Live Review: So Frenchy So Chic

15 January 2019 | 4:17 pm | Michael Prebeg

"Everyone is certainly guaranteed to leave feeling that joie de vivre!"

It’s the eighth year of the French pop summer garden party and this year it boasts an all-female singer line-up. The festival is officially sold out and the crowds of people arrive early to try and secure a shady spot out of the hot sun. Many regular punters know exactly how it works and come very well prepared with sunshades, picnic rugs and hampers full of food. For those a little less prepared, there’s heaps on offer to set yourself up at an additional cost. There’s a delicious selection of grazing hampers on offer as well as stalls with mouth-watering French food including cheese, crusty baguettes and delicious ice cream. To quench the thirst, there’s cocktails and of course a huge selection of French wines to choose from.

Australian born singer-songwriter Nadeah kicks off the music in the early afternoon with some French jazz with a touch of alternative pop and electro-funk vibes. Having been a street musician in Paris, she’s certainly a Francophile at heart and her eccentric style shines through in her engaging performance. She’s got a new keyboard in time for today’s show so it’s almost like that first date feeling as she plays along and shares her quirky storytelling through song.

Aside from being a festival that celebrates all things French, SFSC is also a celebration of people of all ages coming together to enjoy themselves in a relaxed atmosphere without a care in the world. Parents can bring their children to get involved, with plenty of activities to keep them entertained including face painting, lawn games and even drawing pictures on a Renault chalk-board car. Meanwhile, there’s plenty of fun to be had dancing away barefoot on the grass in front of the stage. 

Cléa Vincent leads a fresh and exciting electro-pop band who catch us by surprise early on. Despite singing their lyrics exclusively in French, their catchy hooks and groovy bass lines guarantee a good time for everyone regardless of whether you understand the language. Vincent’s music is bright, uplifting and makes us want to move along to the bubbly synths, charming vocals and bouncy neo-soul energy to get the party started. Vincent and her band do a fantastic job of combining retrowave disco sounds with modern soul and pop. Vincent is unquestionably one to keep an eye on and with a second album on the way this year.

Clara Luciani is up next - a former member of the cover band Nouvelle Vague and the French rock band La Femme, who have both previously played this festival. Today she performs as a solo artist and despite only being 26 years of age, she’s a very mature performer with an incredible vocal talent. Her songs are filled with warm and soulful lyrics that are romantic and minimalist – she’s not afraid of speaking from her heart. Luciani takes time to teach us some French and addresses the importance of being a woman, which is a common theme of this year’s festival celebrating women in music. “My passion is that I love to write sad love songs,” Luciani reveals, as she continues with a song called Monster Of Love. She rounds out her beautiful set with a gorgeous cover of the popular Lana Del Rey song Blue Jeans, translated to 'Jean Blu’ in French.

A sea of blue fills the stage as Camille arrives with an ensemble of musicians wearing matching outfits for a very theatrical performance - unlike anything we've ever seen before. A large drum set-up dominates the soundscape to create a tribal percussion. It marks her return to Australia for the first time since 2009, when she performed at this festival with Nouvelle Vague. Her idiosyncratic, wide-ranging vocal delivery and magnetic stage presence is truly one of a kind. Camille is wild and free, embracing her animalistic side as she howls her impressive vocals. She feels every inch of the music through her body while she moves around the stage barefoot. Audience interaction and participation is as much a feature of her shows as her considerable musicianship and vocal ability. She engages with her band and audience members in some traditional French tribal dancing and the highlight of the day is a magical vocal choir improvisation as they create a song inspired by the name of the festival that brings us all here today. 

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

“Are you ready to be completely crazy?” asks Julie Budet, the lead singer of French electro-pop act Yelle shining like a like a disco ball in a sparkling onesieThey certainly bring their club party to the stage for a big finish and there couldn’t be a more fitting act to close the festival. The trio wow the audience with their incredibly fun performance and non-stop energy as the audience joins in the rave and practices rolling their hips, jumping and clapping along to all the contagious repetitive rhythmical movements. They share some of their ridiculously fun new songs including OMG!!! and Romeo, and some of their huge party anthems including Safari Disco Club to turn the masses into dancing animals. Like many of the musicians who’ve graced the stage today, all of Yelle’s songs are in French, but they can still captivate an audience just as effectively, if not more so, than an English-speaking pop band. Everyone is certainly guaranteed to leave feeling that joie de vivre!