Camembert and future-pop – served side by side in Rennes
It’s been a turbulent few weeks for the French (I know, not exactly tranquil here either). Blockades, originally designed to cause inconvenience protest against rising fuel costs, have mutated into larger, violent urban demonstrations. At recent angry gatherings in Paris cars were set on fire and tourism sites closed. These amorphous ‘Yellow Vest’ protests have been labeled an “economic catastrophe” by a leading member of the government, and under pressure President Macron has tried to move to calm the situation. People are largely glued to the coverage. And just this past 24-hours news broke of another unthinkable, unprovoked gun attack, in a Christmas market in Strasbourg.
In terms of the protests, that’s the socio-political backdrop as the 40th addition of Les Transmusicales (Les Trans for short) took place over the weekend in Rennes. If anything, it seemed to offer those attending a temporary escape from that divisive national conversation. And it was a milestone one, too. As Les Trans enters its fifth decade in existence, it remains one of Europe’s most dependable springboards for standout up-and-coming artists, attracting artists and festival-goers from around the world.
Mostly revolving around the cavernous aircraft hanger venues of Rennes’ Park Expo, the iconic faces of previous performers plaster the walls of its enormous interior. The festival’s illustrious lifespan is embodied by images of Nirvana smashing up their first European stage and Daft Punk before their masks were even a thing (weird). But since its days as just a modest congregation of art students, festival organisers and curators Béatrice Macé and Jean-Louis Brossard have tried to live by two rules only: invite those who are yet to play in France and never book an artist twice. Apart from a few exceptions, they’ve remained honest and true to their word.