State begins the day at the summit of the Puy de DÃ´me volcano, about 10 kilometres from the Europavox site. The visit may just be the most inspired moment of the weekend as it blows the cobwebs out of the system, helping overcome the symptoms of the third day slump that most festival-goers will be familiar with. And with a busy schedule ahead of us, those are the kind of symptoms we can ill-afford to have.
Strolling into the festival area later in the afternoon, we discover local act Mr NÃ´ doling out some exquisite electro sounds. Performing together for just over a year, their sound is undeniably French but they’ve managed to avoid becoming Daft Punk or Justice clones to develop a sound of their own. A large crowd has turned up to see them, underlining their popularity in the region around Clermont-Ferrand.
Next up is French folkster Leopold Skin, who has managed to fill the folk tent with curious spectators. Songs like ‘Coming Back Home’ and ‘Goodbye’ are laden with sincerity and emotion and suggest that he may just have the ability to rise to the next level in a genre where the basement is littered with countless pretenders who flatter to deceive.
With a cache of wonderfully uplifting synthpop tunes and an energetic live show, you can’t go wrong with Norway’s Casiokids. Undeterred by the surprisingly low number of people who’ve turned out to greet their arrival on stage, they launch into their set. They look like they’re having tons of fun performing ‘Gront Lys I Alle Ledd’, ‘Verdens Storste Land’ and other unpronounceable numbers and their vibes must be transmitted further afield because the venue soon fills up. They conclude their set with ‘Fot I Hose’, which has State dancing out the door as we rush to catch the next performance.
We’re anxious to see how the French crowd receives Irishman Declan De Barra and it turns out he’s quite a popular attraction. He enchants the crowd with songs from his two albums to date, including ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ and ‘Apple Tree’, which enjoy an enthusiastic response. Playing to his audience, he complements the French on their beauty but it’s unfortunate that he does so at the expense of his native people. References to the Irish race being inbred, accompanied by a string of expletives leaves us somewhat unimpressed, so we leave in search of alternative entertainment.
Dutch electro trio Nobody Beats the Drum are one of the surprise packages for State this weekend. With their music backed-up by kitsch but cool Power Rangers-esque videos, they lay down some seriously cool beats and a mass of bodies dances frantically in time to each track. The group proves to be so popular that the merchandise stall outside the venue runs out of CDs to sell within minutes of their set ending.
Emil SvanÃ¤ngen of Loney Dear has travelled for 25 hours to perform tonight but, despite looking visibly tired, it doesn’t affect his performance one bit. The self-effacing Swedish singer/songwriter rambles through a lengthy set full of sublime moments, such as ‘I Belong to You’, ‘Airport Surroundings’ and ‘Sinister in a State of Hope’. After the gig he hangs around to chat to fans and to sell CDs, with one member of the State team spending an obscene amount of money to purchase his entire back catalogue..
Over 1,500 people have squeezed into the main venue for Vitalic, who is tonight’s main attraction. The French electro exponent gets off to a disappointingly slow start but numbers like ‘Poney Part 1’ and ‘Polkamatic’ eventually bring the crowd to life. An extended version of ‘La Rock 01’, into which elements of the Chemical Brothers hit ‘Galvanise’ is mixed, and ‘My Friend Dario’ provide the piÃ¨ce de rÃ©sistance and the tracks send the crowd into raptures.
With the main event having concluded, it’s up to Brighton-based duo South Central to entertain the crowd into the early hours with their brand of hard and fast electro. By this time we’re starting to feel the effects of the weekend’s exploits so we leave the partying to the hardcore elite, choosing instead to enjoy a few quiet drinks with newfound friends. It’s been a long weekend, with lots of good music and not much sleep – the way all good festivals should be – but with Europavox there’s something more: this little French festival allows you to discover a wealth of European music in an intimate, easygoing atmosphere that’s hard to find anywhere else. We’ll be back!
Photos by Claire Weir including photos of our Europavox winners Euan and Jade! – click to enlarge.