Youth Lagoon (Photo by Alban Gendrot)
Over the last 12 years, Pitchfork Festival Paris has become a November tradition in France’s capital. A weeklong celebration of music and art, it helps to fill the gap between the hazy days of summer and the festivities of winter. With a lineup that touched on indie pop, hip-hop, psychedelic rock, and celebratory dance music, this year was no different. Here are a few of the best performances we caught.
Youth Lagoon – Eglise Saint-Eustache, Monday, November 6
At Eglise Saint-Eustache on Monday, it was as if no time had passed between the end of last year’s festival and the beginning of this year’s: like the dulcet tones of Arooj Aftab’s 2022 festival-closing set lulled us into hibernation and the upbeat sound of Youth Lagoon woke us up. Same venue, different vibe. With the historic church’s famous 8,000-pipe organ looming behind him, Trevor Powers of Youth Lagoon stood understated in a cap and green Oasis-style parka. At one point, he told the audience he had been “destroyed and rebuilt, with pain as the greatest teacher.” Though the setting was somber and the lyrics were often heavy, the music’s lightness charged the performance with a sense of optimism.
Crumb - Trabendo, Wednesday, November 8
Psychedelic rock quartet Crumb played nearly 20 tracks during their hourlong set, racing forward from the very first synth blast. They took a breather for the chilled-out “Balloon” and “Ghostride,” with the whole band sitting on the floor, but quickly raised the tempo again. The high-point of the set was a sax solo—fast and technical, without overpowering the rest of the group—whose contours stuck in my memory throughout the next day.
Helado Negro – Trabendo, Wednesday, November 8
Near the festival’s midpoint, Helado Negro’s Roberto Carlos Lange charmed the crowd with his breezy synth-folk mastery. He gave an early performance of his rollicking new single, “LFO,” which he told the crowd he hadn’t played many times before, joking that he hoped “the ninth time’s the charm.” It certainly was.
Anjimile – Les Disquaires, Friday, November 10
Everyone was happy to be crammed into a crowded cocktail bar to listen to Anjimile, even if they couldn’t see his beaming smile onstage. The North Carolina singer-songwriter’s set had a charmingly ramshackle quality, with a couple of songs stopped and restarted, which only heightened the sense of intimacy with the audience. They started with a quiet solo set, and things picked up when a band joined in. Drummer Yan Westerlund’s clean and punchy playing helped to make “The Right” and “Genesis” into highlights of the week.
Kneecap – Le Pop-Up, Friday, November 10
The Northern Irish rap trio Kneecap did their best to raise the roof at Le Pop-Up on Friday night—quite literally, as the ceilings of the packed venue were low enough to touch. Mo Chara put his hands on it as the crowd churned, demanding us to bring more and more energy. Mixing hilarity with political critique in songs like “C.E.A.R.T.A.” and “Get the Brits Out,” they seemed to reflect the collective anger and hope in the air, especially as a chant of “fuck the landlords” turned into one of “free Palestine.”
Music Unlock Afterparty – Le Trabendo, Friday, November 10
With shuttle buses running between the Bastille and La Villete, bringing festival-goers to the official afterparty at Trabendo, there was an intoxicating air of exclusivity, as if we were part of a secret club. Between midnight and 6 a.m., DJs Anish Kumar, Tatie Dee, and the Blessed Madonna played a mix of house, disco, and electro, matching the crowd’s celebratory energy. Anish Kumar was the standout set, with his signature mix of Hindi film soundtracks and classic house beats. The boundless zest from all three sets reflected the whole week’s festival: a jubilant salute to the diversity of music and to Paris itself.
Originally Appeared on Pitchfork