Priya Ragu’s post-genre sound champions her Tamil heritage
Now in its eighth year and with a capacity of 80,000 across the weekend, We Love Green has grown to become Paris’ answer to Primavera – largely thanks to its future-facing line-up where, this time round especially, female musicians ran the show.
The site itself – in the heart of the picturesque tree-surrounded Bois de Vincennes park – was the ideal festival location. It was impressive how many stages (within only a few minutes walk of each other) the organisers managed to fit in without the compact space feeling too crowded. Remaining eco-friendly continued to be a major focus, too: We Love Green was 100 per cent plastic-free and powered by renewable energy, while think tank talks were scheduled to discuss climate change and plastic pollution. The festival also kicked off an initiative whereby one tree was planted for each ticket-holder.
Back to the music, and there were two undeniable runaway successes of the weekend: FKA twigs and Rosalía. Each performing with their own live band and a troupe of impeccably choreographed dancers, they put on a proper show. Returning to the stage for the first time in half a decade, twigs delivered an endlessly innovative theatrical masterpiece – including at least five majestic costumes – for something that was closer to performance art than a standard music concert. The audience remained transfixed and hypnotised throughout – not just by Tahliah Debrett Barnett’s stunning, at times haunting vocal on ‘Two Weeks’ and heartbreaking new ballad ‘Cellophane’, but also her incredible pole dancing talent and skill when armed with a sword.
Rosalía, in the same tent 24 hours later, drew the biggest crowd of the weekend: with thousands packed inside and countless more stretching back for at least a mile, the breakout Spanish star brought her modern take on flamenco to what must be the biggest audience she’s ever performed for. Tracks from last year’s debut, ‘El Mal Querer’, carried a life of their own thanks to her show-stopping vocal and captivating, matador-like dance routine.
Equally impressive was Tierra Whack who, looking radiant in a green daisy-covered dress, orange beret and ‘Boss Lay’ bracelet, made lightwork of her first time in Paris. The Philadelphia rapper delivered a deliciously short but sweet set, rattling through earworms from the incredible ‘Whack World’ as well as her handful of singles released earlier this year. Bouncing across the stage like a ball of energy, her beaming energy was infectious – leading to hundreds bouncing together and waving their arms to ‘Only Child’ and ‘Pet Cemetery’. Proving that quality really is more important than quantity, she might have only been on stage for 30 minutes but there wasn’t a second that was wasted.
Delivering a memorable debut at the festival was American-Columbian musician Kali Uchis: performing in front of vibrant visuals of flowers blooming, she effortlessly seduced the thousands standing under the scorching sun as they sway to her smooth and sensual grooves ‘Tyrant’ and ‘After The Storm’.
Expectedly, there were several homegrown artists who received the loudest cheers and, for Ed Banger affiliate SebastiAn, the wildest moshpits as hordes of topless teenagers jumped into one another and crowdsurfed to his bass-heavy EDM. Contrastingly, for her homecoming, Christine and the Queens brought the funk of ‘Girlfriend’ and ‘Comme Si’ to the main stage, performing her entire set in French, aided by a fiery pyrotechnic show and a crew of tightly-knit dancers.
Meanwhile the appropriately-titled LaLaLand – a greenhouse-like sweatbox with mirrored disco balls of various shapes hanging from above – provided a haven for house and techno fans: Goumania is clearly still alive and kicking as Peggy Gou got hundreds in the rave tent moving to her acid-tinged house, while Salon des Amateurs resident Lena Willikens opted for harder breaks and French-Canadian Marie Davidson seduced with her lyrically empowering electro.
By curating an impressively diverse line-up (in terms of genre and gender) and keeping the environment in mind while throwing a great party, the We Love Green team is leading the future and setting a standard of what festivals should be aiming to achieve. Other promoters could learn a lot.
Find out more about We Love Green here.