It’s arguable that younger festivals still have more room to experiment, more time to grow and have distinctly more to learn. That being said, Weather Festival - only in it’s fourth year - seems to have already ironed out most of those kinks. Understandable since the team behind Concrete's Surprize events have been at the forefront of Paris’ nightlife for years now, but one thing's for sure, they’ve certainly made their mark on the festival grid with one of the most informed techno blowouts across Europe.
The organizers have dabbled with different locations over the years but the festival’s home this year, Parc des Expositions, really felt like an apt setting for the weekend’s shower of techno. A vast expanse of space, rockets, shuttles and planes made up the scenery and although we may not have seen much sun, the thick grey clouds looming overhead all but added to the mood.
The addition of onsite camping this year was a significant feat in itself. Although small, the atmosphere was friendly, welcoming and surprisingly clean. This gave foreign festival goers, and those further afield than Paris, an option to stay close to the action without breaking the bank.
Friday’s lineup didn't have as much on offer as the other days - Saturday was heavily loaded with the majority of big names and Sunday provided the more mammoth sets - so the bulk of the night was taken up by Marquis Hawkes’ set at the Light it Up stage. It proved to be one of the best of the weekend, weighing in with three of the festival’s standout tracks. From the hyped up whistling of DJ Bone’s ‘One More Tune’ to Hivern Discs’ recent tip ‘Thrills’, Hawkes created a party atmosphere that far outweighed the size of the crowd and the stage.
Holding RA’s number one spot for the past few years, expectations for Dixon's set were pretty high. Playing the 5am closing slot he showed moments of cosmic greatness, but with one too many slow breakdowns, the shot of adrenaline the crowd yearned for dulled the senses at points.
With just a few stages open on Friday evening, it was refreshing to experience some new spaces for Saturday’s proceedings. Ex Concrete resident, S3A, kicked off the day at the Summer stage with Max Graef's remix of Mr Scruff - ‘We Are Coming’, bringing charisma and flair throughout his set, enthusiastically counting in the drops for the crowd.
The Black Madonna perfectly complimented S3A’s efforts pitching in lively disco, huge electro numbers and Floorplan’s new disco stomper ‘Tell You No Lie’ - one we’d already danced wildly to at Hawke’s set the night before.
Egyptian Lover followed, providing an injection of energy with his signature dance moves and mic chat aplenty, refusing to continue the show until the sound man turned up the volume to the max.
After the Cali duo made their mark, Motor City Drum Ensemble geared up for a two hour journey through disco grooves, acid techno and firm favourites like Larry Levan’s remix of Celestial Choir - ‘Stand On The Word’. But the highlight? Joyous jazz-flecked number ‘Kapo Choc’ from Lyon producer Kaffe Creme that rejuvenated the crowd with its whirring flutes and trumpets.
Offering a change from his usual techno offerings, a rare hip hop set from the man, Robert Hood. An undeniable thread of pitched up classics like ‘Method Man’ - Wu-Tang Clan and M.O.P’s ‘Ante Up’ had the crowd up in arms but their was a distinct lack of rare gems, which I’d hoped for from a connoisseur like Hood.
A moment of panic struck as the rain started hammering down, plus with only two of the five stages undercover, huge surges of attendees swarmed inside to shelter from the downpour, leading to panicked crushes at both entrances. Not enjoyable but it didn’t dampen the crowd’s spirits who flocked back into the arena as soon as the rain cleared.
Set times changed on the Saturday, moving Huerco S and Pender Street Steppers from early evening to the early hours of Sunday morning - a change which unfortunately didn’t suit the mood with PSS’ ambient sounds and afrobeat grooves struggling to compete with the huge 4/4 kick drum spilling from the other stage.
After two days of unwavering cloud, the moment the sun finally shined down on the suburban Paris location was welcomed to the sounds of Kenlou's 'Gimme Groove’ - a pinnacle moment from Ricardo Villalobos and Zip’s four hour set. Villalobos exhibited flamboyance, as ever, whilst he and Zip entranced the crowd with nods to ambient techno and summery house.
It’s the little touches that make a festival great. A huge tent housed stalls spanning WWF signups to free sunglasses and lighters, a chance to play vintage Nintento games and Fifa 99, as well as plenty of Korgs and synths for the musical minded to jam on.
But to round out the weekend on a musical note, three hours of British clan, Hessle Audio. Made up of Ben UFO, Pearson Sound and Pangaea, the trio took turns navigating through the most British sounding techno of the weekend, conjuring up tracks deeply rooted in UK dubstep and garage sounds. Kool FM’s edit of ‘God Made Me Phunky’ was a loose moment, firing up the entire crowd before penultimate track ‘Final Credits’ - a disco weapon from Hessle’s pal Midland - electrified the place until the final note.
A few things I gleaned over the weekend: despite the stereotype, Parisians aren’t all rude and are quick to remind you so; Weather Festival's name is very fitting; and most importantly, there is no better home to hold their festivities than the atmospheric expanse of Parc des Expositions. If they lock that location down, I'll be coming back every year.