Every year Trans Musicales takes a look into the future of pop by sensing the zeitgeist of the very moment. For three and a half decades one of Europe’s most important festivals has amazed thousands with its unique concept. With an extensive line-up of mostly new and overall promising international groups, any kind of taste in music is guaranteed an inspiring experience.
The fact that even the TGV-train going to Rennes on Thursday afternoon was all about Trans Musicales – including DJ-Sets in the bord bistro – may illustrate the importance of the festival, not just for France or Europe but in general. At arrival, first encounters could be made at ‘La Liberté’, the venue in the city central of Rennes in the afternoon, before taking off for a night at the former EXPO area. The huge halls’ elaborate decoration with lots of love for the detail guaranteed to find a relaxed spot when you needed a break, no matter how crowded it was in front of stage.
Everyone is a discoverer at Trans Musicales. No one showed any of the usual snotty music-nerd-habits of trying to impress everyone with knowing all the bands and reciting all facts about them. Curiosity united all visitors equally, which also created an inspiring openness for the highly diversified line-up. This is the place to realize you love a kind of music you always thought you hated. Many people just walked into the concerts to get surprised and seemed to enjoy what they found. The line-up avoided overlaps which made it possible too see a great number of shows, too.
It was in 1979 that Jean-Louis Brossard and Béatrice Macé created Trans Musicales. Ever since they prove to have a sixth sense for tracing the heroes of the future. A little exhibition at the festival grounds in Rennes’ City Center, namely at “La Liberté”, presented a collection of groups that have played here in the past. SONIC YOUTH, THE PRODIGY, KRAFTWERK – the never-ending list united the who-is-who of the younger international pop history. It’s not just that all of these groups actually played at Trans Musicales, what really stands out is the fact, that they all went on stage before their big breakthrough. Even BON IVER played here 2008, his debut For Emma, Forever Ago had not been released more than half a year ago in Europe by that time. Most groups have never seen an audience this huge and demonstrate for the first time to be able to fill a big stage. So did amongst many LONDON GRAMMAR: Britain’s young indie-pop trio stunned a crowded hall to the last row, creating a strong emotional flair, not at least because of Hannah Reid’s captivating voice.
When Belgian Rapper and Producer STROMAE went on stage, being one of the most well known names in the line-up, people were piling at the Expo-Hall to listen to his well-melted mix of french rap, techno and pop.
The Ukrainian quartet DAKHABRAKHA set thousands of pairs of feet in motion and the incomparable energy of wildly sung and played folkloristic compositions beat the dynamic of techno. LONNIE HOLLEY‘s performance sure was one of the most experimental. Being 63 years old he only released his first album two years ago. Accompanying his incredible voice at the piano everything is improvised, impulsive, personal, and couldn’t feel more authentic. When in the beginning of the show there was still an expectant mumbling in the audience one after the other fell silent and just stood there, listening, watching, feeling it.
THE SAME OLD BAND from Rennes introduced their psychedelic indie-rock, KID KARATE blew away the biggest crowd they had ever seen with rough guitars, noisy drums and catchy hooks, ACID ARAB‘s acid house-arabian-variations became the early morning hour’s soundtrack.
Even if a band didn’t quite match your taste it was impossible to condemn their music. It would have hardly been possible to find a single bad band at Trans Musicales, instead coherent concepts and great ideas were all over the place. All this was underlined by an outstandingly good festival-sound in all venues. On the very bright side Trans Musicales may be one of the very few festivals ever that know how to install light in a way that creates amazing atmospheres without ever blinding you.
Equality is not just an idea at Trans Musicales, but most obviously an aim. The festival engages youth-projects, to give young people the chance not just to see the festival but also to get to know the music-business behind the scenes. Age doesn’t seem to matter at all, since the audience covers a wide range of age. Access to all festival grounds is handicapped accessible, which unfortunately isn’t a normal thing with events of this kind.
During the days of Trans Musicales the “Bars en trans” festival conquers all bars in Rennes most beautiful old town. Many of venues in the city take part in presenting another countless bands absolutely worth to see. Brittany’s Capital seems to be flooded with music – and as amazing at it is you may almost find it sad, that it is quite impossible to really experience both, Bars en trans and Trans Musicales, in one night and you’ll always end up missing something.
Trans Musicales is a great experience. And maybe it does even take its part in shaping the future of pop by displaying the newest of now. It remains exciting to wonder where all the bands one got to know this year will be going and what 2013 might feel like looking back once todays future has arrived. We might know a bit more about this next year at Trans Musicales, if we don’t get all caught in the strength of the moment again, then.