Well here it is. My long promised and even longer overdue post. It’s just that it’s taken me two weeks to muster the courage to talk about the following events in the past tense. But, seeing as I just caught myself spending another idle hour looking up pictures of Nicki Minaj’s rear on the internet, I thought I’d better let go of the past and look Melbourne in the face. So writing about a few (FEW) of the musical highlights (keepin’ it relevant) I had whilst away is the closure I need to start functioning as a person again.
The Gnaoua World Music Festival.
This annual festival takes place in on the beach in Essaouira, Morocco. The sleepy seaside medina has a bit of a rep for attracting the hippies and is the alleged inspiration for Jimi Hendrix’s Castles made of sand (This is probably not true, although Jimi Hendrix did live there for a short while). During festival time, however, the atmosphere starts buzzing and the whole of Essouaira is woken up with an incredible street parade. Post-parade comes a week of shows by all kind of artists from all over the world – both packed concerts from big names as well as Gnawa street performers testing out their hand made instruments. And, the majority of this music is available to see and hear for free!
However, whilst this is undoubtedly one of the best musical congregations I’ve ever been a part of, there’s a piece of advice I’d like to share.
Babes beware: with an arse that won’t quit comes arse grabbers that really won’t quit. So, if you attend festival Gnaoua, I’d suggest you have your rear end well protected by at least two intimidating males. Or buy a ticket.
Now, Any Moroccan will tell you that buying a ticket is as good as throwing your dirhams off a medina wall, and many a stingy traveller will agree. However, a festival pass gains you access to the front of the stage, an excellent view and most importantly, the ability to relax and enjoy the music.
It took me a while to realise that sometimes it pays to pay, but for single female travellers, I’d recommend paying the 200 or so dirhams (20 euros) to enjoy a week of incredible music, unhassled in the area obviously favoured by the local women. For me, standing up the front shakin’ it to my festival favourite, Malinese artist Oumou Sangare, alongside women from all over the world was a pretty fucking magical experience.
An unplanned appearance and Worldwide music festival.
My Gnaoua festival experience was the door to new music I’d been looking for, so after that, the rest of my trip because more of a pilgrimage. On a recommendation from a trusted fellow traveller, I went to see sick radio dj and new idol, Gilles Peterson’s, Worldwide music festival in Setè, France. Now in theory this festival sounded like an excellent spontaneous frolic from spain to france, however in the practice it was quite the mission.
With transport options to and from Setè fairly limited, in hindsight planning ahead wouldn’t have been a bad idea. But, thanks to some new friends along the A1 highway, I made it to the festival in time to see kiwi electro-soul band Electric Wire Hustle, and berber-tuareg group Tinariwen who, like me, had made their way from the Sahara desert to the south of france. Twinz.
Electric Wire Hustle
Further north to the Edinburgh Fringe festival.
Edinburgh in general is a pretty magical city. It’s got castles and gave birth to Harry Potter. But during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the city seriously starts buzzing like a muggle’s Quiddich World Cup.
I arrived for the first (cheap) week where the festival is really a lucky dip. The reviews aren’t out, so shows can be hit or miss which just adds to the excitement. Although I was only there for a week, I saw 18 shows, 2 of which changed my life, 1 that made me want to gauge my eyes out and 2 that gave me a new love for stand up poetry.
Luckily one of my life changing shows comes from an Australian, so I may just get to see it again. In my whole life I have never got so real than when I set foot into DJ Tom Loud’s Hot Dub Time Machine. Powered by dance, this ‘time machine’ takes you from the 50′s through to the present day using music alone. The vibe inside the time machine was palpable and when DJ Tom arrived in 2011 with ‘a song from his home town’ i.e Gotye’s ‘Somebody I used to know’, I felt my first ever pang of patriotism.
My other festival highlight was comedian/sick babe Louisa Omielan and her stand up show What would Beyonce do? Hilariously covering everything from crumping to cow mooing, as well as beautifully inserted discussion on serious subjects like addiction and depression I feel like this show was made for me and I want her to come to Melbourne and be my friend.
Rock en Seine.
I’m going to keep this one short. Basically, while I was away I had to sacrifice 3 major events. Seeing Lady Gaga, seeing the Shins and going to Splendour in the Grass (which also involved the Shins). Whilst being away was great, I lamented missing out on seeing my favourite band.
But, as if the musical gods decided I’d won the lottery, they placed the Shins in Paris the day before I flew home. So, without any of the composure the Parisians exhibit, I blubbered and pushed my way to the front to see them and came away with this: