Parc Floral de Paris
There’s an essence of simplicity in The Peacock Society’s ethos. Situated deep in the Parc Floral de Paris – a public park and botanical garden on the outskirts of the metropolis – the night-time festival ties local scenes with global underground pioneers in an understatedly beautiful setting.
The features of the site are pretty compact for the near 25,000 punters who journeyed there across the weekend: two warehouse stages, one clear-walled and basement-sized outdoor ‘Night-Club’, food stalls, bars, outdoor chill spots and a cinema space. It’s also a cashless festival, so in order to pay for that €8,50 beer (quite the sting for UK bank cards) you’re encouraged to pre-load a wristband with your cash for a contactless transaction. Yet the natural beauty of the encircling gardens, and particularly the grandeur of the warehouses, made for a truly unique experience. With its vast Baltard-style iron roof supported by long rows of pillars, the sheer size of the main hall was something to behold.
While a primarily DJ-focused event, the interspersion of live acts, like Carl Craig’s discography symphonically reworked as part of his Versus Synthesiser Ensemble show, further nudged against more closed-off conceptions of a ‘dance music festival’.
French rapper Kekra’s Friday evening set diversified this further; having forged his own distinct sound out of elements of grime, trap and garage, cuts like 9 Milli galvanised the crowd to chant every word back. Romare filled a similar slot the following night. Accompanied by a percussionist and a multi-instrumentalist, the trio threaded together tracks across a whole range of his discography in a refreshingly unpolished fashion, the slick productions of All Night and Come Close To Me toughened up by punchier live bass and drums.
The ease at which acts flowed in to one another is one of the more subtle successes of the festival. Friday in particular saw a gradual progression from Peggy Gou’s vibrant techno selections, like Outlander’s Vamp, towards steelier and grittier soundscapes. Over in the main warehouse, heavyweight Marcel Dettmann’s dark and driving mix cranked things up a notch, before being swamped by Ancient Methods. Playing at the petite and packed-out Night-Club area – curated by Parisian techno collective Blocaus – his barrelling, beat-driven, melody-free set, so unforgiving under the washes of dense blue strobes, knocked many in the crowd completely west.
With lighter house inflections dominating Saturday’s main room bill in the form of Kaytranada and Moodymann, the Resident Advisor takeover in the Squarehouse next door kept things significantly harder thanks to Avalon Emerson, Midland and The Black Madonna. Acid and jungle flavours came to define many of the highlights of the RA stage, particularly when Emerson effortlessly mixed in the soulful chorus of The 5th Dimension’s 1969 hit Let The Sunshine In into a staggering break. As for Midland, who knows how many times he’s played Final Credits since its release last year, but that track still has the surefire power of bringing a 5,000 strong dancefloor to pure hands-in-the-air elation
Maybe there’s just something in the air at the Parc Floral which encouraged this equilibrium of both ease and energy with the crowd, that which clings to the sticky warmth of the summer night-time. Nothing demonstrated this more plainly than Nina Kraviz’s closing set on the Friday where, playing hard and fast techno to perhaps the largest crowd of the weekend, it didn’t seem as if anyone had realised it was 7am and the sun had fully risen. Pursuing a philosophy which shuns frills and gimmicks, and by prioritising the tightly bound elements of sound and setting, The Peacock Society stands a modest cut above the rest in Paris’ clubbing scene.