Paléo Festival Nyon 2009
Route de Saint-Cergue, Switzerland - 21-26 July
03 August 2009
The Swiss festival near the Lake Geneva is not just a festival – it’s a fun fair, a statement and a huge after-work
meeting place for locals.
Overall - 9/10
With a very diverse line-up, the event, just north of the French-speaking city Nyon, attracts up to 230,000 punters each year. The six-days festival does not know any musical or culinary boundaries and represents the whole world on six live stages, 44 bars and 214 food and market stalls. Unlike most other festivals, Paléo opens its doors in the late afternoon, with the first show of the day starting at 5pm and the last live act playing until 3am. This means that people don’t have to take off work and those who are camping can recover from a long night at the lido or local museums (free access with festival pass) before heading back to the site.
Each year Paléo festival presents a different country in their Village du monde, which this year has been India. In the north western corner of the festival site all music, food and attractions were dedicated to the Indian culture and invited the public to immerse themselves into the oriental world.
A bit further down an archway labelled La Ruche welcomes the punters into the world of street art. With performances, a themed bar and a special kids area at the back this is a cosy alternative to the big rest of the festival.
Noteworthy as well is the festival’s social and ecological awareness. A remarkably large amount of stalls on site represents established relief organisations or institutions like Terre Des Hommes, Amnesty International or the Interest Group clean environment. The festival itself actively saves water and energy, recycles waste and sensitizes the public to environmental issues – having a look around, quite successfully it seems.
Getting there and back - 8/10
The festival has close proximity to the motorway exits Nyon or Gland, depending on whether you’re coming from Geneva or Lausanne. If you’re travelling by national rail, there is the NStCM railway that connects Nyon main station and the festival site (five minutes ride). There are special trains and buses to Geneva, Montreux and Lausanne all running at night. Also, the festival supports a car-sharing service for those who need a ride or have one to offer.
Atmosphere - 8/10
Paléo festival lies like a town to itself just outside Nyon and also has the atmosphere of a town, a French town that is. It seems the variety in the line-up and the fact that the festival is structured over six days with the daily programme starting off not before 5pm has a relaxing impact on the vibe on site. It attracts an audience that goes far beyond the hardcore punters. Lots of people just have a one-day pass and once a year they use the opportunity to meet up for their after-work beer at Paléo instead of the pub. It’s not an unusual thing to find four generations in a row when strolling through the audience but if you don’t want to bump into your parents or grandparents the site is big enough to avoid just that. With six stages and a huge variety of food (including Transylvanian and Malaysian) and entertainment, it is never too crowded. Seating areas under canvas or trees are spread over the whole site and just perfect to have a break and a pint in between gigs.
Music - 8/10
At first glance the line-up this year seemed solid but not very exciting. Most of the acts like Placebo, Franz Ferdinand or Ska-P are established and have already played Swiss festivals more than once. But as it turned out it does not always have to be indie or niche to score.
Moby – Thursday, Grand Scene
Kicking off with his bigger numbers, Moby’s decision to not wait for the crowd to warm up proved to be the right one. After Amy Macdonald had played the main stage, people seemed to appreciate some big beats. Halfway through the set he then changed to some quieter numbers like ‘In This World’, ‘Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad’ and ‘Mistake’, though not for long. With beautiful singer Joy Malcolm by his side, Moby captivated the audience completely and played hit after hit, including ‘Lift Me Up’ which he dedicated to Obama.
His attempts in speaking French between the songs settled down at a “Je t’aime, mon amour“ level but raised a big cheer nonetheless. A cover version of Lou Reed’s ‘Take A Walk On The Wild Side’ later on fitted a late summer night just perfectly.
2Many DJs - Thursday, Chapiteau
In suits and bow ties, the Dewaele brothers looked almost surreal in the completely packed Chapiteau tent. They couldn’t have opened their set any better than with a remix of The Gossip’s ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’. As Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Bonkers’, ‘Rock The Casbah’ and MGMT’s dancefloor filler ‘Kids’ followed, the crowd went crazy. While David Dewaele intently smoothed out his parting every now and again, the crowd had stopped giving a shit about their hair a long time ago.
Naive New Beaters – Friday, Club Tent
The Franco-American trio with a soft spot for colourful knitwear mixed rap with rock and electro, which is nothing new really, but a lot of fun! David Boring, Martin Luther BB King and Eurobelix don’t ever take themselves too seriously and clearly enjoy what they do on stage. There’s not much more to say except that you can’t help yourself but dance.
Izia – Tuesday, Club Tent
The 19 year old French singer acts on stage as if she had been doing nothing else since growing out of her diapers. She made her first appearance in 2006 and only one year later opened a show of Iggy Pop And The Stooges in Paris. One of the strongest newcomer voices at the festival and a straightforward rock’n’roll show - absolutely brilliant.
The Prodigy – Wednesday, Grand Scene
To really inspire the masses you probably need to do a bit more than just to address the audience with “you fucking people,“ about 27 times within the first ten minutes and then play ‘Firestarter’ twice because you notice your repertoire runs out of songs worth playing.
Amy Macdonald – Thursday, Grand Scene
With a new haircut but still a bit shy, the Glaswegian singer came on stage as one of the headliners on Thursday night. Her performance included the hit singles ‘This Is The Life’ and ‘Mr Rock And Roll’ but all in all could hardly be beaten in boredom. Cover versions of The Killers’s ‘Mr Brightside’ and ‘We Didn’t Start A Fire’, originally by Billy Joel, didn’t change much about it. Some people in the audience reckoned she would be more comfortable in a smaller club venue, others thought it might be the strong breeze that blew her voice away. I think she just tries to sing lower than she’s actually able to and might really be better off in a more intimate setting anyway.
By Lorena Blattner