Vive La France @ The Hope

It came as a surprise that Newcastle act Polarsets were headlining the first Vive La France night this year at The Hope. That is until after a little digging, the reason’s became apparent. Legendary record label Kitsune Maison has of course snapped them up as another promising addition to their small but perfectly formed list of acclaimed indie-popsters. Home to Two Door Cinema Club and Is Tropical to name a few, Polarsets are in good company. And of course as a French music label, it provides ample enough reason for them to spearhead a festival dedicated to great French music.

If you still find the headliners link to the festival tenuous, you’ll be pleased to know opening act Air Bag One meet the festivals criteria with aplomb. They’re talented. And they’re French. Not that you might of known they were French from the union jack splashed Epiphone Supernova their guitarist was wielding, Noel Gallagher would probably not be pleased. Another attribute to go in their favour was a thankfully dissimilar sound to fellow Parisians Phoenix tribute, making such cliched comparisons unnecessary. It may have been Air Bag One’s first show out of Paris, but it certainly didn’t faze them. Their unquestionably indie sound was speckled with dark electro to great effect, granting them a thick atmosphere that lay brilliantly over the expected jerky guitar and impassioned vocals. It was at their darkest that they excelled, tracks ‘We Could Break’ and ‘F*ck it’ exploding forth with a terrific barrage of pulsating synth and hectic guitar.

Another aspect of the night was the interspersed DJ sets by the head of Les Inrocks Editor JD Beauvallet and College a.k.a David Grellier who you may know from his track ‘A Real Hero’ that launched him to brief fame through its inclusion in Hollywood art house blockbuster Drive. Both provided charmingly retro sets that got the crowd moving and provided a nice cleanser and time for chit chat between the bands.

After sets from both DJs, Polarsets took the stage. Known for their tropical flavoured, prozac fuelled, indie bob, the guys were met with a sound of applause. What ensued however was quite the contrast to the earlier brilliance of singles ‘Leave Argentina’ and ‘Morning’, both of which were excluded from their set list. It’s not that they had taken their sound in a new direction, one perhaps harder to warm to, but that the magic that led to their many success’ was no longer found in the abundance that it was, and no amount of drum bashing or high pitched vocals could make up for that. After only 20 minutes onstage, they politely bade their thanks and left the stage. In contrast to the performances that preceded them it seemed, maybe Vive La France is really best suited to the French.

Check out a brilliantly filmed live performance of Air Bag One’s ‘We Could Break’ to tide you over until their EP release on Feb 27th and Polarset’s acclaimed ‘Leave Argentina’.

Polarsets – Leave Argentina