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Paris’ big summer kicks off

June 3rd, 2024

Cities take on a certain frisson of excitement as they prepare to be the centre of the world’s attention, and just two months ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics, We Love Green feels like the launch of a huge summer for Paris. For three days in the heart of the decorative Bois de Vincennes, the city’s cultural life is shown to be in the finest of fettles, with 40,000 revellers braving rainy conditions to create a diverse and joyous experience.

The support of homegrown talent is important to the festival, with local rap titan Ninho’s melodic sensitivity drawing the first full-throated appreciation of the weekend early on Friday from a crowd more than willing to brave the intermittent downpours.That proves just to be a warmup for the night’s true global superstar headliner, however. “My second home is a place called Paris,” announces Burna Boy, to a rapturous reception, before launching headlong into a set bursting with positive inclusive energy.

And yet, the opening day is stolen by Los Angeles rap duo Paris Texas over on the La Canopee stage, exploding into a set that oozes with the dexterity of Organized Konfusion and the playful nuttiness of OutKast. The crowd pogo feverishly enough that eventually both Louis Pastel and Felix find themselves jumping in, while a select few are able reciprocally to find their way on stage. A breakout performance by one of hip-hop’s worst kept secrets.

Paris Texas performing live. Credit: We Love Green

If the world seems a little blurry and soggy as Saturday gets under way, then the radiant warmth and virtuosic lucidity of Toronto’s psych jazzers BADBADNOTGOOD soon correct that. With the wind raining in their faces and the mud pouring into their shoes, the dancing in the main stage field grows in intensity by the minute, and with sudden clarity it feels like festival season has begun. Eventually, hysterical slide guitar parts make way for the Phoenix-like synth squelches of ‘Last Laugh’, and mud is splattering Jackson Pollocks on the rain proofs of all in attendance.

Saturday is bursting with options for We Love Green attendees: Paris’ Eloi produce hyperactive, PC Music-inspired pop on La Canopee, nuanced with a spiky punk charm, while back on the main stage, the utterly irresistible future disco of L’Impératrice is a silvery dream of earworm hooks, frontwoman Flore Benguigui’s fabulous sequins and more earworm hooks. Based on this, their third album ‘Pulsar’, released June 7, could be one of 2024’s sleeper hits.

Conditions begin to clear as Saturday wears on, and with ground-shaking reverberations from Four Tet’s LaLaLand Stage DJ set setting the tone across the easy-to-navigate site, there is a swoon in the air in the 12th arrondissement.

Such Parisian romanticism does not quite translate to the La Clairiere tent, where Kim Gordon’s scabrous and unflappable New York cool is crafting great towers of dense noise rock and digital distortion, punctuated by the deadpan sprechgesang vocals that the Sonic Youth founder has been exploring on new album ‘The Collective’. In a weekend of broadly celebratory, pop-chasing vibrancy, Gordon’s dedication to the sound and spirit of the underground – some four decades into her career – is a source of inspiration, and offers great counterpoint to the festival in general, and to Saturday’s headliners in particular.

Justice performing live. Credit: We Love Green

Against a dramatic black-and-white backdrop, hometown heroes Justice arrive with a minimal setup but an excess of goodwill, unleashing a catalogue of modern dance classics. After the slow tease of ‘Genesis’, the mudstained field is transformed into a ‘00s club night with the appearance of ‘We Are Your Friends’ and ‘Waters of Nazareth’ – the intensity of love on display all the more impressive given the young age of the majority in the crowd. ‘D.A.N.C.E.’ is that rare thing: an anthem so unshakable that it justifies a second outing in the encore, and as the crowd lose it one more time, Gaspard Augé finally allows a smile to cross his stony face.

There are smiles aplenty as Sunday roars into action with King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard on the main stage. Amid cowboy garage rock riffage and whirling moshpits down front, singer Stu Mackenzie takes a beat to declare solidarity with the people of Palestine, a theme that underscores the whole festival – indeed a major pro-Gaza march takes place just beyond the festival perimeter on Saturday.

Kenya Grace is an enchanting figure on La Canopee, seamlessly mixing her way from light, slinky rhythms to heady UKG beats, handily drawing on her track ‘Paris’ early on, although this audience needs no ingratiating. ‘Strangers’, predictably, receives one of the biggest reactions of the weekend.

Burna Boy
Burna Boy performing live. Credit: We Love Green

Closing proceedings is SZA, just weeks ahead of her crowning moment as a Glastonbury headliner. The New Jersey R&B giant owns the occasion with the impatient grab of someone who knows they have been waiting long enough to reach the pinnacle. Whether swinging from a wrecking ball on ‘Low’, wielding a machete during the timeless ‘Kill Bill’ or returning for one last hurrah with ‘20 Something’ while draped in a Palestinian flag, SZA is a festival-topping act in 2024, no question.

We Love Green is so named for its ecological credentials, and after all, this world we love will only remain green if sometimes it rains. It seems weirdly fitting, then, that this at times sodden 2024 edition should have been so overflowing with an abundance of life. Paris, ça a été un honneur.

This content was originally sourced and posted at NME »
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