Le Grande Halle de la Villette, Paris

Not so long ago, ‘going to a festival’ used to signify something pretty specific about who you were and the music you were into.

But as the lines between previously distinct sonic cultures have become increasingly blurred, the form and function of the humble festival has splintered into a dozen different loose formats. And at Le Grande Halle de la Villette – a cavernous, super-styled ex-abattoir on the outskirts of Paris – Pitchfork laid out their vision of what a music festival should be like.

Spread across three nights, the acts were programmed in a single, continuous stream, split across two alternating stages. Destroyer’s luxurious hipster lounge and saxophone-driven pop symphonies provided a suitably studied start to proceedings on the opening night, but the first major highlight was a raucous and hypnotic set from Godspeed! You Black Emperor. Both drummers bludgeoned the elegiac guitar melodies into submission, and their trademark wailing strings provided an uneasy narrative for the creepy visuals projected from reel-to-reel cameras on to the screen behind the nine-strong band.

But it was Beach House’s transcendent performance that arguably exemplified the ethos of the festival better than any other: a slow-motion explosion of shimmering drone pop, received in wide-eyed reverie by a hushed but rapturous crowd. Somnambulant lullabies like Myth and Space Song – backlit by a golden haze of light – washed over Le Grande Halle, providing a blissful and resonant end to the evening.

The second day’s programming was slightly spikier. HEALTH’s pounding sub-industrial rhythms offered an early evening wake-up call for anyone still starry-eyed from the night before, while later in the evening Battles’ electronic staccato prog (in particular 2007’s bonkers Atlas) was honoured with a mini moshpit. But, in general, this was an event where people who were talking too loudly during the quiet bits of songs were politely motioned to shut up. Kurt Vile’s grungy take on the basic alt-country and blues template went down a treat: his charisma (‘Paris, you are all looking fucking HOT’) and his subtle song craft lift him above most other acts in the genre.

The biggest name on the bill was Thom Yorke. But while in places his set hit the heights that his unimpeachable track record in Radiohead proves that he can, this was not, sadly, Thom’s finest hour. The set drew heavily from last year’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, which was fair-to-middling at best. Noticeably larger cheers went up for the sprinkling of earlier material – like the jittery Black Swan – which made an occasional appearance, and so it was left to Four Tet’s DJ set to carry the second day over the finish line. This he did in style, blending his own material (the anthemic Jupiters) with everything from left-field house, to grime instrumentals.

The final day found its feet with the excellent Run the Jewels, whose playful but aggressive shtick provided a welcome injection of hype to the proceedings. If you thought Jason Pierce’s Spiritualized had knocked it on the head years ago, then that makes two of us, but in fact their choral, ecstatic indie slotted in perfectly, with set-closer Come Together sounding as triumphant as it always did. Hudson Mohawke had constructed some kind of Transylvanian Thai fishing village onstage to mark the fact that it was Halloween, and his restless, dayglow rhythms sounded vital and fresh (rather than jittery and disjointed, as they sometimes can on record). And John Talabot and Roman Flügel pulled out a seamless set of richly layered house and techno – sparkling and melodic; sweeping and precise.

With the line-up that the organisers had pulled together, this event was hardly going to disappoint. And although it may have left a little to be desired for the more rowdy festival goer, the whole package worked like a dream. Stylish and expertly executed, Pitchfork Paris was a beautiful way to spend a sunny, autumnal weekend in the French capital.