Tucked into a small corner of a picturesque 18th century park in the west side of Paris, We Love Green is – as its name suggests – rather keen on trumpeting its eco credentials. A tiny mini village of tipis, one main stage and an adjacent dance area, the site is flanked by Greco-Roman style architecture, grottos and fastidiously maintained rose gardens. Suffice to say Download this ain’t (in lulls between acts it’s not unusual to hear a peacock squawk) and there’s enough environmentally-friendly brownie point scoring taking place to make other environmentally conscious events look like a shale gas fracking site.
The racks of solar panels that run to the left of the stage help power it and the surrounding area. All food waste and the recyclable plates and cutlery are later turned into biofuel and fertiliser respectively and it kind of goes without saying that the array of salads, risottos, cheeses, smoothies and world cuisine on offer is 100 percent organic. If that’s not enough you can – should you feel the urge – listen to talks about food sustainability, watch films on biodiversity or visit a tipi showcasing African furniture while someone fashions you a headband out of ethically grown flowers.
So far, so Good Life. However, it helps that We Love Green is also very tastefully put together when it comes to the actual business of music. It’s a massive coup for such a minuscule festival (it must be no more than a sixth of the size of Field Day taking place in East London this weekend, 7-8 June) to be able to close on Sunday night with the double header of Lorde and Foals.
As there’s only really the option of watching a band on the main stage or walking a few metres for a DJ set there’s also no need to trudge endlessly around the place. Saturday offers the change to amble between a set by hirsute good vibes house duo 2 Bears, a solo Cat Power, Little Dragon, the Florence does The XX stylings of London Grammar and a brain-frying, electro house-fuelled DJ battle between Ed Banger Record’s (Justice, Mr. Oizo, Cassius) Pedro Winter and British producer Rilton.
However despite performing beneath a towering inflatable panther, masked post-dub step producer SBTRKT isn’t quite up to the level of a festival headliner just yet though. Jumping from decks to drums to sampler to exotic percussion instrument (that’s a mbira you can hear on Hold On, World Music Ed), he’s joined by longtime vocalist and percussionist Sampha, yet a reliance on the pre-programmed vocals of an absent Jessie Ware and the ‘she’s playing the festival too’ Yukimi Nagano from Little Dragon mean it feels like something of an anticlimax.
He does bring out London-based singer Denai More for a new track though, who then opens the festival the next afternoon. Sounding not unlike a more world-weary, less jazzy Lianne La Havas, it’ll be interesting to see in what manner she fleshes her sound out on her forthcoming debut album – soulful, emotionally sensitive female singer songwriters not exactly being in short supply currently. It’s then time for one from the home side. Moodoid are the brainchild of French eccentric and Melody’s Echo Chamber guitarist Pablo Padovani. Dressed in a silver suit and with half his face painted gold Padovani leads his all female band through a set of dreamy, occasionally meandering psyche pop. Once wayward Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt then gives the genteel atmosphere a welcome ruffle before mysterious West London duo Jungle do their best to play their sinuous murk-funk without anyone seeing their faces.
Given the almost inverse proportion between the size of the place and the quality of the acts playing, it will be interesting to see how We Love Green maintains that balance as it approaches its fourth year and beyond. Reportedly it had to lobby the Paris council for almost three years before being allowed to host a festival in the city’s Parc De Bagatelle (which might partially explain the emphasis on sustainability projects). For now though, its mix of an exceptionally laid back atmosphere, beautiful surroundings and on trend without being cooler-than-though programming mean that its definitely worth the short trip across the channel. Plus if you don’t mind a bit of queuing, the food’s excellent too. Well, this is Paris after all.
Chris Catchpole @ChrisCatchpole
For more head to Welovegreen.fr.