We went along to the Winter Camp festival to watch Apes & Horses, Weekend Affair and The Amplifetes play La Maroquinerie
The contrast between the bands on Friday highlighted the adaptability of La Maroquinerie as a venue. I could immediately see why it was voted best gig venue in Paris for 2012. After grabbing a drink in the upstairs bar/restaurant (where the food looked and smelled absolutely delicious) we headed underground, into the venue proper, to find clutches of Parisian indie-kids sitting on the curved steps or on the floor, waiting for the first act, Apes and Horses, to start.
Pablo Lopez Chaussé (on keys), came on first and started off playing alone in the smoke and purple lights – it was striking and moody and acted as an ideal opener to their set. There was something enigmatically cool about the way the other the other three came on after a few minutes, picked up their instruments and joined in with almost disdainful ease. It seemed clear that the audience, although quite few in number to begin with, were totally drawn in by their mysteriousness.
Lead singer Aurélien Hamm asked us all to come forward, and many obliged, some sitting right in front of the stage cross-legged, looking up at the performers. Despite having to stop playing for a couple of minutes due to some technical issue, the set on the whole was tight. Hamm’s raspy vocals cut through the bassy, hazy keys and guitar making for a sound which can be spellbinding. ‘Magenta’ was the highlight for me, although during ‘The Fields’ Hamm and bassist Yaco Mouchard got into a sort of dance off (albeit a slightly unusual prog-rock-pop dance off) at the back of the stage, which, although somewhat undermining Mouchard’s uber-cool, super-serious exterior (classic bassist vibe), was a sweet indication of their enjoyment of the gig.
I have to say, I was totally unprepared for what came next. Weekend Affair is a collaboration between Louis Aguilar who plays in a folk band while not performing with his musical mistress Cyril Debarge from electro group We are Enfant Terrible.
The combination of Aguilar’s deep, melodic vocals and Debarge’s tinny electro accompaniment works surprisingly well, kind of like Kraftwerk colliding with Mark Kozelek at a French club or something. But it was Debarge’s dancing which left the biggest impression on me; it was incredible – his energy levels were extreme, as he sort of launched himself backwards and forwards behind they keyboards even in the quieter bits… Paired with Aguilar’s impressive beard and numerous tattoos (peeking out from underneath a crisp white shirt and tie).
The set was whacky and fun and had everyone dancing, although occasionally the music lagged behind the eccentricity of the overall show. I wanted to be dancing like Debarge instead of just bopping a bit whilst watching him in envy/ awe.
Swedish troop The Amplifetes followed on perfectly in terms of atmosphere and tempo; perhaps a bit less exciting than the eclectic two piece before them but the room was full and everyone was moving, making it a very fun set to watch. They sounded much heavier live than on record, but retained their upbeat, euphoric energy . Although not a particularly unique sound, songs like ‘Somebody New’ had everything you want from this kind of electro pop/rock, with a satisfyingly crunchy bassline and catchy vocals – making Hot Chip spring to mind .
The Amplifetes’ stage presence was impressive (as was the singer’s amazing hair and beard combination), they knew how to work the crowd and the night ended feeling much more like a party than a concert, which really suited their sound. Although slightly underwhelming as the headline act, the crowd seemed to love them and they ended the night on a high; La Maroquinerie was buzzing and audience and musicians mingled upstairs in the bar after the show. Very cool indeed.