The French new music festival has spent four decades looking forward - its 2018 edition is no exception
“Les Trans: Brand new since 1979” – it’s a fitting signature for a festival that’s never once turned its back on the future.
The French event boasts an almost unrivalled legacy, and on the cusp of celebrating its 40th edition – taking place across 25 venues in Rennes, Brittany between 5-9 December – Les Rencontres Trans Musicales is still yet to need a hearing aid.
Ever since its early days being little more than a modest congregation of art students, festival curators Béatrice Macé and Jean-Louis Brossard have been carefully nurturing the careers of upcoming artists, spotting their potential and offering them a platform. From Björk to Bon Iver, time and time again, Les Trans has been ahead of the crowd. They’re all about providing a springboard, offering slots to artists from around the world.
In 2018, now about to enter its fifth decade of existence, we take a look at some of new artists performing at this year’s edition (there are almost 90 acts performing across five nights) that could prove to be the standout highlights.
Who: Bodega (photographed above)
When: Saturday 8 December
Where: Hall 3
Let’s kick things off with an easy one, Brooklyn five-piece Bodega have been stirring up quite a racket in the past 12 months. Echoing the guitar-laden post-punk of bands like Parquet Courts, they embrace a sort of snappy satirical commentary that also appreciates the cathartic benefits of the dance floor. Having already gained some considerable traction, Les Trans may prove to be the ideal opportunity to taste some real widespread European attention.
When: Sunday 9 December
An offshoot of their previous band Screaming Peaches, Theo Spark and Jamie She have barely been making music for year and they’re already set to perform on an episode of Made In Chelsea. But don’t hold that against them. Far from being a bunch of toffs from west London, the British/Korean duo’s warped and infectious pop baffles and much as it entertains, which makes the whole thing all the more engrossing.
When: Saturday 8 December
Where: Hall 9
I saw this guy about six months ago when he was on tour supporting Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Leap frogging between London and his home in one of the most northern points of the Scottish countryside, Kyle Molleson delivers stylish electronic rock, house and techno that wanders the deepest depths static dissonance.
When: Friday 7 December
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in this case. Rennes’ very own Praa is set to play what’s likely to be her biggest show yet and, appropriately, it’s going be right on her doorstep. Her sensual fusion of R&B and trip-hop inhabits a similar sonic ground to Solange and Anderson .Paak. It bears all the hallmarks of an artist ready to embrace stardom.
When: Thursday 6 December
Sheer boredom can often be the catalyst for some people’s greatest achievements, and that’s exactly what happened to The Homesick. From a small town in northern Holland, the trio mix a controlled mesh of shoegaze and krautrock. Plus, they have a song called ‘The Best Part Of Being Young Is Falling In Love With Jesus’, which is, at the very least, quite interesting.
Who: Nabihah Iqbal
When: Wednesday 5 December
When she wasn’t studying for her Cambridge Masters degree in Philosophy, Nabihah Iqbal was DJing at sweaty uni house parties under the name Throwing Shade. Since then, she’s ditched her alias and her multi-lingual grasp on genre has helped her evolve electronic afrobeats into the kind of refreshing post-punk that feels like the audio equivalent of the silvery briskness of dawn.
Who: Aloïse Sauvage
When: 5-9 December
Where: L’Aire Libre
I’ll admit, I’m not (currently) a leading authority on French hip-hop, but there’s just something about Aloïse Sauvage. She’s got a bit of everything: a seasoned poet, multi-instrumentalist and a trained acrobat for the contemporary circus, Sauvage has devoted life to her art. Churning out sleek and almost ambient hip-hop, her shows across the duration of the festival promise to involve all of the above. It’ll be a spectacle.
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