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 new favorite LP from the 1970s. I’ll need to find that later, but for now I’m still thinking about the new bands we saw today!
Today’s filming took place in the abandoned third floor of a former hotel turned dental university called the Hotel Pasteur. The first floor remains a student dental clinic while the second and third floors are now used as free community spaces. The third floor used to be the student laboratory space and has definitely seen better days, with peeling paint, graffiti, makeshift murals, and cracking linoleum, but as we filled the space with gear, bands, and music industry folks, it warmed up and ended up feeling homey by the end of the afternoon.
The first band of the day was Fai Baba, haling from Zurich, Switzerland. When deciding which bands to invite to our filming, Fai Baba was one of the first we all unanimously agreed we needed to see live and they did not disappoint. Previously releasing two albums as a duo and a new third album this year called Sad and Horny, Fabian (vocals/guitar) and Domi (drums) became a four-piece just before Trans Musicales, adding Oli on keyboard and Rodi on bass. On the recordings, they have a quite gentle dream-pop vibe, but with the addition of bass and keyboard, they morphed into a jazz infused prog rock force of nature. I asked Fabian, the singer/guitarist and band founder, when they made this change, and he said they had only been playing together in this incarnation for two weeks, this being their 5th performance.
We keep hearing from each band that one of the most unique things about Trans Musicales is the fact that the Artistic and Program Director Jean-Louis Brossard makes a point of booking unknown and often extremely new bands. The second band of the day, Octave Noire, is a prime example of a brand new band being booked by the merit of just a couple of recordings and having the development of their live performances nurtured by the festival itself. Singer/lyricist Patrick and keyboardist/synth player/music maker/dreamer of dreams Ton began writing songs in the beginning of 2016, then went their separate ways for months to develop the music on their own before reconvening a month and a half ago to begin playing live performances to prepare for their show tonight at Trans Musicales. The festival seems to be an amazing resource for new bands having a summit a month before the proper festival called the Tourné Trans, which helps workshop bands and give them experience in front of audiences before their showcase at the festival in December. This afternoon saw Octave Noire playing a groovy set of dream-pop with the addition of French pop-star Yelle’s drummer Franck Richard to improve the groove. Their debut album, Néon, is due out in January. Good news: they gave me an early copy so I’ll play it for you when I get back!
The day wrapped up with a fantastic band out of Normandy, France, called Grand Parc. Founding members Nick and Annie, who both play guitar and sing, plus Jean-Baptiste on bass and Guillame on drums, played an extremely skillful set of shoegaze-math rock-French pop. They had elements of Stereolab, Pinback, Blonde Redhead, and Foals, all while sounding completely fresh and original. Fun fact: I counted 22 effects pedals between them all. I don’t know what they all do, but they must know how to use them all effectively because they sounded awesome. Definitely a new favorite!
Ok, gotta go. We’re heading out to the Parc Expo to go see all of these bands again live for their official festival shows. While you wait for tomorrow’s update, you can enjoy all of my screw ups when trying to introduce today’s venue. Bonsoir!