On Sundays, Parisians dress down, so today’s fashion index was noticeably lower and consequently it was a bit harder to spot the Brits, of whom there were plenty in attendance. On paper the lineup didn’t look as strong as Friday (read review here) or Saturday but I got there early and started with the Crocodiles.
By a stroke of chance I had finally watched the Ramones’ film 'End Of The Century' the previous night and the Crocodiles were almost exactly like the Ramones on ketamine. The front man was mildly dynamic, but the group looked like three college guys who had hooked up with their two female high school music teachers to form a band. As Jack Black would say, off to a bad start.
The Vaccines were next, opening the Main Stage, and I left the Crocodiles early to make sure I saw them. Now it’s hard to concentrate for a whole day and I find my mind wanders quite easily. So it didn’t help that The Vaccines looked, and at times sounded, like they were three different bands – and why, I wondered, was only the guitarist a Jack Wills endorsee?
Once he got his sleeves sorted out, I got into the music. Gradually the songs drew me in, Justin Young’s vocals asserted and I enjoyed the set, as did a good-sized crowd. Not convinced they’ll stick together – but I guess that’s what they said about The Ramones.
So on to take in Lilly Wood And The Prick on the Scene de la Cascade. Being emergent and French, they had a large and partisan crowd. High on energy, charismatic singer Nili Hadida took control after a nervous start and they blasted through their set in assured fashion. They deliver soft-centred but robust pop music and they went down really well. Since their lyrics are in English it’s not hard to imagine them being successful in the US, too.
In the groove, I hastened over to check out Cherri Bomb on the Scene Pression. An all girl four-piece Los Angeles rock band are obviously a great marketing proposition but lacking some songs and the firepower to deliver them, they disappointed. In fairness their stage sound was poor but they even mangled a cover of the Foo Fighters’ 'The Pretender', played as a tribute to the Foos after supporting them in Germany.
"We’re from Los Angeles and we’re here to rock your city" – most bands feel compelled to say something similar and some of them deliver, but not Cherri Bomb. And when I thought it couldn’t get worse I strolled by The La’s, yet another band on the comeback trail. Twenty years on, they were just desperate.
STREAM: My Chemical Romance - Welcome to the Black Parade
By now, my spirits were rather low and I fetched up at the Main Stage for My Chemical Romance with no real expectations. They promptly blew the place apart – one great punk metal anthem followed another and the crowd performed brilliantly too. MCR were utterly professional, passionate and accomplished despite already having played Reading and Leeds in the two previous days – I’d not seen them live before but I’d definitely go see them again. It was terrific fun and it set things up perfectly for the Deftones.
The Deftones certainly did not disappoint. They’ve surely had ups and downs in a lengthy career, but the strength of their latest album, 'Diamond Eyes' and the serious accident that befell bass player Chi Cheng, seem to have pushed the intensity of their performance up several notches. They played a welcome mixture of old and new songs and Chino Moreno was absolutely on top form.
It seems strange in the context of their uncompromising sound but the songs have a joyous core that is somehow uplifting even when the subject matter is bleak. Stephen Carpenter is a highly original guitarist and almost uniquely they really do not sound like anyone else – not even the Ramones. What’s more, the crowd – a very diverse grouping of young and old - liked them a lot and didn’t want to let them go at the end of the set.
After such a triumphant event I didn’t have the energy for headliners Archive – a typically quirky Rock en Seine choice to close the event (I believe Paris and Bristol may be twin cities). Overall, I think the festival is consistently the friendliest and most relaxing I’ve attended. The programme is always a mixed bag and it’s certainly the only festival where you can feel seriously under (as opposed to wrongly) dressed but I guess you pay your money and you take your choice. I can’t imagine August without it.
For more info on the festival, head over to rockenseine.com.