Saturday 2nd – Sunday 3rd June, Bois de Vincennes
After her performance at All Points East, punters mused that only Bjork could enlist the weather into her production; a full moon glistened in a dark sky, punctuated by forks of lightening. A week later at Parisian festival We Love Green, the weather played along again. As dusk fell, the sky glowed dusty pinks and oranges, and the Icelandic queen took to a technicolour main stage, La Prairie, that had been transformed into an ethereal forest, complete with impish flautists and a gaudy pumpkin straight out of Yayoi Kusama’s studio. Whilst she flirted with crowd pleasers like ‘Human Behaviour’, her set focused on 2017 album Utopia, with Arca-produced ‘Courtship’ and ‘The Gate’ shining, the so-called utopian flute experiment.
We Love Green is run on renewable energy. The festival recycles at least 70% of its waste, and the commitment to sustainability was clear site-wide. Spread across four main stages, much of the festival infrastructure was wooden, and huge brightly coloured flags dotted around the park reminded me of Bestival. I spent much of the weekend in LaLa Land, We Love Green’s dance focused arena, and it was great to dance without navigating a sea of cans and cigarette butts on the floor. Every cup was reusable, there were ashtrays everywhere, and there wasn’t a plastic straw in sight.
A long tent open on three sides, LaLa Land had crisp, strong sound – refreshingly for a city festival, this was the case across all stages – and from the roof hung glittering chandeliers and satin drapes. Honey Dijon brought the Saturday afternoon to life with her distinctive blend of rolling house grooves and singalong vocals, Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ and Sylvester’s ‘Mighty Real’ both dropped to a roaring reception. Later that day, The Black Madonna delighted the crowd to finish, the dancefloor illuminated by swivelling white spotlights as she dropped cuts like LK’s ‘(I Wanna) Make Luv 2 U’ and Butch’s remix of Basement Jaxx ‘Good Luck’. Sunday’s highpoint came in the form of Daphni’s astute selections, including DJ Koze’s ‘Pick Up’ – aka the certified song of the summer – and Nina Kraviz, who closed out the weekend with an electrifying show. Dancing only as Nina does, she threw up her white hood and sent the crowd into a frenzy with Public Energy ‘Three ‘O Three’ and PTU’s ‘A Broken Clock is Right Twice A Day’. I’ve seen Kraviz play many times, but I’ve never heard her drop ‘Ghetto Kraviz’, until now. As the hypnotic opening bars rung out, she came in front of the decks to dance with her mesmerised fans.
Think Tank – a transparent triangular structure – hosted panels and screenings focusing on sustainability and taking care of our surroundings. On the Sunday all talk turned to Yaeji, the meteoric rising star who played Think Tank in the afternoon. Attracting a young and trendy crowd with a taste for Fila footwear, the Korean-American producer and DJ brought pulsating groove and her Galcher Lusterwerk-esque vocal to Paris with live renditions of ‘Feel It Out’ and ‘Guap’.
Away from dance music, We Love Green boasted a line up showcasing excellent home grown talent, Charlotte Gainsbourg’s show being a case in point on Sunday at La Clairière – a big top that was open at the back, with a screen outside for when the tent got too packed. “Silence!” a man behind me instructed excitedly as Gainsbourg came on stage. Looking effortlessly cool and dressed in double denim, the French actress worked through much of her recent LP Rest with tracks like ‘Ring-a-Ring O’Roses’, ‘Deadly Valentine’ and my favourite from the album ‘Sylvia Says’. Rectangles of white LEDs lit up the stage, manoeuvring slowly around her and her band. The sound was good, save for a new moments where her breathy vocal was drowned out by the instrumentation.
La Clairière showcased the French’s love for hip hop – Tyler, The Creator and Migos drew some of the biggest crowds of the weekend, with the latter sending fans scaling up the metal posts inside the tent – and vocals came to the fore in the form of Sampha’s exquisite liquid gold and King Krule’s deep, gravelly tones. Elsewhere, on La Canopé stage, British talent shone as IAMDDB’s ‘Shade’ fired up the crowd in the early afternoon on Sunday. The previous day, R&B songstress Jorja Smith celebrated the imminent release of her debut album. Performing the likes of ‘Where Did I Go’, ‘Blue Lights’ and ‘February 3rd’, Smith’s honeyed vocal and personable stage presence made her performance a highlight of the weekend.
Overall, the weather’s cooperation with Bjork’s main stage show on the Sunday evening of We Love Green was symptomatic of a general sense of ease over the weekend. Save for some excessive queuing for the loos and food stalls, and a site that didn’t quite feel big enough for the capacity, We Love Green was easy, breezy, and sun-drenched, with a crowd that were as respectful of each other as they were of the festival’s eco-conscious sensibility.
Find out more about We Love Green.