Midi festival is an annual festival held in Hyeres, France.
The whole thing takes place on top of a mountain (or hill?) in what appears to be a very old villa. Normally I wouldn’t be in France to catch a concert, especially since I don’t speak French. Heed this advice, if you go to Midifest next year, at least learn how to count in French. It’s terribly embarrassing to buy a sandwich by holding out your change-filled hands with a confused look on your face.
Unfortunately we missed the first day since we were in Paris, so I know absolutely nothing about the bands that played then. I do know that James Chance played, which I was very upset about missing.
The second day of the festival we had a chance to see some pretty great stuff. I was really really excited to see the High Places. I had been listening to their collection of 7″s in anticipation of the show, but was really excited to hear some new songs. Since their last recordings I think they’ve really focused the whole glitchy Caribbean vibe into really well structured songs. I bought their new 45 and its the first thing I listen to in the morning. I wake up and think, “Why did I ever leave Europe and come back to my boring job?”
They have an interesting stage presence, standing close together with shakers around their wrists, hunched over a bunch of electronics. Robert bangs away on what appears to be a sampling drum pad of some some sort, while Mary sings and activates some things. They played very well, but it was still daytime. I think some blinking lights and projections would have made for better ambiance. Aside from sounding great they are really nice people. Mary made a great comedic counterpart to Christopher from Girls (they played the first day) — smearing blue makeup on strangers and calling some non-English-speaking friends names they didn’t understand. It’s probably better that they didn’t! High Places have a new record coming out and the end of the month and you should buy it.
The other standout act for me on day two has to be Yacht. At this point my notes are getting a bit sloppier, so I may have had some wine at this point. I can be a little uptight at concert with all the sweaty people in my personal space, so it was good to be a little buzzed and get down a bit during the Yacht performance. I hadn’t heard any of his records before seeing him live and I was pretty blown away. It was just two people singing along to a backing track. That kind of performance can be hard to get into, but the duo was so energetic and charismatic that everyone was just going bonkers.
The end of every song was met with whooping and applause, even though half the audience probably had no idea what he was saying. Since this was my first time being on tour,Yachts’ inspiration anthem about “loving what you do” really hit home. It made me feel like less of a deadbeat musician. I do “love what I do” Yacht! Thanks!
Following Yacht was Glass Candy. I was kind of beat at this point so I retired to observe more shenanigans. Ben stayed behind and was pretty amazed by the performance. I could hear them playing an great cover of “Computer Love” by Kraftwerk while I ranted and raved about how amazing it is to play music with Robert from the Contortions.
So at this point the night had wrapped up so Ben and I stole some fruit and stumbled down the hill to get back to our hotel. We ended up taking a short cut through the woods at one point and which seemed like a great idea at the time. Luckily we survived.
On day three we did our laundry in the bathroom sink, hung everything on chairs and headed up to the festival to eat and see more music. It’s very hot in Hyeres this time of year, so you pretty much sweat constantly. The danger of smelling bad is very real, and this is something I’m not really used to. The walk up to the festival is a bit grueling, and the cicadas are taunting you the whole time. Oh dear, I’m such a baby aren’t I?
A Sunny Day in Glasgow played first. I’ve never had such a beautiful view from behind a drum set. I was just looking out over the city and the crowd and smiling away. We sold some records and someone asked for our autograph. There was even a family who had drove a very long way just to see us! It’s nice to be appreciated.
I caught I bit of the next band, So So Modern, who were kind of synthy math rock with some some free jazz leanings. I was still wiped out from playing so I don’t remember too much. Robert from the Contortions came out and played sax along with them, which was nice to see. After that was Team Ghost, who includes the former member of M83. It was interesting to hear them because it made me realize what was missing after the first M83 album Dead Cities, Red Seas, and Lost Ghosts. There were lots of thick and fuzzy guitar tones and some well-written songs.
At the end our their set they went off on an extended noise jam which ended with their guitar player passing out his guitar into the audience. As he tweaked his pedals some audience members fumbled with the strings and it made weird sounds. Next to me I could hear JR from Girls screaming “Take it and run!” I concur, JR. Not to be a hater or anything, but if I was Thurston Moore I might be a little pissed.
With that being said, Zombie Zombie were my favorite act of the night. I had been told prior that they were the modern version of Neu, so I was excited. I don’t like to sum bands up like that, but in all fairness it’s a pretty good comparison. They performed as a two-piece, one man playing the drums, the other playing synths and sequencers. Occasionally the drummer occasionally yelled “OOWW” into a microphone with lots of delay on it, and even took a break to do some Theremin leads, much to the amazement of a crowd. I swear every time some one breaks out a Theremin people just freak out. I have to get one. They played for about an hour, encore included, and had everyone bopping along with them. People never dance like that in the states, it’s such a bummer. Sadly that was the end of the Midifest, and we headed back to our hotel rooms kind of bummed out that we had to travel a bajillion miles to Galway the next morning.
So, in conclusion, we had fun. Thanks Midifest! My only advice to next year’s attendees is don’t lock the bathroom unless you want to be in there for an hour or so.