La Fête de la Musique

 

Yesterday was a special holyday in France… Actually more a kind of make-believe holiday like “grandmother day”, “secretary day”, “sauerkraut day” etc.

Instigated by some bored government official a couple years ago, “la fête de la Musique” is the day where everybody is invited to celebrate the first official night of summer by putting their old garage rock band together and go play in the street. Anybody, any age, any talent (or lack thereof) is invited to go share his love (or hate) of music with his fellow city dwellers by scratching an electric guitar on every corner, leading his marching brass band through the streets or simply setting up a 200 Watts PA system through the window of his apartment to play his whole collection of authentic 90s spanish dance… This is the only night where noise complaint is not an issue.

The glorious result of all this is a most atrocious cacophony of para-musical noise where everybody tries to fight for his square meter of musical airspace. Needless to say, the guy across the street who was trying to sing old love songs on his karaoke station (a computer plugged to an electronic synthesizer) had little hope to compete with the bar next door, where a dynamic young rock band was giving their best effort at loudly butchering a metal rendition of stand by me

The whole city was a single unharmonious mash of drum beats and electric guitar scratching, with millions of people walking aimlessly in between, blinded by a country-wide carcinogenic cloud of barbecue smoke and stumbling in mounds of beer cans at every corner… complete and utter anarchy…

Paradise, in a word.

We safely waited a few hours for the crowd to rid of its PG element, and started going out to enjoy the mess around midnight… We passed many a gathering where a handful greasy-haired teenagers would be desperately trying to encourage some pogo action from middle-aged spectators by showing them the drunken way, church stairways squatted by hordes of dreadlocked pale-skinned bongo players, lost boy scout marching bands looking for their way back… We heard over 50 versions of ACDC’s Back in Black and a few millions Stairway to Heaven executed by about every configuration of instruments (executed is the operative word, here)… and we finally went to take refuge in the odd and noisy underworld of the Seine riverside where, sitting on the dock, we were able to sample harold’s last import from Holland, thus shaking out any last bit of reality in our surrounding… The group next to us, who kept singing and playing Goldorak and other japanese anime theme songs on the guitar, was for real, though.

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