any multinational popfest worth its salt – but there are also acts from Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic, countries not normally associated with Champions League-level music. (For instance, we’ve only ever heard of one decent Spanish band: punk-poppers Dover.)
Full details about Europavox are available on the festival’s website and MySpace page. Any Irish people visiting Clermont-Ferrand wouldn’t want to be too smug about winning the Grand Slam this year: rugby can be a painful subject for the locals during late May/early June, the time of the local team’s annual defeat in the league final.
But in the Europavox spirit of pan-continental pop fraternity, here’s Herman Dune, Frenchmen with Swedish roots, and their lovely ‘Try To Think About Me’ from a live radio session in Los Angeles: