Friday, 12 December 2014

Report: Les Trans Musicales de Rennes 2014

Make no mistake, the Trans Musicales de Rennes is a lot to take in, with acts playing in both the city centre in the  early evening and in the halls of the Parc Expo by the airport on the outskirts of the city at night.

It's also an eclectic mix, with acts ranging from the experimental to the mainstream, from France and beyond.

From local acts at the Liberté and the Ubu, it's a platform for emerging talent as much as for more established acts performing to packed halls in the early hours, but principally its an experience to immerse yourself in a well-selected programme of acts.

If last year the event was dominated by Stromae playing a packed out hall on the Friday night, this year saw the same enthusiasm and crowd sizes for the likes of Rone and The Avener in the massive Hall 9.

But the festival gives a massive platform to acts on the rise, with Jungle and Moodoid among those benefiting from some Trans Musicales attention.

The personal highlight this year had to be Grand Blanc. They were and act I'd been looking forward to seeing them, and their take on electro-informed rock  hit the spot.  You could  detect the DNA of bands like the Cure and New Order in their bloodstream, but traces of post-punk French electro pop pioneers like Ellie and Jaco were also evident.

There was much to love in what they were doing, and the fact that they have yet to release their debut album suggests that even greater things are ahead.

Elsewhere, she may be outwith the French focus of this blog, but Australia's Courtney Barnett was a joyful performance, with something of the ragged glory of Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

Quite what a predominately French audience made of Kate Tempest's spoken word and rap performance was uncertain, but she had the energy of a mildly unhinged by endearing primary school teacher delivering a lesson the assembly was unlikely to forget.

No shortage of acts that deserve a mention in a round-up of the event. Dad Rocks delivered their thoroughly-crafted pocket symphonies, Cosmo Sheldrake's unique electro folk bringing much human warmth to a genre that too-often revels in being austere.

The aftermath of the Trans Musicales gives you much to think about. After the festival itself, you're left with much to follow up.

There are acts you caught briefly and want to investigate further. Others you might have missed completely, but good reports from friends lead you to check them out.

Other festivals play it safe, with bankable big names on the stage year after year. Not so the Trans Musicales, where a spirit of musical adventure is the key.

If you keep your ears and your mind open, you'll be rewarded at the Trans Musicales.

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