[Live Report]: Rock En Seine 2015

Rock En Seine, the main French competitor among the numerous European summer festivals, has been held every year since 2003 in the splendid setting of the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud park.

The first thing that struck me two years ago, when I attended for the first time, was the choice of location, comparable in beauty to a local Villa Pamphili in Rome.

Organizational efficiency reigns supreme, with an inevitable pinch of education and respect. There are dozens of kiosks for drinking and eating, you have the option of paying with the Fivory method to skip the queues, the glasses are reusable and branded with the festival emblem so that people hold onto them tightly and take them home as a souvenir, instead of throwing them on the ground materializing creaking plastic carpets and waste.

You can’t lump everything together, I’m the first promoter of this way of thinking, just as I also think that four days in a foreign country doesn’t allow anyone to judge its habits and customs. To understand a nation and its population you have to live with them for months if not years.

Certainly, however, the impression I had as a participant in a three-day French festival was that of an event where people really enjoyed themselves without harming others and without the need to get angry about inefficiencies, delays in programming, spaces forced, endless queues and the impossibility of attending the shows of their favorites. For the umpteenth time, clichés are confirmed as sad truths: up here they know how to organize an event of this kind.

It seems stupid to start a report on a concert with this type of note, and yet (perhaps due to the fact that I’m no longer twenty years old), the reflections that come spontaneously when attending an event that works  are these: our country today does it still have events of the same caliber? Festivals comparable to Rock En Seine, Reading, Primavera? I don’t think so, but I hope it’s ignorance.

Rototom emigrated to Spain, HJM died five years ago, no news of the I Day in Bologna since 2012; even the Circolo degli Artisti di Roma has closed its doors and many emerging bands no longer touch Central Italy, unlike what happened until a couple of years ago. Rock in Rome remains standing, where, alas (I am forced to sigh a second time), the ticket price to see  a  band is on average above forty euros, the same amount spent to attend on a single day, a around twenty concerts spread over five stages .

I don’t know if it’s disorganization, lack of initiative, bureaucracy, “magna magna”, not very appealing or even (let’s face it) a bit of public incivility; the fact is that there is no longer a valid alternative at home. Some demonstrations are certainly saved, but I sometimes wonder how long they will survive.

It’s a shame, because judging by the video of the thousand musicians near Cesena who tried to attract the attention of the Foo Fighters (and succeeded), we Italians like good music a lot. We deserve a festival of our own.

But the match is over again this year: France 1 – Italy 0 and we are out of the group.

I conclude with those notes that are of most interest to true music enthusiasts: the line up is not the best in Europe, there is no doubt (the English in this sense are probably proving to be increasingly captivating in their choice of artists and especially emerging ones ); but also in Paris indisputable names show up like every year: Chemical Brothers, Interpol, Offspring, Kasabian, Hot Chip, Stereophonics, Alt J, The Libertines, Jamie XX, Mark Lanegan and many others acted as the main headliners.

The entertaining performance of Hot Chip is to be praised as they held the stage with rhythm and desire to involve the audience. A band that is definitely worth seeing at least once in your life.

I can then consider myself lucky, I imagine, to have been able to witness Pete Doherty and his Libertines appear on stage (even on time), known for having abandoned numerous concerts around the world due to the “capricious” character of the frontman.

It is no coincidence that their concert overlapped in the schedule with that of Jamie XX: in my opinion the organizers took into account that something could have “gone wrong”.

Alt J filled up the audience a la Scene De La Cascade, selecting an effective and balanced setlist between the first and second albums. It seems that the French like the Leeds band quite a bit.

Among the less well-known, Jungle did not stand out, while TY Segall’s Fuzz should be promoted with full marks.

Finally, the chemist brothers put on a successful and powerful scenographic show, as has become tradition; they don’t miss a beat and close the festival to the amazement and excitement of the French.

We are waiting for next year and the next line up to understand if it will be worth returning or possibly emigrating to Great Britain, Spain or why not, overseas.

In short, if from a musical offering point of view Europe is capable of giving even more, Rock En Seine undoubtedly remains a mark of quality in terms of organization and variety of the event.


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