The hustle of the French music industry
Rencontres Trans Musicales 2012 - Live In Rennes, France

If only there were more things as entertaining as the daily hustle of the music industry. Music conferences are typically dry affairs, with booze there to lubricate proceedings. That, and to block out the tinnitus inducing salesmen plugging the next best thing - or is it next big thing? I forget.

One personal highlight from a separate conference: at a champagne reception booming electro from a DJ, a stout man with a toothy grin wanted to show a band he was working with. His organisation gave bands the opportunity to behave like professional groups, with slick recordings of rehearsals, session time, and rehearsal space. So eager was he to demonstrate the band he was helping, he played a video on his mobile of a band rehearsal. Due to the music in the room it was inaudible, but after standing there awaiting an intelligent response to the band, I walked away. Occurrences as absurd as this are common.

Exhibitions such as Rencontres Trans Musicales are becoming increasingly obsolete. It is easier to do more damage sat at home with a web connection, than drunkenly negotiating airport hangers. It's easier to find more bands, quicker to listen to them and quicker to contact them.

That said, there's nothing like live music. Doldrums played a similar affair and now he's onstage with two new members at the end of a European tour with the trio stood on risers. The unique thing to Trans Musicales is the scale. Here are bands, most of whom are just embarking on their journey, playing before thousands of people. Thousands of inebriated Bretons, drunk on Richard and apple juice. The scale of this conference is ballistic. And from all reports is a great way to get an act flying in France. As one tour agent tells me, all of France's promoters are in attendance.

Having watched The Struts play Arsehole (card game) the previous night involving regular renditions of the opening to ‘All You Need Is Love’ standing on a table exploding cans of beer on themselves. A ridiculous pastiche of stadium rock performed by kids young enough to make idiocy attractive, and naïve enough to make stupid music entertaining. There's not an overused gimmick they overlooked, not an embarrassing trick they missed out. They are the most awful thing I have heard in a long time. That said I couldn't stop laughing, so extreme is their design.

Walking against the tide of people to get into see Darko didn't bode well. Neither does much of their current output. Their last track was an extended clunking rock chant. Ham fisted guitar work played in loops. A slack juggernaut grinding away, dripping in nu-metal symbolism. They structure the track around a crescendo which returns. It's quite frankly brilliant, way too sloppy for any Motorik crew to attempt, so whether by design or not the group carve themselves a little pocket of fresh, exciting new music. Which is the kicker to these events. Just as agents, promoters, publishers, sync-ers, and managers are swarming about hustling for business it's the busking that takes centre stage. Pushing past all the bald fat bastards trying to chew your ear about tomorrow's big bananas in some dimly lit venue, eventually you arrive at a stage, and even if that artist is dog shit on record, or YouTube, or wherever, all they have to do is put in "one great performance" and they've changed their futures.

Trans Musicales offers bands the opportunity to make it in France and that's what makes it exciting.


Words by Samuel Breen


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