Festival Review: Nuits Sonores

The Nuits Sonores kicked off its eighth consecutive year as any respectable music extravaganza should. With a one hell of a loud bass! Skiddle's Jasmine Phull was there in the thick of it.

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 20th May 2010

Reviewed by: Jasmine Phull

Photo by: Romain Braincon

Annual electronic/indie music festival the Nuits Sonores kicked off its eighth consecutive year as any respectable music extravaganza should. With a one hell of a loud bass!  The French festival is set amidst the beautiful city of Lyon; situated in the South West - this ‘ville’ being once more of an industrial city better known for its mass production of silk.

Not anymore. Over the past eight years the Nuits Sonores has washed over Lyon like a flood; leaving a trail of music ranging from acid jazz to electro bangers. The spectacle is spread over 40 different venues; concert halls, warehouses, bars and streets, and in turn the town is transformed into a mecca of musical mayhem. A musical playground, if you will. From the 12 – 15 May ticket holders were offered a mass variety of global artists; during three evenings the live music took place at an industrial wasteland-like venue known as La Marché Gare. Those without tickets were treated to afternoons of free DJs and music.

The first night was absolute carnage. Punters went wild as they impatiently stood in a ‘line’ that resembled more of herd of cattle squeezing into a barn than an enthusiastic bunch of musical aficionados. La Marché Gare was an outside venue that held four massive crate-like rooms or ‘Scènes’. Tonight we’d dance to France’s own Vitalic, Britain’s Hot Chip and America’s Jesse Rose.

Vitalic’s show was one that left all involved speechless and very very sore. The Dijon DJ certainly lived up to all the hype, playing his old head-banging electro-rock, and his italo-disco new (see 2009 album Flashmob). With techno, house, electro et al; a melange of his trademark sounds as hard-edge as they come, it seemed tonight Vitalic’s music finally met its match. The bone-crushing audience was not one to be reckoned with. As much as we tried to toughen it out at the front we were in fact no match for the hazardous horde, so off we ran to Room 2 to see British geek-chics Hot Chip. But there must have been something in the beer because despite Hot Chip’s apparent ‘softer’ sound Room 2’s attendees were no different to the previous. Night one was to be an event of zeal-fuelled testosterone led exhilaration.

Electro-popettes Hot Chip were most certainly a crowd pleaser. Nuits Sonores were lapping it up. From the repetitive classic 'Over and Over' to the more recently released 'Ready for the Floor' the boys had it going on right until the end of their set when all but one ran off stage. Most comical member Joe Goddard, decked out in sweat-pants and a jumper, decided to accompany American friend and DJ Jesse Rose and boy did he make an impression. Through the whole 1h45mins DJ set Goddard was like a ‘jack-in-the-box’; bending and flexing in time to the music all the while a permanent smile fixed to his face. The jovial pair took swigs from the complimentary bottle of vodka and continued to entertain the audience; Rose with his music and Goddard with his ‘meticulous’ dance moves. It’s rare that a live DJ set will incite much inspiration and tonight was no exception. Perhaps starting with Vitalic Live and ending with a mere Jesse Rose DJ set was a step backwards. Vitalic Live most certainly justified a closing slot.

Our last night at Lyon’s Marché Gare was two thirds French (Yuksek and Laurent Garnier) and one third American (The Juan Maclean). It took Yuksek a fair while to warm up; his beginning was riddled with slow repetitive tracks from 09 album Away From the Sea, beckoning a little less than a sluggish sway, yet after almost an hour the young music producer’s remixes and harder ear-beaters were whole-heartedly welcomed. His earlier tunes reminiscing back to 08’s Tonight took to the stage and caused a massive explosion in the crowd. Although the size of the night’s crowd was no match to the first it was finally time to raise the fists in a euphoric pump-like action. An image that America’s electronic The Juan Maclean is more than accustomed to.

Upon our arrival at Room 1, admittedly a tad tardy, we were welcomed by looped vocals, disco samples and tribal beats. Yes we were indeed under the ethereal presence of the DFA Daddy. From 05’s Less Than Human, 09’s The Future Will Come and his recent DJ Kicks exploration, feet on the dance-floor were under the constant command of the 80’s synth, funked-up drum sounds.

To end the night of all nights was electro pioneer (one of Busy P’s favourites), the ubiquitous Laurent Garnier. A veteran in his field, he played as if he’d been born behind the decks. His heavyweight dance floor anthems, from the unyielding techno pulse of 'Crispy Bacon' and moody jazzed-out impression of 'Acid Eiffel' to his eternal classic, the end-of-night jazz-house tune with that bassline and those ride cymbals, it was of course 'Man with the Red Face'. Tonight Garnier played alongside fellow Frenchies Scan X and Benjamin Rippert. After every transition they pushed the long build ups, maximising the anticipation of the punters (sweaty palms and all) until finally it would reach its peak, causing a mental outbreak within the crowd. It was a euphoric state like no other. You didn’t actually have to be on acid to feel like you were on its trip.

Words by Jasmine Phull