When we last left off, the crew and I were on our way to the Parc Expo where a majority of the Trans Musicales shows are held. It’s a 15 minute shuttle ride from the neighborhood where we are staying. The Parc Expo is a large compound of warehouses the size of airline hangers to accommodate the approximately 16,000 festival goers who attend each day. The stage setups and light shows create an amazing atmosphere for each artist playing that makes it feel like you’re seeing a veteran touring band when many have only played less than a dozen shows. I wish we could have stayed longer, but our days are jam packed with sessions, which is fine by me!
Day three had us filming in the historic city center at the Rennes Opera House. The Opera House was built in 1836 and was the first Opera House built in Brittany, the region in which Rennes is located. It was designed in response to the Capitol building directly across the square from the Opera built 100 years prior. Where the Capitol building is concave, the Opera House is convex so that they could fit together like puzzle pieces. When the Opera was built, the pubic hated it because of its modern design but when the building burned down 20 years later, asked if it should be redesigned the residents had warmed up to their Opera so it was rebuilt to look the same. We we given the privilege to film in the gorgeous ground floor rotunda.The first band of the day was something of a mystery to us leading up to the festival. With few recorded videos available online and just two song clips coming in at a minute and a half each, all we knew about Moon Gogo was that the band featured two members - French musician Frederico Pellegrini on vocals, guitar, and electronics and E'Joung-Ju from South Korea on the traditional Korean 6-stringed instrument called a geomungo. As soon as they started sound checking, we knew we were in for something really cool and unique. The only way I can think to describe their sound is dark folk/blues fusion on Frederico’s side and hypnotic acoustic trip hop rhythms (I know that sounds crazy, but like I said, it was unique) on E’Joung-Ju’s side provided by the geomungo. The result of the fusion of their styes makes for a mesmerizing set of cyclical melodies. In short, it was great and I can’t wait to listen back to the session again. Fun fact: I talked to Frederico after the performance and found out that he has played Trans Musicales a couple other times in the last 25 years - the first time in 1991 where his old band, The Little Rabbits actually opened for Nirvana who were also on the festival lineup that year.
The second band of the day were happily added last minute to our lineup of sessions. Blow are from Paris, a four piece consisting of Quentin Guglielmi (singer), Thomas Clairice (moog/bass), Jean-Etienne Maillard (guitar), and Pierre-Elie Abergel (drums). They played a fun set of dance rock reminiscent of Yeasayer, Jungle, and Passion Pit. Unfortunately they had to take off after their set so I wasn’t able to chat with them, but the music speaks for itself. They were a great addition.
The Opera house, as you can imagine, has great acoustics and I was wondering if any of the groups would take advantage of them by performing an acoustic set. Enter Fishbach (aka Flora Fishbach): This 25 year old chanteuse from Northern France has been working like crazy since the age of 18 playing music. Over the last year she and two other musicians, one of them being her bass player, Michelle, went on a tour of small clubs playing stripped down shows, one of which included a tiny room here in Rennes where Trans Musicales festival booker Jean-Louis Broussard happened to be in attendance. Fast forward a year and Fishbach are doing a residency leading up to and during Trans Musicales. I believe they said they had played something like 5 or 6 shows in the past week. Usually with a full electric band, Fishbach sat on the steps of the rotunda and played a quiet, stripped down set for us that was just lovely. Flora sang and played guitar, while the rest of her band provided vocal harmonies. She has a beautiful voice and writes very catchy hooks that we were all singing the rest of the day. After the performance, Michelle was telling me the story of the small club show they played when Jean-Louis Broussard discovered them. She said the room was tiny and packed with people. There was no PA system, just two speakers on a table which had a beer sitting on one of the monitors. People swayed forward and the speaker fell causing the beer to go flying and dumped over a lady’s head who quickly raised both arms and excitedly yelled “WOOOO!”. Afterword, Jean-Louis asked them to come to a party with, mentioning he was friends with Cyprus Hill. I thought, oh man, this is going to be a good story...but then Michelle got called away and had to leave. I hope to hear the rest of that story some day! What kind of shenanigans can you get up to with Cyrus Hill?
Julien Barbagallo, the drummer of Tame Impala, was the final artist of the day. He arrived early to watch Fishbach’s set, then he and his band began to set up. Julien has been playing solo for a couple years now when he’s not touring with Tame Impala or Pond, and has now released a solo album under the name Barbagallo. His full band consisted of keyboard, bass, guitar and Julien in the center playing drums and singing. The new songs are so so good; super catchy French pop. It was a really fun end to the day to see Julien and his band who had such great chemistry together, often smiling at each other during the performance. I hope they tour the US, I would love to see them play again. I’m looking forward to playing this music for you when we get back!
Tomorrow is the final day where we’ll be filming across the square from the Opera at the Capitol building. I need to go now to stuff as much French food into my face as possible and save it in my cheeks like a hamster so I can have some for the flight back.
In the meantime, here’s the elusive missing interview with Blow:
Bon Dimanche! It’s written in graffiti on several buildings all over Rennes. Happy Sunday! Sunday is the day of rest for the French people and even our crew got to take a small break on the final day of filming during the Trans Musicales festival. Normally, we’re up by 6am, breakfast at 7, out th...
Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unrealeased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on th...
We just returned from our second day of filming live sessions from the Trans Musicales festival in Rennes, France, and our host at the Magic Hall Hotel is playing a killer French funk LP from an artist named Michel Jonasz. And here I thought we’d be discovering only new bands, but now I have a ne...