Weather festival is a French techno festival still only breaching the lines of infancy in terms of years. While it may be one of the new kids on the block. Those controlling things at the helm have a wealth of experience in running some of the best night clubs in France, namely Paris’s Concrete. It is through this line of expertise that they have been able to coordinate a festival that turned out to be one of the most impressive festivals that I’ve ever been to. This is my account of a weekend in Paris in June.
Making my way from London early on Friday morning I was excited to be kicking off my festival season with something new for me. Having read previous reviews and heard stories about this festival I knew I was in for a big weekend. But I was heading into the complete unknown for me. Over the course of my train journey I poured over the line up selecting who to see when and decided who to (sadly) miss. One of the most notable things I found when going over the line up on the handy mobile app was how long all of the artists’ sets were. Very few one hour sets and if there were any it was usually to accommodate a live performance. Proper long 3 or 4 hour sets scattered all over the line up.
Friday evening came around and at about 9:30 we started to make our way out to Le Bourget. After getting slightly lost on the way from the train station for a little bit we eventually followed the crowds to the festival sight. My first thought when getting through the gates was how excited everyone seemed. All around me there were young French people hugging and kissing and celebrating coming in like they had just won £15 on a scratch card. Walking up towards the first stage which seemed to be a warehouse the size of an aircraft hangar. Curious about the growling baseline we heard from walking past outside we decided to head in for a look. Inside was Birth of frequency just finishing off his set on the Autumn stage. The first two things I notice the second I walked into the building was, 1. The overwhelming size of the stage area. 2. The undeniably high quality of the sound system. As someone who has been to a festival or two. The one thing that has always bothered me is that so many times an amazing artists’ set is let down by the festivals mediocre sound system. This was most definitely not the case at weather. By far the single best sound system I have ever heard at a festival.
Once birth of frequency had finished off his set we watched Adam Beyer & Ida Engberg hammer out the kind of techno sound that we have become accustomed to through his Drumcode label. Over the course of three hours they put together a great opener for the weekend. After about an hour and a half though we decided to head over to the Spring stage to watch the infamous Seth Troxler playing with the Martinez brothers as Tuskegee. I’d never seen Seth playing before but had always heard of his prowess as a DJ and was delighted to find that everything that I had heard was absolutely true. But before their set came to a close on the outdoor spring stage. We headed back into the darkness of the Autumn stage to watch local Parisians Society Of Silence smash their way through a one hour live set. I think I spent most of that hour with my mouth wide open, in shock of how relentlessly intense and utterly amazing their set was. Searing hot techno at 3am in a massive warehouse surrounded by thousands of French people. I’ve had worse Fridays nights.
After Society of silence came to a finish it was then left to Collab3000 to close out the Autumn stage. Speedy J and Chris Liebing, two fantastic DJ’s and producers in their own right came together to form a masterful beast in the form of Collab3000. We danced there for about an hour before making our way over, once again to the Spring stage to watch the legendary Dixon in action. Having seen him for the first time at last years’ Dekmantel festival I was eager to catch every single second of his sunrise set. A set that I can only describe as a masterclass on how to take a crowd on a journey. Everything and anything was played in his two and a half hour set. He closed out proceedings for Friday at 7:30 on Saturday morning. As we walked the long walk that we would become very familiar with over the course of the weekend we knew that, if anything, this weekend would become an endurance test.
Saturday evening rolled around and after a big feed and some strong coffee I was back on the train north to get involved with the festivities that had been going on since 4pm that afternoon. First on the agenda for me that evening was The Black Madonna. Chicago’s smart bar resident and artistic director she has done it all and played everywhere, even at the hallowed halls of the infamous Berghain where she has become a regular favourite. After her set, which was utterly perfect. We stopped to get full up on some food and beers before heading over to see Motor city drum ensemble.
To be honest I’m not even sure how many times I have seen this man play in the last few years. But every time I do it’s amazing. Soul funk and house are all glued together with his magic touch that makes every record seem like it’s the best thing to ever grace your pathetic little ears. Tune after tune after tune it seemed never ending the classics that he was able to pull out of his record bag. He seems to have this inept ability to play songs that you feel like you know but have never heard. After he closed out his set Robert Hood then took the reins although, not as I have ever seen him before. Instead of his usual minimal techno sound he was playing a hiphop set. Honestly I was slightly sceptical of what it would be like but I’m delighted to report that it was nothing short of excellent. J Dilla, Pete Rock, Ole Dity Bastard, NAS and Mobb Deep were just a few of the names being played over the course of his two hour set.
After Robert Hood it was over to a collection of DJ’s that I had never seen before but after reviewing some of their works and listening to sets online I was very eager to see. RPR SoundSystem is a trio of Romanian artists who play their own unique brand of off centre house music. It’s safe to say I didn’t know a single track they played which is something I am always delighted and frustrated by in equal measure. They had a five hour set to play with which ran smooth all bar a minor issue of the sound system dying for about three minutes somewhere in the middle of the set. As the sun came up and the gloomy weather surrounded us there was nowhere in the world I would rather have been at that time. I was also able to swing by and catch Marcel Dettmann playing at the Winter stage for a little bit. While I had seen Marcel playing before I had always found his sound a little too minimal for me and had preferred the work of other techno DJ’s instead. But I was completely blown away by his set this time around. Techno of course, but broken up every now and then by these wild drum breaks that then blended back into techno. Really really impressive stuff from the techno don.
Once they finished it was then time for that long stroll to the train. A quick stop on the way for some French baked goods to keep us going in the village near by and it was then onto the train and in less than an hour I would be curled up in bed, or so I thought. Half way through our train journey there was a loud bang towards the front of the train and it slowly ground to a halt. With energy levels hitting an all time low and on an overly packed rush hour train this was not part of the plan. After an hour of being stuck on the train and having not moved an inch tempers eventually boiled over and the doors were forced open and people began to filter out and walk down along the tracks. In the name of good old fashioned mob mentality we decided to follow and so began a two hour quest to get home which involved three metros, four croissants, many many smoke breaks and even a trip to the louvre.
With that spanner in the works put behind us it was time to rise ourselves one more time and make the long trip out. We were just in time to catch Rodhad playing his usual brand of eardrum smashing techno which he has become so famous for. After him we checked out Len Faki and then Richie Hawtin who was given the task of closing out proceedings for this years’ issue of Weather festival. A few things that I found over the course of the weekend was 1. How few people were there from outside of France. During the weekend we only met two English people at the festival. 2. As I mentioned before the undeniable quality of the sound system at every stage was nothing short of fantastic and all other festivals could take a leaf out of their book in this regard. 3. How little it felt like a festival and how much it felt like a three day long, multi stage, really well run rave. In the best way possible, probably from the lack of grass and greenery around the festival sight it felt a lot more industrial than any festival I had been to before. 4. How nice and welcoming everyone was. Everyone was so nice and welcoming to us, local Parisians seemed delighted to welcome people from Ireland to their festival. Shouts to Vincent and Bastian who we met along the way. Weather festival, we’ll see you again.