Tis the season for . . . a festival? Well, yes, if you get it right
If it’s December, it must mean catching the plane and train to Rennes. Thanks to the talent-scouting skills of long-time musical director Jean-Louis Brossard, the city’s Trans Musicales festival has been attracting fans, media, professionals and bands to the French city for the past 34 years. We may think some Irish events have earned their spurs after five or 10 outings, but 34 years is quite a tally.
Les Trans is a completely different beast to the festivals we have here. Instead of the top-heavy nature of Irish and UK festival bills, Les Trans offers a slew of newbies a chance to impress in the giant hangars in Parc Expo on the edge of the city.
The big headliners you’d figure that a 12,000 capacity event needs to pay the bills are nowhere to be seen – Rachid Taha and Vitalic were the biggest names to play the festival last weekend – with emerging acts such as Petite Noir, Sinkane, Nick Waterhouse, Phoebe-Jean and Lou Doillon to the fore.
Add the fact that “Les Trans” has invested heavily in production to turn four or five hangars in an industrial park – not what you’d call natural venues – into proper music-friendly spaces and you have a festival to be admired.
While you can understand why increasingly risk-adverse promoters tend to stick to the summer months for festivals, it’s still striking that there are not more winter events of this ilk on the calendar. Promoters argue that bad weather may discourage fans, but then again we haven’t exactly had great summer weather in recent times.
As Les Trans shows, a decent bill, a good location and attention to detail will always draw the crowds. We’re already planning for Trans number 35 next
Trans Musicales express: Rachid Taha