Live Coverage: Block Party – Paris – 31.05.2024

Day two of the Block Party, ears ringing, knees creaking, but out of respect for ourselves and the fact that we are not even thirty yet, we will continue and stop complaining. Continue what? The Block Party! Continue when? Well, right now, or at least once the parents of the She’s In Parties band members have arrived in the venue. For explanations about the Block Party, the thirty bands over three days in four venues, blah blah blah, I refer you to our report from the first day as time is running short, and She’s In Parties at Supersonic is not waiting, except for their parents.

Knowing only the song Cherish from the band, we expected to hear some fairly classic shoegaze and spend three-quarters of the concert with half-closed eyes after a week of work. However, there was a twist. Multiple twists, in fact, as the new version of She’s In Parties, like their latest single Puppet Show, is closer to a mix of NewDad’s dream rock and ABBA’s disco than just another copy of the 90s. With the curly red perm of their singer Katie Dillon, in a vibe more Bonnie Tyler than Elizabeth Fraser, the band appears live cheerful and danceable, focused on disco balls and partying, nostalgically reminding us of that January 17th when we chose to see Soda Blonde over Slowdive. Clearly welcomed in France as much as they welcome us into their music, Katie Dillon will take two minutes of her time to thank the Parisian hospitality, noting that she has already been offered more beers than in England, even though it’s not even eight o’clock, a detail that won’t surprise the Irish origins of the resplendent singer.

Like life, we move from one resplendent singer to another, this time English, as Better Joy take the stage at Supersonic Records after eight o’clock. Bria Keely, a Mancunian sporting an Oasis t-shirt from the “Don’t Believe The Truth” era to complete the picture, is the singer-guitarist and composer of a group of handsome guys playing sunny, dreamy, and teenage pop-rock. A terribly cliché and equally effective picture that makes us enjoy life during the seven songs of the concert, concluded by the excellent Dead Plants, even though the song has absolutely nothing to do with keeping orchids alive. In short, Better Joy is cool, and even though it won’t change the big picture of Manchester rock, it will give us a nice boost for the day.

A musical ray of sunshine that will be much needed to head to Guru and see a bunch of lads in need of vitamin D. The sun, as rare in Leeds as Halley’s Comet, is nowhere to be found in The 113’s aggressive and nihilistic post-punk, not to be confused with the French rap group 113. From Vitry-sur-Seine to Leeds, only the name remains the same, as the sirens of spirited post-punk are already blaring, injecting some energy and inventiveness back into a genre losing steam. However, as with the last time at Supersonic, the live experience will once again be… odd. On one hand, the configuration of Guru, where the entire upstairs is reserved for another private event, forces everyone to cram downstairs in a long space, leaving five people abreast at each row, in a poor imitation of POPUP! (Parisians will understand). Those who want to watch quietly in their bubble have their best moment of agoraphobia, those who want to mosh hesitate to bump into people who didn’t ask for it, and everyone ends up watching excellent songs and an ultra-energetic band struggle in vain, living the moment in their own world when the concert required engaging with the audience. The 113, the best post-punk band for headphone lovers, but who knows, maybe the third time will be the charm, if there will be a third time.

As reunions never come alone, the next band is also a déjà-vu from Supersonic: Dim Imagery, the imagery of the boxer shorts combined with the cheesy look of their singer Matt Bond from Palmashow. Bond, Matt Bond, declaiming and shouting in the now all too familiar cave of Seine Café, making the most of the few square meters at his disposal to animate his post-punk mass. The sound is better than yesterday, that’s something, but visibility remains the privilege of the first ten people in the venue, so we’ll make do with concert flashes caught on disposable Kodak cameras on tiptoes to convince ourselves it was good, and we’ll listen repeatedly to You’re Doing So Well and Fishing In An Empty Stream hoping, for the second time that evening, to see the band a third time under conditions that will allow us to judge them with conviction.

But enough regrets, it’s not the time to dwell on the past when a two-minute walk is equivalent to a twenty-three-hour flight to Melbourne, land of kangaroos. The Australian band ENOLA, along with her group, takes over the Supersonic Club, it’s 9:10 pm, the sun blushes on the horizon, and the dream rock Patricia Kaas is about to show the city of Paris and all the English gathered there who the real future of the genre is. Leather jacket and short bleached hair to deliver the high part of the desert highway riffs, the heat of the asphalt distorts the air, the horizon ripples and pours millions of liters of saltwater into the eyes of the passing tourist. A wave of salty steam that hits you head-on: Looking Back, no, never, we will only move forward, hope chained to the heart that the road is endless and we won’t feel the cliff. A furious road leading to the unreal Metal Body, a display of Mad Max-like power locked in the tortured psyche of David Lynch, or the best movie you’ve never seen and will never see, unless you move your butt and ears to an ENOLA concert. An opportunity not to be missed when it presents itself, leading to another opportunity we have been waiting for for two years.

For Breakfast is finally making their way to Paris, so it’s time to bring out our best jokes about English breakfasts and remind everyone that the croissant is far superior to baked beans in tomato sauce. But as is often the case in this old French-English quarrel, while we excel in cuisine, the Brits have a clear advantage when it comes to music, and For Breakfast is no exception. One of the best EPs of 2022 with Trapped In The Big Room (my very first record review in these columns, and it was already a mess), a truly incredible mix of post-rock, jazz, tribal music, voices used as instruments, instruments used as voices, and one question on everyone’s mind: damn, when are you coming to Paris!? A question not quickly answered, as it took exactly two years to find a conclusion, at Supersonic Records, with a result that met our expectations. Packed onto the small stage with six members – drums, guitars, bass, saxophone, keyboard, and the sumptuous voice of Maya Harrison – they delivered a musical performance that is as visually captivating as it is sonically pleasing: eyes closed, ears and imagination wide open. Forget the world as it is, and let yourself be carried on clouds rising to the moon, with a breath you fall, plunge into the ocean, what was a cloud is a shoal of silver fish recreating light in the abyssal depths that engulf you. The saxophone growls, you wake up suddenly, but was it a dream? And now? A voice penetrates the dream, tracing a long path made of loops and other brilliant convolutions back to reality. With your eyes open, it’s already over, too soon, leaving in your mind the mark of a group that is both gentle and tranquil, capable of transforming suddenly into a tempestuous hurricane of instruments, blowing in one direction, yours. A realization that did not escape a crowd already won over, applauding the band after the last note, already demanding more songs. The fact is there are no more songs yet, but rest assured, we kindly complained that we needed material to get excited about in moonlit reviews that no one will try to understand, so with a bit of luck, why not see For Breakfast in 2025, and in the meantime, we’ll continue to annoy the neighbors by blasting Nervous Boundaries.

Without further ado, because the English bands are done for the night, Sound of Commonwealth presents Ducks Ltd. at the Guru Club. A group from Toronto with the style of physics doctoral students playing cool, fun, and melodic university pop-rock, or how to enjoy and switch off your brain for a half hour by jumping into the crowd. The audience loves it, a common theme at all the concerts in this late afternoon, as the Dutch band Marathon stirs things up at Seine Café, and everyone rushes to Supersonic Club to end the night with Death Lens.

From Californians, if there was any doubt, who take the stage with the traditional baggies, caps, and West Coast homie looks, to rock out without overthinking it. The punk is soaked in sunshine and metal, bouncy just right and brutish to the core, the club erupts from the first song, everyone pushes, everyone sneaks in some hits, and everyone ends up in the shower, preferably with bruises.

A more straightforward and less surprising second day than the first: you had to know how to have fun and broaden your horizons to fully appreciate this new day of Block Party at Supersonic. As evidenced by the length of the paragraphs, we will remember ENOLA, For Breakfast, and to a lesser extent She’s In Parties, and we’ll see about a potential third try with The 113 and Dim Imagery. As Platon rightly said, “push them all, the pit will recognize its own.”