Live from Paris: Rock en Seine

When you think of Paris, music festivals don't immediately come to mind. Apparently the UK is where you go to see the real deal. But Rock en Seine definitely held my attention, especially since I’ve been hearing about it for the last 7 years and always ignored it. I just thought it was kind of a smaller deal than it really was. I guess I was wrong.

Heading out to Parc Saint Cloud, west of the city, I wasn’t really sure of what I was getting myself into. I was kind of imagining a big picnic with some music and dancing. Well, I was close…

Even though I really knew only a few of the artists, and a few others by name, the many English-speaking bands were enough to get excited. There were only a handful of French bands to get through, but I managed to miss all of them (funny how that happens…).

There were the big names, like Interpol, The Offspring, and John Butler Trio hitting the main stage. I was partial to the smaller stages, where Marina and the Diamonds and Years & Years tore it up. Watching a crowd of French and other Europeans going crazy at a music festival isn’t something I’d expected – especially since the French tend to be tame with those sorts of things. But alas, I was wrong again.

Fortunately I managed to get V.I.P. passes, which meant avoiding the enormous queues and taking a separate entrance. Once inside the festival, however, there was little V.I.P. treatment available. Wandering through clouds of pot and cigarette smoke, wearing the better part of a pint from some British dude, and exploring the culinary offerings at the food trucks (fish and chips, burritos, fried chicken – top notch indeed!) – how could anyone not love this? I was secretly in heaven. There were mechanical bulls to ride, Guitar Hero to play, and of course endless free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to consume. We did the line a few times – we’d be idiots not to.

The crowds rushing from stage to stage were all very manageable, and everyone was being really nice and considerate for Paris – probably due to more than a few out-of-towners who came for the shows. The festival was exactly that, a rowdy but lighthearted dance party with people of all ages and walks of life hanging out to hear some music. 

The festival stretched from Friday to Sunday, and we skipped out on the last day. Blame the heat. But I’m already looking forward to next year’s Rock en Seine. I'll just have to brush up on my artists a little more...