La Route du Rock 2019
We met up on the beach on Thursday afternoon as planned. After a late lunch it was time to make tracks for the campsite, situated some 20 minutes by free shuttle bus from Saint Malo. For me, this is when the festival truly begins – squeezing onto the first bus, cold beverage in hand, making friends with other visibly excited festivaliers.
Arriving at the campsite you instantly get a sense that there is something different about La Route du Rock. There is an oyster bar next to the entrance (and another in the arena), portable phone chargers to buy or borrow, hot showers and real toilets with paper – luxury! With the tents set up in a circle and the inflatable chairs inflated we were ready for an aperitif or two. The sun was shining and already I had the feeling that these would once again be three magical days.
Whilst generally making merry was the highlight of the trip, we did of course manage to catch a bit of the music too. The first night’s line-up was sensational – Idles, Stereolab, Tame Impala and Black Midi. Idles got people moshing and crowd surfing (including members of the band), which clearly helped energize the crowd, as did the group’s frenetic and politically charged musical style. A particularly beautiful moment came midway through Tame Impala’s set, which was accompanied by suitably psychedelic visuals. A long, bass drum-thumping intro to ‘Let it Happen’ ended in a big drop, at which point multi-coloured confetti was blasted out over the entire crowd and fell all around us. I’d heard great things about the spectacular nature of Tame Impala’s live sets, but that very moment surpassed my expectations. Another musical highlight came on the Friday night, when Hot Chip played a cover of The Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’, an interesting choice from a synth-driven pop group, but one which just worked perfectly.
Like a woodlouse from under its plant pot, crawling out of the tent each morning and examining the detritus from the night before is I think an experience many festival-goers can relate to. However, the almost ritualistic nature of our particular recovery routine is remarkable. A large lunch of mussels and chips, typical of this area of Brittany and found in most restaurants in town, followed by a swim in Saint-Malo’s tidal seawater pool, makes for the perfect remedy for sore heads. After that, we’re ready to do it all over again. I think this is really at the heart of what makes La Route du Rock so special – that Saint Malo is truly one of the most beautiful towns I’ve ever been to, and offers a lovely, relaxing contrast from the festival itself.
The third and final night of the festival saw the brilliant Metronomy take to the stage, but also the arrival of some typically Breton weather. With the mantra ‘improvise, adapt, overcome’ on our minds we fashioned a shelter out of a camping chair and some tarp, and voilà! Far from putting a downer on our night, the rain brought back fond memories of even muddier years gone by. The only negative comment I can make on the festival is that it had to end, as all good things do. Sitting out on deck on the ferry, we watched Saint-Malo slowly drift away into the horizon until next year.
If you haven’t already, check out my preview of the festival to find out more.
Watch this year’s action here: https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/RC-014477/la-route-du-rock-collection-ete/