When my boyfriend asked me to join him in Europe, I immediately said yes. Prior to us dating, we developed a friendship based on our mutual love of obscure music. One day he showed me the line up for a French festival filled with some of our favourite acts, boasting that he’ll be in Europe for it and joking around that I should join him. Flash forward a couple of months, that friend was now my boyfriend, he was in the opposite hemisphere to me, and he told me that I should come to Europe in time for said music festival. With organising an entire trip to Europe in only a few weeks, my family honestly thought I was going through a breakdown. I was forced to see my psychologist to make sure I was mentally stable and wasn’t displaying symptoms of mania. They just didn’t understand why I had to leave so hurriedly. But really, if I was going to Europe, I had to make it in time for Pitchfork Music Festival Paris. “What’s so good about a music festival, Imogen?”
“You know we have music in Adelaide, right?” “Why are you so obsessed with these events Imogen? Is it because your a recreational drug user?”
I can understand their hesitations though. I have never travelled overseas before this trip, let alone a music festival that hasn’t been in Adelaide. But any music fan would realise the importance of attending events you’ve dreamed of going to. And honestly, I was just so interested in seeing how the rest of the world celebrated music. Whether that was similar or different to the way I personally do in Australia, and to see the overall effect various cultures have on their music scene.
[Image of The Louvre, Paris on my day of arrival].
Pitchfork Avant-Garde occurs annually in the days leading up to the main festival, with the aim to broadcast independent acts from around the world. My arrival in Paris coincided with the first night of Avant-Garde, with the absolute queen Stella Donnelly playing. Hearing this, my boyfriend Timo and I prematurely booked tickets. Some quick advice; do not spend 30€ on concert tickets for an event happening a few hours after your first international flight. The 22 hours of travelling will get to you, and jet lag is a real bitch.
I wish I could tell you how wonderful it was to see Stella Donnelly on the other side of the world. But no, I slept right through the whole performance. Although, that nap was one of the best I’ve had. Even Anthony Fontana would rate that nap a 10/10.
[CHVRCHES at Pitchfork Music Festival, Paris].
A few days passed, and it was time. Day 1 of Pitchfork Music Festival Paris. Under the cover of a drunken haze, thanks to 3€ bottles of sparkling wine, we stepped foot in Grande Halle de la Villette just in time to catch Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. For me to afford this trip, I sold my tickets to Rolling Blackouts’ Australian tour. I had so much built up hype to finally see them, and damn it was good. Timo and I had snuck to the front of the stage where we danced and sung along to a set list which included French Press, Mainland, and Talking Straight. We did get a few strange glances by the French crowd who really did not understand why we were so interested in one of the opening bands. As the set went on, we saw a group of people also boogying and having a good time. We slowly merged together, and had a big dance party in the middle of the mosh. Once the band left the stage, the lights turned back on, and crowd slowly dispersed, one of the people we had joined asked me, “Do you know if Yellow Days (who was next to play) is on this stage?” I could recognise that bogan sounding voice anywhere. He was Australian. His sounds echoed throughout the group whilst discussing the performance they just watched. I couldn’t believe my luck. The first people I meet in Europe were Australian. I finally not just understood, but experienced the stereotype of a-drunk-Australian-at-a-European-music-festival. You know, the ones that got a bit rowdy after sculling a few too many beers but are still having the best time? But hey, I can’t talk too much about that because that was the person I also soon became.
[Myself (middle) with my friend, Phoebe, and boyfriend, Timo.]
For the following two days at Pitchfork, the fellow Aussie’s, Timo, my Australian friend Phoebe (who was also on her own Euro-trip), and myself stuck together. We travelled between the two stages of the festival, creating good vibes wherever we went and simply just enjoying ourselves. This tended to be high in energy, with us singing very terribly to some of our favourite acts and some very cringe dancing to go along with it. Finding this group of fellow Australians really helped reiterate and further define the difference in the Australian and French music scenes. Us Australian’s could have come across rowdy to the French crowd. During our time enjoying each set, we got many daggers and negative comments. From being told to not sing as it was a distraction, and that our dancing was too much and we should stop, we didn't understand why us celebrating our favourite acts in our own way was an issue to so many of the French audience.
If the way we interacted with the French at Pitchfork Music Festival was any indication as to the way the people here truly celebrate music and spend time at festivals, I'm glad I'm Australian. The enjoyment we had by just simply doing what we felt like, in relation to the music, was second to none. There was no harm whatsoever, just us simply having a fun time.
My next blog post follows my experiences in Barcelona, Spain. Keep your eyes peeled on The Australian Underground social's to follow my journey.