Pully For Noise, 2011 Preview
With rising ticket prices, poorly maintained sites and dwindling line-up qualities at home, more and more people from the UK are heading to Europe for the festival season. Primevera, Rock Am Ring and Roskilde have long been staples of the circuit for the more travel-friendly festival goer, and more and more people are discovering smaller, boutique festivals further off the beaten track. With the future closure of ATP's summer events Off Festival may become a favoured replacement, hosting Mogwai, Polvo, Blonde Redhead and Low in 2011. France's La Route Du Rock offers a similar billing with the addition of Aphex Twin, Fleet Foxes and Okkervil River, whilst the sprawling Sziget (slightly) downsizes Glastonbury and places it on the stunning Danobe river in Hungary.
Even further from the beaten track, Pully For Noise takes place in Pully suburb of Lausanne, Switzerland and celebrates its 15th year in 2011. Nestled on the shore of Lake Geneva it is the perfect excuse for a holiday to a city of breathtaking scenery and architecture. It remains a small festival, but this is to its advantage. With things kicking off between 6pm and 7pm on all three days and only three stages it may not be suitable for noon-til-night-til-noon partying, but it allows for exploration of the surrounding area, which is as much of a draw as the bands playing over the festivals proceedings.
Which is not to say the line-up is lacklustre by any stretch of the imagination, merely that its location makes for a welcome change to the barren fields or farmland, with quick and easy metr½ transport to the city centre and stunning views of the Jura Mountains in the distance. Several French and Italian restaurants close to the event, most notably Stella and Restaurant Du Port De Pully, offer a refreshing, if pricey, alternative to the typical festival fare, and there are many further attractions nearby such as the Olympic Museum and Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Lausanne.
Band wise, the event has an eclectic selection of artists that makes room for local and international artists alike. Elbow headline on Thursday on the back of their 'Build A Rocket Boys!' full-length, finally in the limelight after two decades' hard work. Despite their latest album being one of their weakest they remain an enticing live prospect, as shown with their second stage headline slot at this years' Glastonbury, and Pully For Noise is the perfect setting for their regal indie-rock brilliance.
Denmark's Raveonettes precede them, a band who remain for most the writers of 2003's gritty 'Chain Gang Of Love'. Like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club they have refined their sound, and written material that far exceeds the quality of their debut, to focus more on dynamics, adopting a sound akin to The Ronettes trapped in Kevin Shields' guitar squall, but have fallen somewhat off the landscape.
The Friday night Mainstage line-up provides many of the highlights. Twin Shadow opens things up with his dulcet synth-washed new wave, closely followed by Wild Beasts, who have begun to gain considerable mainstream attention with the recently released 'Smother', something which is surprising when harking back to the heady operatics of their debut. The falsetto may be more or less banished but the band have lost none of their unique appeal, and 'Smother's closer 'End Comes Too Soon' promises to be a festival 'moment' across the summer.
The evening is rounded off by Blonde Redhead and Trentmoller. The former's irresistibly epic siren songs remain one of music's best kept secrets, from their abrasive surf-pop roots to the retreating electro-shoegaze of the more recent '23' and 'Penny Sparkle', whilst the latter's diverse electronic soundscapes have made him a massive name and a perfect closer for a Friday night in mainland Europe.
The Antlers, a band heavily covered on Contactmusic.com and with good reason, would have been a perfect fit for the midpoint of Friday's entertainment, fitting closely to the atmospherics of Wild Beasts and Blonde Redhead, but find themselves playing on the Saturday in the middle of a hectic festival schedule that sees them back in the UK either side at Summer Sundae and Leeds/Reading. They are followed by Saul Williams, whose live presence is enough to forgive him for the heinous crime of his (thankfully free) full-length 'The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!
With Death In Vegas somehow still popular enough to justify a headline slot on the closing day an early finish to sample the Lausanne night-life might be advised, but before this there is also interest to be found amongst the local acts present on the 'Scene Abraxas' stage, particularly in the drifting Madrugada-esque peons of The Golden and Uberreel, whose butchering of 80s AM radio doesn't go as far as Ariel Pink but offers a similar imperfect charm.
So whilst Pully For Noise may not be in a position to drag the hordes away from Primevara, La Route Du Rock et al it is all the better for it, providing a smaller scale event that chooses quality over quantity and allows for a trip focused on sights as well as sounds, as great as the latter prove to be.