Last weekend Ladywood attended the 24th biannual Route du Rock festival. Held in St. Malo, France (inside an old fortress), this gathering of talented musicians and insane partying is like few festivals ever attended. A relatively small lineup compared to Coachella or Bonnarooo, the organizers of Route du Rock pulled in some pretty unbelievable headliners considering its size. Moderat, Darkside and portishead to name a few.
After a few thunderstorms, The War on Drugs hit the main stage and the sun broke through for a beautiful evening performance. This band is always a treat to watch - listening to their whole album can be a bit monotonous, but they always put on a great live show. Next up, Caribou, a Canadian you should definitely know about (if you aren't already a fan) took the stage at 1 am. Dressed all in white, Dan Snaith and the band gave a stellar performance that made this Canadian way too proud. Caribou has been making consistently great music for the last few years, but I had never gone out of my way to catch a live show. Very worth it.
Then Darkside happened. The highlight of the night. They started playing at around 2.45am to a sopping wet and mud-soaked audience. A long time fan of Nicolas Jaar, Darkside far surpassed all expectations. Playing through torrential rain, the horizontal raindrops only seemed to excite the band more and spurr a totally wicked performance. Despite my frozen bones, the music coming from this stage was like heaven for my ears and kept me dancing.
Day 2: Mud. I thought I knew what mud was... I was wrong. The campsite, the festival site, the parking - everything turned to mud on the second day. Thankfully the rain storms slowed down, and the festival organizers and local farmers worked hard to cover all affected areas with hay. We caught the Liars press conference in the afternoon, which was really interesting. The two dudes seemed to know what was up with music - then they hit the stage and we were speechless. And not in a good way. Moving on.
One to watch out for is Anna Calvi. In a male-dominant festival, this lady kicked ass. She rocked hard with a subtle and restrained coolness that was amazing/inspiring to see. Headliners of the night were Portishead. The crowd absolutely lost it for this performance, with good reason. It turns out that Portishead played this festival 16 years ago to the day. That's pretty special. And so was hearing Glory Box live. Listening to her sing 'give me a reason to love you' in front of 13,000 people (in an old fortress) was pretty epic.
But on to the main event, and the reason we attended the festival. Moderat. These three musical masterminds took the stage at 2.45am and it was just beautiful. Very different from seeing them play their own show, but epic nonetheless. If you don't know of Moderat, stop what you are doing and educate yourself. The light show was amazing, Sasha's voice was amazing and 'Rusty Nails' was amazing. The only questionable part was the kid in front of me (front row) who was kind of sleeping on the bar. Who does that? The audience seemed a little whack - my understanding of concerts from North America was that the bar was reserved for the die hards, like myself. Oh well, he kept me warm.
Day 3: Final day of the festival - sunshine showed up and the mud pits had mostly dried. Mac DeMarco started playing to blue skies. Another gem of a Canadian, this guy knows what's up. Wearing a dirty Simpsons tshirt and just slamming beers, he put on an unreal show. When one of his guitar strings broke at the end of a song, his band struck up a beautiful rendition of Yellow by Coldplay while he restrung his guitar on stage, and chimed in for the final chorus. Then he crowd surfed. Musically, Mac is doing something really cool and the sounds his guitar makes are amazing. Apparently it's his first one that he bought it for $50. Go see him, go listen to him. Go canada.
Jamie XX was my highlight for the night. He played a wicked dj set that just got me stoked to see him in concert. Not sure when, but he would totally kill it in a club/concert venue. Not to speak ill of his performance, it just made me want more. That kid is killing it.
Overall, the festival was an unforgettable experience. It's always great to see artists at a festival setting as the crowd and setting create totally unique performances. It was also refreshing to see a music festival with so little garbage (think coachella and all it's water bottles), but maybe that's because the French don't seem to drink water. They just pee. Everywhere. So much public peeing.
#RDR2014 Fast Facts:
100 - points for serving booze in reusable cups/wine glasses (1€ deposit)
100 - points for booking Moderat
7 - number of flower crowns spotted (this is like a negative number compared to North America)
72 - percentage of people wearing appropriate footwear (think rain boots and doc martens- no Californian could have handled that level of mud in their studded gladiators)
26500 - official number of festival attendees over the weekend (compared to 13,000 in 2013)
2 - number of shout outs given to the farmers who supplied all the hay used to cover the mud pits ( successfully!)
99.9 - percentage of people using 2sec pop up Quechua tents (we were the black sheep with out mec tent). These tents are genius for festivals [see here]
75 - percentage of hip people carrying custom cloth tote bags
110 - percentage of people smoking
89 - number of people who slipped in the mud outside our tent
0 - number of 'Shark Security' guards inside the festival
0 - number of shits the security guards gave about anything (but everything still felt safe!)
2 - number of people totally blown away by how many people piss everywhere (read me and Chris)
Next summer will be the 25th anniversary of the festival, you should go.
- Milla Time