The French festival with a certain “je ne sais quoi”...
We’re back and rested after enjoying a laid-back party weekend at France’s Festival Beauregard. You probably haven’t heard of it, but here are four reasons why we had such a bloody good time – and why you should think about putting it in your festival calendar for next year.
It’s worth the trip
Tired of the tedium of the same old run of UK festivals? Well there’s plenty of fun to be had just across the Channel. You can fly or jump get the Eurostar, but we hopped on a five-hour ferry from Portsmouth to Caen to get there and back with a chilled cruise, a few drinks and a wee nap. Beats being mucky on a cramped train through the sticks in old Blighty, eh?
Then when you get there, you’re in the lush green heart of Normandy – with bloody lovely neighbouring towns offering damn fine coffee, cheese, wine, and beer, as well as a tonne of history like Pegasus Bridge and some cool Norman stuff. If you’re not into that though, you can just stay on the festival site and rave. As well as a silent disco playing sweet jams from across Europe, the Festival Beauregard has pretty decent food on offer, a whole bunch of themed bars offering far better than your usual watered-down lager, and it’s all manageable because it’s laid across just two main stages so all acts can play alternately – meaning you never have to miss anything.
This is a very diverse line-up
How many festivals have you been to where you can see Limp Bizkit, Tears For Fears and Disclosure on the same bill? Madness, eh? Well, you’d think so, but when you’re there, you enjoy what feels like a line-up that’s been cherry-picked from across Europe’s best bills. Watching Ben Harper soulfully jam into the sunset before strolling across the field to ease into the night with Mac DeMarco’s classy daftness would have made for a pretty fine Saturday night anyway – but cap it off with some sharp-suited tomfoolery from The Hives (still on the finest of forms) before a soul-searing post-rock masterclass from Mogwai and a wee hours blast of apocalyptic rave from Modeselektor? You’ve just travelled to so many worlds all in one field.
The local talent is really good
But while you’re over at a foreign festival, it would be lunacy not to indulge in a little local culture. We’ve gotta tell you, the French talent showcased at Festival Beauregard 2019 was something else.
Beach Youth have that summer breeze-y abandon to deserve their name – but with a jangle-indie freneticism of early Strokes washed up with Phoenix-meets-Friendly-Fires-esque Euro disco. Also for rock fans, Rendez Vous smash together IDLES-esque aggy punk with ‘Primary Colours’-era synthy Horrors and some pretty explosive droney shoegaze to make something pretty chaotic but glorious. They’re well worth your time.
The crowd lap up the oodles of French hip-hop on offer, but no other French rapper we see here comes close to the firey delivery and pure carnage of PLK, if you can see him through the dust kicked up in the circle pits. At the other end of the spectrum there’s Clara Luciana – meandering between searing desert rock to pure disco bops via some heavy-hearted sultry ballads and a post-rock breakdown or two. She was our favourite discovery of the weekend, next to art-pop agitator Jeanne Added – an artist with the slick R&B-flecked chops of Christine & The Queens, a Robyn-esque inclination for a heart-stopping banger, and Sia’s vocal acrobatics – but all delivered with a gothic industrial menace of Nine Inch Nails. What’s not to love?
The vibes are pretty special
“What the fuck is this bullshit?,” snarls IDLES frontman Joe Talbot as he glares and stomps down hard on the gangway plinth that leads out from the Scene Beauregard stage out into the crowd. Clearly not taken with any rock god tropes, he continues: “Fuck the ego. Fuck the phallus. We’re not here for us, we’re here for you.”
Whether howling for a little peace, love and understanding or handing over their guitars for hardcore fans to play, IDLES truly embody the local spirit of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”. It’s a mood that permeates the weekend. People dance, all day and all night. There’s a joyous communal spirit among those huddling for shade. Also, there’s much love on show for this Frencher-than-French bizarre art troupe in pink (see below) whose ‘bit’ seems to be picking a leader to copy their every move…
At one point, Cat Power gets intimate as she recalls how France has embraced her like other. It seems like the love is mutual. Later, Interpol close proceedings and their whole summer European festival tour with a set that feels more like a celebration channelling the certain “je ne sais quoi” in the air. We already miss it. Try it for yourself next summer.