Festival des Concerts Sauvages

Music festivals in the mountains are nothing new. Come March/April as the weather becomes a lot more reliable and the sun starts to shine, the resorts need to do something to keep the punters buying lift tickets after the peak times have passed.

Crowd at the BB Brunes gig at the 2011 Festival des Concerts Sauvages
Crowd at the BB Brunes gig at the 2011 Festival des Concerts Sauvages
Photo: Steve, WSG

Hitting the slopes this time of the year is usually guaranteed to be good fun, especially for the fair-weathered snowboarders amongst us. The sheet-ice January slopes have nicely softened, the February crowds have dispersed, the sun is out, and even the rockiest terrain has enough base covering it to stop you wincing every time you take a sketchy route off-piste.

This April dispelled those ideas, well in Europe anyway. Green fields were the norm and it was pretty incredible that some resorts managed to keep operating, in what was the worst season in 20-60years depending on who you asked.

The Portes du Soleil area held the inaugural Festival des Concerts Sauvages, a series of mountain concerts spread across 10 venues over its huge 650km ski area, from the 2nd-9th April 2011.

The concept was a little different from other resorts. Ischgl holds its big name opening and closing season concerts, Mayrhofen holds its hedonistic club focused Snowbombing festival to name but two.

The Portes du Soleil held a 2-prong attack. The main headlining festival featured 10 signed bands who played across pop-up mountain venue during the day. People would sign-up to receive SMS alerts which would let you know the day before where the next band would be playing.  

The majority of the line-up featured some popular French bands and a number of international acts, which you have probably and I certainly have never heard of!

TAFTA play at the 2011 Festival des Concerts Sauvages
TAFTA play at the 2011 Festival des Concerts Sauvages
Photo: Steve, WSG

It was a pretty diverse line-up though, and French band BB Brunes closed the festival on Saturday lunchtime at the Plaine Dranse in the Les Lindarets area. Their Libertines /Strokes style music attracted a healthy crowd under the blazing heat of the sun.

Every day a new stand would be built somewhere across the Portes du Soleil area, and the public would receive a message saying where it was located. The week has been blessed with perfect sunshine, and there was little better than chilling out in the afternoon watching a concert with the smell of a BBQ and a cold beer.

Main band line-up (with links to Spotify)

The fringe festival was a much more interactive event, where you could text-in to vote for your favourite band. The winner (which was jointly picked by a Jury) was then invited to support BB Brunes at the grand finale, but more importantly, also won a one-album deal with Warner Music.

The 10 acts that would compete had followed a process, where they had initially submitted an application and video through the event website. The public then chose which acts they wanted to see, and then each band would play a number of times throughout the week at various venues both in the afternoon and evening. Finally the public got their phones out again and voted for the winner, along with a selected Jury, just to make sure no Jedwards had crept through.

The final chosen line-up were LYS, Barruec0, Apple Jelly, Madame Olga, Sixyka, Cause, Babell, Alain Filippi, The Barettes and Catillon.

LYS play at the 2011 Festival des Concerts Sauvages
LYS play at the 2011 Festival des Concerts Sauvages
Photo: Steve, WSG

French band LYS won the fringe festival, and played their set in front of the Jury in Morzine’s village centre on the Friday evening. It was a strangely subdued location with most people hanging near the outdoor bar rather than up close to the stage. However LYS put on a great show, and their lead man Nicolas Veron could well win a Thom Yorke look-a-like contest, and cite Radiohead as one of their main influences.

Their Saturday concert before BB Brunes, felt a lot more energised. Whether from relief after winning, the unique mountainside stage, the sunshine or the fact that the growing crowd were nodding away with approval, the band pulsated through their set, picked up their award, and then headed off to Germany to start their tour.

LYS prize giving at the 2011 Festival des Concerts Sauvages
LYS prize giving at the 2011 Festival des Concerts Sauvages
Photo: Steve, WSG

LYS are due to play in Londons Borderline on June 7th where they will be supporting Love Amongst Ruin, the new band from former Placebo drummer Steve Hewitt. For tickets visit http://venues.meanfiddler.com/borderline/listings/featured/3722

For more information visit www.festivaldesconcertssauvages.com and www.portesdusoleil.com and visit the LYS Facebook page - www.facebook.com/pages/LYS/38136974744

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