In an age when more and more electronic music lovers are repelled by big, impersonal events, festivals like Baleapop come as a welcome alternative. Taking place on the French Basque coast, Baleapop is all about character, intimacy and a strong DIY spirit. Mainly supervised by volunteers, it avoids big names and gathers, over four nights, a solid lineup that suits its colorful, Balearic atmosphere.
The first night's performances, which took place at a primary school, best embodied Baleapop's ethos. Local trio Odei elegantly opened the festival with their complex but lightweight mix of electronics, xylophone and drums, sometimes sounding like a pastoral Factory Floor. Kompakt duo Walls incarnated the spirit of the scenery as well. Closing out the night, Etienne Jaumet (of Zombie Zombie) treated the crowd to a bit of a dance, playing a set of straight electro instead of his usual Carpenter-esque atmospherics.
The second day took place in a yard near the beach, where the crowd spent the afternoon throwing powder paint at each other. Under the elevated wood hut that served as a stage, Japanese Perc Trax artist Gonno blended subtle techno cuts with recent tracks like Jon Hopkins' "Open Eye Signal." Van Off Mart, a friend of the Baleapop family, unfurled a soulful and melodic set, before Philipp Gorbachev arrived, clad in red overalls, and delivered something a bit more playful. Later, French producer vOPhoniQ sent the overheated audience into almost dark-ambient territory, unleashing beats only halfway through his live set. The festival's most over-the-top moment came from Legowelt, who hammered the audience with his vintage electro beats.
Photo credit: Mike Cornelus
On its third night, Baleapop returned to the primary school. A French band called Blackmail played tense and dirty electro-rock that seemed to take itself a little too seriously. F/lor was the best surprise of the night, though his abstract, fragmented electronica seemed to puzzle the audience a bit. Electric Electric's frantic instrumental noise-pop was, as usual, a tad artificial, but this was easily forgotten during the unannounced Basque folk dances that closed the night.