For the past four years, the French town of Clermont-Ferrand has been the home of Europavox, a music festival displaying the best in European music. The event is centred around La CoopÃ©rative de Mai, a rather fine music venue located just a stone’s throw from the town centre. It boasts two separate concert areas, backed-up by a couple of Spiegeltents in the adjoining park. Arriving on site, State has a feeling that this weekend is going to be a good one. The sun is shining and the concert-goers are lounging around enjoying the weather while they wait for the fun to begin. Amongst the crowd are Jade and Euan, winners of our trip to the festival and we meet up with them for a drink and a quick chat before to going in search of the evening’s first show.
First up is MaxÃ¯mo Park, who have the unenviable task of playing to a crowd who seem intent on standing perfectly still for the entire set. But, as they belt out numbers like -The Kids are Sick Again’ and -Our Velocity’, and with frontman Paul Smith’s onstage antics and small talk made in schoolboy French, they slowly start to win over the onlookers. By the time they finish their set with -Apply Some Pressure’, MaxÃ¯mo Park have the crowd jumping and singing the words.
French group Araban don’t have a stage to play on so instead they ramble around the complex, setting up to play a few songs and entertain the passers-by before moving on again. With their groovy 1950s surf rock sound, their music could have been written to soundtrack a Quentin Tarantino movie and they’re responsible for some impressively large gatherings during their nomadic adventures.
En route to the next gig on the State schedule, we stop to catch a glimpse of I’m From Barcelona, who have their fans clapping along with the infectious feel-good vibes of -Paper Planes’. The band is at full strength tonight with more than 20 members squeezed onto the stage – a feat that perhaps only the Polyphonic Spree could come close to challenging!
Having played at the Heineken Green Spheres event in Waterford two nights previously – and having heard the positive feedback – State waits anxiously for Thecocknbullkid. Anita Blay and her band are greeted by a small but enthusiastic crowd, to which they churn out a series of intelligently-written and pleasingly danceable tunes. -On My Own’, -Boys and Girls’ and -Sinners’ all get an outing and the music draws more and more people. By the time Blay signs-off with an excellent version of -I’m Not Sorry’ the audience has doubled in size.
As the team makes its way over to the final show of the night, we drop by to take a peek at Charlie Winston during his headline performance. Judging by the capacity crowd waving and singing and chanting his name he’s obviously a popular guy around these parts and his music isn’t too bad either.
Ebony Bones is missing a backing vocalist tonight because, as she says, ‘immigration officials mistook her for an Oompa-Loompa.’ It doesn’t seem to affect her band’s performance, though. Having demonstrated how to make a high profile entrance on a low budget, she leads her pack through a set full of instant dancefloor favourites, including -We All Know About You’ and -The Muzik’. And having climaxed with a frenzied rendition of -Don’t Fart on My Heart’, the group returns to the stage to sign-off with a distinctive cover of the White Stripes’ -Seven Nation Army’ that draws the day’s programme to a close.
The live sessions may have ceased for the night but that doesn’t mean the music has to stop. Having made its fair share of concert buddies, State is handed alcoholic beverages from all angles just as French music magazine Les Inrockuptibles sets its staff members loose on the decks. The scene is set for a late night on the tiles and an early morning spent peering into the toilet bowl. At least the DJ’s impeccable taste will be some consolation when we’re in the horrors..
Photos by Claire Weir.