This year, Weather Festival returned to Parc Des Expositions, a vast aircraft museum and airport in Paris’s north-east. In some respects, it was a leaner experience than previous editions. For one, there were no lavish opening concerts. But at the same time, the scale of the main event often felt daunting. The festival’s four seasonal stages—two inside, two outside—were cavernous, spread across Parc Des Exposition’s tarmac sprawl. Overall, though, in spite of a couple of niggles—long queues for expensive drinks, and some unseasonable storms that forced the city’s riverside venues to close—Weather 2016 was an unqualified success. The soundsystems were beefy, the young crowd was educated and enthusiastic, and the programming was diverse and perfectly-pitched. Excellent house and techno could be found at most hours of the day, leaving me with plenty of difficult decisions about who to see.

The festival didn’t properly get going until Saturday afternoon, so I when I arrived on the damp and chilly Friday evening I found the site half-closed. That said, there were plenty of heavyweight acts on the bill, with the likes of Dixon, Seth Troxler, and Henrik Schwarz representing the more accessible end of the lineup. Best of all, though, was Rex Club’s Molly, who was given the unenviable task of warming up the soggy Spring stage. Moving briskly through a selection of upfront tech house, she mined a similar sound with far more subtlety than the superstars who followed her.

 

 

As Molly proved, some of my most satisfying moments were spent seeing the many French DJs and live acts playing across the weekend. Whether it was hometown heroes Hold Youth upstaging their illustrious peers on Saturday evening, or the booming, big room perfection of Antigone’s live techno later that night, or Ben Vedren beaming over his MIDI controller on Sunday afternoon, this year’s Weather felt more like a showcase of local talent than ever before.

There were fewer of the headline live acts that had provided such a focal point at previous editions. Much of this slack was picked up by LA electro pioneer Egyptian Lover, whose raucous shows are renowned for their high energy and crowd participation. Storming onto the stage through a haze of smoke, the Californian pumped up the crowd with some signature call and response. « 8, 0, motherfucking 8! », he bellowed from the Spring stage. He followed that with a cry of « Turn it up! »—likely directed at the struggling sound engineer. Plagued by technical hitches all weekend, the Spring stage never sounded so good as during Lover classics like « Egypt Egypt, » and, above all, « P.E.L.F, » whose monstrous breakdown sparked the biggest crowd reaction of the weekend.

 

 

If Weather has a sound, it’s slick, muscular techno. You could hear this echoing through the festival’s two indoor stages throughout the weekend, and my favourite set in this style came from Donato Dozzy in the early hours of Sunday morning. (He was originally billed to appear as Aquaplano alongside Nuel, but his frequent collaborator didn’t make the festival.) Dozzy’s set, an elegant, hypnotic masterclass felt more indebted to rich Romanian sounds and early UK tech house than the ruthless machine music that Dozzy’s famous for. Of the other standout techno performers, Rødhåd was impressive, though it was DVS1 whose brand of propulsive electronics hit home hardest. Given the closing slot on Sunday morning, he opened with a track that appeared to sample an Apollo rocket launch, melting many addled minds further. Considering the festival’s airport setting (two disused Arianne rockets sat only 100 metres from the site), it was a cunning first track. He finished up three hours later, climaxing in spectacular fashion with The Other People Place’s Detroit classic « Let Me Be Me. »

For many, Zip and Ricardo Villalobos’s back-to-back session on Sunday afternoon was the emotional highpoint of the weekend. Villalobos packed his usual blend of exotic tech house, dexterous minimal and—a cornerstone of his recent festival appearances—bizarre New Romantic ballads, but it was Zip who shone brightest. After an hour of introverted warm-up fodder, he shifted gears just as the sun finally started to peek through the clouds. Moments later, as if to celebrate the fact, Zip sharply blended in Master At Work’s summery house classic « Gimme Groove. » It was a spine-tingling moment.

 

 

The foundations of Zip and Villalobos’s cathartic afternoon session were laid earlier that day by Nicolas Lutz. He’d been given what, on paper, felt like the graveyard slot, playing between 1 PM and 4 PM on the Spring stage, only three hours after DVS1 had finished inside. But when I got there just before 2 PM, I was surprised to see the dance floor busy and the crowd relatively chipper. Clearly, few had been to bed, and the bleary-eyed atmosphere turned Lutz’s set from warm-up into afterhours slot. When it comes to latter, there aren’t many better equipped than the Uruguayan. He rifled through timeless house records like Daniel Bell’s « Wild Life, » Back 2 Earth’s « Banned Frequency » and Metamatics’ « Meander » with flawless precision, turning out one of the sets of the weekend for those brave enough to still be standing. It was another example of the festival’s astute programming. It’s comforting—and coming from the UK, unusual—to attend a festival whose booker cares about dance music just as much as the crowd. When the music finally ended on Sunday night, thousands of goggle-eyed punters trudged through Parc Des Expositions’ exit wearing huge smiles on their faces.

Photo credit / Guillaume Murat

Publié / dim. / 3 juil. 2016

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